The Treasure Hunt of Awesome, part 1

21 October, 2009

I turned 21*, and Charlie took me to the Mongolian Barbeque for a birthday meal. I’ll admit that I don’t remember much about the food because he also handed me these two objects:

The candle and the chopsticks are not relevant.

Sorry, bad photo. That's a hard white plastic blob, and a tin labelled "To be used only in case of interminable noise".

and refused to give straight answers to any of my questions.

I went home in a state of considerable confusion. What happened next was reported over on Twitter:

  • 12:09 AM: Deeply puzzled by the thing Charlie gave me that I don’t know what it is
  • 12:19 AM: The Thing™ appears to be Something™ encased in polymorph plastic. Well, when in doubt take it to pieces.
For the record, using a hairdryer for this takes ages.

I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation for all this.

  • 12:46 AM: Some cautious hairdryer-heating later: the Thing™ is Something™ inside a bag inside polymorph plastic. Time to put the kettle on…
These chopsticks are not relevant either.

At 60ºC, polymorph becomes clear and mouldable. Definitely something inside...

  • 12:50 AM: USB dongle extracted from lump of molten polymorph. What *is* this?
  • 2:07 AM: USB stick has no vendor id, is not formatted and cannot be mounted
  • 2:08 AM: But linux lets you do stupid things like cat /dev/sdb > foo.txt and open the result in a hex editor. I see a clue and some coordinates…
Can't beat a bit of birthday hex-editing ;-)

Mmm, Linux.

  • 3:27 AM: The coordinates make sense, and so does the time: (1253106000 + January) o’clock. Will sleep on the remaining clues…

* The great thing about being a geek is the right to pick your number base to suit your own purposes…



  1. There’s something deeply mysterious about those co-ordinates. And who is the man from Bologna … … … ?

    • Aww, c’mon, you should know that 😉

  2. Obviously too cryptic – try:


    Also, if you don’t speak Italian, the man from Bologna’s christian name sounds a suspiciously like a well known search engine.

  3. […] by a (deservedly****) smug-looking Charlie. I’m not sure which was my favourite part: melting the polymorph was fun, picking up Morse at Redacted Corner was awesome, and it’s not every day you set out […]

  4. […] My dad, being a geek, also gets to play fast and loose with number bases if he likes*. Happy birthday, Dad The latest in a series of birthday adventures perpetrated by my […]

  5. […] one about the Treasure Hunt of Awesome (here are parts 2 and […]

  6. […] my birthday treasure hunt two years ago was too easy. This one, says Charlie, should take a bit longer. He […]

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