"It's going to be very interesting to see it in its—I was
going to say 'in its final format.' But, you know,
that's probably not the right word;
because most things aren't final until we stop doing them."
Yeah. This morning, before listening to Snoutcast, I made some tweaks to the 2-Tone Game, you know, that theoretically-already-finalized puzzle hunt from a few years back. I changed the ending of that one puzzle to work around an unfortunately-placed planter (and hopefully recapture some puzzle-iness that had been lost). And I changed some computer-stuff about the way the web site works. (Thanks for giving me a few years to get around to upgrading to the High Replication storage system, App Engine team! It took me a while, uhm OK more than a year, but I got to it.)
Octothorpean will change, I'm sure. In theory the straightforward-beginning puzzles will tech new folks what they need to know to understand the not-so-straightforward later puzzles. But this hasn't been tested. The only new-to-puzzlehunt folks who have tested the later puzzles…were that group of new folks who were joined by more experienced puzzlehunters partway through their test. Good for their progress; not so good for experimenting. So, uhm, it might work, might not work. Prrrobably it will work in some places, not others.
Suppose it's a few months after the site goes live. Suppose I look at the stats and notice that lots of people make it through the Morse section; but lots of people make it halfway through the Semaphore section and then give up. That would be a sign that experts can handle it but it fails to teach new folks; a sign that something about that section could use some attention, some changes. Ever-changing, full of life, like a heap of compost…uhm, I'm not sure I like where that metaphor's going. Anyhow.
oh wait i meant Ghost Patrol Reconstructed, an online puzzle hunt. Folks outside the San Francisco bay area might not know this, but Team Lowkey's Ghost Patrol puzzlehunts are pretty frickin' amazing. (Also folks who, due to intense demand, couldn't get into those events, might not know either...) This puzzle hunt is gonna be online, so people in far-away places like Bakersfield can play, too.
I'm working on the answer-checking system for this hunt, so you know I'm excited. As part of that, I playtested the puzzles and they were really cool; extra clever, super thematic, and very Lowkey.
Updated to add: As Brian Mendenhall points out: past Ghost-Patrol
events were run
by lowkey and Desert Taxi equally.
It's a good thing I didn't know about @ClassicBowling's lovely checkerboard motif a few years back, or I'd probably be trying to maintain a somehow-snuck-in 2-tone bowling puzzle today. That decoration's lovely, though.
While I was off observing a REDACTED playtest, Dave Schweisguth was finishing off the 2-Tone Game. He even figured out the UI by which winners can send a taunting message to Game Control (a feat even rarer than winning), but, uhm, I found out first from his tweet
Hmm, Gabe was a fine introducer, but he wasn't microphoned.
You might want to skip ahead two or three minutes into the
video to where things make more sense.
Abe Burickson, Odyssey Works ringleader talks.
Starts by having the audience close their eyes so we could
better use our imaginations for the "walk-through" of part
of an O.W. experience. (It's a relief to watch the video and
find out I wasn't missing some amazing visual presentation.)
The walk-through… the dentist office, the color red,
the dancers, the clock radio, the cafe, the theme
"The Map is Not the Territory"…
This experience is described as it would have been performed
for Abe—the color red means something to him; if the
performance was for you and red has negative connotations for
you, then they would have used another color.
Ayden Grout, documenter, speaks. Took on the challenging
task of documenting these performances.
Going to talk about the performance documented in the book
Isolation and Amazement, a.k.a. "The Map is Not The Territory".
We're going to start by learning about Carl.
(So is "The Map is Not the Territory" something for Abe or something
for Carl? Now that I've read Isolation and Amazement,
I see that the clock-radio bit, e.g., was part of this performance
for Carl. So what experience was described in that walk-through?
Was there a "first draft" of "The Map is Not the Territory" sketched
out by Abe for Abe? But then adapted for Carl?)
Carl was an information architect, somewhat scattered, with a strong
Candidate participants fill out a survey. Part of this is keeping
a dream journal; and O.W. works with a dream analyst who can pull
out unusual bits.
Oh, Abe's too excited to let Ayden keep talking at us, he's
When sketching out the overall piece, use a timeline.
The timeline shows location and activity; but since they're trying
to pace an experience, they also have a tempo and an
indication of whether each part is more experienced with mind vs body.
(Probably it's good to let the audience reflect a bit after the
The mind vs body: this was just for Carl's experience.
O.W. thought he might be
living in his head too much; much of their thought was when to
take him Dionysian vs Apollonian. For another audience, the
timeline might have shown something else.
Well, the overall piece doesn't show up in the timeline.
That's just the 36 hours containing the main part of the piece.
It doesn't show the foreshadowing that they snuck in during the
weeks ahead of time.
Abe: "In the past we've tried to videotape these [performances]
and it's hard. It's a 36-hour performance." (Sounds familiar
to folks who've experience a proper weekend
The Game game, and sympathized with TV and/or video documentarians
trying to record this activity where so much of the experience
happens inside the participants' heads.)
Ayden's talking about how she documents things: pull together
still photos and written materials created for the piece.
Lots of collaborators create things; gather those things.
Put 'em in a book.
It's good to be the documenter. All this cool stuff passes through
How strange it is to be so aware of the audience.
She's learned what Carl looks like, his gait.
Talks about sneaking foreshadowing into Carl's life ahead of the
main performance. An actor playing "Jen" showed up at a friend's
party, got Carl talking about dancing, roped him into some movement
classes in the park. Jerk in a goat mask occasionally harassed Carl,
smooshing him in the face with a pie, squirts him with a water pistol.
Carl was a Borges fan; so they made a fake book by Xul Solar, like Bacon
to Shakespeare, is sometimes suspected of having written Borges'
novels. Added notes in the margins, hinting at secret knowledge
within the book.
When he woke up on game art day, had text messages
from friends: his friend Miles was missing
Heard the radio excerpt. Sent him to cafe.
Met Bjorg (Bjorn?), who shared a name with character in Xul novel.
Mute, gave Carl written notes for instructions on how to spend
rest of day: going places in the city to map their "intensity".
This would aid the search for Miles.
At these locations, there were actors in green shirts doing variations
on the theme of making maps: might be drawing map on the ground, might
be doing something else. Pace is frantic.
Cab ride to Samsara Mapping HQ--here, there's mapping, but the pace
is slow. Actors here dressed in red. Where green-shirts in park had
been twitchy, the red-shirts here are calm, studious, perhaps
meditative in their map-making process.
This mapping might be traditional cartography; or not.
One map: on a window with a view of a skyline, someone drew outlines
of the visible buildings. Then adhered cards to the window where
the, uhm, energy level of the cards matched those of the
A quiet lunch, making a map that will help find Miles.
Then goat man chases Carl for 20 blocks. Carl runs to subway
station (guided, I suppose, by a companion from GC who knew
this was part of the plot?), boards a train, sits down.
Is surprised when two passengers near his seat are conversing
about the acceleration and decerlation of the train, how it
maps to the myth of Sisyphus. Then they turn to Carl and tell
him it's time for him to leave the train.
At the next station, Jen the movement instructor is there.
She hands him a rock. Carl's task: let Jen lead him through Central
Park as he carries the rock and doesn't talk.
Various set pieces in the park: friends of Carl's greet him; walk
in a pack around him; then go away, taking with them his cell phone,
his wallet, his money.
Abe jumps in to tell us: this wasn't just hazing. They
were trying to put Carl into a mood to receive the impressions
he was about to experience.
…Three ladies on a bench reading a book Carl had put together.
Dancers dancing to his favorite song.
Carl's next task: walk on his own, carrying the heavy rock, for
another 50? blocks to a community garden.
Abe met him there: had scripted some dialog, but when he saw
how meditative (exhausted?) Carl was, skipped that and went
straight to a quiet dinner.
After dinner, the Goat Man appeared with some of Carl's friends
who tied Carl up and blindfolded him.
They put Carl into a box that his girlfriend
had constructed to keep him from getting too banged around for
the subsequent van-ride-abduction.
After the ride, he's let out of the box, still blindfolded.
He's outdoors; there's chanting. He's led to a wooden stake,
tied to it. There's tinder at his feet, he feels the heat of
And he's freed by Miles, the friend who he was supposed to be trying
to rescue all day.
The bacchanal: in the woods, dancing and chanting around a fire.
The rending of flesh; tearing bites from haunches of meat.
Several hours of this.
Blindfolded again, put in car. He fell asleep, exhausted.
Woke up in a bed in a house in the country, "a new life".
"Living" in the house were actors Roger the gardener and Ayden
They feed Carl breakfast, lead him out to the porch where a typewriter
awaits him. Carl sits at the typewriter and writes for four hours
while Ayden works on her artwork nearby and Roger gardens; each
working on their craft. Ayden made some lunch, brought it to Carl,
told him that his odyssey was over.
Gave him the choice between making his own way back or getting a ride
from O.W. They had in mind one of Carl's experiences: hitch-hiking.
And he chose to make his own way back.
After the Odyssey
Carl bought the exact same model of typewriter that he'd worked on
at the country house. He wanted to keep writing.
In the months that followed, Carl changed many things in his life.
Broke up with girlfriend. New job. Moved. These changes common
after being the audience for a performance.
Abe breaks in to say: "And that's just the participants; to say nothing
of the artists we work with." Kind of a strange thing to point out, is
he teasing someone about some gossip?
It's not that O.W. wants to change everything about the audience's
life. But they do want to shake things up, to show that there's a
possibility for change.
Background: was at artists' retreat with friend Matt. Talking about
subjectivity of art experience; you can create a piece of art, hoping
it will change folks. But since folks view each piece of art differently,
it's going to affect them differently; few of them will experience it
in the way that you hoped.
What if you could investigate the audience's point of view? What if
you built your art around that?
A tangent that suggests O.W. spends too much time trying to explain
themselves to artists and not enough time talking with folks who
just want to get things done:
But then what kind of art is this?
Most art is made for a multitude, not for one well-understood person.
The question about the definition of art became moot when a urinal
was put up on a pedestal. (This makes me wonder how I'd pronouce
the "Mutt" in "R. Mutt" if I were French.)
Whether you're talking about art or games, you want to think of it
in terms of the experience, not the object.
How do you understand your audience then? Give 'em a survey, a
questionaire that takes 3-10 hours to finish. Give
surveys to the folks around 'em.
Influences: John Fowles' The Magus. You should read it,
but don't see the movie
Systems Theory: Abe was an architect. But it's not enough to think of
a building as an object. You must think of how it fits into its context,
the surrounding network of streets etc.
Don't want their art to be in art's equivalent of the "magic circle".
Want art meant to be experienced in the context of a life.
Two Tenets Generosity, Intimacy
When Ayden met Abe, she was a jaded NYC art student. But she'd been
writing letters to a friend for the past 10 years. Was there some way to
capture that intimacy in art? When professors asked "Who is your audience?"
There's not a great answer when your answer is "Whoever shows up."
Abe doesn't think about letters, but about a love poem: you don't write it
because you call yourself a poet; you don't write in the same way you'd try
to write a cool song. You write it with someone in mind. The art's result
isn't public accolades, but a change in a relationship.
More O.W. folks come up front for Q&A:
Q Do you have a measurement of pleasure vs pain so you know
how far you can take your audience?
Abe: Nope. Our audience is one person and that would be so
particular. Also, we're not trying for some The-Game-movie mindfuck.
(Ayden jumps in—when you heard about Carl's ordeal, you might think
that's what we were going for, but not all odysseys are so intense)
Abe: like Shoshana here was in the second odyssey, and sure we had her
tied up in the back of a van
Shoshana: but that's because I was supposed to be in a chrysalis and
would emerge with wings
Q Ever do any smaller odysseys?
Yep, for each other. And try smaller experiments.
Q (Difficult-to-follow question:) I work in non-profit around
art. Folks ask who audience is, it's never easy to answer. Your approach
is a breath of fresh air. How do you talk with people about it?
(Maybe she means trying to write grants?)
Nell: our artists, our actors, volunteer. They get stories.
Ayden: it's weird how it takes over your life. Afterwards, walking around
NYC, I saw places and thought more about why they were important to Carl
than why they were important to me.
Q (was this Deb?) How did you get him to run into the subway station?
Ayden: Text messaging helps.
Abe: It's rigid; you have to work with all kinds of flexibility.
There are backup systems.
Nell: Trial, trial, trial and error.
Q But the actors that he overheard…
Abe: OK, they were waiting on the platform. So they could see him run in,
he's chased in. They know what he looks like. So they could board after
him, sit near him.
We rehearsed, tried it out with fake participants. But people got on the
wrong train before. People got arrested before.
Shoshana: Because they saw a protest, thought it must be part of the
Abe: He thought "Aw these aren't real cops; they've got cloth badges.
They'd have real handcuffs, they wouldn't zip-tie me."
Q What's the closest you've been to something going terribly wrong?
Nell: You mean like getting pulled over and there's someone tied up in
the back of the van? Abe's all "Can't they see I'm in the middle of
some performance art right now? I'm changing this woman's life!"
Q How do you get funding?
Abe: Commissions. Like, you can commission it for somebody else.
We used to get grants. But now we do festivals. It's a
little weird. Like coming up in Brookly, the BEAT Festival, we had to work
with them to figure out a way that we're engaging their public.
Q (This question got lost in the room's echoes to me. Might have
been about strangeness of knowing so much about a stranger?)
Nell: (something about generosity and intimacy and a fake book
signing that might make more sense if I'd understood the question?)
Ayden: Carl had a strange experience meeting me at my apartment a week after
his odyssey. He thought of me as that woman who lived at that house.
Nell: It's amazing that people share as much as they do. But it has a good
effect; it pulls me out of my own neuroses; makes me care about their life.
We're generous if we're given a chance to be.
Shoshana: We started doing this by giving odysseys to each other. We were
close; we knew each other really well. We started with that.
Q When you do foreshawing-ish things in the weeks ahead of an
Odyssey, how do you keep the audience from suspecting?
Ayden: They don't figure it out. We make it sound like it's obvious.
(But in the audience's life, there's no spotlight on those events to
say "pay attention to this part".)
Abe: It's amazing how credulous we all are.
That gets a sympathetic chuckle from me. An early draft of a 2-Tone puzzle used a downtown parking meter as part of a puzzle. A playtest was during the holiday shopping season; the city put bags over the parking meters to indicate that parking was free; that part of that puzzle didn't work so great. In theory, someone designing a one-day event wouldn't really have to worry about such things… uhm, in theory.
This isn't jotting notes on @writerguygames' presentation at the Adventure Design Group meetup hosted by the lovely folks at The Go Game. Rather, this is notes on the conversation afterwards. Because that didn't get recorded on the video so I should scribble it down now, before I forget.
When I arrived at the place I was sorry that I didn't see any puzzlehunters. But I was wrong. Actually, Tyler Hinman was there. But he was sitting up front on a sofa, and I didn't recognize him from the back of his head.
Afterwards, he discreetly refused to tell me any NPL con gossip. What a gentleman.
And I was doubly wrong because there were more puzzlehunters there—two members of Viscosity Breakdown. Not that I knew who Viscosity Breakdown are. I didn't even recognize them as puzzlehunters; I thought, oh they say they're puzzlehunters, they must be new. But they're not new. Apparently, they were playing puzzlehunts more than 10 years ago as team Secular Hedonists. But then folks moved away to grad school, and that team fell apart. But now a couple of them are back in the area, getting back into games. (But still they're not new; they've been playing again for years. I'm just clueless. And really grateful they introduced themselves.) So if you run into team Viscosity Breakdown, ask 'em about the good old days, I guess. Well, they seem pretty happy with the new days. Anyhow.
The Secret Puzzle Hunt Cabal is a treasure. You can tell 'em "I'm thinking of running a hunt on the 13th" and, between them, they know when the MS Intern Hunt is, the NPL convention, the MS Puzzle Safari, … And thus you may find yourself running a hunt on the 21st, instead. A date that looks about the same on the calendar, but doesn't exclude umpty-ump percent of the likely participants is a good thing.
I'm back in San Francisco. That Jejune Institute Movie is coming back to San Francisco, too. I want to see it this time. Especially since it looks like I won't have to stay up past midnight or whatever to do so.
I watched the new Studio Ghibli film, "From up on Poppy Hill" and of course all I could think about was the marine signal flags. In the movie, our heroine, who lives in portside Yokohama, hoists signal flags each day saying UW. Why UW? Was she a fan of the University of Washington? University of Wisconsin? Was she sad that her father, lost at sea during the Korean War, was Under Water? Was she cheering on Yokohama's boats as Under Way?
Then I read some wiki that said those flags meant "I wish you a pleasant voyage" which didn't seem to have anything to do with UW. But that's because I didn't know about The International Code of Signals. These are protocols by which folks on one ship can contact folks on another ship and convey the notion "I would like to communicate by means of semaphore flags." You could just start waving semaphore flags, but if the folks on the other ship want to use some other method, how do you work that out? The Code of Signals isn't just a code-as-in-protocol. It's also a code-as-in-encoding. It defines some things like "UW" means "I wish you a pleasant voyage."
There are also shorthand ways to say, "We are going to jump by parachute" (BO), "Further explosions are possible" (JD3), and "My vessel is a dangerous source of radiation" (MS). You know, the kind of everyday shipboard phrases you don't want to have to spell out each time. I guess?
I'd seen books of merchant codes. If you were a New York manufacturer who wanted news from your traveling salesman in Omaha, you wanted him to telegraph you. But since telegraph companies and clerks were often into industrial espionage, you wanted to use a code. So each big company had a code with boring shorthand ways to say boring things like "5 bushels of oats at the agreed-upon price." But the International Code of Signals has more drama. "I have to cut the warps. The trawls are entangled" (TU). That's some delicate news to convey, right there.
Have you gotten around to ordering @MazeofGames yet? It's gonna be a puzzly choose-your-own-adventure book. Like The Dextrus of Tempus, only moreso. (But I bet if you know what The Dextrus of Tempus is, you probably already ordered @MazeofGames. Anyhow.)
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Kickstarter
The Puzzazz folks want to send you a puzzle a month, a sort of time-release extravaganza. Or something like that, check it out. Be sure to watch the video for a new entry in your "Wei-Hua Puts His To...
Link: Puzzlehunt Pencils
In case you've run low on Shinteki graph paper, Eric Harshbarger will sell you pencils adorned with code alphabets. Hmm, they're #2 pencils. For collaborative outdoor nighttime solving, that's probab...
Richard Benjamin on "The Last of Sheila"
The A.V. Club isn't completely worthless without their crossword. They interviewed the actor Richard Benjamin about, among other things, "The Last of Sheila." Mostly stuff that you already knew, sure...
Link: The Animator Letters Project
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Pretty sure that @GoogleArt lets me see this intricate old astrolabe more closely online (if I zoom in) than I could in the "live" museum, where it would be in a glass case. And what are the chances ...
Link: SpliceVine interview with Sara Thacher
@thacher is a big name in the @jejuneinstitute game and other TransMedia experience/game/thingies. This site about video editing(?!) interviewed her, and she mentions an early influence: Janet Cardif...
@ikai pointed out an unintentionally funny article The Real Reason Silicon Valley Coders Write Bad Software. The reason? Because they aren't better English writers. This article made it into the Atla...
@_dev_joe, maintainer of the MIT Mystery Hunt Puzzle Index,, has announced an update. More puzzles, more organized, plus a tidbit especially interesting to me since I haven't played in the Mystery Hu...
Twitter is Hiring a Tech Writer
...or maybe more than one. I dunno, @JoinTheFlock is mysterious to me. I didn't even know the listing was up until someone told me. Am I under a non-solicit thingy with you? I.e., do you work at Goo...
Link: Where Else? / exploring nonchalance
It's a really good write-up of the Nonchalance/Jejune Institute Game. It's a Cardhouse product. That means it's written by someone who's a lot closer to the Nonchalant wavelength than I am; and also ...
Link: Cosmo, the Hacker "God" Who Fell to Earth
This article about an identy thief is pretty amazing. Perhaps 25% of its amazing-ness comes from the story itself: how on earth does a 15-year old kid get so good at navigating bureaucracy that he ca...
I'm Jill Stein!
Which 2012 USA Presidential Candidate are you? Take this personality quiz and find out! This quiz also says that my opinions are closer to those of Democrats than Greens. Since Stein is the Green Pa...
Comment on GFPuzz's WarTron writeup
I tried leaving a comment on GFPuzz's WarTron writeup, but then LiveJournal told me my comment had been automagically marked as Spam. (I dunno why. Maybe because I use an OpenID account on LJ?) Anyho...
Link: Anagramr anagramming game
This is me with the high score at an anagramming game: Leaderboard: @lahosken:170 @stalefries:111 @nwerneck:67 @ixpu:56 @ckolderup:55— An Anagram Game (@anagramr) August 30, 2012 You might wo...
Link: Ravenchase Great America Race writeup
A team of west-coast puzzlehuntists played through the whole Ravenchase Great America Race last week, solving in cities from Washington DC to Boston. They blogged the race, mostly posting a writeup t...
Link: Your free software website
I am a technical writer. Within technical writing, as with other kinds of writing, there are genres. Genres are defined by rules. If you want to write the web page for an open-source project, these a...
Link: Ranking Wikipedia Pages
This puzzle nerd has ideas on how to rank Wikipedia pages for notable-ness. Similar goals to Nutrimatic, but taking advantage of more data. Some of you folks might have some good ideas on things he c...
Link: Going Cardboard
I enjoyed this documentary about boardgames and boardgamers, Going Cardboard. If you don't already think boardgames are fun, this movie probably won't convince you otherwise. But I think they're fun ...
I annotated a geographical location in Pinwheel.com. It might or might not be a good way to pass information for games that happen out in the world. It's new, so I'm sure it will change. For now, jus...
animated gif zombocom logo
The internet is not yet complete; there are still gaps. For example, today I tried to find an animated GIF of the zombo.com animated "flower" logo and couldn't find it. So I made one (with some bla...
Even SF Japantown
Who else wants to play @realegame? It's ~1.5 hours long with about an hour of team puzzling in SF Japantown. They're running a few sessions, so you can choose when you want to play. Most of those ses...
Book Report: Hackerspaces: the Beginning
Oh, I heard a mouse chewing above my head. I sure hope it doesn't figure out how to get into my apartment from my neighbors' apartment and... uhm, but I didn't want to talk about gnawing-spaces, I wa...
More Tyro Crossword Construction ramblings
Some days ago, I posted some noobish thoughts about crossoword construction. I'd figured out that Nutrimatic's default word lists were good for Nutrimatic's use case, but not so great for a list of c...
The new ice cream parlor a few blocks away has a backstory: during prohibition times, bartenders were out of work. So they went to the soda fountains and sophisticated-itized them. I felt like a n00b...
Mechanics' Institute Library
Remember a while back I screamed that USA legislators wanted to make a local censorship service a la China's Great Firewall? They're still at it. Lots of folks are protesting it today. You can, too. ...
ArtGameLab, Super Going
@thacher has been interesting lately if you're a San Francisco person who likes pervasive games. (That's not unusual. If you're even halfway into ARGy stuff, yawta follow her.) She mentioned that the...
I joined goodreads, yet another site that recommends books to read based upon books that you liked. It's been around for a while, but I didn't join. Amazon.com's recommendations were fine! But then A...
The Nonchalance website (GC behind Jejune Institute) updated recently The Jejune Institute is now CLOSED. Our adventures concluded in 2011 with hidden episodes IV and V. For information on our ne...
Link: Nourot Studio glass pumpkins
Behold a link to Glass pumpkinoid decorations, photos thereof. One stop during the bay area rerun of the WHO game was Nourot Glass Studio in Benicia. On display were glass pumpkins. Of course, The ...
Book Report: Tactile Morse Code
Sometimes, you can judge a book by its cover. I don't feel that I need to read the book Tactile Morse Code because its cover explains its system pretty well. Bonus irony points for being a book about...
Book Report: Hackerspaces: the Beginning
It's a free book in which folks who participate in Hackerspaces write about their organizations and their spaces. Hackerspaces are tangled up with the Maker movement: folks who chip in to form a spac...
Happy American Censorship Day
If you use the internet, you probably want to visit http://americancensorship.org/. USA legislators want to set up China's Great Firewall in the USA, urged on by copyright holders screaming about pir...
Link: new Dead Milkmen album
Fogeypunks and humorees of a certain age might remember The Dead Milkmen from back in the day. They have a new album out. I haven't listened to the whole thing, but "Caitlin Childs" and "Meaningless...
Book Report: Deep State
If you've been listening to the recent Snoutcast podcasts, you've heard interviews with some ARG (Alternate Reality Game) folks. If you listened to this week's podcast, you might have heard of a Walt...
Link: Why Did The Elite Extend The Suffrage?
Maybe I should try a warped Churchill quote on my Libertarian friends: Big Government is the worst form of government in the world except all the others that have been tried. It's not 100% pure flipp...
The Go Gopher Meme is Too Damn High
I've been messing around with writing an web app on App Engine using Go. A few months ago, there was a nice demo presentation of creating such an app that used as its example Mustach-io, a program fo...
Why I love Puzzalot Forum
Post by Robotguy: I am working on a type of crossword that is played on the surface of regular polyhedra... [more explanation...] I would appreciate any feedback. And this yielded relevant, practic...
Book Report: Tabletop: Analog Game Design
It's a collection of papers by a few authors about tabletop games: design, history, culture, place in society, all that. I got it for free here: Tabletop: Analog Game Design. Some of my co-workers a...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even in NYC audibly
Remember how I went to New York and kinda figured out that some of the puzzle nerds there were into some kind of puzzly-geocaching combination thingy that I never really figured out? This week's Snou...
Comic Report: Three #1
Three #1 is a comic anthology featuring three LGBT comic artists telling LGBT stories, so you'd think it would be some boring thing that you'd read to one-up your sweater-wearing NPR-listening f...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Morgan Hill
Hey Seattle puzzle people: don't click the link in this blog post. I'm talking about a BANG, but some SNAPpish folks are talking about re-running this event in Seattle. Actually, you know what? Don't...
There was finally an entry puzzle on The Master Theorem simple enough such that even I could solve it. I kinda wish that had happened before DASH3, where I met one of the Master Theorem guys. Because...
If you're in Google Plus and want to encircle me, I am lahosken [at] gmail [dot] com. Not much stuff of mine will show up there any time soon; I couldn't find a way to import my blog posts there yet...
Swedish Rebusrally team name I would gladly steal: Baron Bosse BehĂ¶ver BetĂ¤nketid. I don't know what that means, but I'm sure I betĂ¤nk like a bosse. On the other hand, not so much: The Sammanswet...
USPS-mailed some puzzle printouts to a hotel so that (I hope) some out-of-towners in town for Shinteki can use them to play 2-Tone on Friday without having to slow down to print stuff out at a Kinko...
There's a van parked across the street from my apartment labeled Digital Concrete. That sounded about as useful as Online Haircuts. But when I visited the Digital Concrete website, it was pretty inte...
The Tenderloin National Forest is a cool little spot in San Francisco. It's been around for a few years, but I didn't know about it until I walked past today, checking up on 2-Tone Game sites. The Fo...
My Ubuntu box auto-updated a bunch of packages with names like "libavcodec" and "ffmpega". Hey those got mentioned on all those troubleshooting pages with which I totally failed to use Pitivi edit a ...
I'm trying to figure out if I'm set up to shoot and edit simple home videos. This Linux distro comes with a video editor called "Pitivi". As near as I can tell, that name is short for "I piti the foo...
puzzlehuntcalendar.com makes a difference
A few people have been playing the 2-Tone Game this past weekend—referred by puzzlehuntcalendar.com. I checked the IP addresses of three of the players; they were from the East Bay, Spain, and ...
Lowell vs Reality
You may recall that in the most recent California gubernatorial primary, I voted for Lowell Darling. He had the best plan for fixing California's revenue situation: if elected governor, he'd do nothi...
Escapist Comics: as threatened, the Dark Carnival folks opened up a comic book store in Berkeley, bootstrapping it with the comics "left over" from Comic Relief. It's on Claremont Ave, out next to Da...
People kvetch about ineffective government nowadays, but I just read this report of the 1880 legal case UNITED STATES v. THIRTY-TWO BARRELS OF DISTILLED SPIRITS and the distilled spirits won. It's c...
Sometime the past few years, the prefix "cyber-" changed meaning. It used to mean "high-tech". But lately, it's meant "I am trying to sell some poorly-thought-out computer crap to the USA governmen...
Technical Writing Student Internships
Google is taking technical writing interns this summer. Yeah, everyone at Google's a genius and should never ever need anything explained to them. OMG especially not by some wet-behind-the-ears compu...
I created an about.me profile. I'd heard about about.me, wondered what the fuss was about, so I tried it. Now I've tried it and... I still wonder what the fuss was about. So now I have yet another p...
Art Hunts are Everywhere, even the Presidio
I was just reminded of a walk I recently took in San Francisco's Presidio. There was an art event going on around the Fort Winfield Scott area; exhibits scattered around outside. You could approach...
15 Games Meme
I got tagged by a meme in Facebook. It's about games. Since I'm on the front seat of this bus and the people on the seat behind me can see my laptop screen, I guess I won't playtest any puzzles rig...
If you're wondering What is this mysterious "conversation" for which Larry felt he needed to come up with "talking points" ahead of time? the truth can now be revealed: it was a Snoutcast interview. ...
Link: My Secret Identity Revealed on CPedia
The folks at the Cuil search engine have a new way of presenting their data, Cpedia. Instead of the stereotypical list-of-ten-results, they construct an encyclopedia article. Where by "they", I mea...
Link: Blue Door Puzzle Trail
I ego-surfed for mentions of the 2 Tone Game, and found one: a post on an ARG (Alternate Reality Gaming) forum. (Thanks for that!) The poster there called the 2 Tone Game a "puzzle trail". Apparen...
I am an Aardvark
I joined Aardvark, the social search service where you ask questions and they're answered by your friends, your friends-of-friends, or whoever. And then I totally failed to think of a question to as...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even Disneyland
Excerpt from the bottom of Matt Haughey's Disneyland travelog Another highlight of the trip was using the Wishing Stars iPhone app in the park. It's basically a photo and clue-driven scavenger hunt ...
Link: Puzzle Forum @ Puzzalot
If you're a puzzle-huntist, I'm sure you're already subscribed to the excellent Puzzalot blog, so I don't know why I even bother to link to link to his post announcing that he set up a puzzle forum. ...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Rashomon Gate
The BANG 25 Writeup Addendum over at Puzzalot gets into a tricky aspect of team puzzle-solving: figuring out who had which insight. It's a hard problem; I've given up on it myself. If Player A tell...
Link: Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World
Puzzling World is a tourist destination in New Zealand. It started out as a big maze for people to wander around in. Then they added some strange attractions. Some of the ad copy worries me, thoug...
Google & OpenID: discovery URL
A while back, I mentioned that Google supported Opendid. There's one important detail that I had a hard time finding amidst the mountains of documentation: If the user wants to use their Google acco...
Link: Pimp my Bookcart Contest
Some webcomic is holding a Bookcart decoration contest. The only place I have ever seen decorated book carts is at UC Berkeley's library; that's where I've shot all of my book cart graffiti photos. ...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, Even in the News
Alert reader Mahlen spotted this article at SFGate, an essay by Dave Blum of Dr Clue: ..."The Amazing Race" definitely has boosted interest in treasure hunts, but that sort of competition and dysfu...
Link: Plain ol' Tasha
Tasha draws a comic. It's pretty good. She was inspired by Jim's Journal, and that inspiration shows. You might think I'd link to a good comic to recommend it. But I never got around to it. Yest...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Tampa
A few years back, I pointed out a multi-day Game shaping up in New Zealand with a bionic theme. That game never came together. But all was not lost! Eagle-eyed Justin Graham got word: The GC for tha...
Link: Ken Jennings roolz San Francisco
City Hall runs this town. And who runs city hall? Not Gavin Newsom--he's bumbling around, grooming himself for a gubernatorial run. Fortunately Jeopardy star Ken Jennings stepped in to keep city ha...
Link: XXX, Poison Picnic Puzzlehunts
I'm not cool enough to attend SXSW, but when folks there twitter about attending a puzzlehunt lecture, I pay attention. A lecture about puzzlehunts, forsooth. Apparently, a couple of folks put togeth...
I occasionally backed up my files. But it was always ad-hoc: zip up an archive of some files, upload it to my web server. Done by hand when I got around to it (not often). Then there was the time ...
Link: Warren Spector, Playing Word Games
Warren Spector does not, as far as I know, play uppercase "T" The uppercase "G" Game. But he designs lowercase "g" games. He worked on some good stuff for the Paranoia pencil-and-paper RPG... uhm, ...
I haven't posted a new J-ska review in ages. Did they do any good? I don't know. I got angry emails from folks who wanted to make sure that I should really give the band Mongol 800 another chance;...
Link: Help Get Sita out of Copyright Jail
The fun of watching cartoons plus the smugness of giving to a good cause: I encourage you to Help Get Sita out of Copyright Jail You might remember the cartoonist Nina Paley. Or you might not rememb...
Link: Free Andi Watson Comic
You don't have to blog about the things you're thinking about. Sometimes the things you're thinking about... don't bear blogging. Sometimes you can use blogging as an excuse to think about somethin...
Link: Coffee to the People
I guess as long as I'm linking to a cafe, I should link to the place where I pick up coffee on weekend mornings: Coffee to the People. I claim that it is awesome. It's a cafe at Haight on Masonic. T...
Link: USA Census Tract Data
I want to travel somewhere, but where? I like the places that I've been. I could keep going back to them. Then again, one reason to travel is to see new things. How do I keep from falling into a ...
[Edited to add: If you have questions or concerns about Caja, the Google Caja Discuss group is a good place to ask them.] When you write a program that's supposed to be secure, you have to plan on ...
Link: Arising like a Phoenix from a Bathtub
Further evidence of Darcy's ongoing awesomeness: she rescued the contents of the team Taft on a Raft web site. It's back! Including the material from the The Apprentice Zorg game! If you sadly too...
Ghost Patrol Links, including Photos
Yeah, yeah, you were waiting for the Ghost Patrol results, but me, I was waiting for Wesley's photos. And he posted them: Wes Chan's Ghost Patrol photos. Mostly photos of puzzles and of our team (M...
Link: Muppet Movie Game Blog
I was was avoiding linking to the Muppet Movie Game Site, but have since figured out that was dumb of me. You might say I avoided linking them due to philisophical differences... but really it was m...
Link: We Told Stories
Do you remember a few months back, there was a web-sensation around a novel told through the medium of Google Maps? I read that novel. What I didn't know is that this project was part of the effort...
Link: Ghost Patrol Forums, Sort of
Meat Machine (well, the Bay Area team by that name) set up a "Ghost Capturing" part of their Ghost Patrol application: a social network for ghosts (and ghost sympathizers. I joined, but have encount...
Link: Ghost Patrol Application from Mystic Ghosti
You won't find the Mystic Ghosti application on YouTube because... it's not a video. We played to our strengths, creating a ghost-capturing cryptic crossword. Where by "we", I mean "not me". My "c...
Link: BANG Suddenly Looming on Horizon
As one of the bureaucrats of the Bay Area Night Game wiki, I sleepily go through my chores. My feed reader monitors the "recent changes" section of the wiki. When it detects something, I go to the ...
Link: A 3-D Puzzle Chat Room
Here's an attempt at creating a Lively room for the discussion of puzzles, puzzle hunts, and/or whatever. (That sentence might make more sense if I explain that "Lively" is Google's new free 3-D cha...
Puzzle Hunts were Everywhen, even 1973
Holy #$!) check it out: It's old Game invites to pre-Midnight Madness 1970s Don Luskin et. al puzzle-y Games! And newspaper articles describing those games! It seems like they were pretty heavy on ...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Minneapolis
Remember a while back, I mentioned SF0, a not-really-a-puzzle-hunt dealie, more of a mutual-dare society? Well some folks on SF0 bridged the gap to puzzlehuntdom: they hosted a puzzle hunt in Minnea...
Puzzles from Down Under
I don't know anything about the puzzles announced at the Google Australia Blog which is a little frustrating because I'm apparently not supposed to register to look at them.Labels: link, puzzle scene...
Link: Race for the Galaxy
When people ask me what I do at work, I clam up. Most of that stuff is confidential. Like when some of us geek gamers play-tested the geek game Race for the Galaxy some evenings, we knew it was a f...
I don't feel so bad about all those times Susan Ross beat me at Petaluma Game Night now that she's an award-winning game designer for her game Qwirkle.Labels: awesome, entertainment industry, link...
Link: my IMDb page
Darling of course I have a page in the Internet Movie Database. Some might say that it was strange that I worked on a console game for a year. But it was all worth it for that IMDb page. Darling, ...
Links: Some Photos
I think I should point out some things about some photos. This deserves an explanation. I did not take this photo of Jack o' Lanterns. Steven Pitsenbarger took this photo. I did not carve those p...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Richmond
When the Great American Race was going on, several west coast folks were watching various team blogs. I didn't spot Team A2's blog until just now. They've done well in past events, including winnin...
Link: Steven Pitsenbarger on Anthotypes
Steven Pitsenbarger writes about making pictures of plants from their own juices. And that, children, is why you should never leave your salad out in the sunlight all day. It will become part of yo...
Link: writeup of La chasse au tresor de paris
I enjoyed this (English) writeup of a Paris treasure hunt game. Yeah, even though it sounds like it was one of those spot-landmarks-based-on-riddly-descriptions games.Labels: link, puzzlehunts...
Link: Travelers Storybook
I have mentioned this before: When I was growing, I spent a fair amount of time with Bob & Kelly Wilhelm, friends of the family. Bob was and is a storyteller. I don't just mean that he can rela...
Link: Game Shoe
Depending on what you've been doing lately, you might be thinking "If I never look at another photo of an athletic shoe again for the rest of my life, that's just fine with me". But you might still l...
Link: Book Report: Prank the Monkey (pages 91, 92)
You might think yesterday's book report was obnoxious, only covering the first third of a book. If so, you'll find this even more obnoxious: a review of pages 91-92 of a book. Rob "How Much is Insi...
Book Report: Cold Mountain
This is a great book, an odyssey set during the USA's Civil War. It's a bleak study of the horrors of war. It's a story about humans and beasts. You've probably already heard about it. After I rea...
Link: Webster's Online Dictionary
Puzzle hunts were everywhere last weekend. Midnight Madness in Hot Springs. Some movie called BHAGAMBHAG set up a promo treasure hunt in Mumbai, sounds big-scale. I didn't do any of that. I have ...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Sacramento
Team Snout has revealed their secret behind-the-scenes view of The Hogwarts Game. How much planning went into this game? A lot. Go read. And if they spelled your name wrong, you can fix it. Tags...
Link: Tauba Auerbach images
Good visual design, by tautology, is enjoyable to look at. I stumbled upon some letterformy designs by artist/designer Tauba Auerbach. (I was trying out the new MSN Live image search. In Dirk Gent...
Link: Flowers and P0rn
My apartment building's laundry room is currently out of commision; the washing and drying machines are tipped over with parts ripped out and dumped on the floor. This is either the work of wild bab...
Link: Blinky Light Photo
This morning, I listened to audio recordings of the Team Snout Game Control "war room", jotting down notes for a game write-up. It's not so exciting to listen to this stuff after the fact, when the ...
A few weekends back, I helped to playtest the Hogwarts Game. Then I went to a few puzzle-construction parties. Last weekend, I volunteered for Game Control for the duration of the Game. I'm workin...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even New York City
This write-up of the recent Midnight Madness game in NYC has the title I never dared to use: Some serious nerd-ass shit. There are strange things afoot in Toronto, which are perhaps only tangentiall...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Redmond
I'm still working on that Shinteki Decathlon write-up. I got a draft ready, sent it out to my team-mates. Emily wrote back with a bunch of cool jokes that I'd forgotten. Yeah, I forgot plenty; usu...
Publishing News: Cyanotype HOWTO
My friend Elizabeth Graves is a photographer, but she's also a chemist. She experiments with with alternative photographic development techniques. She's created some neat images, and some of them mad...
Links: Quality Content on the Internets
Wow, it's a blog entry with a small pile of misc links. That's so retro. If you're into puzzles, set up your Personalized Google Home Page, and add some content to it. What content should you add?...
World Addition: Zoe Loftesness
Holy moly, Dave and Penny had a kid. Early indicators suggest extreme cuteness. Extra hippy-dippy style points for being born in a tub of water. Extra high-tech style points for being announced on go...
"Life" is the Noun Form of "Absurd"
The ever-gracious Eve Andersson published my question. To see it, follow the link and scroll down until you see "mysterious envelope". In other news: Snakes on a Plane!Labels: link, pi, teams...
Link: Google Page Creator
I have been playing with Google Page Creator, a new service which hosts web pages and gives you a WYSIWYG editor for them. It's pretty neat. My favorite part: there are pretty templates available. ...
Link: The Apprentice
The Mystic Fish team of space mercenaries has signed up as contestants on The Apprentice: Zorg!. Oh, I hope we get in. Oh, I'm on tenterhooks. Or maybe those aren't tenterhooks. Maybe I just consu...
Link: BillMonk, Billing for the People
I was just checking out BillMonk, a web site that allows people to keep track of the money they owe each other. You and five friends go out for lunch and you need to deal with the bill? Let one guy ...
Link: Sam and Max Game Announcement
Holy moly, it's an announcement of intent to produce a game starring beloved freelance police officers Sam & Max! OK, I concede that the last few such announcements haven't led to any games that...
Blog Infrastructure Update: "Add to Google" Link
Yesterday was Buy Nothing Day in the USA, so I bought nothing. Actually, I didn't do much of anything yesterday. I went cold turkey on caffeine. I'd been hitting the sauce pretty heavily lately, a...
Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even Seattle
Because I am a lame-o, I didn't play in the recent Mooncurser's game. But Matthew "Defective Yeti" Baldwin did, and he's a better writer than I am. Go read his write-up. As of today, there's just ...
Publishing News: XXtra Online magazine
My new plan: finish up my existing writing projects by June 2006 so that I can apply at XXtra Online magazine. Tags: foreshadowing | fave celebs |paparazzi |Labels: foreshadowing, lin...
Link: Parallel Analysis with Sawzall
People ask me what I do at work. I did not write the academic paper Interpreting the Data: Parallel Analysis with Sawzall (Pike, Dorward, Griesemer, Quinlan 2005). But I did revise the tutorial for t...
Link: Joel on Hungarian Notation
Just when I thought I was going to have to read the papers myself, Joel Spolsky wrote a readable paper about the non-braindead version of the software engineering technique Hungarian Notation. Is th...
Hungarian Notation Not Brain Dead
(If you are not a computer programmer, this item will not make sense.) For years I made fun of Hungarian Notation and Charles Simonyi. Now, thanks to Joel Spolsky, I find out that Hungarian Notation...
Link: Hello Kitty BE@RBRICK iPod
Looking at ads for these toys made me imagine Hello Kitty hanging out with some BE@RBRICKs. "Sometimes I wish I had a mouth." "Some of us have mouths. Most of us do not." "How are we even having t...