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How many 5 letter words do you know ? A review of Martin's FindWord program.

Posted: Tue Jan 30, 2024 9:45 pm
by 1333david
Martin Reid kindly sent me a copy of his FindWord program for the Psion II. So I thought it would be useful to provide a review for those who have not seen the program before. Full Instructions for the program can be found online here: ... s/findword

The instructions state FindWord is a Psion Organiser II Word Finder program simiar to Wordle, Jotto and Lingo. I've not played these games before and am not very good at crosswords. But I do enjoy a game of Scrabble and am always keen to extend my vocabulary and grasp of the English language.
The major feature of FindWord is the access to a dictionary containing 5 letter words. The full version contains the complete 10,000 list of 5 letter words from the English Dictionary and requires a 128k datapak.
Cut down versions are also avaiable for 64k and 32k datapaks containing 8300 and 4100 respectively. If you have a model CM you will be limited to the 64k and 32k versions which are compatible with all models of the Psion II. I started with the 128k version on my Model LZ. As stated in the instructions it runs in XP mode with the a border surrounding the two line display.

In the default setting you have 5 tries to guess the 5 letter word which is chosen at random from the Word list. For your guess to be valid it also has to reside in the word list. If your guess word contains correct letters you will be rewarded with a 2 for each correct letter or a 1 if it's a correct letter in the wrong location. The aim is to get all letters correct i.e. 22222.

I have to say its a very addictive game and quite a challenge on the default settings. The English language does have some rather obscure and uncommon 5 letter words.
Thankfully there are some settings which can be adjusted during the game simply by pressing the Menu (on) key. You can change the number of tries between 5 and 9 and also have the option to remove validating your guess against the word list. With the list option set to n the program will operate more like the Mastermind game. This can help you eliminate letters more easily, for example entering "abcde". I must confess I've used this "cheat" when I'm really close to guessing the word but have run out of ideas.

What adds to the fun is looking up the more obscure words and finding out what they mean. I now know "almeh" was a female entertainer in Egypt!

A couple of points to note. As mentioned, I started with the 128k version thinking bigger is better. However, I soon realised that the response time searching through the 10,000 word database was quite slow. The 64k and 32k versions have better response times as they are searching a smaller word list.
There is also a slight issue with the handling of double letters which is mentioned in the technical section of the instructions. This is helped to some degree on the 32k/64k versions as Martin has systematically removed various words which contain combinations of letters, for example removing all the double letters like fiZZY and bOOze.

Overall I'd say this is my favourite addition to the Psion software library and many thanks to Martin for his time and effort developing this piece of software. Since writing this review I've sent Martin as updated version which improves on speed and handling of the double letters making FindWord even more playable!