Well, it's been a long time since I posted. I was laid off in November from a company that rhymes with Storgan Manley. I was actually terminated oddly enough on inauguration day. Since then, my job has been searching for one. I have been spending a lot of time at a "career resource network" place. Companies often set up downsized employees with firms like this to help them get a job. It actually turned out to be quite good: lots of practical advice and I have many people with the same bad luck from different walks of life and at different stages in life/career. Anyways, I was set up with three months and that will end next week. Time to write some iPhone apps.

I don't know if any readers of this blog noticed my name in Games magazine this month (May's issue is on the newsstand until the 24th). If not, I got an original puzzle published called Serpent Factors. First time published, yay! In August, its sister, Factor Flowers will be published. These are the first two puzzles sets that I wrote back in May of last year, "Flowers" being the first.

If anyone happened to work through the puzzles in May magazine, they likely noticed some of the puzzles don't have a unique solution. Unfortunately, I noticed the problem after they were submitted and when I contacted them they had already gone to press. They also said their tester hadn't noticed the lack of uniqueness in some of them.

So, the first three puzzles are scrubbed versions of the problematic published puzzles. Puzzles 4 and 5 weren't published in the article. These fall on the hard side so hopefully the sample and tips will shed some light on how to do these.

Rules: Serpent Factors

1) Each number is the head of a serpent with one or more segments emanating from it. (The exceptions are zero squares which have no "body").

2) Each segment can extend in a straight line horizontally, vertically or diagonally. If it's connected to another segment it must not extend in the same or opposite direction.

3) The "lengths" of the segments must multiply to the number in the head. The length of the segment is defined as the number of squares it touches (i.e. if a segment touches halves of two squares, it's "length" is 2).

4) Each segment must have a length which is a prime factor of the number (for example: 20's prime factorization is: 2*2*5 so the snake must have segments of lengths 2, 2, and 5 in some order and orientation). Exception: When the number in the square is 1, the snake will have a single segment of length 1.

5) Each clear, non-numbered square requires exactly one serpent passing through it.

Tips: **Primes below 20**: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19

**Factorizing numbers**: If you need help factorizing numbers, I recommend

this. It factors big guys, too.

**Getting started:** I would recommend breaking down the numbers when you start a puzzle and to try to place the longer segments first. (Some of the techniques of Shihaku/Divide by Room can be used in this puzzle)

**Extents: ** If stuck, try checking individual squares to see what "serpent" can reach it. If there is only one, you can then start to narrow down which arrangement of its segments can work for the solution.

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Sample Puzzle (6x6, Easy) and the answer:

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On to the puzzles:

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**Puzzle 1 (12x12, Medium to Hard): **(

Answer)

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Answer)

**_________________________________________****__________________****________** Puzzle 3 (10x10, Hard): (

Answer)

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Puzzle 4 (15x15, Hard): (

Answer)

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Puzzle 5 (20x20, Hard): (

Answer)

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