SAN FRANCISCO--The "gospel according to Goldberg." Turns out it can't be found in a local synagogue, Jewish deli, or Rube Goldberg device, though a couple of us puzzling through treasure hunt clues Saturday night were stubbornly stuck on those ideas.
If you're thinking more along the lines of churches and singing nuns, we want you on our team next year.
The Goldberg gospel was just one hint in the Tech Search Party, a semi-geeky scavenger hunt set in San Francisco's Noe Valley and organized to benefit the neighborhood's Alvarado Elementary School, which needs a technology boost. One-third of the classrooms there don't have working computers; many that do work are held together with duct tape, according to Tim Smith, the event's creator.
About 250 people descended on the normally quiet little Noe with flashlights (or flashlight apps) to solve as many clues as possible in two hours and score prizes like Geeknet gift certificates, Electronic Arts games, a date with Kara Swisher of AllThingsD (PR teams only), and, of course, bragging rights.
Smartphones were essential to the endeavor, as Web searches were needed to decipher clues like "cost $45,499 in year of Beverly Cleary's birth" (answer: the San Francisco Library in Noe, which was built in 1916), or 1:3.226 (answer: the grade of the steepest street in San Francisco: 22nd between Church Street and Vicksburg).
My team, the "Noe-it-Alls" (a runner-up for best team name, I might brag), joined 50 other teams with names like "Several Sassy Sleuths," "Is Our Children Learning?" and "Indominable Immersion Mamas" (Alvarado offers language immersion programs).
On hand were family and friends of Alvarado students; random geeks who learned of the event via Twitter or were recruited from lines for the Google and Apple commuter buses that swing through Noe Valley to take employees to work; candidates for San Francisco supervisor; and even Tyler Hinman, winner of the 2009 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The "Scribble Monkeys" team included CNET's Rafe Needleman of Webware fame and former CNET.com Editor in Chief Steve Fox.
My team consisted of Tom and Rayna, parents of Alvarado students and owners of a Palm Treo and Motorola Q, respectively; Jonathan, who brought along his semi-functional Motorola Razr from 1913; and me, with my little ol' Samsung Alias 2. Needless to say, Rayna and Tom did the Web searching. … Read more