Randomville

Tech Talk => Waste some time => Topic started by: MissKitty on July 17, 2012, 10:30:46 AM

Title: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 17, 2012, 10:30:46 AM
I participated in an IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors) seminar a few weeks ago, and they posed a challenge which I found fun and enlightening, and since Randomvillians are quite the clever bunch, I'm passing it along to you lot.

What is the phone number of the office where the following photo was snapped?  I'm not asking for a phone number for the skyscraper in the picture, which sounds hard enough. What is the phone number of the precise office where the photographer was standing when the picture was taken?

(http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-7AISdU5aKoU/TylF6sMghYI/AAAAAAAADgA/rWgu9diUiZw/s1600/Where-Am-I.JPG)

Best of luck!
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 17, 2012, 10:44:26 AM
Oh, I forgot to add that the challenge is ideally supposed to take no longer than 10 minutes - but since that's for investigative professionals rather than laypersons like ourselves, you may take as long as needed to figure it out.

It took me 40 minutes. I was really chuffed when I finally got it.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Kwyjibo on July 17, 2012, 10:58:16 AM
I got the answer in about 30 seconds via google search.  Not terribly sporting of me of course.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 17, 2012, 11:12:18 AM
What'd you do, Google the blog of the guy who presented the challenge?
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 17, 2012, 11:34:10 AM
I thought so. The fun and challenge is ruined then. Sorry.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Predot on July 17, 2012, 11:38:25 AM
I thought so. The fun and challenge is ruined then. Sorry.

Kwijibo can delete his explanation, for those who haven't read the thread yet.

Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Kwyjibo on July 17, 2012, 11:46:40 AM
Done, like I said, wasn't very sporting.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: juggles on July 17, 2012, 01:13:45 PM
Well, I haven't found it yet but I've got some good guesses as to how I could.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Dan on July 17, 2012, 02:27:47 PM
I haven't a clue, so I'm going to talk out what I see/think.


First...it's not the USA. Those buildings are not American architecture, and the lp or tp on top of that building, coupled with the building behind it, seem like foreign logos. The car is driving on the right side of the street, so that eliminates South Africa, England, Australia, etc. After that... I'm at a loss.

Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Butter on July 17, 2012, 03:01:49 PM
I assume you are supposed to use the internet a bit.

tp and PZU both come back as major companies in Poland somewhere, so he's in Poland.  There is some kind of reflection off the tp building, but I can't make it out.  There looks to be some kind of flag in the lower left, but I assumed that was part of some advertisement, so I discounted it.

Figuring how many major cities there are in Poland, I narrowed it down to Warsaw, and wiki agrees that this tower is in Warsaw, Poland.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TP_S.A._Tower


Now how to get from there to where the picture was shot, I got nothin' right now.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 17, 2012, 03:09:33 PM
Butter you are on the right trail!
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Zafer Kaya on July 17, 2012, 03:20:25 PM
I figured it out, but only because MK said it was a puzzle that could be figured out in ten minutes, and I was like, what would be pretty much the only possible way one could figure this out in ten minutes on the internet (without straight up googling the solution)?

Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 17, 2012, 03:31:15 PM
Yes, it's a puzzle. The challenge is that if the only thing you had to go on was a photo, and you needed to know exactly where it was taken, how could you do it using your investigative knowledge? The presenter gave the photo challenge as an example - but now that so many people have done it that particular photo isn't a challenge if all you want to do is know the answer. But if the answer wasn't a 30-second Google away, how would you figure it out?
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: lutz on July 17, 2012, 04:54:12 PM
I've probably gone about this completely the wrong way, but here's how I've narrowed it down:

PZU (building in background) is Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń and TP is Telekomunikacja Polska, both Polish companies based in Warsaw. Messing around with Google Streetview leads me to believe the photo was taken from the Warsaw Financial Centre, so the office must be one of these (http://www.wfc.pl/#/EN/Our Tenants). The building front-right is 12 storeys tall, but the bottom storey of the WFC is quite tall, so I would guess the photo was taken from the 11th floor, which is occupied by the Regus Business Centre. Telephone number from regus.com (http://www.regus.com/locations/business-centre/warsaw-financial-centre): +48 (0) 22 528 6700.

I'm sure that is all completely wrong  ;D
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Ella Minnow Pea on July 17, 2012, 08:00:49 PM
It helps to look at the image in it's original 1600x1200 resolution.

First I googled PZU and narrowed down to Poland.
Then I googled Westin Poland to see that this was Warsaw.
Then I went to Google maps to figure out what building it was taken from.
I googled the name of the building and found the list of tenants.
I then used Google Street View to attempt to figure out which floor the picture was taken from.
Then I noticed the reflection in the image (after being misled by the stamp).
Hee!
+48 22 207 19 00 is the main number. Does it need to be the direct line? In which case, I'm stumped.

This was really fun. I think we could have a weekly puzzle! I found my old Games magazines, so I'll have to post some questions. They had contests in the days before the internet, so it took real research!
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Ella Minnow Pea on July 17, 2012, 08:02:40 PM
I've probably gone about this completely the wrong way, but here's how I've narrowed it down:
I'm sure that is all completely wrong  ;D
So close! Just one floor off!
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: juggles on July 18, 2012, 08:18:21 AM
I've probably gone about this completely the wrong way, but here's how I've narrowed it down:

PZU (building in background) is Powszechny Zakład Ubezpieczeń and TP is Telekomunikacja Polska, both Polish companies based in Warsaw. Messing around with Google Streetview leads me to believe the photo was taken from the Warsaw Financial Centre, so the office must be one of these (http://www.wfc.pl/#/EN/Our Tenants). The building front-right is 12 storeys tall, but the bottom storey of the WFC is quite tall, so I would guess the photo was taken from the 11th floor, which is occupied by the Regus Business Centre. Telephone number from regus.com (http://www.regus.com/locations/business-centre/warsaw-financial-centre): +48 (0) 22 528 6700.

I'm sure that is all completely wrong  ;D
So it's not in Singapore. I was way off.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Kwyjibo on July 18, 2012, 09:01:05 AM
In none of the explanations I read did anyone explain how they *knew* what floor it was.  Seemed like it was guessed only from the occupant of that floor.  Maybe I didn't read far enough.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: lutz on July 18, 2012, 09:51:56 AM
In none of the explanations I read did anyone explain how they *knew* what floor it was.  Seemed like it was guessed only from the occupant of that floor.  Maybe I didn't read far enough.
It looked like people knew because of the challenge setter's employer, which is kind of cheating. I'd like to see someone do it by trigonometric means!
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Kwyjibo on July 18, 2012, 10:34:31 AM
The way the challenge was framed elsewhere, the scenario was that you had woken up in this room with amnesia.  How does knowing who set the challenge help that person?  I agree... cheating.  Not as blatant as what I did, but still.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Zafer Kaya on July 18, 2012, 11:16:07 AM
I don't understand your problem.

You can see it a "Goo.." in the photograph reflected from the window.  I suppose it's possible someone jimmied up that reflection, or maybe some random person in a different floor has a google sign in their office, or maybe the guy's name is Goog and he has a neon sign with his last name.  But it's pretty reasonable to assume it's the Google office.

When I did it, I started with the approach that there had to be some kind of giveaway.  Then I figured why is there this crap in the photograph instead of a nice, clean one.  Has to be there for a reason.  Then when I saw it said "goo.." I was like, yeah it has to be google because that's something easy to find on the internet.  And I worked from there.

That is cheesy because it takes advantage of me knowing its a quiz. Like a multiple choice math test where you can't solve the equation like you are supposed to, but you just look at the answers and plug them in and find the choice by process of elimination.  Maybe not straight up cheating, but cheesy.

Ella's approach was totally legit.  She looked at different things in the photographs for clues.  She used those clues to narrow down possible locations.  She then used the narrowed list of possibilities to help her look for more clues.  Then repeated that process until she got to the answer.  She solved the problem in a way that works without knowing that the problem is solveable in ten minutes on the internet as part of a silly quiz.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Kwyjibo on July 18, 2012, 11:49:39 AM
I saw the reflection but didn't get what it was (It's a schooner!).  That makes sense.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 18, 2012, 12:02:21 PM
I don't understand your problem.

You can see it a "Goo.." in the photograph reflected from the window.  I suppose it's possible someone jimmied up that reflection, or maybe some random person in a different floor has a google sign in their office, or maybe the guy's name is Goog and he has a neon sign with his last name.  But it's pretty reasonable to assume it's the Google office.

When I did it, I started with the approach that there had to be some kind of giveaway.  Then I figured why is there this crap in the photograph instead of a nice, clean one.  Has to be there for a reason.  Then when I saw it said "goo.." I was like, yeah it has to be google because that's something easy to find on the internet.  And I worked from there.

That is cheesy because it takes advantage of me knowing its a quiz. Like a multiple choice math test where you can't solve the equation like you are supposed to, but you just look at the answers and plug them in and find the choice by process of elimination.  Maybe not straight up cheating, but cheesy.

Ella's approach was totally legit.  She looked at different things in the photographs for clues.  She used those clues to narrow down possible locations.  She then used the narrowed list of possibilities to help her look for more clues.  Then repeated that process until she got to the answer.  She solved the problem in a way that works without knowing that the problem is solveable in ten minutes on the internet as part of a silly quiz.


I did exactly what Ella did, which is one of the reasons it took me 40 minutes instead of 10.
The other reason was I couldn't get the correct angle of the building using Google Maps, so I downloaded Google Earth and flew around until I got the correct angle. Then I turned to see what building I was looking at, and went from there.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Ella Minnow Pea on July 18, 2012, 01:08:58 PM
I managed to do it in about 15 minutes, although I unfortunately didn't check my start time, so it may have been under 10 minutes. I'm very much a visual and logic puzzle fanatic, so this quiz is perfect for me. I fail at song lyric quizzes and may have only ever known one during Butter's challenges.
In none of the explanations I read did anyone explain how they *knew* what floor it was.  Seemed like it was guessed only from the occupant of that floor.  Maybe I didn't read far enough.
Using Google maps' new 45 degree view, I counted the number of floors in the building in the right foreground and got 12. As the photo showed that building's roof, I looked at the tenants in the 10-20 floor range. That's when I figured out there had to be a clue in the picture and finally looked closely at the reflected logo to select Google from the list (which had all the tenants' logos and I was getting ready to compare each of them to the reflection).
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: MissKitty on July 18, 2012, 01:47:05 PM
Ella, you've missed your calling. You should be working in investigations! Well done!
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Kwyjibo on July 18, 2012, 01:49:35 PM
Interesting to read the thought processes, my problem is always one of where to start and in this case the way I started off led me directly to the answer in another blog.  I should have ignored it and gone on... maybe I'd have figured it out as well.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: juggles on July 18, 2012, 03:23:40 PM
I think my method would have worked but my initial search got me on a false lead that had me looking all over Singapore. Hope I'm not giving away too much by letting on that it's not in Singapore.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Butter on July 18, 2012, 03:40:36 PM
Other places it's not (SPOILER ALERT!):

Djibouti
Timor-Leste
Norwood
Mars
The Arctic
My dong

Hopefully I am also not spoiling it for anyone.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: va-vacious on July 18, 2012, 05:43:44 PM
Ella, you've missed your calling. You should be working in investigations! Well done!
Don't encourage her! Do you have any idea how bad road trips are with her when she wants to play games?!?

Yeah, I'm useless at this sort of puzzle.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: juggles on July 18, 2012, 07:00:20 PM
Other places it's not (SPOILER ALERT!):

Djibouti
Timor-Leste
Norwood
Mars
The Arctic
My dong

Hopefully I am also not spoiling it for anyone.

So glad I saw this before plugging "Butter's Dong" in Google Earth.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Zafer Kaya on July 18, 2012, 07:02:08 PM
Don't let it stop you.  There's nothing Butter likes more than plugging his dong into Google Earth.  Except maybe killing hobos.
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Dan on July 19, 2012, 11:17:46 AM
Does he use his dong to kill hobos?
Title: Re: Challenge: Solving 'impossible' problems
Post by: Kwyjibo on July 19, 2012, 11:25:12 AM
Does he use his dong to kill hobos?

Not exactly, he does take them to heaven though.