The Adobe MAX Dead Drop explained

Well another Adobe MAX has come and gone and this one seemed to be a great event. As part of this year’s event I put together an official dead drop competition. At first I was concerned that the involvement of Adobe legal would stifle the fun but it turned out to be a great drop. There were some Flash celebrities competing for the prize but in the end the prize went to savvy web developer Trevan Richins. Below are the details of how the prize was won.

The Hidden Star
I wanted the first clue to be one that designers would perhaps have a slight edge at since there were many attending MAX. The clue consisted of a downloadable Illustrator file containing a bunch of stars. This sent many developers scrambling as they either had never opened Illustrator before or didn’t even have it installed on their machine. The trick was realize that there were 16 star paths in the layers panel but only 15 that were visible on the artboard. Way off to the left hand-side there was a microscopic star with a sequence of numbers cut into it. You can download the Illustrator file to see for yourself.

ASCII Keyboard
The next clue was a little more of developer thing as you were required to read a string of numbers and convert them into their ASCII equivalents. Now I know this is child’s play for developers but for designers this may pose somewhat of challenge. The translated string gave the location of a serial number that they had to retrieve to move to the next challenge. Translate the string below to find out where that was.

83|101|114|105|97|108|32|110|117|109|98|101|114|32|111|102|32|107|101|121|98|111|97|114|100|32| 97|116|32|83|99|101|110|101|55|32|112|111|100

TOPHAT
The next challenge involved nothing more than good old fashioned research. The contestants were taken to a page which contained a video of a documentary about espionage. They had to first figure out that the video was about Aldrich Ames and then they were asked to find out the FBI cryptonym of the old man with no shirt on. The easiest way was to go to YouTube and find the video. This would give you the agent’s name, Dimitri Polyakov. From their you could go to his Wikipedia page to find out that his cryptonym was TOPHAT.

The Mysterious Grid
The next challenge was quite a bit more complicated. People were brought to a page containing the this image. Most people were completely stumped about what to do with it. Many thought that they were supposed to find a similar grid somewhere in the convention center. People were wandering around looking at the ceiling and windows. In reality, the image contained the full text of the Declaration of Independence. The ASCII values of each letter were encoded as pixel colors and spread out to form a grid. Some hardcore flashers like Joa Ebert, Mario Klingemann,and Marc Thiele solved this one very fast however. The winner, Trevan, solved this one in a really cool way. He opened up the Firebug console and created an HTML 5 Canvas and used it parse the pixel values, as there is a full bitmap API. How cool is that! I’m including his clever code snippet below.

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var canvas = $(‘test2′).getContext(‘2d’);
canvas.drawImage($(‘test1′), 0, 0);
var canvasData = canvas.getImageData(0,0, 400, 200);
var width = 400;
var y = 0;
var x = 0;
var pixel = canvasData.data[(y * width + x) * 4 + 2]
 
var text = ;
for (var i = 0; i < width; i++) {
    x = i;
    pixel = canvasData.data[(y * width + x) * 4 + 2]
    text += String.fromCharCode(pixel);
}
console.log(text);

Room Within a Bathroom
The final clue said nothing more than FIND ME NOW. I started walking through the expo hall when Joa and Marc came running at me. After trying to run away I handed them the final clue which was a photo of a bathroom and another door. Trevan was next to find me followed by several others. Joa and Marc found the bathroom first as well as the interior janitorial closet inside of it. I had hidden the coin behind some pipe insulation on the water heater. Worried about being caught, they locked themselves inside and soon a janitor was there trying to unlock it. Trevan had come to the room, found it locked, and then went and got said janitor to open it for him. After Joa and Marc had given up, they decided to go back for one last try. They found Trevan there who was just removing the insulation to reveal the coin. Marc saw it and said he could of snagged it but being the nice guy that he is, he let Trevan claim it for the win. Talk about a hilarious end to a great dead drop.

Lee

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