Puzzle Box – Chapter 2

Posted on October 25th, 2009 at 12:50 pm by


[Author's note: This is the second post in a real-life story that ultimately took a full year and four chapters (1, 2, 3, 4) to tell. Read them all, then browse through the other surprising puzzle box stories that have popped up along the way.]

The Puzzle Box story has a delightful second act.

It’s Saturday night, five weeks to the day since the wedding, and despite the recent firestorm of publicity, I still haven’t heard whether my friends have managed to open the Reverse Geocache Puzzle™ Box.  It’s certainly possible they are playing it cool, waiting for just the right moment to share the story of their adventure, but I think it’s more likely the box is still intact.  If so, each passing day increases the likelihood that they will stumble first onto one of the dozens of articles that popped up on the web this week.

On Monday, Hack-a-Day and MAKE Magazine independently posted generous write ups on their blogs.  Then around noon Engadget, Slashgear, and Gizmodo also picked up the story of the mysterious box that can only be opened in one place on earth.  This seemed to trigger a flurry of tweets, links, and mentions on Facebook, various geocaching and wedding forums, blogs, and podcasts everywhere.  Sites as remote as China started running variants of the story – I recognized it only by the links and photos – and by Monday night my website had seen three times as much traffic in a single day than it had the entire year!

But a bigger push was still to come.  Late Wednesday I got a call to do a telephone interview with Los Angeles Times tech reporter David Colker, who weaved together a charming article comparing the box saga to “Mission Impossible” or James Bond.  David said that everyone in his office “just loved” it, both the tech-y folks and the not-so.  But that’s the appeal of this little project, isn’t it?  It works hard to balance the geeky with the intensely personal.  Or as my favorite tweeter wrote, “it’s the perfect combination of mystery, software, romance, and mechatronics.”  Ha!  I love that!  Yes friends, after centuries of seeking the ideal balance between those four great pillars of art, only now has perfection finally been achieved!

Thursday morning the Times ran the article, which was subsequently lifted by the Seattle Times, the Orlando Sentinel, the New York Post, and a number of West-coast blogs. Traffic on arduiniana.org surged even higher.  And despite all, we still don’t know whether the couple have opened the box.  It’s like the world has been partitioned.  Those who have seen the amazing coverage stand on the one side, eagerly waiting to see when and how those on the other side – my friend and his small circle – will stumble across the secret.  Personally, I hope that he opens the box before discovering all the press.

And so we keep waiting.

Meanwhile, I have enjoyed reading all the supportive comments.  It’s humbling to see adjectives like “dazzling”, “delightful”, and “amazing” bandied about in reference to one’s work.  People seemed especially to like the story of the man who called me a BASTARD! and my friend exhorting everyone “Don’t push the button!”  Digging through the photos posted on the wedding photographer’s website, I was delighted to see that he captured the very instant that my friend first uttered that phrase, “Ne poussez pas le bouton!”  The anxious speaker, unfortunately, is off camera right in this photo, but you can see my cousin Scott (right) and myself (standing) about to burst with laughter.

"Hey, don't push that button!"

Hey, dont push that button!

And here, for your edification, is the BASTARD guy himself, facing the camera:

The guy who called me a BASTARD!

The guy who called me a BASTARD!

And still we wait.

Be assured that as soon as I hear how this story ends, I will let you all know.  One reader suggested that the couple should put the box up for sale on EBay.  Lots of people want copies of the Reverse Geocache Puzzle box, but owning the famous original – now that should be worth something!

Heady days.


[Next read chapter 3 in the puzzle box story.]