Tag Archives: geeky

A Very Mysterious Package

A month ago I received a mysterious package containing a message in a bottle, clippings, printed emails regarding Kelsey Marine Salvage, a pendant marked with symbols, a message written in pictographs and a modern nautical map of part of the Philippine Islands.  It appears to be some sort of puzzle-solving game surrounding a lost treasure.  Seeing as how it arrived soon after my birthday, and how my brother was acting coy in denial, it would appear to be a gift in the form a puzzle game to solve!  Looking on the web, I saw that others have received these packages many months ago and have formed groups to try to solve them.  However, I’ve avoided looking too hard on the web since I don’t want to spoil the fun of figuring it out.

More recently, I received a second package containing hand-drawn, pseudo-aged map fragments, a contract between pirates, pages from a diary and more printed emails.  So… aye!  We have lost treasure and pirates!

Darlene and I finally spent some time on this last weekend and found that solving the code puzzle in the first package ended up pointing to the longitude and latitude of an island that was then confirmed in a diary page from the second package.  Seems strange to me that it works this way – that a solved puzzle is simply revealed in the later package.  Instead, I would expect solving one puzzle would lead to the key to another puzzle, rather than being simply given away.  We’ll see, I guess.

Without giving too much away, the contents of the second package made it possible to use the message in the bottle and the amulet to pinpoint another location on the modern Philippines map, so we’ll see what comes of it.  That appears to be all there is to figure out so far.  There clearly must be at least one more package coming.


Update: Yes, a third package has arrived!  This one is pretty cool too.  A wooden box retrieved from the sand, containing an animal horn with carvings on it, all wrapped in oil cloth:

  

Surprisingly though, the carvings on one side of the horn only confirm what we previously solved in the first two packages.  (Drawing of the lines on the map and interpreting the message-in-a-bottle as to how to project from the intersection points of those lines.)  On the other side, it does have a little treasure map of the island marking out a trail to follow but I don’t yet see what we can do with it.  And I’m pretty sure we’re not expected to fly out to the Philippines to investigate the island in person.

Another package to come?


Update: Oh, yes.

  

And now several theories confirmed, regarding both the content and the intention of the packages – which I will refrain from divulging to avoid spoiling anything for anybody, except to say… very cool!  Also, I guess my original name for this post was much more apropos than I could have known.

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Maker Faire 2016

A bit of video from this year’s Bay Area Maker Faire:

Video montage of the 2016 Bay Area Maker Faire (5:35 minutes, 114 MB)

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Merry Christmas

… and Happy Star Wars to all!

Merry Christmas  

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“Have you played Atari today?”

A little while ago, after reading “Ready Player One” again (Spielberg is making a movie!) and after seeing a couple of tech talks by old Atari game programmers, I was lamenting that I sold my old Atari VCS so many years ago.  Well, Darlene jumped on this comment, found a bundle someone was selling on eBay and surprised me with an early birthday gift.  Yup, an old Atari VCS/2600 (four switch version), a set of controllers and a bundle of game cartridges. Sweet!  (I think my brother and I actually had the six-switch, Sears-rebranded version, but still very cool!) Thanks, Darlene!

I immediately had to go fill out the set of 40 cartridges with a couple of other games I remember us playing a lot.  Of course then was the challenge of hooking it up: the Atari outputs an analog RF TV signal… on an RCA-plug cable.  Okay, can use an adapter to go RCA to coax-TV cable but tough to find any analog TV tuners these days except in old TV’s and VCR’s.  But then, rather than pulling a VCR out of a box in a closet, I hooked it up via my old USB EyeTV tuner/video converter to my MacBook – success!

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Yeah, you can play any of these games via emulation on a modern computer, or even a smartphone/iPad, but there’s something very different about jamming the physical cartridge into the old physical console and handling that classic Atari joystick.  (And having to use cotton swabs and alcohol to clean the contacts on all of the Activision cartridges to get them to work again!)

It’s been fun to pick these up and rediscover old visual/procedural memories, like the admittedly-simple path through the Adventure maze.  Some titles are only vaguely familiar until you plug them in and see the game again and then go “aha!!”

So… to paraphrase Atari’s old marketing… have you played your Atari today?

to_be_continued

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Wait But Why

I haven’t posted an external link in a while but this is a great recent find I wanted to share: Wait But Why.  Tim Urban puts together some really brilliant, fascinating and in-depth posts about a myriad of topics.  I stumbled on it by way of his amusing post about his unexpected call from (and subsequent visit/tour/lunch with) Elon Musk (“The World’s Raddest Man“).  I later found myself up late, still caught up in his fascinating, two-part exploration of the current state (and potential, future existential threat) of artificial intelligence.

There’s an archive of posts to explore and upon subscribing for updates, you’ll receive an enticing list of popular articles to sink your time into, including these on “Science, Philosophy, Space and Anything Mind-Blowing”:

The Fermi Paradox – “The mind-twisting discussion of whether alien life exists and why we’ve never seen evidence of any. The post I get the second-most emails about.”

The AI Revolution – “A long, two-part post that took me six weeks to do—a full overview of what everyone’s been talking about with AI and the reasons I believe this is the most important topic in the world right now.”

Putting Time in Perspective – “An infographic that starts with today and works its way backwards, in increasingly large time increments, all the way to the Big Bang. Good way to put all of history in perspective.”

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Spruce Goose

While up in Portland, Oregon this past weekend for my brother’s birthday, Glenn, Michele and I made a day’s excursion to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, the current home of the “Spruce Goose” and a huge variety of other aircraft.  All pretty cool and definitely a worthwhile visit, but it’s a little annoying that they charge extra (and separately) for tours inside two of the aircraft: a B-17 bomber (“Flying Fortress”) and the Spruce Goose itself.

Click through for pictures:

   

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Pop-Up Game of Thrones

Glenn and Michele sent me this Game of Thrones pop-up book for my birthday… pretty cool!  Thanks guys!!  Click through to see more of the pop-up book:

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And, as it happens, Darlene and I will be off to Croatia for my birthday in a few days, which also happens to be the filming locations for several Game of Thrones locales, like King’s Landing (aka Dubrovnik):

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Red Alert! Shields Up!

Got some friends together on Sunday to try out Artemis — a “spaceship bridge simulator” game where each person takes on a different role and we work together to successfully complete the mission: helm, weapons, science, engineering, communications, command.  We did have some “technical difficulties” and some “minor disasters” (our ship sometimes completely destroyed) but everybody enjoyed the experience — it was a lot of geeky fun!

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Darlene was busy working but she was there in spirit — particularly after she sent a photo of herself in uniform.  (Yes, those boots may not be “Starfleet regulation” — but I wholeheartedly approve!)

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Maker Faire 2013

Pictures and a bit of video from a day at the Bay Area Maker Faire:

 

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Geek Club Meetup – Arcade Gaming

Pictures from a meetup with “The Geek Club” for “California Extreme” – a terrible name for a video game arcade convention:

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