|Cryptography, steganography, movies, cyberculture, travel, games, and too many other hobbies to list!
|Global Game Jam 2012 - Day 3
| 1:30 am EST, Feb 16, 2012
DAY 3 (Sunday, January 29, 2012)
This morning we had bagels, sponsored by Riot Games. We'd finally figured out the right quantities to order, so they didn't all disappear in minutes, and we had enough to last all the way to lunch, when our sponsor IDC brought in bread and coldcuts so folks could make their sandwiches. This went well, though one of the IDC folks was evidently botanically challenged, and purchased a head of cabbage when they meant to get lettuce. Ah, gamedevs, we’re lost without our microwaves!
We also ran into a small mixup when I checked with the teams about who was going to do the demo of each game. One team was working on Macs, but had neglected to bring a Mac-VGA cable. Mike Orlando from IDC saved the day though by running out to the Apple store and picking up an extra cable though, thanks!
Globally, things were also further intensifying this day, as the turn-in terminator was sweeping westward across Europe, resulting in hundreds of new games being uploaded. Then when we got to East Coast turn-in time, the globalgamejam.org site finally crumpled under the load, and it was impossible to access. So to reduce stress level on our St. Louis (Central Time) jammers, we told them not to worry about uploading by the deadline, but instead to just wrap up at 3 pm and head down to the auditorium for demos. We also had even moar food, again catered by Riot Games. We had learned to over-order, so they’d brought enough barbecued beef and fixings for 100 people, and we had tons left over (which were gratefully grabbed by some of the Rolla students to take back to their starving fraternity brothers).
Closing ceremonies went great. We re-showed the Spanish-language keynote from Gonzalo Frasca, with subtitles this time, and it fit in perfectly, as he gave an inspiring talk about how all the skills we were acquiring were helping us to “level up”. We also heard a few words from David Whatley, and a touching speech from Dinesh Mirchandani.
And then, the demos! There were too many games to all cover properly here, but some of them were side-splittingly funny. “Towel Fight of the Gods” was a crowd favorite, and “He Who Ages”, with its super-simplistic graphics but still an amazing demo simply from the patter by its developer: “This is a monster. And also a simple square”. The game “Copperhead Jack and the Cave of the Snakes” had some great gameplay reminiscent of "Earthworm Jim". "Obelisk" had some jaw-dropping 3D graphics, and "Lost Soul" was one of the more complete games, with three full levels. "Ouroballus", "Snake Bites", "From the Ashes", "Immortal Coil", "Mobius", "Ra: Eternal Fire" (with real graphics, not just "Box Chicken"!) were all fun to watch, and the "Together Forever" game, put together by a large team of students, was impressive with just how massive of a world they'd put together in a short time frame.
Then it was group photo time (though no one's sent me one yet!), and we recorded a video for 2013, and then it was cleanup and putting tables back the way they were, and swapping contact info, and we all scattered back to our separate lives again. Except maybe for me, as it was back to Skype, since the jam was still happening in the western timezones! It wasn't until Hawaii finally got their games turned in that we directors could declare the jam "done".
As I write this, on Saturday, February 5th, the totals are: 243 locations, 47 countries, 10709 jammers, and 2217 games! We're working up a report for the Guinness Book of World Records, and have set a date for next year's jam: January 25-27, 2013. I can't wait!
|Global Game Jam 2012 - Day 2
| 1:29 am EST, Feb 16, 2012
(Saturday, January 28th, mid-way through the 48-hour event)
Dinesh and UMSL had kindly provided several dozen boxes of doughnuts for the morning, which was a nice way to start the day. Many folks were there right on the dot, and other trickled in over the next few hours (I don’t blame anyone for wanting to get a full night of sleep!). Sandwiches arrived on-time, and there seemed to be enough for everybody, which was a relief, though I also noticed that we were starting to run low on soda. The Webster Video Game Club had brought dozens of 2-liter bottles, but as with the pizza, people were going through the supplies fast, so we sent out a few resupply missions. Over the entire weekend, our group of 95 jammers went through 107 two-liter bottles of soda, seven cases of water, six bags of ice, and gallons of coffee.
On Saturday afternoon, I went around and checked how all the teams were doing, and some of the games were already breathtaking. I was especially impressed by “From the Ashes”, with an exquisite phoenix, and a very emotionally powerful descent through rotating rings of scenery into the center of the planet. The “Obelisk” game also had a very impressive 3-D environment setup. In fact, every single game already had some sort of a basic prototype in place, which was pretty amazing for less than 24 hours of work!
We also had the video crew come through several times, another report for one of the UMSL papers, and both the Dean and the Chancellor stopped by at some point. We were also showing a map of the world on screens in both rooms, with pins showing all the other hundreds of jam sites around the world, as part of this massive global event!
Also on Saturday we had some new jammers arrive. Some were there for the duration, and some were just popping in to see what was going on.
|Global Game Jam 2012 - Day 1
| 1:29 am EST, Feb 16, 2012
(after the fact report of day 1 of the Global Game Jam, written by one of the directors, Elonka Dunin)
DAY 1 (January 27, 2012)
I got to the site a few hours earlier, around 1 pm, to meet with our UMSL host, Dinesh Mirchandani. He’d thoughtfully already set up some coffee and cookies for the folks doing setup, but to be honest, I was too busy to take a bite until hours later. We double-checked that wi-fi was working, sorted the t-shirts by size to give out, setup a registration table, distributed flyers with instructions for connecting to wi-fi, and checked that the keynote video had downloaded properly. We also doublechecked that the subtitles were working properly, though unfortunately we still had a snafu when actually displaying it, such that Gonzalo Frasca’s talk was only in Spanish, without subtitles. But we re-showed his talk *with* subtitles on Day 3, in the auditorium before all the demos, so I think that worked well. Michael Glickert and Katie Bryant helped with all kinds of stuff, working the registration table, handing out T-shirts, and touching up the slides for the opening ceremonies.
Dave Derington came by with a massive pile of power strips and extension cables, so we got to work distributing those to different tables and duct taping the cables down so they wouldn’t be trip hazards. And a video crew from UMSL showed up, so I coordinated with them to make sure they’d get the best shots, like reaction pictures of the audience when the theme was announced!
By 4 pm, most people had arrived, and then things started moving fast so I don’t remember exactly what happened when. Michael and Katie got the crowd warmed up, we showed the keynote, then I announced the theme, and everyone broke up into brainstorming groups for a half-hour to come up with game ideas. Then we all came back into the main room, and had a line of people come up on stage each giving a 1-minute pitch on their game idea, all of which were really interesting. Then, we went into team-forming, which looked incredibly chaotic as everyone started milling around to decide which game they wanted to work on. Some of the UMSL professors were looking on a bit wide-eyed at how crazy it all looked, but I was all confident it would settle into teams very quickly, and sure enough, within an hour or so, groups had formed, tables were being moved around into work areas, and folks were getting to work. Order out of Chaos!
We had to rearrange a few tables to make sure there were walkable paths through both rooms, but everything went well. Our original plan had been for the main room to be where most people would work, and then the overflow room would be for extra teams, and where we would serve food and whatnot. But as it turned out, we had many extra tables in the main room, so we set up a row as our “buffet line”, and I set up my own computer station in the back, and it worked great. I was in a good central location to watch the... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]
|Global Game Jam 2012 - Day 0
| 1:28 am EST, Feb 16, 2012
So here's my detailed report of this year's Global Game Jam, which took place January 27-29, 2012.
Day 0 report.
Well, maybe not "Day 0", but the weeks and months leading up to the jam. This was a ton of work. I'm one of the GGJ Directors, meaning a group of six of us, on multiple continents. Organizing the GGJ was a flurry of Skype conference calls, contract negotiations with Drupal experts to get the website up-to-speed, working with the IGDA for funding, and working with the other directors for all the other things that are needed to make the jam go smoothly: Site registration, press releases, video keynotes, decisions on theme, website prep, research projects, IRC chats, and on and on. Extra challenges were how to schedule meetings between people in vastly different timezones, and a really useful site that I learned about is http://timeanddate.com, which has a meeting planner that makes it easy to see everybody's time (and date) at once.
For the keynote speeches, we also had to worry about subtitles! This year we had speakers in English, Japanese, and Spanish, and we coordinate a large team of volunteer translators to get all the different talks translated into as many different languages as possible, which required a different subtitle file for each language.
I was also regional coordinator for Latin America, so each time a new site was registered from Mexico, Central America, or South America, I would personally contact the organizer, setup a Skype chat and phone call, and doublecheck that all was well before approving the site to show up on the GGJ "Locations" list. Then I'd further followup with the organizers, especially if they were new and hadn't organized a jam before, to see if they needed any help in putting their site together. I was especially impressed by how many sites were showing up in Brazil (several different sites in Sao Paulo alone) and by the close-knit nature of the Argentinian organizers, who though they lived in very different parts of the country, all seemed to know each other and offer each other help with their different sites. Aside from the Directors' channel, that's probably the Skype channel that I hung out in the most often, was the Argentinian one, and I even invited a new organizer from Mexico into that channel, to take advantage of the supportive environment. It was kind of mind-boggling, that here I was sitting in St. Louis, Missouri, and inviting an organizer from a thousand miles south of me in Mexico, to join a chat that I was having with organizers thousands of miles even farther south, on a different side of the planet, and we were all chatting away at the same time about our common love, games!Among ... [ Read More (0.5k in body) ]
|Topic: Web Design
|11:09 am EDT, May 15, 2011
Watching my elonka.com webcounter roll over to another million...
Average Per Day 1,162
Average Visit Length 0:49
Last Hour 28
This Week 8,136
Average Per Day 1,388
Average Per Visit 1.2
Last Hour 40
This Week 9,717
Site Meter - Elonka.com
|RE: F.B.I. Seeks Help Cracking Code in Murder Victim’s Notes - NYTimes.com
|11:13 am EDT, Apr 1, 2011
A body is found. In the victim’s pants are two notes written in some sort of code. The F.B.I. is called in and concludes the man was murdered.
But the encrypted notes have the F.B.I. stumped — so stumped that this week, after years of trying to decipher them, it posted what amounted to a public request for help on its Web site.
Since the murder took place here in St. Charles, MO, I've been interviewed by local press to get my opinions on the ciphers. Check here for a recent clip on local TV news:
Cracking code could help solve St. Charles murder case
RE: F.B.I. Seeks Help Cracking Code in Murder Victim’s Notes - NYTimes.com
|Visa row Britons stuck in India
|11:07 am EDT, Apr 17, 2010
"At the moment at Delhi airport there are probably thousands of people, very few toilets, no water or food left and there is fighting breaking out apparently.
Scary repercussions from the Iceland volcano. Not only airports getting clogged, but people's visas are expiring, and the authorities are unsympathetic.
Visa row Britons stuck in India
|New York Times Best-Selling Authors Unveil Secrets of The Lost Symbol
| 9:05 pm EST, Dec 21, 2009
Elonka Dunin, America’s leading code-breaker, who “appeared” in The Lost Symbol as Nola Kaye, teases readers with a puzzle that helps drive the plot: "Is the secret to the infamous and as-yet-unsolved Kryptos sculpture at the CIA truly 'buried out there somewhere'?"
Whee, "America's leading code-breaker"? Publicity's nice and all, but that's a bit much. "World's #1 expert on Kryptos", sure, but for a modern code-breaker, I'd be more inclined to list someone such as Bruce Schneier.
New York Times Best-Selling Authors Unveil Secrets of The Lost Symbol
|Kryptos (and Elonka) mentioned in Dan Brown's new book "The Lost Symbol"
| 3:38 pm EDT, Sep 20, 2009
From the first page in "The Lost Symbol":
Fact: In 1991, a document was locked in the safe of the director of the CIA. The document is still there today. Its cryptic text includes references to an ancient portal and an unknown location underground. The document also contains the phrase "It's buried out there somewhere." ...
Heh, Brown's new book has multiple Kryptos references in it. The "Fact" part at the beginning is obviously referring to Sanborn's message, though Brown is twisting K2 and K3 together a bit. The "ancient portal" is actually King Tut's tomb in Egypt, not anything on the grounds of the CIA.
I'm also tickled that Brown included an encrypted reference to me in the book. He's done this in his other books, putting anagrammed names in for the characters. For example, in "The Da Vinci Code", the character "Leigh Teabing" is named after Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent (Teabing is an anagram of Baigent), the authors of "Holy Blood Holy Grail", a pseudoscience book that Brown used as source material for DVC.
So in the Lost Symbol, there's a CIA analyst who's looking at the Kryptos sculpture in chapter 127. The character's name is "Nola Kaye", which is an anagram for "Elonka"! Pretty cool, thanks Dan!
More info on Kryptos, see The Kryptos FAQ
Kryptos (and Elonka) mentioned in Dan Brown's new book "The Lost Symbol"