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Puzzlequest 2005 et al (13 Nov 2005 at 12:30)
Puzzlequest 2005 et al
So far, quite a fun weekend.

If I get to count Friday morning (why not?) then I am happy to have finally broken the twelve minute barrier on one of the routes that I run around Shadyside. (1.91 miles in 11:57 = 6:15 pace, not bad!) This thing had been taunting me for weeks, where I'd push on the last stretch but always be a few seconds over twelve minutes. My longer route similarly vexes me, but it will fall soon. Aren't totally arbitrary goals great? I recommend setting some yourself.

If I get to count Friday afternoon (who doesn't?) then a stimulating lunch with old and new friends, an uncharacteristically relevant meeting with the POP seminar speaker, some breezy hacking and then bites and brews with the dudes at Bites and Brews.

The big event on Saturday (now we are definitely in weekend territory, right?) was "Puzzlequest 2005." This is an annual (and sometimes multi-annual) all-day puzzle competition at CMU. I believe this was our sixth time participating. Did I tell you guys that we always come in the top few teams, and never win? Because this time we came in fourth again, just outside the prizes bracket. A very fun year, though. Sadly, Adam could not join us due to avian flu or whatever. But first year and ConCert alum Ruy proved a worthy replacement. Rounding out team Eating Buildings were Jason and William: stalwart compatriot and newest official inductee, respectively. In the picture above you can see us workin' it. (In truth; those other guys are workin' it, which is why they are not facing the camera and actually looking at puzzle stuff, whereas I am posing, having just set the camera on timer-mode and so cognizant of its impending activation.) One of the highlights this year was solving puzzles in totally incorrect ways: one of them I solved by port-scanning their server Wargames style, and a few of them Jason solved by brute-forcing parts of the metapuzzle. The product of my hacking on friday—the puzzle auto-solving software "Puzzletron"—did also solve one of them, but it was the easiest in the pack. Next time it will actually be complete, and then you watch out, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st places!!
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Adam (pool-68-162-172-153.pitt.east.verizon.net) – 11.13.05 17:31:07
H5N1 yeaaahhhhhhhg!
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jliszka (tide503.microsoft.com) – 11.14.05 19:24:11
Port-scanning was a totally valid way to solve the first metapuzzle without solving the (IMHO annoying) Vision Test :)

Which one did Puzzletron solve?
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-132-107.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 11.15.05 01:00:29
It felt slightly sneakier submitting "Port 8009" as the answer to Vision Test, though. ;)

Puzzletron got "Top Secret" (I was expecting an indexing scheme, but lo and behold, the letters are numbers), although it was far from automatic. Technology will improve!
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William (gs4082.sp.cs.cmu.edu) – 11.15.05 15:31:02
woot! I'm official!
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Sridhar (cmu-155125.res.cmu.edu) – 11.15.05 17:21:10
Damn you, Eating Buildings! Managing to make the idea of feeding random large cities into the Vigenere cipher work, where my run through European capitals failed to turn up anything new. Next time, though... Donner Domination will dominate!
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Tom 7 (h-67-100-132-107.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 11.15.05 18:23:19
You say that!
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