Scavengeroogle: A Google Maps Scavenger Hunt To Waste More Of Your Time On

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About Scavengeroogle
    Scavengeroogle is a scavenger hunt game where you use Google maps to find the location of a particular graphical clue. (see us in Wired Magazine)

Archive for June, 2005

6/30/05 | 10:26 am | Map & Satellite Button Change

Google MapsI noticed another minor change to the googlemap look today. They’ve moved the “Map” and “Satellite” buttons, which used to be plain old links on the right hand side of the page, into the actual googlemap itself. They are positioned so they float on top of the image like the magnification slider does.

This actually seems pretty helpful for Scavengeroogling because I don’t know about you but I am constantly switching back and forth between the satellite and map views. Before you had to go to the right side to get it to switch, but now it’s right there within the picture which is sort of nice. Although… it is not TOO far in distance from where it originally was. Hm.. maybe the whole idea was to just get the actual buttons into the map.

But I can’t imagine that this is anything but a usability change. I don’t think it is a pre-cursor to a new feature introduction. In any case, lots of changes in the past two days. I think I read some news the other day that Yahoo is looking to upgrade their online mapping technologies someday, so maybe Google is changing things in anticipation of competition? Who knows…

6/29/05 | 12:22 pm | Solution: One Eyed Willy

I have to run, but first an important note (I’ll put this in another separate post):

Since there is no dissent, I made a decision to just go with the all day clue thing and to go with the “non-regular” clue drop. So, the last regular drop will be this coming Friday (many of you will be outta town probably). After that, clues will go up on a non-regular schedule (though, I may try to stick with Mon, Wed, Fri for awhile).

I’m going to do this regardless of if I figure out the mailing list and regardless if I figure out auto-notify. I think it is not too much to ask for people to come to the site on their own at any time during the day to check if a new clue has been dropped.

Mike M.’s info on his word clue:

Pic from Montgomery, AL, Montgomery is the first name of the Simpsons character Mr Burns. The pic is from west of the city, right next to a river. The service road that it’s on is off of Washington Ferry Rd.

Comments, hurriedly… Most interestingly, I have noticed that sometimes the word clue ends up having more than one way to solve it! Like Chris R:

This one was easy. I figured “Burns” was Pulitzer-prize winning journalism John Burns, who was friends in college with ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff. Consequently, I knew there was a “Bob Woodruff Lake” in Montgomery, AL — and there it was.

That is cool, he didn’t use the Simpson’s tie-in… also he was the first to solve it! Here are other comments.

Peter R

Whoa, that was real easy today (well, compared to the only other one I ever got).Though of Montgomery, AL right away and just scanned left along what I can only assume is the Alabama river. Took under five minutes.

On an interesting side note, pseudo-googling (i.e. Yahoo! search engine) revealed a Montgomery Ferry Dr. which ALMOST lead to a red herring.


I first started looking at all the different “Springfield”s in the US, but none of the colors seemed right - so I re-routed myself on the Mr. Burns clue. Hmmm…Montgomery? OH SNAP, Montgomery, Alabama!

From there, I just followed the waterway westward, and thar she was. A very
satisfying find.

Jon G

Took about 2 min. Immediately thought of Montgomery, AL from Mr. Burns part of clue and typed Montgomery into google maps and there it was not far from where it started me at. Didn’t even need the rest of the clue.

Mike Z

Very easy! Under 1 minute. I got the Montgomery clue right away, went there and saw some some green patches next to the river. Zoom in a little and there it is. It’s so nice to know that I have the rest of my afternoon free today. :-)


I inadvertently saw the region clue drop, but I would have been put on the right track by “Mr. Burns” anyway. I was already looking for Montgomery and ferry references, and Montgomery, AL would have been first on my list — and definitely was when I saw the clue.

Not sure about the rest of the clue. “West,” sure — look on the west side — but “ferry” doesn’t seem to relate to anything I saw. The only “Ferry” reference I could find easily was Wares Ferry Road, which is on the east side of the city.

And I’m off… see you Friday at 9!

Solution to “One Eyed Willy”

6/29/05 | 9:00 am | One Eyed Willy

click to search using Google MapsI dunno how many of you know of the band Grandaddy who are one of my all time favorites. But anyhow, they sing a lot about robots at least on one album called The Sophtware Slump. I don’t think they are one-eyed robots, but anyway this clue is of what looks to me like a one-eyed robot. Named “Willy”, of course, by Mike M. who has submitted quite a few useable and well-thought out clues and word clues. Apparently, he has a pseudo “roogle” game going at his office.

This is highly, highly encouraged… er, but not because it will decrease work productivity! But I mean it’s fun to start up your own office “roogle” because you can probably get to go through more clues than you’ll get here. And the good ones you can send in as submissions!

Hmm…neat. Whenever I see “Roogle” it reminds me of “Roog”, a short story by Philip K Dick. Yes, you DO know him: Minority Report, Blade Runner, Paycheck, Total Recall

Anyhow, tilt your head to the right when looking at the picture to make Willy look better. I especially like how the dark patch in the eye on the right looks like an eyeball. He is visible at 15/18, but you probably want to use 16/18 just to be sure. For word clues, you are going to get Mike’s original word hints which are:

“Mr. Burns heads west on a ferry”

I think this might actually be quite challenging, depending on how you come at the word clues. The region clue will definitely be a help, at least most likely it will. Who knows, these are wild Scavengeroogle times we are living in anyhow. Ok, enough talk… send me those solutions!

[Edit: 10:30 PDT - Some people are getting the solution but I think I will still go ahead with a direct region drop: Alabama!]

Clue Name : “One Eyed Willy”
Submitted by: Mike M.
Status : Solved (7)
Duration: Wed 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PDT

Solved By: Chris R, Peter R, Beamer, Jon G, Mike Z, Golux13, Adam M

Word Clues : “Mr. Burns heads west on a ferry”
Magnification Needed: 15/18

SOLUTION TO “One Eyed Willy”

6/28/05 | 9:49 am | Google Earth Launches

I guess the googlemap guys are figuring strike while the iron is hot, because they’ve just launched a free 3D mapping and search product called Google Earth. This is just days after they changed both the google map slider magnification as well as added high resolution google maps in other countries.

Google EarthThis new satellite based mapping product is actually a standalone program. It uses the same technology from Keyhole in order to let you sort of “fly” in from space into street level views. Interestingly, about half a year ago my brother showed me a similar program that let you do exactly that, except I believe you “flew” in from far outer space in order to visit Earth.

The software is free to download and has the following features (from the press release):

- 3D buildings in major cities across the United States
- 3D terrain showing mountains, valleys, and canyons around the world
- Integrated Google Local search to find local information such as hotels, restaurants, schools, parks, and transportation
- Fast, dynamic navigation
- Video playback of driving directions
- Tilt, rotate, and activate 3D terrain and buildings for a different perspective on a location
- Easy creation and sharing of annotations among users

Google EarthThey have two other “subscription” upgrades, Google Earth Plus ($20) and Google Earth Pro ($400) that include a number of extra features. With the “Plus” you can plug in a GPS device, print in high resolution, and generally interact in more ways with the software such as importing stuff into it. I think the “Pro” is for research and industry types.

I haven’t tried it yet, and I’m not sure if I will soon because for one thing the current version is PC only and I’m on a Mac a lot. Also, I think it requires a decent video card, something I’m not sure I have on my PC. So I guess if any of you get to try it out soon, if you could let me know how it goes. I’m not sure if this will affect Scavengeroogle at all; maybe it will just be another way to look for clues if it is using the exact same mapset as googlemaps. I wonder a bit about the resolution, which looks decent, as well as the “tilt” that gives everything more profile instead of the usual straight up and down satellite shot…

6/27/05 | 12:37 pm | Solution: Asian Writing

I don’t know what it is with my host provider lately, they seem to consistently plan downtimes right when the solution is about to go up and the game is about to end. One more reason not to have a “timed” solution; I’m getting kind of weary of this. Suffice to say this solution is probably going up late.

“Fragrant Harbour” is the direct translation of “Hong Kong”. The asian character means “oil” by the way (I didn’t know that - my wife, who can read Chinese, told me.). Which is quite fitting of course being that it looks like it is on top of two gigantic oil repositories and right next to what looks like a lake of the black stuff.

Anyhow, I gotta run, but our first real “international” clue went over fairly well, if a little on the easy side. I needed to make this one easy, because I can’t gauge yet how hard international stuff will be. Most people had not much trouble with it.

An interesting note. Mike Z DID get crunchy magic bonus points for finding some additional chinese characters:

5 - 10 minutes. Do I get any crazy bonus points for finding the smaller ones nearby? I actually found those first.

Shawn D notes:

It took me about twenty minutes. I’m going to love these international clues. It gives me a chance to learn a little more about some foreign countries.

I agree about the chance to find out more about the rest of the world. I am woefully under traveled so this will be interesting to find out more about other countries.

And Trecherus found another cool clue close by. Yeah, I noted that there seems to be a lot of interesting stuff to look at around the area:

I googled “Fragrant Harbour” and saw John Lanchester’s Fragrant Harbour that took place in Hong Kong. I then remember seeing something painted on the roof while searching Hong Kong for clues to send in. Unfortunately, that was a star. I thought the darkness on the left of the picture was water so I searched the western coasts. Although, the symbols turned out to be on the western coast, I don’t know what the darkness is.

Ok, kids. Tune in for another episode of scavengeroogling on Wednesday at 9!

Solution to “Asian Writing”

6/27/05 | 9:00 am | Asian Writing

click to search using Google MapsOk, this is going to be a bit of an experiment… you can probably tell just from a quick glance at the clue that this isn’t going to be in the U.S. I was sent an international clue by Pak W the other day. But I did a little scavengeroogling nearby and found this one that I thought was even better! However, I liked his word clue so I’ll be using it for this clue.

I am hoping that no one has already found this one. It is becoming more and more difficult to tell as new google sightseeing sites pop up and older ones stock up on locations. Sometimes I find our older clues on these sites, especially “writing” ones like this. This clue is an asian language character repeated twice on what looks like two cylinders. I actually know what this character stands for, so that will probably be a secondary drop in case people have problems.

The clue is not visible extremely far out, probably 15/18 or so. The word clues that Pak sent in are:

“Fragrant Harbour”

So, I am trying to figure out what level of region to drop, like how detailed to get. I’ve already basically told you it’s not in the U.S. but we shall see what additional clues are needed…

[Edit: 10:15 PDT - We seem to be doing OK w/out a region clue so I won’t drop it for now. I think just knowing it’s not in the U.S. is a region clue in itself…]

Clue Name : “Asian Writing”
Submitted by: Scavengeroogle Admin
Status : Solved (11)
Duration: Mon 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PDT

Solved By: Chris R, Ken S, Andy K, Judy B, Mike Z, Justin, Shawn D, Trecherus, Josh W, Jeremy R, Adam M

Word Clues : “Fragrant Harbour”
Magnification Needed: 15/18

SOLUTION TO “Asian Writing”

6/24/05 | 12:03 pm | Solution: Footprints in the Sand

I underestimated how hard this word clue from Mike M might be, and I think I know why: It’s a California clue, so I’m familiar with the area… so I was scavenger hoodwinked into thinking that everyone knows about the Charles Schultz Museum! I figured it would be easy peasy. I’ve even physically visited the museum (took a detour through Sebastopol on honeymoon 6 years back), so I guess I wasn’t really thinking too much about mentally connecting” good grief” with the museum.

Still, some people did get it quick. Like Moose who wrote:

Very easy. Less than 3 mins. I like it when we’re not getting any calls at work, like today. Gives me more time for ‘Roogling.

Hooray for ‘roogling in the workplace! Judy B writes:

Good grief! This one was a thinker. Looked up Peanuts creater Charles Schultz and found the site immediately.

Good grief indeed. Peanuts is still one of my favorite cartoons. The holiday specials on TV still really get to me. Shawn D said:

Pretty easy, Googled Charles Schultz and the museum came up. Sonoma, Ca.

Love it. Gotta run.

I’d love to have a scavenge an hour, but failing that, I’m fine with the mailing list.

Steve M wrote:

First thing i thougth was Charlie Brown So i looked up the history of Charlie Brown and it brought me to Charles M . Schulz. It had someting there about a museum in Santa Rosa Cali. so I went straight there. Didn’t really even have to look it was right there. Have a good friday and weekend I’m getting off work early and taking my kids fishing . Later

Man, I am so jealous you are going fishing. I like fishing quite a bit… where do you go fishing in Oregon? I get seasick so it’s rivers and lakes only for me.

Jon G had a similar method:

Took me 15 min. Immediately thought of Charlie Brown, after a little while I thought of Charles Schultz. After some google searching I found out he lived near Santa Rosa in Sebastopol, CA. Only took a minute or so after pulling up Sebastopol on google maps.

Ann M notes:

found the Charles Schulz info on Wikipedia.

I have likewise found Wikipedia to be as useful (if not more useful at times) than straight plug and chug googling.

Ryan F said:

Didn’t get in until the region drop, and it I’m guessing it made a difference, unless googling “Charlie Brown” without “California” yielded some lucky first results. Took 5 minutes from search to find. Pretty cool on the edge of lower-res photo, too.

Thank God for region drops I guess. Jason C’s idea of old has been a good one. Luke P has a similar note:

About 5 minutes - I started after the region drop, which helped. “Good Grief” immediately made me think of the peanuts, and googling Peanuts and California brought up the Charles Schultz complex in Santa Rosa. Spent a few minutes scanning the area before I found it.

Ok, folks thanks for playing as always. So far, sounds like the mailing list and day long clue drop period idea is OK with most. If so, I will try get something together sometime after the July 4 weekend. Also, sorry, I have had to shelve the “real Scavenger” hunt for awhile, but believe me it is on the shelf and not in the trash… I’m hoping to really try that some time.

See you Monday at 9!

Solution to “Footprints in the Sand”

6/24/05 | 9:00 am | Footprints in the Sand

click to search using Google MapsHappy, glorious Friday! OK, before you all start in on this clue, please take a look at the post below about starting a mailing list. You can weigh in with your opinion on whether the game would be OK switched to that way…

I got a large submission of decent clues from Mike M. the other day, including this one. Also regarding clue submissions, there haven’t been a lot of international clues yet, I think because in many places even thought there is hi-res satellite photos, there aren’t street level maps so it’s very difficult (for US players anyhow) to tell where you are. I also think it’s VERY difficult to come up with suitable word clues for international areas, unless you happen to be familiar with the area. In any case, there’s no rush to find clues outside of the U.S. I’m thankful that there is that opportunity now though!

Mike’s clue is called, quite appropriately from the picture, “Footprints in the Sand”. No, not that cheesy poem that nuns like to hang on their walls. This is a honest to goodness Paul Bunyan sized set of footprints. There is another clue submitted by one of you that is also a footprint that I have been meaning to use too… I’ll try get to that. I recall that I thought it would be extremely difficult though, which is why I shelved it.

The Footprints are available for viewing a good distance out, maybe 14/18 max. For word clues, you are going to get Mike M.’s suggestion which I thought were quite cool:

“Good Grief”

I have a feeling this won’t be too tough… but we shall see! If it is, look for a region clue.

[Edit: 11:05 PDT - hm… near zilch players today! Or it seems like it. I’m not sure but anyway I will drop: Northern California]

Clue Name : “Footprints in the Sand”
Submitted by: Mike M.
Status : Solved (8)
Duration: Fri 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PDT

Solved By: Moose, Judy B, Shawn D, Steve M, Jon G, Ryan F, Luke P, Ann M

Word Clues : “Good Grief”
Magnification Needed: 14/18

SOLUTION TO “Footprints in the Sand”

6/23/05 | 2:42 pm | Roogle Mailing List?

Hi Scavengeroogles, a side note for your perusal: As I mentioned in an earlier solution, I’ve been considering starting up an informal email list for Scavengeroogle clues. I’d like to find out your opinion on whether this might work.

I have been having a hard time keeping to the regular schedule of 3 clues a week. It’s not so much the overall workload, but the set times that are difficult for me. It would be good if instead of releasing a clue at a certain time, I could just release it at any time.

The problem with this is that many of you visit the site on a regular basis - Pacific Time Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, because you know that’s when a clue drop will occur. If I changed to a non-regular clue release, you’d have to visit the site more regularly (hehe, how’s that for getting more traffic, huh? No, I digress…) because you wouldn’t know when the next clue would appear.

So in order to counter that problem, I was thinking of doing two things: start up an optional mailing list and increase the “open solve time” from just a few hours to 1 day.

Now, I don’t particularly like mailing lists myself, even the non-spammy useful ones. But this mailing list would be used only for notifying you if a clue was launched, for those that WANTED to be notified. You could still just come check the site periodically instead, or just subscribe to the RSS feed through Bloglines or MyYahoo. Getting it by email would just be an option.

And because people wouldn’t necessarily get the notification email about a clue launch right away and in fact might get it HOURS afterwards, I would increase the time until a solution is posted to be a day long so more people would have an opportunity to play.

These two things actually have some beneficial side effects: With a longer solve time, more east coasters and people at work would get to “play” (you can of course “play” even if a solution has already been posted). The second side effect is mostly for me… I wouldn’t have to sit and “moderate” a session and write up a solution in such a short amount of time. I would of course check in periodically but would not have to be around the whole time. Though, it would mean that the “solutions pending” would not increase in near-real time as it does now (I do that by hand).

So the changes in the game would be non-regularly released clues and a change to a day long open clue instead of 3 hours.

Let me know what you think because I know some people really like the “timed” aspect. But I think I would still list names in the order that solutions came in… so maybe that’d be enough of incentive? =)

6/22/05 | 11:55 am | Solution: Double P

Hehe, I liked this clue just because it brings to attention the cruddy state of the NHL. I like hockey quite a bit, so this year has been a complete bummer… I don’t really follow any other sports. On the plus side, I’ve gotten to do more things now that I’m not watching so many games…

I know I said this one would be harder, but it wasn’t that tough. Trecherus gave us the clue of “Penguin Water” and I left it at that, mostly because these reservoirs(?) are so large. I thought it was interesting one looks completely empty and the other is full, so do they alternate usage or something?

Some people got it pretty quickly, and indeed I think once you linked Pittsburgh and Penguins the graphic clue was pretty easy to stumble upon.

Ken S wrote:

I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pa - 1 min

Judy B said:

Got it right off the bat. Had to think though.

and Tina said:

I’ve been on vacation for the past 2 weeks, my first one since I’ve been back. Took a few minutes to get the clue, but easy when I figured out city.

Andy K noted the hockey connection:

A little tougher since there was no hockey season this past year. Took a while to think of and come up with. But as long as you are an avid sports junkie you should come up with it. Nice and visible in the area.

Mike J almost got herringized:

Found it in about 5 minutes of looking. The clue made me think of the Hockey team so I scanned that area and found it.

Almost started in England because there is a Penguin Water Polo club in Hammersmith, but decided to try the Hockey club first.

Man, it is going to be more difficult to avoid incoming herringbombs now that we have the whole world at our fingertips to Scavengeroogle. I’m interested to see how the future international clues stand up. Josh W is also looking forward to an expanded search:

I really had no clue about the clue. I guessed Pittsburgh because of the Penguins and the color looked right. I followed the rivers looking for bridges and stumbled on it after a few minutes.

I am looking forward to seeing more interesting international images on perljam’s site…it’s interesting how close up you can get in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Not as many solutions today… Hey I am mulling over an idea for the clue release schedule. I’ve tried to keep it regular so that everyone knows when to come to the site and I have a status bar at the top to say when the next clue is coming. But as I said it’s increasingly difficult to keep to the schedule for me. It would be better if I could just post up a clue whenever I had the time.

So, I was wondering if maybe I should startup an informal “clue release” mailing list. This way, I could just notify everyone whenever a clue is launched. Also, this might make it so I don’t have to “tend the fire” as it were; right now, I kind of have to keep an eye on solutions coming in during the “open clue” time period, and I have to hurry to get the solution page ready at the bell. If I did a mailing list, I understand that not everyone would be able to jump on the clue right away, and in fact might not even read there email till later in the day. To compensate for that, I’d make it so the clue would have an open window of maybe a day or so. We’d get more solutions too perhaps.

I know some people like the short “set timelength” because it makes it a bit more fun to have to solve the clue in the required time. But a longer window of play-time would make it more flexible for east-coasters, and make it less rushed for me too.

I personally am not a big fan of mailing lists because I sign up for them and then they start to get annoying. But if I did a mailing list, it would only be for clue launches. I guess people can always signup for the RSS feed through Bloglines, but I think everyone’s still pretty used to email…

All right, I’ll write more about the mailing list idea in another post. See you Friday at 9

Solution to “Double P”

6/22/05 | 9:00 am | Double P

click to search using Google MapsScavs, how are you? Maybe I should say “Roogles” instead since scav sounds too much like “scab”. So, what up Roogles?

Anyhow, here is a clue from Trecherus that I hope will not be treacherous for you all. Well, I don’t think it will be at all. The clue looks like two gigantic “Ps”… interestingly they are almost identical in shape but very different in color. They are visible quite far out, I would say nearly 12/18. If that doesn’t seem like it’s that big, remember we are on a new plus 3 scale, so that’s the old 9 of 15 magnification!

For a clue, you will get Mr. Trecherus’s direct word clue:

“Penguin Water”

I don’t imagine any problems, and if there are then too bad… I’m kidding! Region clue will probably be coming soon enough provided I can think of one to give. Hey, remember now that Google has Hi-res in other parts of the world, it’s open season on clues… feel free to submit clues from any part of the world!

[Edit: 10:30 PDT - Not a lot of solutions yet, but I still think giving out the region clue would be too easy. So let’s give a general one … Northeast U.S.?]

Clue Name : “Double P”
Submitted by: Trecherus
Status : Solved (6)
Duration: Wed 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PDT

Solved By: Ken S, Judy B, Andy K, Tina, Mike J, Josh W

Word Clues : “Penguin Water”
Magnification Needed: 12/18


6/21/05 | 1:17 pm | New Hi Res World Google Maps!

click to search using Google MapsWoohoo! I had earlier postulated that the reason for the expanded google map slider magnification was to get ready for hi-res areas in the rest of the world. Sure enough, Luke P just took a look and saw that much of Europe and some of Asia is now at hi-res. Finally, Scavengeroogle is ready for the rest of the world!

As far as I know, this happened today because all those hi res satellite pics in Europe certainly weren’t around right when the Google maps slidebar was updated to 18/18 magnification earlier. I made sure to check that. In addition to Europe there are a ton of other countries represented in hi res, including some in Asia. Just a quick glance around, I saw Japan and Thailand had some squares.

What does this mean for Scavengeroogle? Well, in general it’s good because it gives us more regions to look for clues in. But it may make it more difficult as a game for players because they have to worry about looking in other countries, and it will make it more difficult for clue creators because the number of herrings is now increased exponentially. I guess we will see!

So, I’ll be expecting some clue submissions from the rest of the world, and in fact I’ll give those priority. Remember, you can submit planes, ships, airports and famous landmarks but I tend not to use those…