prog: (Default)
The 2010 MIT Mystery Hunt was as typical of IIFish glonous history and cultual as ever. I love all my teammates, from those I see al the time to those I see only annually. This year I especially loved being able to hang out with [livejournal.com profile] aspartaimee again, who I hadn't seen in way too long.

It was an up-n-down experience for me, with a high-energy Friday followed by a mostly frustrating Saturday, and general failure to meet my hopes that I'd be able to participate in metapuzzle solving at all, for once. (Have still never even touched the damn things.) I found the hunt structure itself among the most clever I've seen, though I saw so little of it live, and didn't feel like I contributed much to IIF's total solving.

I might take advantage of [livejournal.com profile] temvald's increasingly ingenious team web app, as well as our team's accumulated self-training in working with remote solvers, and just telecommute next year. Dunno yet - it's a whole year away now, and we're already talking about some fun team activities to do in the meantime that aren't nearly as draining.

[ If you believe this to be the second LJ post about the 2010 hunt by me that you've read, surely you are mistaken. This is the only post that I've written about it! The historical records all back me up... ]



"Sherlock Holmes", meanwhile, provided the perfect balm for massaging away the last of the Huntish brain-cramp. I found it an excellent and loving work of fanfiction. Goofy smile on face throughout. All bad reviewers are grouchy prescriptivists.
prog: (rotwang)
The Twitter hashtag for the MIT Mystery Hunt is #mysteryhunt. Watch the painfully nerdy excitement mount!

36 more hours until kickoff...

Flickr fun

Jan. 22nd, 2009 12:23 pm
prog: (smiley)
I just blew the dust off my Flickr account (unused since the Carcacookies Incident) to upload a bunch of stuff from my iPhone. It may be a crappy, unadjustable camera, but it's nonetheless an internet-aware digicam with effectively unlimited storage that is always in my pocket, so I've been taking lots of photos since last July. I waited this long because of a photo-swapping email thread on our Hunt team mailing list where someone proposed a group Flickr tag.

I have been throwing photos onto Facebook in the interim, but it's not the same. As far as I can tell, those photos aren't public, and you can't tag them as freely as Flickr allows.

Went through my "FlickrMail" and back-added everyone who added me as a contact over the years (and who didn't appear to be a 419 scammer), and then plugged their feeds into my RSS reader, a bit of technology I've only really started to use in the last year. So yeah, feel free to add zendonut as a contact, if you'd like.

I had some fun reading comments that I didn't know about, since I'd never set Flickr to alert me by email when my photos got comments. (I just rectified this.) Amused that a 2000 photo whose caption references Randal Schwartz's in-airplane photos got a comment from Randal Schwartz saying exactly what I was thinking, as I sat here reading that caption again in 2009.

Unsurprisingly, the Carcacookies got lots of comments. This one is my favorite. Fans of [livejournal.com profile] cthulhia's work should not miss the Memoir 35 cake that she and [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie constructed, and unveiled at the hunt.

Do I know http://www.flickr.com/photos/vampirefriends/? They seem to be a fellow Somervillain.
prog: (Default)
Congratulations to the Evil Midnight Bombers for running the funnest Mystery Hunt I've attended, to Beginners Luck for solving it first, and to my team of Immoral, Illegal & Fattening for being super awesome. There is no finer group of folks I'd rather be sequestered into a classroom for three days with.

This was my sixth "birthday party" spent at the Hunt, and while I certainly had my share of frustration, I feel I did more solving this year than ever before, as did our team as a whole. This was the first year I think we were really-n-truly trying to win, and everyone put their all into it. It was fun to watch my hardcore-solver friends continue to work even after I'd run out of energy.



In other news: Yes, 100011. And so I officially say adieu to the youth demographic. Very well, says I: this year is gonna gonna be as awesome for me as my age is auspicious (in decimal, anyway).

There will be related pictures up later. But the T is gonna start up soon and I'm pledged to show up at IIF's HQ and help clean up, so they'll have to wait.
prog: (Default)
The obvious comparison is to being a kid on Christmas eve, but it's not like Christmas worked better if you were well-rested enough to focus for the next 30+ hours on ridiculous feats of mental acumen. At least not at my house.
prog: (PKD)
I have a totally bomb-ass mystery hunt plot idea. I have already shared it on my team's mailing list - somewhat ill-advised, since by the time IIF wins some of our current team is statistically likely to have migrated to other teams. On the other hand, any actual implementation of the idea will almost certainly end up looking quite different. ([livejournal.com profile] cthulhia and I have already been chatting about interesting variations.)

I'll just say that it's high time for another SF-themed hunt. ACME (containing, at the time, the core of today's IIF) did a bang-up Matrix hunt in 2003, and 2005 had a light-hearted superhero hunt. I really wanna help put one together in 2010!
prog: (Default)
Today went past in an eyeblink. Slept late, made and drank my own coffee while lounging for an hour in my own living room, then trundled to the Hunt wrap with [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie for all of that. Had the traditional post-wrap dinner at the Uno's near me with half the team. Poof, dark out, and now its 8.

Hunt recovery will do that to you.

We fell short of making it into the endgame. Really, we didn't come close. Our pace was pretty good, but we were completely overwhelmed with unsolved puzzles by Sunday afternoon. They were hard this year, and there was a lot of them. I personally found it hard to concentrate on any one puzzle, and never really got interested in the whole structure, though that's an entirely subjective complaint that the rest of my team didn't reflect.

Sure I had fun, though - thank you, Dr. Awkward and company!! With a day between me and the coin getting found (congrats again to the Bombers) my appetite for solving's definitely come back. I think I'll be tearing into the latest P&A shortly.
prog: (Default)
It's almost noon on Sunday and we haven't been told to go home yet. The last couple have ended shortly after I caught the last T out of Kendall on Saturday night, so yes.

On the other hand I just got back to our HQ in building 26, after going home at 4am to sleep and warsh and eat. So, it's been an unusual hunt. I'll have more to say when it's over.

Thanks again to folks around the country that I bugged for the sake of one particular puzzle, on Friday night.

Wish us luck!

100010

Jan. 16th, 2008 03:25 pm
prog: (Default)
And so we move into my final year in this marketing demographic. (The U.S. Census Bureau will consider me middle-aged next year!)

Due to this week's nuttiness I may end up doing nuthin tonight, through probably I will do one thing or another or both tomorrow. And for years I have considered the mystery hunt to be my birthday observed, so that is excellent. (I think this is the first time the two events have happened more than a day apart, since I started hunting.)
prog: (Default)
The MIT Mystery Hunt is only a few days away. I'm determined to get as much money-work as I can done before then; there is a backlog, with end-conditions in reach. There won't be much Volity or Gameshelf progress, despite so much I want to do in both. (Though maybe I'll squeeze more in if put the video games away for now...)

Some of my team (Immoral, Illegal, and Fattening, Attorneys at Law) gathered at MIT Saturday night to practice, breaking up into groups of four and then running through a shorter puzzle extravaganza. (It was this one, actually, by Dan Katz.) I was on fire, solving three puzzles alone, and helping to finish up a couple more. My puzzle-fu has never been stronger, and I was pleased when another group still finished well ahead of us, suggesting that our whole team is really well poised this year. (That group contained a hunt veteran who is joining our team this year, so that's exciting too.)

I hope that we at least make it into the endgame, which would be a first for IIF. I was last night reading the 2006 hosting team's description of that year's endgame, and filled with fear and desire.

A day

Sep. 20th, 2007 12:52 am
prog: (Default)
I had two very good meetings, in two very different roles - in one I was like arr I am a good leader and in the other I was like arr I am worth what I'm paid.

Bought two books. One is "How to Start a Business in Massachusetts" by O'Neill and Warda. Ha ha, horse before the cart, yes, but it's a smartly written summary and I've already learned a lot. I got it mostly to learn more about how the state recognizes a proprietorship - self-employment, basically - and get advice on customizing and maybe growing it.

The other is a collection of 365 NYT crosswords. Yes, it is September and it's time to start seriously training for the mystery hunt. Crosswords and recognizably crossword-like things are only a small part of the hunt, but word puzzles in general make up the majority of its busywork, and being able to chop quickly through crossword-style clues is a crucial skill.

I'm sure to enjoy these with [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie, who is at least as much a crossword lover as I, and who will join our team in January. To me, this is another reason to look forward to the hunt, what with yet another awesomely smart and creative hunt-mastering team, and IIF more pumped to win than ever. Hmm. I don't like phrases like "I can't wait" because holy crap there's a lot I need to get done by January, but... next year's hunt is going to rock.

Hay, teammates: whatever became of our "Gluttony" bracelets from last time? Did they get received and distributed? I never saw one!

Oh, what else. [livejournal.com profile] dangerforce called from his new pad in LA with a tech support question, and we yakked about TV stuff. He gave me a nice location lead I may use later. And I wrote a Gameshelf script! I will say nothing else about that yet.

Been descending into illness. Played a lot of RE4. These are not connected. Probably I caught a cold from one of the hands I shook at the breakfast yesterday. Blecch. Wasn't I just telling someone in person that a freelancer in the information sector doesn't necessarily need to physically network much to get job lead? There you go, then. It actually makes you sick when you even try. Hackers beware!
prog: (Default)
Why didn't I know that there was an embedded This American Life reporter within Dr. Awkward, the team that won this year's mystery hunt?

Link to full show: http://audio.thisamericanlife.org/podcast/326.mp3 The hunt bit starts at 0:31:58. It's a great story (in a great show, as usual) and briefly includes [livejournal.com profile] hahathor yelling about Gilligan's Island.

I still owe y'all a catalog of my current podcast playlist, don't I.

Jon Mewert

Jan. 19th, 2007 02:11 pm
prog: (doggie)
OK here's the Word Play With Kittens thing, produced by the mystery hunt team Colon Inflating Rhinoceri during last weekend's event. I offer it without comment or joke-explaining. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jhango for finding the link.)

NPL

Jan. 17th, 2007 03:31 pm
prog: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] cthulhia (half-)jokes about joining the NPL in order to gain insight on next year's hunt, but I think I'm actually gonna do it. Waddayathink?

Also the 2007 hunt officially ended for me last night with Immoral Illegal & Fattening's post-mortem and group-reminisce. This was just a great hunt. I look forward to 2008's, and I hope to participate in one or two mini-hunts before then!

I think I've been largely responsible for one new team member per year since IIF took up its current name. Cth joined us two years ago, Zarf last year, and I successfully hooked [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie this year. She came by to visit early Saturday evening, and ended up solving until OMG-the-T-is-shutting-down-o'clock. There was a rough start, after I chose to work together on what turned out to be one of the hunt's lamest puzzles (which was too bad because it looked really cool). But then we chewed through most of a more interesting one, and then [livejournal.com profile] mrmorse grabbed her to kick ass on a Sudoku-themed one and that's really all it took.

Dan Cats

Jan. 15th, 2007 09:41 pm
prog: (doggie)
Er, hello? It's been nearly two days since the Hunt wrapped and the Word Play Sequel with Kittens isn't on YouTube yet? Am I missing something?
prog: (zendo)
It was fun. Our team did the best it's ever done since I joined three years ago; for the first time, we never hit any team-wide brick walls, and we stayed more or less in the lead pack the whole time. I solved a couple of easier puzzles mostly on my own, and contributed lots of work to many others. [livejournal.com profile] temvald had written a brilliant little web application that overcame my skepticism about over-organizing such things and served as a nice little information bin for shared solving.

We also employed a system of fungible roles based on colored sashes that some folks ([livejournal.com profile] tahnan and [livejournal.com profile] jhango?) [livejournal.com profile] jadelennox initially devised, and I think that this really smoothed things out a lot over previous years. When new puzzles came in, for example, the person in the yellow sash would mark them on the chalkboard while the green sash wearer would print and file them and the red sash would make sure the the remote solvers knew about them. If someone with a sash had to leave the room or maybe just got tired of the role, they could just hand it off to someone else. Almost nothing fell through the cracks. It was good.

Once again I envy many of my teammates for their stamina. Both Friday and Saturday, after 12 hours of solving I was done, like someone hit a switch on me, and I had to go home. The effect is cumulative and I feel really logy and stupid today. I'm just gonna chill by myself for a long while now. I'm not sure if I wanna go to the hunt-wide wrap-up presentation. I probably will anyway. (Though I could just go to our "in-house" wrap on Tuesday instead. Hm.)

Anyway, congrats to Palindrome for their victory, thanks to SETEC The Midnight Bombers for running a wonderful hunt, and twelve huzzahs to Lance for leading Immoral, Illegal & Fattening through its best hunt yet.
prog: (coffee)
Ideally I'd wait until the 15th but the Hunt's gonna screw everything up, so, Four Pillars:

  • I've started to bill ITA like they were expecting me to bill them when we negotiated the contract last fall. I had been underbilling by a lot and nobody receiving the bills was calling me on it. (And why should they have?) Also, my first project with them is finally demoable. I mean, I demoed it last Friday. Everyone is happy.

  • [livejournal.com profile] classicaljunkie and I have been dating for a couple of weeks (o scandal, o calamity) and it's been going very nicely, thanks.

  • Meeting next week with Gameshelf people to discuss "Season 2". I want to take what we learned so far and do things differently and better. I have already made some personnel changes and other strategic decisions, and I'm hoping for a really fun year with the show.

  • I released version 0.4.0 of Gamut a couple of days ago and am in the midst of some spring cleaning in Volity-space. After the hunt but before February I hope to formally re-launch Volity as an open project. It's been open this whole time, mind you, but we haven't been pushing it as such. The Volity Network has a momentum of its own now, which is very nice, but an adjustment like this still needs pushing.
  • prog: (ambrose)
    Can you help me come up with a list of Maximally Average Comments from various high-traffic websites?

    Here are a few to get you started:

    Slashdot
    It's only a flesh wound! +5 Funny

    BoardGameGeek
    My wife doesn't like this one either. :(

    Wikipedia
    Please read WP:CIVIL.

    Your turn!
    prog: (PKD)
    There's been a lot of good PKD stuff linked from BoingBoing over the last couple of days, but my favorite is this eight-page R. Crumb comic adaptation of an interview he gave near the end of his life. I guess I didn't quite realize that the events he wrote about in "Valis" actually happened to him, at least according to his own perception. These included his conviction that the Holy Spirit or Elijah or A Pink Space Laser or something had zapped him and given him powers, such as the ability to live in A.D. 50 Rome and 1970 California at the same time, or to mishear Beatles lyrics as an alarming medical diagnosis regarding his son (which turns out to be accurate and saves the boy's life).

    I would have so liked to meet this man. I think that among my little fantasy worlds is one where he survives his stroke. Years later he meets my brother Ricky and they become close friends, and his family with our family. Creepy, jmac.



    It's interesting timing coz I was thinking with [livejournal.com profile] daerr how much I'd love to help plan a PKD-themed mystery hunt, specifically one that blended a lot of tropes from his earlier fiction.

    It would start by welcoming all the new colonists to Mars, and assigning them to their workgroups in the mining company's information sector. As the teams worked on their initial task units, the company president would issue frequent video updates and its staff would make occasional personal visits to make sure that everything was running smoothly. But soon enough, the workers' perception would start to change...

    I have some more specific ideas which I think I'll hold off on writing about for now. Suffice to say that I really like [livejournal.com profile] radiotelescope's notion of putting an actual story, a real narrative, around the hunt. Sure, it wouldn't be as smooth as a better IF game: it would still be a frame around siamese cryptics and duck conundrums and so on. But I love the idea of hunting not just to unlock more puzzles but to see what happens next, and maybe even feel like the team (being, as a whole, a character in the story) is making choices to guide the story forward, despite knowing that the story's necessarily on rails.

    I also have some ideas making these "narrative interfaces" work in a puzzle-hunt setting, and tried sharing them only to decide upon writing them down that they wouldn't actually work, and instead just annoy the players. It would be really tricky thing to do right. But I'm sure it's possible. Indeed, it's probably already been done; what the hell do I know about this stuff, I'm a newbie. If that's the case, I'd love to hear about it.

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