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These are the ramblings of Matthijs Kooijman, concerning the software he hacks on, hobbies he has and occasionally his personal life.

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Pandora 2008 finished: Not-so-exhausted and won

During the last week, Utwente Campus was again home to the puzzling, battling madness that is called "Pandora". This year's theme were the ancient greeks, main characters were the gods Zeus, Poseidon and Ares. The story resolved around the quest to find the Pithos de Pandora (which was later not so nicely translated to "Pandora's box").

The fun started with our preparations: We had arranged a number of Bluetooth GPS modules to use during the week. Bas spent quite some time coding a java program that we deployed on our mobile phones, which asked the GPS module for the current location and sent that up to a server every two seconds. On the other end, Bas and I built a webapp that showed these positions on a google map powered map, so we could track (some of) our team members in the field during the week. We extensively used this to mark the clues in the fields as well, which allowed for easy transmission of the puzzle codes from the field team to the base team and provides an nice archive of clue locations :-)

Our team started focussing on the puzzles, as we did last year. However, last year we did very well on the puzzles, but still got beaten by a team which also put a major focus on their killing. This year, that particular team was organising Pandora, which was visible in the scoring rules (less points for solving puzzles quickly than previous years). In the end, the rebalancing between puzzles and kills turned out quite nice, providing the Inter-Actief board team with the lead position during the first two days.

To compensate, we shifted our strategy to spend some more time on killing instead of puzzling only, which turned out rather well. The end result: We won by a large margin, by solving the puzzles first on every night and scoring a pretty large amount of kills over the week.

The puzzles were very nice and proper Pandora puzzles, most of which were solved by every team. There were a lot of puzzles that were not so hard (the organisation even added extra puzzles on the last day to increase the difficulty), though I regret that there were no real hard puzzles (just one or two would be perfect). On the other hand, this approach ensured that the puzzles kept rolling and most teams stayed motivated to solve the puzzles before sleeping :-)

The storyline was mandatory this year: Each puzzle had an accompanying piece of story, all of which were needed for constructing the answers to each night's questions. This is actually quite cool (in the last years, Pandora had been involving the other way around: each night's end answer used to be the answer to the last puzzle, or even a list of codes showing that you had solved every puzzle).

I finished of this Pandora week with a refreshing swim in the pond behind the Campuslaan. There is a small island there, on which both the last clue and the actual Pithos de Pandora were located. Since it's kind of hard to arrange for some kind of boat at 3 AM (and our preparation unfortunately lacked a rubber boat, which we will be fixing next year), Frank arranged for a towel and swimming gear. And, since our HQ was at my flat and I had dry clothes there, I volunteered for a swim (though any one of us would probably have jumped right in as soon as any other team had appeared near the spot...).

Since we were the first team to get there, we took the actual Pithos de Pandora, leaving only the clue for the other teams to swim towards. My deepest respect goes out to the other five teams that made the plunge, without the added motivation of seeing the Pithos waiting for you (Since seeing it standing there made up my doubting mind :-).

All in all, this Pandora was extremely amusing, and the fact that we actually got to sleep a full night of sleep every night for a change, was fun. I had an extremely fun week, for which I have my teammembers, the other participants but mostly the organisation to thank. Thanks!

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