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Issue AA

Get Ready

I created FIREPEGS looking for an easy way to program spatiotemporal patterns. Spatiotemporal patterns are patterns unfolding and reproducing themselves in time. We are surrounded with spatiotemporal patterns, submerged in them, depend on them and we are them. I believe, spatiotemporal patterns must be the cornerstone of education.

FIREPEGS may seem too simple for the task. Essentially, it's a bunch of a primitive automations linked in a rudimentary network and issuing status updates to their immediate neighbors.

Even knowing that this model was not much different from what we see everywhere in nature, I did not expect FIREPEGS to be capable of complex behavior. Let me admit that I was wrong and start introducing you to the unexpected.

For a beginner, FIREPEGS is not harder to learn than checkers. All the designer does is change few numbers. There is the official demo app, which you may want to watch before anything else.

If you are new to FIREPEGS, please do Album for Beginners next. Skip the isotropic thinking stuff, but be sure to accomplish the last two tasks. This way you will quickly learn the fundamentals and become familiar with the user interface.

If you are sure you are done with Album for Beginners, double-click here and link a network to run the challenge pattern. As usual, there can be any number of solutions. I found an elementary one. It fires up at one point, which is not a corner.

If the challenge is too hard, try to make every track 1 firepeg shorter. This will be a different challenge, but it may help you understand what you are struggling with.

Stitch the Torus.

To study FIREPEGS in depth, please launch FIREHELP app and read FIREBOOK. If you don't have so much time, keep reading: I'll tell you everything you need to know to take on the puzzles down the road.

Please don't expect me to illustrate every tip and step like I did in Album for Beginners. I hope you are big enough to play with FIREPEGS on your own. This said, it might be a good idea to read the whole this short issue before trying to solve the remaining puzzles.

A firepeg can assume one of 3 states numbered 0, 1 and 2. It can be sleeping (0), waiting to fire up (1) or glowing (2).

Firepegs live to glow. They want to show there colors, the sooner, the better. A sleeping firepeg listens to the messages and never misses an opportunity to glow. Upon receiving a wake-up message, the firepeg enters the waiting mode for the given number of ticks. The waiting firepeg still listens to the messages and never misses an opportunity to turn on earlier. However, the glowing firepeg is just happy. It pays no attention to the messages until its glow time expires.

The board is a torus. Every firepeg has 8 neighbors. Try to send the messages outside the board and catch them on the other side. I call this "linking behind the board".

The wait selector available in the READY mode must have the choice of 0. The 0-tick links fire up the receiving firepeg immediately. These links can make a group of firepegs to behave as a single body or a track of firepegs to pass the messages like a wire.

Double-click here and try to stitch the torus along the cut. Use your new knowledge. The puzzle is not terribly challenging. Rather, it's a test of your ability to link behind the board. My network may be fired up at the top left corner.

Roll a Square

The challenge must be self-evident, so let me tell you how to save your designs. If you double-clicked and destroyed your former design already, click on the HELP control in the top right corner of this page and look for THE WINDOWS. There are two ways to recover the loss. One of them is the BACK control on this page.

In every mode in the app, you have the edit TXT button. Find it and click on it please. The black thing is the text editor.

In the editor, please click on the NETWORK SCRIPT control. What you see is the source text representing your design in a fairly obvious way.

Press Ctrl+A to select all the text. Copy it using your browser's menu, paste it into Notepad or any other text editor and save the file. Click CLOSE to close the black thing.

To restore your old design, please make sure to save the current design from the board. Paste the saved source text into the black thing and click on RUN. Your board will change accordingly.

Web-apps are not allowed to access your files. I don't support users' accounts at this time, so you cannot save your design on my server. I don't see this as an inconvenience. FIREPEGS is a stepping stone to computer programming.

Roll a Bar

Roll a corner-to-corner bar smaller than one half of the board. I kept the central peg on to prove I was not using it.

Allow me to tell you more about FIREPEGS. The board is indexed in the Western writing order: starting from the top left corner to the right, then down. To address a peg from a script you need two indices. Example:


is the third peg from the left and the second from the top.

The firing up sequence can be a part of the challenge. To turn a firepeg on, send it a ton() message


You may append several statements like this to your network script.

Roll One Half

Can you roll exactly one half of a square-shaped even-sized board? I could.

FIPEPEGS has a very simple interface. I managed to pack all the functionality into a single view. Your best friend must be the show selector, which is available in SET and GO modes. When it's on FIRES, you only see firepegs flashing their colors. STATES adds the hidden colors, the links and the numbers in the central colored squares: 0 for the sleep state, 1 for the wait state and 3 for the glow state. Finally, COUNTS show the timers. If a firepeg is neither glowing nor counting, it's sleeping. If it's not glowing but counting, it's counting the time to fire up. A glowing and counting firepeg counts its time to glow.

Roll more than one half

I could, but it was not a honest technical solution. Your turn.

Roll Unfilled Squares

Playing with FIREPEGS taught me to never give up. I mean, for real. Often I could prove that the solution was impossible only to find a new method to synchronize firepegs. I spent several hours trying to solve this one and failed. Today I solved it for 6x6 board and 5x5 square, and this solution will probably scale up. Still, I could not solve it for 5x5 board and 4x4 square.