Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Anagram Quizzer

Anagram Quizzer is an app currently available on Google Play. 
Also currently available on the iTunes app store.

The app is basically a dedicated quiz app designed to help Scrabble tournament players study words and keep their game sharp, even when having to deal with their busy lives.

In the app, you have the option of selecting one of many predefined word lists, upon which a quiz will load with a specified number of questions. The quiz goes through the questions in a flashcard style, displaying tiles onscreen for you to click on to spell out the answer.

But before going into the gameplay itself, this is what the landing page of the app looks like. Several options are available for you to click on.

QUICK PLAY takes you straight into an extremely random quiz, though it will typically always have 100 questions. Use this option to jump straight into gameplay, though usually, you'd prefer to select a predefined word list via the WORD LIST button, or generate your own customized quiz using CUSTOM QUIZ, but more on that later.

Say you've just clicked on QUICK PLAY and have been tossed into a quiz.


As shown in the screenshot above, a quiz with 100 questions is already underway, and ACDEKL  is the current question. It has 2 anagrams, as specified by the number to its right, and all you need to do is tap on the tiles to spell out the words you can form with ACDEKL, namely LACKED and CALKED (LACKED has already been entered, in this case). once you've spelled out all the anagrams, the quiz moves on to the next question and so on.

Of course, you can always be a cheater and click on that hint button or even worse, the skip button anytime you don't quite know what to answer. The hint button fixes a single letter whereas the skip button just fixes the whole damn thing. The app does however have a leniency algorithm integrated such that 1 or even 2 hints (for 8s and 9s) are overlooked, and even the first wrong guess will be overlooked.  The real challenge of course is to keep your correct : wrong ratio as high as possible.


For regular quizzes :
2 - 5 letter words : 0 hints, 0 tries
6 - 7 letter words : 1 hint, 1 try
8 letter words : 2 hints, 2 tries

For timed quizzes :
2 - 6 letter words : 0 hints, 0 tries
7 - 8 letter words : 1 hint, 1 try

For cardbox plus quizzes :
2 - 6 letter words : 0 hints, 0 tries
7 - 8 letter words : 1 hint, 0 tries

Using a hint reduces number of tries by 1.
Using up a try reduces number of hints to 0.
(A try is when you answer a word wrongly)
The quiz keeps track of all the words you've answered and whether you got the words correct or wrong. This can be viewed by clicking on the book icon on the upper panel. This feature is called the QUIZ REVIEW.

You can also access the quiz review after completing a quiz, while the game tells you how good (or how cheatingly) you were at dealing with the quiz.You just need to press that oddly positioned Review Button down there. Clicking on Another reloads a new quiz with the same parameters as the one you just finished.

I haven't mentioned this one yet, but if you were silly enough to ask for a quiz with 10000 questions, you may find that Save Button in the upper panel extremely useful. unfortunately though, it is only available with the purchase of a cheap premium pass (which will be mentioned later)

Word Lists

The word lists option contains all of the predefined word lists contained in the game, as well as any custom quiz configurations you may have saved. All you need to do is slide that slider at the top to choose the word length (3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s, Popular, All, Custom)
Then you can choose from any of the lists provided. You can also specify the number of questions (which is defaulted to 50 if you leave it empty or type nonsense into it)

Custom Quizzes


The CUSTOM QUIZ feature is a handy tool to generate a quiz with your own parameters. 
A custom quiz is essentially contained of a number of word lists (separated by the blue dividers). Each word list is defined by a word length slider and a number of filters that specify which words to pick from the words with the specified length.

You can click on ADD NEW FILTER to well, add new filters (max 10). Each filter will have a AND/OR clause and a NOT clause. You ought to know what AND, OR and NOT mean. Click on the clauses to toggle them.
The drop down list next to the clauses contains the filter options. The options in the drop down list are...
CONTAINS : Contains pattern. Whatever phrase you type into the input box will be searched for within the words. Example : Contains RE adds all words containing RE somewhere within them. RETAINS, RETINAS, RETSINA, RESIANT come to mind, but also FIREDOG, for example.
Please don't be silly and type 4 letters when searching for 3 letter words. Invalid characters will also automatically be stripped out from your input.

HAS LETTERS : Contains letters. Whatever letters you specify here will be searched for within the words. For example : Has Letters ZX will return all words containing both a Z and an X. 
Naturally, if you want words containing either a Z or an X, you'll have to use 2 filters using the OR clause.

STARTS WITH : To be honest, its pretty self explanatory. Returns all words starting with whatever phrase you input. 

ENDS WITH : See above and opposite it. And yes, i know opposite is not a verb.

FRONT HOOKS : Similar to HAS LETTERS, this will return all words containing ALL the front hooks specified. For example, if you input SAE, it will return words which take S, A and E behind. You'll have to use multiple filters if you want either S, A or E.

BACK HOOKS : See above and opposite it.

NUM ANAGRAMS : The number of anagrams each alphagram has. AEINRST for example, has 11, but please don't type 11 as an input, because the quiz generated will not be very useful.
If you want to specify a range of numbers, you can use symbols.
>3 is accepted
>=3 is accepted
<3 is accepted
<=3 is accepted
3- is accepted and is equivalent to <=3
3+ is accepted and is equivalent to >=3
3+dkf is also accepted, but all the trash will be removed.

naturally, you can use any number besides a 3. And of course, simply typing a number by itself obviously works as well.

Last but not least, you also have PROBABILITY.
The probability filter gives you both a TO input and a FROM input. You can type numbers into these fields and get a list of words whose probability index lies within that range (inclusive).

Please don't be a doodoo head and type FROM 1000 TO 1, because you'll simply be wasting your time.

And speaking of wasting time, any invalid or empty inputs means the game will pop up a friendly reminder notifying you of any invalid or empty inputs. And then, you will have to go and fix them.
So save yourself some trouble, and enter nice valid input.

Of course, there may also be cases where a quiz cannot be generated with whatever filters you have specified. 

For example, weirdoes may decide to ask for words starting with Z AND words NOT starting with Z, which as we all know, is an empty list.

If your quiz generates an empty list, you will be notified, and will simply have to wait longer to play, so try not to let this happen.

It helps the quiz generation process greatly if you place all AND clauses before your OR clauses.

You can also specify a name for your quiz so that you can save it for future use and not have to come back every single time and type in the same input over and over again, which can be a real pain in the arse.
Ooh.. however, saving of custom quizzes is also a paid feature and requires a premium pass.

By now, you must want to know what is a premium pass.


The premium pass is that lovely piece of plastic thingamajig shown in the screenshot here. It costs a mere S$2 and allows you to save your quizzes and not have to break your back using the custom quiz feature. A bargain, if you ask me. Plus, if I happen to add any more premium features in future, well, you'll get access to those as well! Yay!

There are however more stuff here in the settings page which may prove interesting. The TILE SIZE option allows you to switch between having tiles displayed in 1 row and up to 3 rows.
Tiles displayed in a single row will simulate a tournament experience as they will simulate being on a rack, so maybe might allow you to see the answers more easily at the cost of smaller tiles ingame.

 I still prefer the large easy to click tiles mysef however.

BACKUP DATA and RESTORE DATA are there to obviously protect your data and will unlock after a purcahse is made (because there is nothing worth backing up until you start using the paid features anyway). Backup regularly as should you happen to uninstall the app or change your phone, your game files will still be safely tucked away in your sdcard and can be restored after reacquiring the app.

Don't worry about your purchase. It is auto protected by Google Play, and once you purchase it, you can try uninstalling the app or replacing your phone as many times as you want, but the paid features will magically unlock everytime you start the app up. Sweet. 

But again, back up your data regularly, unless you never plan on uninstalling or replacing your phone. 

Below the data buttons sits the TIMED QUIZ feature. This is a trial run of a bigger feature that will be coming to the app sometime soon *wink wink*
Turn TIMED QUIZZES on, and specify the whatever parameters are required and the next quiz you select will be timed and will use the parameters specified. 

Warning : Timed quizzes can be extremely nerve wracking.
Or maybe i am just bad at Scrabble.
Oh well.

TOTAL TIME : This is the total time for the quiz. If this runs out, the quiz ends prematurely and you won't get to see the words which you didn't answer in time.
So there's a pretty strong motivation for you to hurry the hell up and answer those questions deftly. 

Note : The number you enter for TOTAL TIME is taken as the time given for each 100 words in the quiz. As such, this value will not be the value you'll see when you start up the quiz.

TIME PER WORD : This adds an additional timer that resets everytime you type out a correct word. 

TOTAL TIME and TIME PER WORD can be used in conjunction to create a maximum nerve wracking quiz, one that has a lose condition and one that pushes you to answer each word within a set amount of time as well.

TOTAL TIME can be set with an empty or zero TIME PER WORD and you will get a simple quiz with a loss condition.

TIME PER WORD can be set with an empty or zero TOTAL TIME, and you get a simple flashcard quiz without a loss condition.

When TIME PER WORD runs out, the word will simply be revealed and a penalty will be applied to your TOTAL TIME, if you set that to a nonzero value.

TIME INCREMENT adds time to TOTAL TIME whenever you answer a word correctly. (And i do mean CORRECTLY, with no hints used). If TOTAL TIME is zero, this number will not be used.

TIME PENALTY PER HINT simply subtracts time from TOTAL TIME (or from TIME PER WORD if TOTAL TIME is zero) whenever you use a hint.

For honesty purposes, this has a minimum value of 1.

TIME PENALTY PER SKIP simply subtracts time from TOTAL TIME whenever you skip a word. I recommend you set this to 10x the value of the hint penalty. It also has a minimum value of 10.

All values are in seconds.


The cardbox is a recently added feature to the app (as of September 19). It’s main purpose in life is to generate quizzes with far less randomness than the ones you’ve been doing up to now.

You’ll find a Cardbox button in the main menu. Click on that and you’ll come to a page that looks exactly like the Saved Quizzes page. Here, you’ll find a list of all the cardboxes which you have currently ongoing.

A cardbox is in essence, just a list storing a score value for each of the alphagrams in a particular list. This score value runs from 0 to 100 and basically depends on whether you answer the question or not. Answering correctly gives the full 100 points, giving that question a 0% chance of selected in a future quiz. Answering wrongly gives it the minimum of 20 points.

Naturally, using hints and guessing wrongly reduce the 100 points you would otherwise get, increasing the chance of the word to appear in future quizzes. The score also ticks down after 5 seconds have passed. “You can only claim to know the word confidently if you can see it quickly.”

Score will degrade over time as well, since people tend to forget things.

To CREATE A NEW CARDBOX, all you have to do is click on the respective button in the Cardbox page. That will take you to the Word List page, and you can simply select any of the lists there to start a cardbox on. Note you can only have one cardbox for each list. And yes, you can cardbox a custom list.

Once you’ve clicked on the list, the quiz will proceed as normal. You can exit safely at any time as the score values are saved everytime you answer a question, and will be written to the disk upon closing the app regardless of where you close it from.

Saving of cardbox quizzes is not allowed as it is after all, time dependant. If you save a cardbox quiz and resume it later, it would have reverted to a normal quiz. Well, you can still finish it at least.

As such, do make an effort to finish a cardbox quiz in one sitting. Keep that in mind and ask for an appropriate number of questions.


I suppose I should mention that the carbox IS A PAID FEATURE. However, it does give that $2 premium pass far more bang for its buck.

Cardbox Plus

Ok, so the latest addition to the app is a new feature called Cardbox +.
Highly original name, if you ask me.

Though of course, you would immediately wonder what makes it different from the regular Cardbox that is already present within the app. Ok, good question, but let me just go through how it works, and you'll get the answers you need along the way.

1) If you click on the cardbox + button from the main menu, you'll arrive at the cardbox + page where all your cardboxes will be displayed.

Basically, this screenshot shows 2 boxes, each of which represent a cardbox. The one to the left is actually an empty cardbox (With 0 questions).

The numbers below the number of questions show
The percentage of questions in the cardbox you have answered at least once, and the percentage of questions you have answered correctly (counts all instances, so if you answered a question correctly twice, it will be counted twice.)

And of course the timestamp below that is the last time the cardbox was saved.

To add a new cardbox, you can obviously click on the Add New button over there.

And that would be the screen you will see if you do.
CHOOSE LIST will basically allow you to initialize a cardbox with one of the lists of words you have already been using for eons.
PERFORM SEARCH redirects you to the custom quiz screen and you can go ahead and search out a list of words to use.
CREATE EMPTY does what it says. This option WAS supposed to be "Import", but that is sadly not supportable on ios and a pain to support on android either way, SO, as a simple and easy alternative, you can just copy and paste words in from the word list you want to import, but more on that later.
So after you've created the cardbox, you will then arrive at this screen (or will arrive after clicking on a cardbox).
The cardbox plus actually LISTS OUT all the questions it contains for you to see.
Naturally, the headers that are labeled as Tier 0 through Tier 9 are what you click to show and hide the words grouped under them.
You can also click on each question to be shown a screen containing the details of that question.
Which includes the record for that question AND each of the question's words.
And also the tier and hours left for the question, which you can simply change on the spot if needed. The hours left indicates the amount of time after which a word will be demoted to the tier below it.
Through this menu, you can also manage the words in the cardbox using the buttons provided. You can ADD new questions to the cardbox, REMOVE ones already there, and PROMOTE/DEMOTE/SKED words as well. (SKED meaning schedule. It allows you to specify the tier and time left for a group of words at one go)
For adding words, you can either type them into the text area (or copy and paste from a text file), or perform a search or choose a word list.
The other functions perform in a similar fashion. The main thing you need to remember is that, when you search, the app will create a list of words and hook it to the top of the text area. You will need to click ADD again to confirm.
Clicking ADD while there are words in the text area will do the same : create a list of words that will be hooked to the top of the text area. You will be able to view the lists and remove them as well.
You can confirm the addition when the text area is empty, and there are word lists to actually add. Obviously, words already in the cardbox will be ignored.
The same rules apply for the other functions.
HOWEVER, functions other than ADD allow you to select words from the dsplayed list.
If you choose to create a word list by selecting, you can just tap on whatever words you want to select.
There is also the option to select or deselect all words in a particular tier (there is a button provided for that on the left corner of the tier header).
The settings allow you to specify how many hours words will stay in each tier. You can specify a value for tier 0 as well. If you do, words which are in tier 0 but have 0 hours left will be prioritized over those with time to kill. This will be an easy way to avoid words you just answered wrongly.
The RE-TIER button is there for those situatiosn where you havent tended to your cardbox in a long time and all the words have sunk back to tier 0. It will auto assign all words to a tier based on their correct-wrong records.
When you want to generate a quiz, you have the ability to specify how many questions you want from each tier.
Touching the TOTAL field will auto assign all the other fields, so be careful about that.
Note that words answered wrongly, regardless of what tier they are in, will automatically fall to tier 0.
Words answered correctly will be promoted 1 tier up to the max of tier 9..
And that should be about it for the cardbox plus feature. If you've any questions, please do ask me.
Note that an extra purchase of 1.50 SGD is required to unlock the cardbox plus (on top of the premium pass which you will already need to have)
Trust me, this is almost like having zyzzyva cardbox on your phone so it is definitely worth it!

From one scrabble player to another, I sincerely hope you enjoy the app and may it take your game to a higher level! :)

An old windows executable from the 18th century: