How to Puzzle Cache teaches you how to decode/decipher/unpuzzle many, many ways of hiding secret messages. I'm a puzzlehunter, so I was reading it and thinking it's useful for puzzlehunting. It's intended for geocachers who want to solve puzzle geocaches. In a puzzle geocache, folks want to look for a little container at some lat/long coordinates; but to find out what lat/long coordinates around which to search, they first must solve a puzzle.
This book has blurbs about how to recognize and solve, wow, many many codes. A small fraction of them: element atomic numbers, planets, Dewey and LOC and ISBN, postal codes, phone area codes, product numbers, semaphore, maritime flags, dancing men, pigpen, playfair, biphid cipher, Enigma machine, md5 hash, binary, octal, Baudot, punch cards, resistor colors, 7-segment display, music reading, circle of fifths, … Well, there are a lot.
Amongst the book's appendices are a code sheet (which you might expect) and a flow chart for recognizing coding systems (which you might not expect). An excerpt:
The next time I'm playing with a puzzling newb, I kinda want to hand them these flow charts and soon that newb will be sounding like an expert. Heck, might effectively be an expert.
There are extra bits in there that non-geocachers wouldn't use. Their ways are not our ways. E.g., GeoCachers are, most of the time, looking for numerical answers, lat/long coordinates. Apparently geocachers solve puzzles before heading out into the field, so there are systems here that you wouldn't ask someone to solve in a walking-around hunt or escaping a room—if you think you're looking at an Engima machine code in a walking-around hunt but there's no Enigma machine simulator handy, then you probably want to change your thinking. (But these tough systems would be fair game in a conference room mystery hunt, where Enigma simulators are handy.) There's a chapter about geo-things a la triangulation that are mostly of interest to geocachers. The book uses "indexing" to mean something other than what my local puzzling tradition calls "indexing". So…keep yer eyes open for gotchas, but you were gonna do that anyhow.
I'm fresh back from Foster City, CA, where I played in Zara's Big Adventure puzzle hunt. It was fun! It's happening again next weekend, on Sunday! You should play! Sign up at that link!
(I'm not sure why I say that. I kinda suspect that all the Bay Area folks who read this blog already played and/or signed up and/or aren't here for the puzzlehunt stuff but instead wish I'd post more book reports. But maybe I'm wrong.)
Oh, and if you're not in the Bay Area: you can play online. Though you'll miss out on the [redacted] activity, but that's probably OK.
Anyhow, sleep now. More later.
A lamp post is gone. That's not surprising—it was surrounded by construction for the new subway line. But that post was special, a "landmark" for a photo walk puzzle in the 2-Tone Game. That could explain why those folks who solved that puzzle a few weeks back needed hints to get past that; they were trying to find something that was no longer there.
It was a neat feature for a photo walk puzzle. The usual gimmick with those is getting folks to spot something from far away. This post had something unusual: a number in a distinctive font; the number was on the "wrong side" of the post to be visible as teams walked towards it. But as they walked along, they were looking right at a post with a distinctive-font number that was off-by-one from the number they were looking for. So they could figure out they were looking for a lamp post, probably one nearby. It was an "aha" for teams, not the usual photo walk "aha". It was fun watching playtesters figure it out.
Anyhow, I figured out a new landmark, fixed up that puzzle with a new photo. But I'll miss that post.