Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mystery Hunt

Two weeks ago I went to Boston to participate in the MIT Mystery Hunt. I've been relatively active in a lot of the Microsoft-run puzzle events (between helping run the intern events and playing in the last two Puzzle Hunts), so when someone I knew from various puzzle-related stuff at work asked if I wanted to join, I jumped at the chance.

All in all, I'm glad I went, but I think I prefer the local hunts. Truthfully, I probably could have worked with the remote team (i.e., folks who didn't fly out to Boston) and noticed very little difference. There were some aspects of the hunt that made the event feel a little amateur; answers were phoned in to a human with no leeway on answers, some of which could be very vague (e.g., one had us translate Chinese to English, which proved to be very ambiguous and frustrating). While this isn't necessarily dissimilar to how things are done in other events, I like to think that if a team called the people running the event and could explain the puzzle, they'd get the answer if there was a translation error.

I probably could complain more, but on reflection, there's always a lot to complain about after a Hunt; some puzzles simply don't sync with everyone, and even after hearing the answer it can be natural to think "that person is crazy."

As I said though, I'm glad I went. I've been thinking more and more that I'd like to travel more, so while I spent most of the time in either a hotel room or a classroom, I'm glad I got out of the state. I suppose I rode the subway as well, which only serves to remind me how much I hate the lack of decent public transit around Puget Sound.

And all of this reminds me that I need to book another weekend flight here pretty soon.

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

End of Line

This weekend was the eleventh (and my second) Puzzle Hunt. Despite some near-drama when getting teams together earlier in the year, I ended up on a team that was a whole lot of fun and did surprisingly well. We spent most of the hunt in the top 5 and finished in fifth. Things started to drag towards the end, due to the rather normal situation of not being very clever at 4am and only having a handful of puzzles left, but we managed to drag ourselves out of that and finished around 10:30am, meaning I got to get some much-needed sleep prior to the wrap-up.

Despite the nap, I'm still really beat. I did a much better job of staying awake this time around, though around 9am I found myself nearly dosing off and don't think I was very helpful at that point. I sort of wish this was a three-day weekend so I could have a day to recover.

Hopefully we'll be able to keep the same team together for the next hunt; I bet we can do pretty well.