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Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2011 6:23 PM


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john.arnott (3/8/2011)
Tom, you've shown that you'd never have trouble with this riddle: If I have two American coins with a total value of 30 cents and one of them is not a quarter, what are they?

No, I might have trouble with that one.

The first problem there is that it depends whether the "value" referred to is "face value" or "what you can sell them for"; a modern dime and an 1878 silver 20 cent piece have the right face value, but you could sell them for rather a lot more; and maybe two old century coins with a total face value of a lot less than 30 cents could be sold for 30 cents. So I don't know whether the answer is " an old 20 cent coin and a dime" or "you can't do that" or "an old 3 cent piece and an old half dime" (I suspect that the last is worth a lot more than 30 cents, but it illustrates the point). Or maybe it's something else altogether - I don't really know about American coinage, and of course Canadian coinage is different again (for example they had 20 cent coins about 20 years befor the USA did and dropped them 6 years before the US had them) and I haven't a clue which countries of Central or South America (or the Caribbean) ever had coins denominated in cents.
My best guess would be that the "right" answer to the riddle is "forgeries", but there's a good chance that I would be completely wrong.
So I definitely have trouble with that riddle.


Tom
Post #1075250
Posted Tuesday, March 8, 2011 10:24 PM


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Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)
john.arnott (3/8/2011)
Tom, you've shown that you'd never have trouble with this riddle: If I have two American coins with a total value of 30 cents and one of them is not a quarter, what are they?

No, I might have trouble with that one.

The answer I was thinking of is "a quarter and a nickle". The riddle postulates that one of the coins is not a quarter, and that is demonstrably true; one coin is a nickle and the other coin is a quarter.

Of course, the point here is that the form of the question (calling it a riddle) sets up thought parameters for most people. They won't consider it a trivia quiz, but rather an exercise in flexible thinking. The question is deliberately fuzzy in its language and, of course, that's part of the amusement factor in solving (or hearing) the "answer".
Post #1075302
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011 7:38 AM
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Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)
SanDroid (3/8/2011)
Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)

The right answer of course is "each of them can (but only one at a time)" so of the options provided 3 is closest to correct. 1 (the "right" answer) would only be really correct if the question was "how many of them can be rowguidcol columns at the same time".


I have to agree to disagree with this statement.
"enabled" is the key word in this question and makes perfect english as the last word in the question. This makes it the main describer for the question.


I don't think the word "enabled" helps at all. The way the question is phrased would allow it to help only if the word "simultaneously" were inserted between "can" and "have" (or after "enabled" if a little sloppiness is permitted).


My point was that the english in the question is correct.
This type of question and it's wording is very common on all tests taken here in North America.
I can't verify that they are like this in other regions where English is the primary language.

FYI: That coins question ther other user asked you is in both of my daughters SAT study guides. If it makes you feel any better I had to explain it to them also.
Post #1075552
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:11 AM
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SanDroid (3/9/2011)
Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)
SanDroid (3/8/2011)
Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)

The right answer of course is "each of them can (but only one at a time)" so of the options provided 3 is closest to correct. 1 (the "right" answer) would only be really correct if the question was "how many of them can be rowguidcol columns at the same time".


I have to agree to disagree with this statement.
"enabled" is the key word in this question and makes perfect english as the last word in the question. This makes it the main describer for the question.


I don't think the word "enabled" helps at all. The way the question is phrased would allow it to help only if the word "simultaneously" were inserted between "can" and "have" (or after "enabled" if a little sloppiness is permitted).


My point was that the english in the question is correct.
This type of question and it's wording is very common on all tests taken here in North America.
I can't verify that they are like this in other regions where English is the primary language.

FYI: That coins question ther other user asked you is in both of my daughters SAT study guides. If it makes you feel any better I had to explain it to them also.


Just to add my £0.02-worth:

When I read the question ("how many of them can have the ROWGUIDCOL property enabled") I must have automatically assumed the "at the same time/at any one time" part, because until I read Tom's comments it never occurred to me to interpret it any other way. However, since Tom did interpret it that way, it is therefore ipso facto (and so on) possible to interpret it that way. If it weren't possible to interpret it that way, Tom wouldn't have interpreted it that way and we wouldn't be having this discussion. QED.

So while for me, the question made perfect sense, I can also see that it might not make perfect sense for everyone, and therefore there is an argument to be made that it could have been improved by adding "at the same time" to the end of the question. Although I still thought it was a jolly good question.

Having written a few questions myself now, I realise how difficult it is to get the question right so that everyone interprets it the way you meant it, but that's all part of the fun and the learning process!

Duncan
Post #1075582
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:16 AM
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Duncan Pryde (3/9/2011)
SanDroid (3/9/2011)
Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)
SanDroid (3/8/2011)
Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)

The right answer of course is "each of them can (but only one at a time)" so of the options provided 3 is closest to correct. 1 (the "right" answer) would only be really correct if the question was "how many of them can be rowguidcol columns at the same time".


I have to agree to disagree with this statement.
"enabled" is the key word in this question and makes perfect english as the last word in the question. This makes it the main describer for the question.


I don't think the word "enabled" helps at all. The way the question is phrased would allow it to help only if the word "simultaneously" were inserted between "can" and "have" (or after "enabled" if a little sloppiness is permitted).


My point was that the english in the question is correct.
This type of question and it's wording is very common on all tests taken here in North America.
I can't verify that they are like this in other regions where English is the primary language.

FYI: That coins question ther other user asked you is in both of my daughters SAT study guides. If it makes you feel any better I had to explain it to them also.


Just to add my £0.02-worth:

Duncan


Duncan,
You are correct in all your statements.
Unforetunately none of them had anytihng to do with the fact that the question was not incorrect in its use of the english laguage.
Only one can actually be enabled.
Post #1075590
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011 8:28 AM
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SanDroid (3/9/2011)

Duncan,
You are correct in all your statements.
Unforetunately none of them had anytihng to do with the fact that the question was not incorrect in its use of the english laguage.
Only one can actually be enabled.


It wasn't incorrect English, no, but could be interpreted in a couple of ways. Just like my question today, apparently.
Post #1075600
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2011 10:48 PM


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SanDroid (3/9/2011)
Duncan Pryde (3/9/2011)
SanDroid (3/9/2011)
Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)
SanDroid (3/8/2011)
Tom.Thomson (3/8/2011)

The right answer of course is "each of them can (but only one at a time)" so of the options provided 3 is closest to correct. 1 (the "right" answer) would only be really correct if the question was "how many of them can be rowguidcol columns at the same time".


I have to agree to disagree with this statement.
"enabled" is the key word in this question and makes perfect english as the last word in the question. This makes it the main describer for the question.


I don't think the word "enabled" helps at all. The way the question is phrased would allow it to help only if the word "simultaneously" were inserted between "can" and "have" (or after "enabled" if a little sloppiness is permitted).


My point was that the english in the question is correct.
This type of question and it's wording is very common on all tests taken here in North America.
I can't verify that they are like this in other regions where English is the primary language.

FYI: That coins question ther other user asked you is in both of my daughters SAT study guides. If it makes you feel any better I had to explain it to them also.


Just to add my £0.02-worth:

Duncan


Duncan,
You are correct in all your statements.
Unforetunately none of them had anytihng to do with the fact that the question was not incorrect in its use of the english laguage.
Only one can actually be enabled.

I don't suppose it will help you understand what I was saying if I point out that the person who introduced the term "incorrect" into this discussion was you, not me, that as I understand the language "imprecise" does not mean "incorrect" (it is imprecise to say "my bungalow is about 100 metres from the sea", but it certainly is not incorrect), and that in my view there was absolutely no incorrect use of English in the question or in the answer, just imprecise use. The wording of the question was imprecise, in that in permitted more than one interpretation, and although it seemed pretty obvious which meaning the author intended (unless he was playing trick questions; and he wasn't, so that was his meaning) a different interpretation was perfectly reasonable.

Most of the time no-one bothers to be precise - the common feeling is something like "what's the point of complete precision" (except when writing about mathematical logic, or formally provable correctness of algorithms, or that sort of thing) - but in QOTD we unfortunately see a trick question now and again and as a result any imprecision (no matter how slight) risks being interpreted very carefully, unlike normal everyday speech or writing - just look at the number of comments saying something like "I got it wrong because I thought it was a trick question" or of really ludicrous things like the recent suggestion that the use of the word "drive" in one of Steve's RAID questions made it into trick a question.


Tom
Post #1075999
Posted Thursday, March 10, 2011 1:13 AM
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Tom.Thomson (3/9/2011)


Most of the time no-one bothers to be precise - the common feeling is something like "what's the point of complete precision" (except when writing about mathematical logic, or formally provable correctness of algorithms, or that sort of thing) - but in QOTD we unfortunately see a trick question now and again and as a result any imprecision (no matter how slight) risks being interpreted very carefully, unlike normal everyday speech or writing - just look at the number of comments saying something like "I got it wrong because I thought it was a trick question" or of really ludicrous things like the recent suggestion that the use of the word "drive" in one of Steve's RAID questions made it into trick a question.


You've hit the nail on the head there. It's certainly not easy writing questions - or anything for that matter - in such a way as to guarantee being understood correctly by everyone. After all, our language skills as humans are geared for speech, where imprecision doesn't matter as much since you can always explain yourself afterwards.

And it's not just QOTD - I've seen a number of questions on Microsoft certification exams where I've thought "If I interpret it this way its 'A', but if I interpret it the other way it's 'B'". In the end I have to go for what I felt was the most likely interpretation to make it a decent question and hope that's correct.

So I do admire anyone that writes questions here, and as someone who does so myself the ensuing discussions are always useful for me to learn how I could have improved the format or wording of the question to avoid being misunderstood.

Duncan
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