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[personal profile] viverra
Sometimes I feel really behind the 8-ball. Last week I  discovered MacHeist, which apparently has been operating for awhile now. They offer a bundle of really nice Mac apps for a ridiculously low price. These are full editions, not demos or anything like that. And a quarter of the purchase price goes to charity (they list the organizations, and they are all bona fide charities).

To be fair, half are for games and things I really don't care about. But I was planning to get WireTap Studio anyway; I use a demo of it and I was just waiting for a time I felt I could afford the 69 dollar license. The bundle is only 39 dollars. For me that one app pays all.

But WARNING WILL ROBINSON! The site itself can be addictive. The "Heists" are puzzles.  (Odd thing -- you have to go to the bottom of the bage and click on the footnav link to get to the Main page to find them. I did while trying to see if the offer was for real. And by the way, I did this last week - not today, when the date would have made me very suspicious). OK the heists --

From the main page, you go to "Briefings". The current puzzle is "Mission 3".
Iif you want to go in totally cold, stop reading here. But I'm not giving real spoilers, and if you want to know why I'm so intrigued, read on....

They show you a little flash movie which seems only marginally related to anything. (I was confused enough to go back and do the other "Missions", even though they are marked "expired". The forums have hints and walk-throughs).

Below the movie there is a link, and a clue of what you are supposed to do. In this case you get an unlabeled grid that resembles a phone keyboard. Figure that out, and you get a pretty standard mechanical maze-type puzzle.

Complete the puzzle, and you seem to go to an ftp directory. There is an uberstory (helps to at least listen to all the briefings of all the puzzles) about time-traveling computer hacks. So at the directory you are supposed to click on the upload files button on a browser banner that appears.

Now things get really interesting. And believe me, you will want hints from the forum.

You are taken to a page which contains hints as to where to go next. When you go there, you find it is a bogus site. Flounder around until you see something that reminds you of the clue that started this section.

From here on out, you have to be willing to download and overlay pictures. It helps to have photoshop or something. You get a map and have to figure out where to go next. One place you go is a restaurant which has Maritime signal flags displayed. Of course you can read them. You get a phone number.

Call it (really! This is why I said you will need forum hints). The recorded message is confusing. I will only say it refers back to an illustration at an earlier key site. Solve that puzzle (OK, hint: it involves adding RGB numbers) and you get a phrase.

Go back to the map and the other site indicated. You will get to a picture that you can manipulate using your knowledge of semaphore code (you DO know semaphore code, don't you?).

Completer this, and you get another picture which you can use as an overlay. Do that, do what seems logical at that point, and you will get a pattern. Go back to the Heist main page and enter the pattern as a "gesture" below the safe logo.

TADA! You unlock the safe and get a couple of free apps. A game, an art program, and a stock tracking program that looks pretty good. You also get a $2 discount on the bundle of apps. A nice reward.

As you can see, this is not your average puzzle. Some of the previous missions had you bopping around to various sites, usually the developers of small apps like these. And of course, that's why the developers participate. I went to a number of sites and bookmarked them, saying "hmm that looks interesting, I'll have to come back here..."

Definitely check them out. Even if you don't want any of the programs, the puzzles are fun. And if you do want any of the programs, do me a favor and use the link I provided -- referrals get me more free programs. One gets me a game (eh, so-so) but two gets a useful-looking utility program. But don't feel compelled to buy anything - that's just a lagniappe. I recommend the site even to PC users who wouldn't be interested in the programs, just for the puzzles.

Enjoy the site. Just don't waste too much time.


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