disgusting linux package installation issues

Was installing a package on Linux and ran into huge problems.

First, the package — let’s call it ‘somecrap’ — contained a post-installation configuration. Linux has this terminal pseudo-GUI used sometimes for configuration of packages. You may have seen it, it looks like ASCII art. Unfortunately it’s so brittle that when you Ctrl-Z out of it there is no way to get it back. So I had to just Ctrl-C out of it. Turns out the process that runs it (‘whiptail’) is stuck using 100% of CPU. So that’s fine, it too can be killed, but how to get a configuration do-over? The package thinks it’s already configured — and indeed, wrote out a default configuration file. There is no way to get a redo short of removing and reinstalling the package. Right? And that’s where the real problem starts.
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different kind of coupon collector’s problem

The classic coupon collector’s problem asks for the number of samples it takes to collect all coupon types from a sequence of coupons in which each of the \(k\) types of coupons has an unlimited number of copies.

Here is a different kind of problem: if there are limited copies of each of the \(k\) coupon types (say, \(d\) copies), how many samples does it take to collect \(t\) coupon types?

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A call from King County Jail



“This is a collect call from [buzz buzz, anytime]“.

another combinatorial puzzle (allocation)

Well, the original problem was X-rated, so let me recast it.

Three surgeons (A, B, C) participate in an operation involving three patients (a, b, c). For simplicity, each surgeon operates with just one hand, and operates just once on each patient. There are a bunch of sterile surgical gloves that stop contamination from one side to the other. What’s the minimum number of gloves needed to ensure that no body part ever comes into contact with another, even indirectly? Note, surgeons do not want to contaminate each other either.

Clearly, the upper bound is 9, for the 9 pairings. The lower bound is 3, for the 3 patients, or alternatively the 3 surgeons. Is the answer something in between?
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