Puzzled men solving sudoku become YouTube sensation | Technology – Blog – 10 minute

When Simon Anthony quit his lucrative but miserable job at a London investment bank to solve sudoku puzzles on YouTube, it looked like a bit of a leap. His early posts had done well to gain 100 views. Perhaps he had overestimated the demand for long videos of a 46-year-old man putting numbers in a grid from his spare room in Surrey.
A year later, Anthony is one half of an unlikely viral sensation: Cracking the Cryptic, the channel he runs with his old friend Mark Goodliffe, has become a lockdown fixture for millions. Much to the puzzlement of both men, they have turned sudoku into what right now might be the world’s most popular spectator sport.
“It’s amazing when a video goes viral because it just goes everywhere,” Anthony says from his home in Reigate. The channel he launched three years ago has taken off in the past few weeks, attracting more than 200,000 rapt subscribers and almost 30m views. “It’s just very, very surreal,” he adds.
Anthony’s latest hit is The Miracle Sudoku, a strangely compelling 25-minute video in which he takes on a seemingly impossible grid. In each video, a live view of the puzzle fills the left half of the screen, next to a webcam view of Anthony or Goodliffe, who commentate on their attempts to solve it.

“You’ve got to be joking,” Anthony says as he considers a grid that contains only two given numbers. As well as the normal rules (each row, column and block of little squares must contain the numbers one to nine) this puzzle contains a series of constraints. Adjacent cells can’t contain consecutive digits, for example.
At first Anthony thinks the compiler must be trolling him. Then slowly he begins to add numbers to the screen. When, 10 minutes in, he finds a place for all the ones and twos, Anthony dares to dream. “This is just staggering,” he says as the threes then fall into place, never departing from a soothing Home Counties monotone. “We are watching magic unfold here.”
Soon it becomes clear that Anthony is going to solve the puzzle. “I’m not sure I’ve got the adjectives to describe what is going on here,” he says as numbers pour into the grid like rain on a desert. “It’s like the universe is singing to us.”

Simon Anthony solves the ‘miracle’ sudoku. Photograph: YouTube
That excitement swept across the web this week, particularly in America, home to 27% of Anthony’s audience. “I swear to God, this 25-minute video of a guy doing a Sudoku puzzle is the most riveting television I’ve seen all year,” tweeted Dana Schwartz, a 27-year-old Los Angeles-based author and screenwriter not hitherto known to the English puzzling community. The Guardian’s resident mathematician and puzzle master, Alex Bellos, also highlighted the channel and set the “miracle” puzzle for his devotees, noting: “What makes the videos so joyous is the constant stream of ‘aha!’ moments.”
Demand had already surged in lockdown. Anthony launched the channel in June 2017 but with its spare-room scenery, low-fi design and split-screen webcam format, it looks like it was made for this moment. Anthony suspects something else is happening. “We’re getting an awful lot of emails saying we’re helping people with their mental health,” he says. “There seems to be a sort of ASMR-type quality to the videos.”
Before the “miracle” post, the big breakthrough came last month when Anthony put up another 25-minute video. It elicited phrases such as “good grief!” and “that’s quite startling, it really is”, but didn’t really stand out. Anthony has watched it race towards 4 million views. “It’s just bonkers,” he says, still baffled. “We focus all our time on solving puzzles but the YouTube algorithm is one that we have not cracked.”
Tweets poured in from maths royalty. Simon Singh, the writer, Rachel Riley of Countdown fame and Bobby Seagull, the teacher and University Challenge star, are all fans. But fame has gone quickly mainstream – and global.
“I’ve officially unlocked a new level of boredom… currently watching videos of a man solving sudoku puzzles,” James Charles, a 20-year-old millionaire American makeup artist with 19 million YouTube subscribers and 2bn views, tweeted last month. He had been binge watching the channel for days. “The videos are SO interesting but also help me relax!” he told his 5.5 million Twitter followers. “WTF IM LEGIT WATCHING HIM RN,” one replied.
Anthony and Goodliffe, who is 53 and lives in Gloucestershire, have now increased output to two daily videos and receive dozens of submissions a day from sudoku constructors. They have launched three apps and a range of merchandise.
Anthony, who has two young children, does not regret quitting his City job. “I only did it for one reason and was constantly aware I was working my youth away,” he says. He left with some savings and a notion that money from YouTube ads might then pay the bills. His income is still lower than it was – but it’s now climbing fast.
Anthony met Goodliffe at a crossword championships 20 years ago, before the sudoku boom of 2005. Puzzling then was exclusively a pencil affair and newspapers were the only outlet. “Now there is a way to reach these vast audiences from a loft in Reigate. It’s…” For the second time this month, Anthony struggles to find the adjectives.

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Solving the stigma around mental health- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

More and more of us in ad land have lived experience of mental health issues these days. In this increasingly busy, ‘always-on’ world the demands and expectations of clients and colleagues can sometimes exacerbate things for those of us who struggle with mental health problems. So, how are we to evolve to allow us to foster talent and offer the right kind of support to those who need it while still delivering first-class levels of client service?
I attended a wellbeing in work conference in Edinburgh last year which showed how businesses can (and must) adapt, and it was heartening and inspiring to see organisations of all sizes taking significant steps in this area. Most encouraging of all was to see how PricewaterhouseCoopers (the second largest professional services firm in the world) has developed their own wellbeing network and initiatives – providing genuine inspiration for staff inclusion, support and retention.
At Space & Time we have long been heavily invested in the wellbeing of our staff, and our mental health is at the forefront of that. We started out on our own journey of evolution around five years ago – the main catalysts of this being the work we have carried out alongside our client See Me, and increased instances of mental ill-health amongst our growing staff.
The agency has had an employee assistance programme available to all staff for some time but, faced with more real-life cases and the threat to both resource and revenue that an increase in absenteeism can pose, it was clear that some areas of our approach needed to be more clearly defined and developed.
Fixing the culture
See Me is Scotland’s national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, and they have been a client of ours since we planned a successful rebrand campaign in 2014. See Me’s aim is to change the culture around mental health so that people can feel confident in terms of speaking about how they are feeling and asking for help.
A particularly compelling workplace-focused campaign entitled ‘The Power of Okay’ led us into discussions with their workplace team around the ‘See Me in Work’ initiative, which aims to support organisations in addressing mental health, stigma and discrimination issues in work; creating a working environment where staff can feel safe and able to talk openly about mental health issues, and providing support and assistance for those who are experiencing mental health problems.
With a team in place to provide advice and a wide range of e-learning resources available they can offer real help to organisations who want to offer better support to staff.
One of the first steps was to undertake a staff survey – essentially a mental health check for the agency – to measure knowledge of, and attitudes to, everything to do around mental health in the workplace; including training, policies, recruitment and the process of returning to work. See Me helped develop the framework for this along with the roll out and collation of findings. A 74% response rate to the survey indicated a genuine desire to get involved, and 53% of those who responded indicated that they’d personally experienced a mental health problem. The other key findings were an identified need for more information around mental health and better training for staff at all levels.
Believing in change
Following the survey findings, we put simple steps in place around mental health like regular wellbeing tips for staff, more frequent promotion of key events and initiatives and more overt promotion of the agency’s EAP. After garnering the support of senior management (something that is essential for any organisation) we have implemented an action plan for the next 12 months with the help of the team at See Me – this includes the appointment of ‘champions’ in each of our five offices, mental health first aid training for all line managers and the development of more clearly defined disclosure and return to work policies.
An agency culture team has been created with the express purpose of developing and delivering these enriched wellbeing initiatives and the introduction of CSR-based projects will help minimise instances of mental ill-health and give staff the much-needed breathing space they need when faced with mental health issues.
We’ll conduct a follow-up survey later this year to ascertain how effective our action plan has been, but initial feedback across the agency is that more information and greater visibility are both essential and welcomed. It’s clear that we all have more to do, but See Me’s workplace initiative has made the process a lot easier for Space & Time.
Keith Benzie, associate director at Space & Time.

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IAB Rolling Heavies: Dentsu Aegis Network’s Audrey Kuah on the joys of creative problem solving- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The IAB Singapore’s Rolling Heavies series is back, with more of Asia Pacific’s most influential digital leaders answering questions while riding on a bike.
This is the third series, created by the IAB Singapore in partnership with cloud video creation platform 90 Seconds, that Tempemail is proud to exclusively host. The series sees IAB Singapore chief executive officer and ambassador to Southeast Asia, Miranda Dimopoulos, ask senior industry leaders about their career, while riding down Singapore’s East Coast park.
In the latest episode, Audrey Kuah, managing director, Global Data Innovation Centre and executive director, Media, Asia Pacific, Dentsu Aegis Network and IAB SEA Regional Board Member, talks about the joys of creative problem solving and feeling proud of making material gains for clients.
To catch up with past episodes, which includes leaders from GroupM, Comscore and SPH, check out the rest of the series.

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