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Cryptography, steganography, movies, cyberculture, travel, games, and too many other hobbies to list! Photo Gallery - Inside the GDC 2006 (Elonka)
Topic: Games 11:47 am EST, Mar 28, 2006

We have a record - 3 passes, all with ribbons (Elonka Dunin, Simutronics)

Well, they chopped off my head, but did get a pic of my badge on the site. ;) Early in the day, that is. Later on I had four ribbons -- "IGDA Member", "IGDA VIP", "Speaker", and "GOD", for Eric Zimmerman's convention-wide gameLab "Pantheon" game. All of the players had different "God" titles. Mine was, "Goddess of Codes and Ribbons." ;)

Elonka Photo Gallery - Inside the GDC 2006 (Elonka)

Mind Candy - PerplexCity
Topic: Games 6:28 pm EST, Mar 27, 2006

Mind Candy is a media and entertainment company that specialises in puzzles - from Su Doku style logic puzzles at one extreme, to global, cross-media, treasure hunts, at the other. Our particular focus at the moment is on the rapidly expanding fields of Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and Cross Media Entertainment (XME). We are keen to work with brands and media companies that understand the value of these genres and wish to weave them into their products and advertising.

Our first major project is a story/game/puzzle hybrid called Perplex City that is 'played' simultaneously by thousands of people around the world.

I met a couple of the Mind Candy guys at GDC, and was very impressed. They have a "PerplexCity" set of card packs which is selling in stores across the U.S. and UK. Buy a pack, and in each one are several cards, each with a different puzzle or code. On the back of many of the cards, is a piece of a larger city map. First person to figure out the puzzles, and the map, and the map's clues to find their way to a real-life buried treasure, wins $200,000 USD.

Treasure aside, I was just fascinated by the puzzles. They ran the range from simple optical illusion trivia questions, to visual IQ stuff, to even some types of computer ciphers (like one card had a 20-line spaghetti-code BASIC program that you needed to figure out to see what message was spelled out by the print statements). Another card had heat-sensitive ink, so if it was warmed up by a hand or by sunlight, certain letters spelled out a message.

I expect we will be hearing more about PerplexCity in the near future. Lots o' fun.

Elonka :)

Mind Candy - PerplexCity

RE: Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad? (and GDC update)
Topic: Media 12:56 pm EST, Mar 23, 2006

At the AAAS conference a few weeks ago, some academics brought research to show that there's a clear relationship between native country and social-network-of-choice. Brazilians use orkut. Filipinos and Malaysians use another (Friendster maybe, I'm not certain). For American teens, the clear #1 choice is MySpace. It's hit critical mass, and even though everyone agrees that the interface sucks, it's still "the" place to go, so the other services are no longer really an option. The teens have to go where their friends are.

Here at the Game Developers Conference this week, I'm hearing the same buzz. No longer are my own peers talking about orkut or friendster or (or at least, not much). Now, it's MySpace getting mentioned everywhere, with LinkedIn coming in second as a more business-oriented networking service. Everyone agrees that MySpace is ugly, MySpace is loud, MySpace is an assault on the senses and sensibilities -- but, MySpace is the (current) place to be.

Oh, and an update on hot games, from the award show last night. Game of the Year went to "Shadow of the Colossus". Other games getting plenty of great buzz are "Guitar Hero", "Darwinia", "God of War," and "Nintendogs". The "First Penguin" (historical innovator) award went to Crowther and Woods for the early text game "Adventure" (award given by Steve Meretzky and Bob Bates, wearing spelunking gear, which was appropriate). Lifetime Achievement award went to Lord British aka Richard Garriott, for his Ultima series. Community Contribution award went to Chris Hecker who gave a *great* acceptance speech -- very entertaining, and is probably going to draw "Will Wright" comparisons. Speaking of which, Wright is on the cover of "Wired" this month, and I've gotta run if I'm going to catch his keynote. Ciao!

Elonka :)

RE: Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad? (and GDC update)

RE: Slashdot | Interview With Cryptographer Elonka Dunin
Topic: Computer Security 8:50 pm EST, Mar 17, 2006

noteworthy wrote:
Elonka wrote:

Does anyone else have an idea how I'd get my name onto their radar screen?

Start by having your publisher send Oprah a preview copy of your book, along with some kind of glossy brochure that their ad agency would prepare. The brochure would outline the angle Oprah should take in making your book and personal story relevant to her audience.

Ideally, your book jacket would include "Advance Praise" from Dan Brown himself, or from James Sanborn, or something.

Have you met H. Keith Melton? Maybe your publisher could work on getting your book into the gift shop at the International Spy Musuem. It's mostly focused on espionage, but their web site does have a Games section that includes a "Codemaking & Breaking" Flash game.

Okay, the publisher sent me a PDF file, and I played with it a bit, and here's what the flyer's looking like so far: flyer.jpg (300K). How's that look?

And yes, Melton's a great guy! He's put me in touch with some people at the International Spy Museum in Washington DC, who may be inviting me to come out and do a booksigning. Melton also suggested that I make myself available to the 24-hour news channels, as a volunteer code expert who they can interview when they're looking for such a thing around the time of the release of the movie The Da Vinci Code. I hadn't even thought of that, and it's a bit daunting, but sure, why not? Though again, I have no idea of how to get my name into their rolodex. Is there a database of "people that CNN call" somewhere?

Elonka :)

RE: Slashdot | Interview With Cryptographer Elonka Dunin

Elonka mentioned on Granick's 'The Shout'
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:40 am EST, Mar 17, 2006

Cryptographer, gamer and NerdSalon puzzler Elonka Dunin has a cool interview on She tells a great story of building an unconventional and totally absorbing career. For those of us that didn't follow the usual job path, its both familiar and amazing at the same time.

Okay, when cyberlaw goddess Jennifer Granick blogs about me, I *know* I've done something cool. :) I am amazingly flattered.


Elonka mentioned on Granick's 'The Shout'

BBC NEWS: Enigma project cracks second code
Topic: Cryptography 5:26 pm EST, Mar 16, 2006

The final Enigma code is taxing the network of computers
Online codebreaking enthusiasts working to solve a series of German World War II ciphers have cracked the second of three codes.
Thousands of users around the world have joined the M4 Project, using spare computing power to crack the codes.

Sort of like SETI, but on WWII ciphers.

BBC NEWS: Enigma project cracks second code

Dan Brown witness statement in Da Vinci Code case
Topic: Miscellaneous 1:29 pm EST, Mar 16, 2006

March 14, 2006:

The following is Dan Brown's Witness Statement to the High Court - in which the American author speaks about his inspiration and research for the bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code . . .

A (mostly) hype-free description of his side of the story, introduced at court in the UK trial.

Dan Brown witness statement in Da Vinci Code case

UK Guardian: Behind every great male writer ...
Topic: Arts 5:39 pm EST, Mar 15, 2006

This week Dan Brown, author of The Da Vinci Code, revealed that his wife Blythe helps him write his bestsellers. It puts him in good company, writes Hadley Freeman

This article is very little about Blythe, but it has many fascinating examples of other spouses (both male and female) over the years, who helped, and sometimes wrote, the work that brought attention to the more famous member of the couple.

UK Guardian: Behind every great male writer ...

Gdynia Aquarium - Antarctica
Topic: Miscellaneous 2:16 pm EST, Mar 15, 2006

Among marine mammals, five species of proper seals inhabit the Antarctic - the elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), Weddell seal (Leptonychotes weddelli), crabeater seal (Lobodon carcinophagus), Ross seal (Ommatophoca rossi), leopard seal (Hydrurga leptonyx) and one representative of the family Otariidae - the fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella)

Heh, I was poking around the web today looking at Antarctica pics, and found this website, "Gdynia Aquarium" that's using some of my own photos from my 1999 expedition! I had to look it up to figure out where "Gdynia" is (Poland). I'm kind of flattered -- plus it's nice that they gave me credit on the pictures, and a link back to my site. They used two of my seal pics, one lichen, and one of a chinstrap penguin (hover over the pics to see the photo credits).

Elonka :)

Gdynia Aquarium - Antarctica

RE: Slashdot | Interview With Cryptographer Elonka Dunin
Topic: Computer Security 10:12 pm EST, Mar 14, 2006

Go Elonka! I truly cannot wait till I have a copy of her upcoming book. I expect it to be very well recieved by a very wide audience. I think the result will be suprising...

Elonka should wind up on the talk show circut. We need to get Elonka on Oprah after her book comes out! It's imperative.

Y'know, I've been wondering that, myself. I mean, Oprah is probably going to have a segment on "The Da Vinci Code" when the movie comes out in May, and it would probably be cool for her show to have a real-life crypto-geek girl (who just had a book come out).

The only thing is, I've never been a member of the "The Cult of Oprah", and I really have no idea how I would even go about getting the attention of her producers, other than just working the phones and relentlessly self-promoting myself. Does anyone else have an idea how I'd get my name onto their radar screen?


RE: Slashdot | Interview With Cryptographer Elonka Dunin

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