The Jigsaw Ball

Our last post talked about how the design of world cup footballs actually has a lot in common with how jigsaw puzzle pieces are created, and this video is a nice rundown of how match balls have evolved from the 1930’s. You can see over time how the idea of tessellations and more mathematically designed shapes came in to play, particularly once computer modelling became available from the 1970’s.
The History of World Cup Footballs

 

As the game became more commercially biased in the 1970’s and 80’s, mostly due to the emergence of satellite TV and the sale of TV rights, merchandising rose in importance, and being the manufacturer of the approved World Cup Ball was a real money spinner. So the competition to design the ball that FIFA and the international players wanted to use became serious, with major manufacturers devoting significant budgets to the task. Part of this development was computer modelling, and the same kind of maths that we use to produce our free jigsaw puzzles is applied to the task, with the added interest of being a 3D sphere.

 

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Jigsaw Puzzles and Team Building

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It may come as a surprise, but the humble jigsaw puzzle is finding a place in the top level training of business executives.  Coprporate trainers are now including the seemingly simple task of completing a jigsaw puzzle as a way of teaching people who are used to gettting their own way and always taking charge to work as a team again.

The idea is quite basic, but very effective.  Take a task that most people do as an an individual task in their spare time, and make it a team task.  The executives have to come together, without an appointed leader, think about the task and work as a team to come up with the most effective way to complete the jigsaw puzzle.  They then race against the clock to complete the task together.

Whether the jigsaw puzzle is actually completed is not the point.  The benefit is gained from reminding individuals who have spent much of their careers learning how to lead the benefits of working as a team.  Too many managers have developed the habit of always thinking they know best and getting their own way, and don’t use the skills and talent of the staff who work for them as well as they should.  The result is that members of their own staff can feel undervalued and demotivated, and don’t contribute as much as they could to the business or organisation.  The exercise is aimed at making the members work in a team where everyone has an equal say, and that the results achieved come about through co-operation.

The exercise it self as 4 simple steps:

1.  First, work as individuals to think about the task.

2.  Come together to discuss ideas and agree on a plan of how to work as a team to complette the jigsaw puzzle.  No leader is to be appointed or elected.

3.  Work against the clock to complete the jigsaw puzzle.

4.  Review the task and discuss how the members of the team worked together.

Throughout the task there may well be a natural tendency for certain individuals to take control.  If this happens the managing staff should gently intervene to ensure that the team reamains leaderless.

An extra dimension can be added to the task which requires the members of the team to carry out some prior planning.   There are many free online jigsaw puzzles websites and free jigsaw puzzles websites, and by using these the team members can research various ways to approach the solving of jigsaw puzzles.  The point of doing this is to allow them to come at the task with their own preconconceived ideas.   This actually reflects how much business takes place, with executives arriving at meetings having spent quite some time preparing.  The individuals that then form a group tend to have a much firmer idea that their own ideas are the best, and coming to a fair agreement within a diverse group can prove quite a challenge.

The Lessons Learned

The teaching benefits that the members gain from taking part in the exercise are:

  • Preparing to work effectively with others.
  • Sharing knowledge and skills and utilising the best that everyone has to offer.
  • Developing the ideas of others rather than always relying on personal inspiration.
  • Recognising and using the particular skills of every member of the team.
  • Creating a positive and cooperative work environment.

During the debrief that follows the task, the team members can voice their feelings about the contributions of everyone else, and then listen to the critique of the managing staff.  The debrief would include such points as:

  • Core Behaviours – Did everyone work well together or did certain members try to dominate.  Was the team truly balanced and equal, or did egos and entrenched behaviours get in the way.
  • Problem solving.  Was the thinking too simplistic and did the team seem to always take easy options, or was there a really logical approach to finding the best solution? How complete was the planning?  Did the plan cover all the important elements or were certain things neglected?
  • Using Questions to stimulate re-analysis.  Did the team question each other to make sure everyone actually understood the plan and the part they were to play? When questions were asked, did the answers stimulate further ideas that then improved the plan?
  • Communicating appropriately.  Did everyone get a say, and was everyone listened to?
  • Accepting personal responsibility.  Did any members of the team take a back seat and not contribute fully, either in the planning or the execution of the task?

In this way, the simple job of making a jigsaw puzzle becomes the foundation for some quite complex training ideas.

http://jigsawpuzzlebenefits.blogspot.co.uk/2010/07/42-benefits-of-doing-jigsaw-puzzles.html

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_benefits_of_jigsaw_puzzles?#slide=1

http://www.businessballs.com/freepdfmaterials/businessballs_jigsaw_puzzle4.pdf

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Browser Games In The Workplace

Browser games are those that you can play simply by logging onto the internet. You can play them with friends, or by yourself. This makes them really easy to play while you’re at work – something that doesn’t make employers very happy!

Few Modifications

The great thing about browser games is that they are mostly free. You can participate in many varieties of games without having to buy any specialized hardware or software. They are very social, as well, with massive multiplayer games available. There are also single player games for the person who just needs a break, now and then. While you may not get away with downloading Call of Duty to your computer at work, you can certainly play one of the first-person shooter browser games on the web.

Time Waster?

They say that in 2010, Google substituted its logo for Pac-man. This simple, retro game reportedly cost American productivity over $120 million! On average, people working at their computers spent ½ minute longer on the Google homepage than they would have otherwise. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it adds up.

Increasingly, college-age employees are coming under scrutiny for spending work hours on browser games. From ages 20 to 35, males are 50% more likely to always have a game tab opened on their computer while they are at work. Playing computer games is the number one cause of dismissal in this age group, as well.

Conscience

So, do you play browser games at work? Here are some pointers on how to enjoy a break now and then without getting in trouble.

  1. Stay away from multi-player games. This is probably the biggest stumbling-block with gamers, because when you are playing a game with someone else, there is pressure to do your part. If you are part of a team, you have to do your share. If you have an opponent, you could be “killed” before you get back to the game. The best solution is to avoid this social interaction to begin with.
  2. Play untimed games. If you do untimed games, you will be more likely to finish your project before returning to the game. This puts you back in charge of your schedule, rather than leaving control to the timer on a game.
  3. Use your break time. Most workers get a coffee break in the mornings and in the afternoon. If you simply have to play a game to get your “fix”, try to do it during break time.
  4. Get a job playing games for a living!

Untimed Games

There are many different games on the internet that don’t have a time requirement. At JigFun, you can turn off the timer, and enjoy your free online jigsaw puzzles at your leisure. It can be a welcomed break from the hectic workday.

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History of Jigsaw Puzzles

During ancient times, we can imagine that children all over the world passed the time by assembling pieces of broken crockery, jigsaw fashion, to play or for repair.  However, it was not until the 18th century that the true concept of the jigsaw puzzle as we know it today came to be.

First Invention

There are several stories that point to the origin of jigsaw puzzles, but the clearest seems to be that of John Spilsbury, a British cartographer and engraver.  In approximately 1760, Spilsbury, of London, is credited with inventing the concept of the jigsaw puzzle.  Using one of his own maps, he mounted it on a thin piece of hardwood and used a flexible handsaw known as a marquetry saw to cut it.  The marquetry saw’s extra fine blade enabled Spilsbury to cut around the outlines of the countries. It is thought that Spilsbury used the jigsaw puzzle as a teaching tool to help children learn about world geography. Other credible historical accounts note that the French and the Dutch both laid claim to the invention of the jigsaw puzzle.  At the time, these puzzles were quite expensive – in fact, they were used to help educate upper class and royal children about almost any topic.  It was not too long after the debut of the jigsaw puzzle that other entrepreneurs entered the market with similar products.  Though images remained popular, there was also a brisk market in stories both for fun and as a learning aid.

Construction

While original ‘jigsaw’ style puzzles have been noted in other cultures, they may have been more accidentally created than planned.  Also of course, wooden shape puzzles have been known in many cultures for a number of centuries.  However, Spilsbury is credited with the concept of gluing paper to wood and then cutting through both materials.  While mahogany wood was originally in use, by the end of the century, plywood came into fashion as the medium to affix the paper picture.  With illustrations glued or painted on the front of the wood, cutting guides were penciled in on the back.  These pencil tracings can still be found on some of the vintage puzzles.  Since this time, jigsaw puzzles have come to be made on cardboard and are now machine stamped in order to cut the picture into tiles.  Recently, there has been a resurgence in creating toddler and children’s’ puzzles using wood and paint.

These days there are only a few manufacturers of quality puzzles as the world moves to free online jigsaw puzzles on the internet.  Among the leaders in the manufacturing of jigsaw puzzles is the company Ravensburger.  Named after a German town, Ravensburg, the company began its present focus in 1911 when the then-owner began to change course from strictly publishing to games.  Over the years, the company has found its niche in all different kinds of puzzles, including speciality puzzles.

Puzzles of the Future

Today, creating jigsaw puzzles is a highly technical process.  The standard construction calls for 2 mm pressed fiberboard, with a glossy picture glued to one side.  The puzzle is die cut from the picture side, giving the front of the puzzle pieces a pleasing rounded effect.  Over the centuries, the range of puzzle complexity has also broadened.  Piece size and shape, picture complexity, and number of pieces informally rate puzzles.  Adult puzzles range from very easy (~100 pieces, average picture) to very, very difficult.  Currently, the informal world record holder for the most difficult puzzle is Ravensburger’s ‘Krypt’, a photo of a featureless silver sphere inside a rectangle.  All the tiles are different from one another; the picture is provided merely as advertising.  Ravensburger is also the titleholder for the world’s largest available puzzle at 32,256 pieces. It features 32 artistic works and measures 544 cm by 192 cm when assembled.  Use of different backing materials such as foam can give a jigsaw puzzle the structural strength needed for it to stand as a 3D structure, something that Ravensburger has explored in their 3D Puzzle line.  So far, there have been a number of famous buildings and spheres available to assemble. There are also personalized puzzles that can be made with virtually any picture on the front. For the avid puzzler, there are a number of free online jigsaw puzzles, like Jigsaw Planet, that are great quality.  Additionally, free online jigsaw puzzle sites contain a number of features that are especially appealing to the gamer – puzzles can easily be sorted by topic; the user can then customize the difficulty of their picture choice to their individual skill level by clicking through a few settings.

Throughout the centuries, jigsaw puzzles have evolved from an educational tool to a complex art form to train the minds and entertain those from age 2 to 80. With touch technology and interactive technology becoming more affordable, consumers can only guess as to the next development in jigsaw puzzle technology.

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