figurehead

Brendan Eich, inventor of Java script and new CEO of Mozilla, donated to Prop 8. Mozillans have asked him to step down. He made a statement about the the public response to his new position.

Mozilla claims that Firefox has 450 million users. To give you an idea about the (arguably) open source software market from an end user perspective, that’s about half the number of people who use Android. Ubuntu claims as much as 20 million users. Wikipedia has 21 million users. I’d go as far to say that Firefox is kind of a big deal, and possibly one of the most common pieces of free software in the world from the end-user perspective.

The new CEO of a 450 million user free software projected donated money to ban gay marriage. He now represents my community to the world.

Advertisements

confirmation

When filling out a spreadsheet of “skills” potentially relevant to the 2014 Mystery Hunt, I wrote: No, seriously. I know like all the words to a bunch of Taylor Swift songs.

Cut to hunt when someone makes an idle comment to which I say: Oh, that’s “Mean.” It’s like my favorite Taylor Swift song.

That’s why “Mean” is my favorite Taylor Swift song. That video. Seriously. Banjo, mandolin, fiddle.

Banjo.

I get pulled to the next room to a big sheet on the wall and asked to highlight the lyrics, mixed up, sometimes one letter at a time, with Alice in Wonderland.

Easy as eating pancakes, I say.

Except, it’s not. This has nothing to do with there being a twist, but rather someone else reading them out loud from a webpage. It was hard for me to balance singing the song in my head while someone else was reading the words–slightly mangled by a fan’s transcription–slightly faster than the song goes. Plus, people wanted confirmation. They didn’t trust my knowledge while there was a way to confirm on the internet.

My role in the puzzle was entirely pointless. I was not only redundant, but a bottle neck for the process.

For a long time, it was considered impossible to run a mile in under five minutes. Times were kept to the second, and the five minute mile was broken in the late 1800s. In 1999, Hicham El Guerrouj did it in 3:43.13, 1.26 seconds faster than the previous record holder. Hicham wore shoes and clothes completely incomparable to those of his forefathers. He had a better understanding of aerodynamics and how the body moves. Where to strike his foot.

Puzzle writers are also competing for times. There is a sweet spot of hunt length, and a balance of difficulty of puzzles and number of puzzles is sought to create this. When early hunts were solved too quickly, a puzzle was famously written in Linear A (citation needed), and all relevant books checked out of the school library. It was solved, rather quickly, by participants tracking down a professor with the relevant knowledge. Poor guy.

The year reverse image search arrived changed how a whole category of puzzles are solved. Being able to quickly identify photos is useful, but if your person who can do that isn’t around yet (or speaks slower than the person searching), you can work your way through a page of unknown celebrities anyway. One year, a Boston location puzzle (travel around the city, see things) was solved by at least one team using Google Maps. My knowledge of Taylor Swift lyrics was quickly trumped by someone with a laptop and a working wireless card.

preparations

“So, we need like fifteen-thousand calories a day.”

“What?”

“Four people, medium load, winter. Maybe more like eighteen because it’s winter?”

“Eighteen thousand calories? How do you even consume that many?

“What? Three to five thousand?”

“Yeah.”

A pause. “Butter.”

nostalgia

Walking across the row of seats, trying to get as close to the center as possible, a familiar and nearly lost feeling of visual confusion creates a lack of balance. The next row down is too low, the tops of the seats don’t reach my ankles. We sit down and lean back, look around, test our seats and position in the dome.

The IMAX screen goes from a grey blue to a brighter blue, the voice starts explaining how the theater works. If you start feeling uncomfortable or disoriented, it says, look away. The lights on the screen darken and the lights behind it go up, showing off a full surround sound system in front, behind, below, and above us. They demonstrate its capabilities, calling it a test, a calibration. Rain fills the room and I grin uncontrollably, giddy. I am ten again.