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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Find 815: Another Sonya Ghost, and the Black Rock is Found

Note: This post may contain minor spoilers for portions of Chapters 4 and 5 of the Find 815 alternate reality game.

Here are the highlights of what's happened since my last post. As Sam stands looking out over the water, he thinks he hears Sonya's voice calling out his name. He then sees her face in the air:

The ghostly image of Sonya says to Sam, "Love you madly," the phrase they often said to each other. This is very much like a similar appearance of a ghostly Sonya in Chapter 1. Ockham hears Sam calling out Sonya's name, and tells Sam "This place can play tricks on you. Don't let it get to you." Is there any particular reason why "this place can play tricks" on the human mind?

The Season 2 clue for Chapter 5 is, strangely enough, the foot statue from the Season 2 finale. For some totally inexplicable reason, a miniature version of the foot statue is on the deck of the ship hiding behind some yellow cables. This is way weirder than the Swan playing cards and the Santa Rosa pill bottle, if you ask me.

After navigating the ship through some dangerous obstacles, the LOST Season 4 clue word is revealed to be "Southfields". According to Wikipedia, "Southfields is a suburban district in the London Borough of Wandsworth."

"Queen's College" is revealed to be "Your Season 4 clue". On the site, the name is printed on the side of a crate, which reads in full "PROPERTY OF QUEENS COLLEGE DEPT OF PHYSICS". There are actually several colleges called Queen's College, and so far there has been no reference to any of them on the show. The first hit in a Google search for "Queen's College" is the City University of New York. A number of main characters have had connections with New York. Another school named Queen's College is located in London, which is probably the one referred to in this game since the Season 4 clue words seem to correspond with the clues themselves, and this chapter's clue word refers to a location in London.

Sam seems to have found the Black Rock at the coordinates given to him in the e-mails, even though Talbot claimed they wouldn't likely find it there. According to Talbot, The Maxwell Group is in possession of Magnus Hanso's journal which contains a number of coordinates in it, but somehow Sam's contact within the company seems to have known about precisely the right location where the Black Rock could be found.

Sam is irritated about having received an encoded e-mail that contained the message "LOVE YOU MADLY". He wonders why someone in The Maxwell Group would tease him with this message.

Sam says that he met Sonya on a small island called "Tanna" in the Pacific.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Season 4 Predictions, Find 815 ARG, and Mobisodes 9-12

[Listen to this episode!] [Subscribe to the MP3 feed via iTunes]

We had a very fun live show on Thursday night! We discussed some predictions about Season 4, what's been going on in the Find 815 alternate reality game and how it might tie in with the main LOST storyline, and LOST: Missing Pieces (mobisodes) 9 through 12. You can listen to the show by clicking on the link above. Show notes follow.

Season 4 Predictions
  • According to Desmond's flash, if Charlie went down into the hatch, enabled communications with the outside world, and then died, then Claire and Aaron would get off the island in a helicopter. This is probably one of the helicopters owned by Naomi's people. We don't know for sure, however, whether they will actually make it back home
  • We know from the last scene of the Season 3 finale that Jack and Kate ultimately get off the island, although of course we don't know whether that will be thanks to Naomi's people
  • Ben claimed that calling Naomi's people would cause every living person on the island to be killed, but it remains to be seen whether or not he was telling the truth
  • Josh strongly suspects that we'll find out that Charles Widmore is behind Naomi's group, citing as evidence the unlikelihood of anyone else being able to gain access to a copy of the photograph that only Penny and Desmond had. Charles Widmore is obviously not a fan of Desmond, and he may be trying to make sure once and for all that Desmond dies and thus can never be with Charles' daughter Penny again.
  • Curt Yanko from the Black Rock Podcast suggested that the Christiane I (the ship on which Sam Thomas is sailing in the Find 815 alternate reality game) may end up finding the island, and that the game's story line might intersect with Season 4
Find 815 Alternate Reality Game: Summary of What's Happened So Far
  • Oceanic Airlines issued a press release in late December 2007 that indicated that the company would be resuming operations worldwide. Oceanic also had an advertisement that was seen on the Web site flyoceanicair.com and there were a few real-world TV spots as well as billboards.
  • Shortly after the ads began airing, a man named Sam Thomas who used to work for Oceanic Airlines hacked the company's site and inserted his own video clip in place of the commercial. He said that his partner Sonya was on Flight 815, which up to this point in the game has apparently never been found. Sam felt that the search ended prematurely, and he set off on his own to discover what happened to the missing airplane.
  • Sam received an e-mail from someone who claimed to know Sonya, and hidden in the message were some clue words including "Black Rock". With the help of his friend Tracey, Sam found out that the Black Rock was a slave ship that was returning from a gold mining expedition when it disappeared. Tracey also helped Sam get aboard a ship called the Christiane I that turned out to be looking for the Black Rock. Sam is currently on the ship.
  • The person who sent Sam the e-mail with the hidden clues has continued to send Sam encoded messages, which have given Sam a pair of longitude and latitude coordinates. They give a location just off the coast of Bali, Indonesia.
    • Josh suspects that these coordinates will lead to the fake Flight 815 crash site mentioned by Naomi
    • Curt suggests that perhaps the coordinates are that of the real plane and/or the real location of the island
      • Curt suggests that anything is possible considering the subtle references to faster-than-light travel, time travel, and wormholes on the show and in peripheral yet canonical parts of the LOST universe
      • Josh argues that Naomi and Anthony Cooper independently confirmed in The Brig that they saw news reports about the complete wreckage of Flight 815 being found and all passengers deceased, but Curt points out that they both obtained this knowledge secondhand, and the information available to the press may have been incorrect.
      • Josh also argues that there is a lot of evidence pointing to the LOST island being somewhere in the Pacific, northeast of Australia (probably somewhere near the flight path). For example, there have been connections between the island and Amelia Earhart, whose final flight path would have intersected with the path of Oceanic Flight 815. Another indication that the LOST island should be in the Pacific is that Desmond thought the island was due east of Fiji.
      • Josh concedes that Curt's theory is definitely interesting and may prove true, and agrees that with the talk of Casimir effects, etc., then it's certainly possible that Amelia Earhart's plane and Flight 815 may have both wound up in an entirely different place via a wormhole. Curt also cites as additional evidence for his theory the fact that a short-distance aircraft from Nigeria inexplicably wound up on the LOST island.
  • Sam's anonymous tipster works for a company called The Maxwell Group, a division of Widmore Industries. The Maxwell Group is responsible for the search for the Black Rock that the people aboard the Christiane I are undertaking.
    • The Widmore connection also lends credence to Curt's theory that perhaps the Christiane I may be headed for the LOST island, especially assuming that Josh's theory of a Charles Widmore connection with Naomi's people turns out to be true. Either way, there have been lots of connections between Widmore and the island
  • The timeline of events in the ARG is somewhat unclear. Although the press release clearly gave a date in December 2007, the events surrounding the search for Flight 815 and the finding of the plane's wreckage should have already happened a long time before the present day based on what we've seen on the show.
LOST: Missing Pieces (Mobisodes) 9 through 12:
  • In the ninth mobisode, "Tropical Depression," Doctor Arzt admits to Michael that he doesn't really know anything about predicting the weather and tells his depressing story of how he ended up on Flight 815.
  • In the tenth mobisode, "Jack, Meet Ethan. Ethan? Jack," Ethan meets Jack and brings him a suitcase full of drugs that he says he found in the jungle. They talk about the fact that rescue is unlikely and discuss delivering Claire's baby. There's an awkward moment after Jack says to Ethan, "Well, if she does go into labor at least I know I've got an assistant," meaning Ethan. As he is walking away, Ethan turns toward Jack and tells him that his wife and child both died during labor.
  • In the eleventh mobisode, "Jin Has a Temper-Tantrum On the Golf Course," well... the title pretty much sums it up. Jin expresses his frustration about losing the golf game and about not being able to communicate with anyone.
  • In the twelfth mobisode, "The Envelope," we see part of the scene from the Season 3 premiere when Juliet burns her hands on the muffin tray. When Amelia arrives, Juliet swears her to secrecy and pulls out an envelope, but Juliet doesn't have time to show Amelia what's inside because the doorbell rings. This appears to be the envelope containing the X-rays of Ben's spine that reveal that he had a tumor.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Orchid Film, Mobisodes, and LOST News

[Listen to this episode!] [Subscribe to the MP3 feed via iTunes]

At long last, I'm posting the podcast episode I recorded in December! In this episode, I discuss some LOST news, The Orchid orientation film (and some related theories about faster-than-light travel via wormholes), and the first eight "mobisodes" (officially dubbed "LOST: Missing Pieces"). You can listen to the show by clicking on the link above. Full show notes follow.

Site / Personal News:
LOST News:
  • LOST will return on Thursday, January 31st, at 9:00 PM EST
    • The new schedule will be on Thursdays instead of Wednesdays!
  • Due to the Writers Guild of America strike, it appears that there will only be 8 episodes this season
    • The writers aren't asking much; they currently only make 4 cents on each $19.99 DVD sale, and they want a mere 4 more cents, and to make the same rate when their shows are viewed or downloaded on the Internet as when the shows are viewed on TV. See this YouTube video for further explanation
    • Damon Lindelof also wrote an opinion-editorial piece for the New York Times about the strike
  • I mentioned the new LOST Experience (Find 815), about which I've been blogging extensively on this site
Orchid Film and Mobisodes (LOST: Missing Pieces)
  • The Orchid video was first seen at the end of the Comic-Con 2007 LOST panel
    • Dr. Candle/Wickmund reveals that he truly is a scientist, not just an actor hired by the DHARMA Initiative
    • He gives a new alias for himself: Dr. Edgar Halowax
    • There's a rabbit with a 15 on its side - one of the Numbers (Ben had a rabbit with a number 8 on it)
    • The video is apparently a randomly-cut recording of the orientation film for Station 6, The Orchid
    • It is not a botanical research station
    • Those who were asked to participate were required to deceive their family members and colleagues
    • Dr. Halowax says that the unique properties of the island created a Casimir effect
      • Further research reveals that Casimir effects could be used to stabilize a wormhole to allow for faster-than-light travel; this could explain how Anthony Cooper was brought to the island
    • It appears that there are two rabbits with the number 15... or perhaps the same rabbit from alternate realities or different timelines
  • In the first mobisode, "The Watch," Christian Shephard tells Jack that he's made the right choice by deciding to marry Sarah, and tells Jack that if he ever has a child to treat him better than Christian treated Jack. Christian gives Jack a watch that his father gave to him.
  • In the second mobisode, "Hurley and Frogurt," we finally meet Neil Frogurt. He challenges Hurley about taking Bernard's wine, and he tells Hurley that he wants Libby for himself. A confident Hurley smiles and takes the wine back to where he was supposed to meet Libby after she retrieved the blankets from the hatch (which, of course, never happened thanks to Michael).
  • In the third mobisode, "King of the Castle," Ben plays chess with Jack. Ben expresses his desire for Jack to stay, but confesses that if the island doesn't want Jack to leave then it won't let him. Ben tells Jack that if he leaves the island, a day may come when he will want to return. Jack doesn't believe him, but Ben tells Jack to remember this conversation.
  • In the fourth mobisode, "The Deal," Juliet introduces herself to Michael while he's still in captivity. She tells Michael that he'll get his boat, and that she's met Walt, who is "an interesting kid," "very smart, very special," and "not an ordinary boy." She tells Michael that the man he's going to release is Ben, and he's the person capable of getting Michael off the island. She tells Michael about her sister in Miami, and rhetorically asks Michael if he would do anything to save Walt. Juliet then tells Michael, "You have your list. Good luck."
  • In the fifth mobisode, "Operation: Sleeper," Juliet wakes up Jack and reveals to him that she's still working for Ben, and that she's there to find out which women are pregnant so The Others can take them. Juliet questions whether Locke blew up the submarine. She tells Jack that Sun and her baby will both die unless they're off the island within a month.
  • In the sixth mobisode, "Room 23," we find out that Walt was being held in Room 23 (where Karl was brainwashed). Walt must have done something that set off an alarm, and people are running around inside the building. Juliet tells Ben that she and Beatrice (Ms. Klugh) would not go in to tell Walt to stop it, and Juliet told Ben that Tom was afraid to bring food to Walt. Ben reveals that Jacob wanted Walt there because Walt is "important" and "special." Juliet argues that Walt is "dangerous," and shows Ben that several birds had fallen dead outside a boarded up window where Walt was being held.
  • In the seventh mobisode, "Arzt & Crafts," Jin and Sun discuss whether Boone and Shannon are lovers, and Sun tells him that they're brother and sister. Dr. Leslie Arzt tries to convince Hurley, Michael, Jin, and Sun not to move to the caves. There are several hints that Sun speaks English (which, of course, is now common knowledge). Arzt says he's going to stay on the beach, but then the monster is heard off in the distance, and Arzt quickly decides he's going to go to the caves with everyone else after all.
  • In the eighth mobisode, "Buried Secrets," Sun hides and watches Jin fishing from a distance, then walks into the jungle, pulls out a California driver's license, and starts to bury it. Michael walks up and sees the half-buried driver's license and picks it up. Sun confesses to Michael that she was going to leave Jin and start a new life in America, but at the airport she chose to stay with Jin because she was afraid. Sun says she feels that the island is her punishment and her destiny, and says that Jin is not the man she fell in love with. Michael hugs her and wipes away her tear, and they almost kiss but are interrupted by Vincent.

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Live podcast tonight!

I'm doing a live podcast tonight, and I'd love it if you would come join the discussion!

Tonight (Thursday, January 24th) at 7:30 PM PST / 10:30 PM EST

or call (724) 444-7444 and enter 16338 when asked for the Call ID

Planned discussion topics include updates on the Find 815 ARG, theorizing about what we'll see in Season 4, and LOST: Missing Pieces (aka "mobisodes") 9 through 12. I hope to see you there.

By the way, the episode I recorded in December is finally edited and should be online within the next few days, so stay tuned!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Find 815: Chapter 4's Clue Hunt

Note: This post contains spoilers for the clue hunt in Chapter 4 of the Find 815 ARG.

In the latest video, Sam looks out in the water and sees a strange cloud of colored lights, which appears to be an aurora.

In the clue hunt, there are some noteworthy items. First, the Season 2 clue is a swan, and the logo on the back of the playing cards looks almost identical to the swan from the Swan Station's Dharma logo:

Are we supposed to think there might be some connection between The Maxwell Group (who is running this boat expedition) and the Dharma Initiative?

After playing a brief game, the Season 4 clue word is revealed to be "Frank Lapidus". When the player enters this clue word on find815.com, we see a picture of a "Santa Rosa Pill Bottle - Your Season 4 clue":

This seems to hint that we may be getting to see Santa Rosa Mental Health Institute again this coming season. "Frank Lapidus" is not a name we've encountered before on the show, so he may be a patient or doctor, or connected in some other way with Santa Rosa.

It seems really strange that a pill bottle from a mental health institute in California would find its way onto this ship. Is someone on the ship mentally ill and from California? This may be one of those things we're just supposed to overlook, but it's hard to do that with anything related to LOST, especially an ARG wherein we're supposed to be looking for clues.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Find 815: The Latest E-mail Decoded, the Box Company, and an Unsolved E-mail

Note: This post contains minor spoilers for the first part of Chapter 4 of the Find 815 LOST ARG.

Sam has figured out that the encoded e-mails he's been getting contain coordinates, and he decides to chart them on the ship's computer. He makes it appear to be broken so he can get Mr. Ockham to leave the room for a while so Sam can "fix" it. Sam has some password hacking software that can help him narrow down the letters and numbers most likely to be part of the password, and the player must guess the right characters and the correct order. I was lucky so it only took me a handful of tries to guess, but if you get frustrated by it, highlight the text between the bars below for the password:

| RU6JF |

Sam has gotten another voicemail, this time from someone named Richard calling from Randy's office. Richard says that a box company in which Sam had invested has burned down, but the insurance company is paying handsomely to its investors. (This may be another connection with the TV show, as John Locke used to work for a box company that was managed by someone named Randy.)

Another strange encoded e-mail has found its way to Sam's inbox. An explanation of how to decode the e-mail follows (spoiler for those who want to figure it out on their own). If you take the letters from each line and rearrange them, they spell a number (e.g. the first line is "twelve"). Take all these numbers and you have 12, 15, 22, 5, 25, 15, 21, 13, 1, 4, 12, 25. This spells the phrase "love you madly," which is what the ghostly flight attendant (who has been identified as Sonya) said to Sam in Chapter 1. Could this indicate that Sonya is working within The Maxwell Group? Or that the person at The Maxwell Group knows Sonya personally and is toying with Sam? (Credit to DarkUFO's site for the e-mail decoding.)

Tracey e-mailed Sam and mentioned a new Web site: www.baliholidayfun.com. This site contains an e-mail address, baliholidayfun@gmail.com. When I sent an e-mail to this address, I got a reply from "Mr Ole" with the subject "re: Amuses Mr Ole Re: " followed by my original subject line. The e-mail is encoded in plain text with the Windows-1252 character set, but appears to be encrypted somehow. I tried running it through a decompression utility to see if it was some kind of basic encoding, but it doesn't seem to be. The characters are too fragile to post here, so I recommend that you e-mail the aforementioned address and get your own fresh copy of the message for analysis. So far I haven't found any mention of this on my usual Find 815 clue sites, so see if you can be the first to crack it! (Assuming, of course, that this isn't just another dead end like Thomas Killen's purple photograph turned out to be.)

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Monday, January 21, 2008

Find 815: Coordinates Revealed and The Tunisian Newspaper

Note: This post contains some spoilers for Chapter 3 of the Find 815 alternate reality game.

A few things have happened since the last time I posted. Sam saw some electronic equipment go haywire and then go back to normal. He also got another strange encoded e-mail, as seen here (click to enlarge, and note that the e-mail is pretty short so the second screenshot overlaps quite a bit):

Some of the letters (AABBCFC) are a little bit smaller than the others. Readers of DarkUFO's site figured out that these small letters (like the gray numbers in the previous e-mail) translate into a coordinate, in this case latitude (the letters correspond with their sequence in the alphabet, so AABBCFC=1122363, and it only makes sense for the decimal point to go after the 112). Combined with the previous clue, this gives us the longitude and latitude coordinate pair of -11.1784, 112.2363, as shown in the following map. Assuming that this is the location of the fake Flight 815 crash site, it's just off the coast of Bali, right where Naomi said it was.

There's another clue search activity. (Activity spoilers are ahead.) After finding the final clue and solving some puzzles, the player is presented with "Your LOST Season 4 clue word is '36-15-28'." This looks to me like it could be a code for a padlock or a safe. Entering this number reveals a "Tunisian newspaper - Your Season 4 clue" as seen here (click for a version of the paper enlarged to 150% for better readability):

Following is a translation of the newspaper from French (based on this translation):
The Journal of Tunisia

Flight 815: The Leaders of Oceanic Airlines Maintain Their Decision

The American airline company Oceanic maintains its decision to abandon...
search for Flight 815. The Boeing 777 has been reported missing since September 22...
were on board this flight, all trace of which was lost between Sydney, in Australia...
Neither wreckage nor survivors have been found. According to the leaders of the company...
[Oce]anic, despite all their efforts, among which a vague operation of research into...
Finally, Sam confirms in a new video diary that he now knows that Owen Talbot is working for The Maxwell Group.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

Theories Related to "D.O.C." About Naomi, Juliet, and Mikhail

Tonight I watched "D.O.C." (Season 3, Episode 18) with my wife, and I had a few thoughts related to the episode. (You can listen to or read the initial commentary on "D.O.C." here.)

In "D.O.C.," Naomi turned to Mikhail and said "Eu não estou só" (which means "I am not alone" in Portuguese, not "Thank you" in Italian as Mikhail claimed). The fact that she spoke in a language that only Mikhail could understand seemed very suspicious at the time, especially after the show when people looked up the meaning of the phrase. It seemed as though Naomi was conspiring with Mikhail and The Others. It's interesting to note the stark contrast between this impression of Naomi and that given by Ben in the Season 3 finale when he told Jack that Naomi's people would kill every living person on the island. Where exactly did Ben get this information? Did he concoct that story because he's afraid of people leaving the island?

It also occurred to me again that Juliet may be pregnant (as I first discussed here), and since pregnant women on the island die within their second trimester, this would certainly give her a major reason to want to get off the island. Juliet was in bed with Goodwin on the day before the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, and with sperm production being five or six times higher on the island, it's possible that Juliet could have become pregnant—unless of course she and Goodwin had access to some type of contraceptive. The Season 3 finale took place on days 92 and 93. Assuming that Juliet could have become pregnant on the day before the crash, she could be roughly at the end of her first trimester, or perhaps farther along if she became pregnant on a previous date (although of course she would start to appear pregnant if she was much farther along). This wouldn't give Juliet much longer to live.

After Jin captures Mikhail, Hurley says "I thought Locke killed that guy with the electro-fence thingy." Then after Mikhail is threatened by Desmond, he admits, "As your friend pointed out I already died once this week." Are we to take this literally? At Comic-Con 2007, executive producer Damon Lindelof said that we left Season 3 with Mikhail dead. This would be at least the third time Mikhail has "died" on the show; he looked pretty darn dead earlier in the Season 3 finale after getting harpooned in the chest, yet he managed to swim outside the station and detonate a grenade, which (also) killed him according to the executive producers... even though it wasn't at all clear that he died. Is Lindelof's comment about Mikhail being dead irrelevant because he always seems to come back from the dead? Or in other words, will we yet see Mikhail alive on the show? The executive producers have indicated that dead characters will not return to the show except in flashbacks. Strange and creepy proposition though it may be, has Mikhail never been alive the whole time we've known about him? What if he, like Richard Alpert, is one of the mysterious original Others who doesn't seem to age, and about whom we don't know much yet? Is it possible that these island-native Others are some type of ghosts or manifestations of the island, and thus can never really age or die? That's a far-out theory, but there's got to be some good explanation. Either the writers are changing their minds about not resurrecting any characters who have died on the island, or Mikhail just has a lot of near-death experiences, or there's some unnatural phenomenon going on with Mikhail.

Charlie protested about letting Mikhail go free. He started to get in a fight with Mikhail but Desmond stopped him. Charlie said, "This is a mistake! We can't keep letting these people go!" It turns out that Charlie was right about it being a mistake; this scene was a foreshadowing of Mikhail killing Charlie in the Season 3 finale (not to mention destroying the equipment in the underwater station, The Looking Glass, that would have enabled them to communicate with the outside world).

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Find 815: Raiding Owen Talbot's Room

Note: This post contains spoilers for the Find 815 LOST ARG. If you're playing along, you may wish to read this after completing the Chapter 3 activity or if you need some hints. Non-spoiler speculation also follows.

In the first part of Chapter 3, Sam Thomas decides to break into Owen Talbot's room. I won't give away all the secrets, but suffice it to say that the player needs to search the room for certain objects, and time is limited. It may take a few tries to figure out how the activity works and be able to figure out all the clues in time.

Need a hint? When you get the cell phone working, make sure to use the arrows on the display (NOT the up and down buttons on the phone) to scroll through the list of phone numbers. I assumed after pressing the phone's down button that it wasn't possible to scroll, and it turned out that not only is it possible, but a crucial clue is only visible when you scroll down. I attribute that to poor game design; the screen doesn't appear to be a touch-screen and none of the buttons on the phone work, so this was very misleading.

The numbers on the phone are as follows:
L. Allan - 259 773 821
J. Brooks - 259 320 555
M. Duffield - 259 534 890
J. Graf - 259 826 612
M. Griffin - 259 654 238
N. Hammond - 259 125 436
A. Harris - 259 274 022
J. Hogendorn - 259 472 025
C. McCulloch - 259 934 885
P. Manera - 259 843 701
C. Morrow - 259 845 002
A. Mullins - 259 852 930
R. Owen - 259 465 789
M. Smerdon - 259 194 032
T. Sullivan - 259 731 903
S. Vagg - 259 124 093
If after several tries you can't figure out what the briefcase code is, highlight the text between the bars below for a really big hint:

|Which phone number matches the initials on the briefcase (A.M.M.)?|

Still can't figure it out? Highlight the text between the bars below for the code:

|852 930|

After successfully completing the activity, we find out that the briefcase contains documents from The Maxwell Group. As you may recall, at the beginning of the Find 815 game, someone from this group apparently sent Sam the e-mail that started his search for answers. Could it be that the person to who owns the briefcase is the same Maxwell Group employee who contacted Sam? Also very interesting is that we find out for the first time that The Maxwell Group is "A Division of Widmore Industries"—the company connected with Penny's father, Charles Widmore!

The Maxwell Group: A Division of Widmore Industries
This connection is observed on the cover of a confidential "research brief" titled "Proposed Salvage of 'The Black Rock' Shipwreck":

After Sam finds this information and begins to leave the room, Owen Talbot catches him and accuses him of looking for something. Sam tells Talbot that he was merely closing the door which had been left open. Talbot says "Some people think you're an asset to this expedition," and then indicates that he doesn't think so. So who does? Perhaps Mr. Ockham, the captain, who was impressed by Sam's fix-it challenge in the last chapter of the game. But perhaps Talbot is hinting that he knows people within The Maxwell Group that believe Sam could be useful in finding the Black Rock.

Are we to assume that Owen Talbot is working for The Maxwell Group? If so, why would he seem to have stolen the briefcase from a member of the group? Or did someone from the group give or lend the briefcase to him? Might he have stolen the briefcase knowing it contained information on the Black Rock so he could find and recover it for profit? If he's not working with The Maxwell Group, then why would he have a phone number from someone in the group in his phone? Or did he steal the phone from someone else in the group? Perhaps this is reading a bit too far into the story, but it does seem very strange that Talbot would go to lengths to hide a briefcase with someone else's initials on it.

So now that we know the name of at least one person in The Maxwell Group, could this give us a possible username to use at www.the-maxwell-group.com? Perhaps, but as of right now it seems that nobody can log in; when a username and password are entered on the site, an error message appears that seems to indicate that the site is expected to be working again on February 1st (or perhaps January 2nd, depending on how you read it):
Authentication Server Temporarily Down

The server is currently being serviced. It is expected to be back in service by
02/01/2008 00:08:15 UTC
Stay subscribed to this blog for more information and theories as the game develops!

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Find 815: Transcript of Amelia Earhart Radio Report, and Map

Since I couldn't find a complete and accurate transcript of the radio report of Amelia Earhart's disappearance as heard by Sam Thomas, I have transcribed it. The radio reporter said the following:
"And in news just ahead, it has been reported that all communications with avation pioneer Amelia Earhart have been lost. Ms. Earhart was en route from New Guinea to Howland Island as part of a daring round-the-world flight. A tireless advocate for the aeronautical industry, Ms. Earhart was the first woman to cross the Atlanic Ocean, as well as the first to cross it solo. She regarded aviation as a relatively safe form of travel that should be widely adopted. The last verified communication received by the United States Coast Guard was at 8:43 AM today. It indicated that Ms. Earhart's Lockheed Electra was low on fuel. A search is already underway by the Coast Guard. There are many reports from across the Pacific of communications picked up from Ms. Earhart's plane, but these are yet to be authenticated."
Amelia Earhart's intended flight path intersects with the intended flight path of Oceanic Flight 815, as can be seen if you pull up my Google Earth file and then put in the coordinates for Howland Island, which according to this page are 0°48' N 176°38' W. (Or you can just look at the screenshot below.) Interestingly, the intersection of the flight paths would be somewhere in between 4.815° N 162.342° W and 4.815° S 162.342° W, two points based on the numbers:

See also my previous post about possible connections between Amelia Earhart and LOST.


Find 815: Tom Killen Explained

While Googling for a transcript of the Amelia Earhart radio broadcast heard by Sam Thomas, I came across a page referring to a "Kelly," who was the apparently the real-life author of the Oceanic Airlines press release PDF. This person was discovered to be Kelly Chapman, who has Find 815 in her resume (listed under the company "Hoodlum," a company with "11-50 employees" in the "Online Media industry"). I noticed that both she and Thomas Killen are from Bisbane, Australia. Apparently they're both developers of the Find 815 alternate reality game.

This doesn't exactly explain why Tom Killen decided to integrate himself with the game—but then again, it seems his coworker Tracey Robertson, who is the owner of Hoodlum according to her LinkedIn profile, has done the same thing; Sam's friend who lent him her camera and has been helping him research things is named "Tracey R." (Credit to DarkUFO for links to Thomas and Tracey's LinkedIn profiles.)


Friday, January 11, 2008

Find 815: Amelia Earhart, Black Rock, Penny's Number

Note: This post may contain minor game spoilers.

In the final segment of Chapter 2 of the Find 815 LOST ARG, Sam turns on a radio and hears a reporter talk about the disappearance of Amelia Earhart as though it has just happened. Curious, he sends an e-mail to "Broadcasting Authority" to ask whether there were "any radio documentaries broadcast in the last few days on Amelia Earhart's disappearance". In reply, the Broadcasting Authority representative says that they are not aware of any such broadcast, although it could have happened without them knowing about it. Interestingly, fans have speculated based on comments from executive producers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof that the "Adam and Eve" skeletons found in the caves might be Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan. Another theory is that the Other named Amelia might be Amelia Earhart.

Sam e-mails Tracey to tell her that the video camera he's borrowing from her is acting up. "Something is interfering with the playback heads and affecting the motor drive." Tracey says that it was working fine when she gave it to him. Could the "something" that's interfering with the device be a magnetic anomaly like those on and around the LOST island?

Sam receives another e-mail from Tracey, who has found some information about the Black Rock. (In Chapter 1, Sam discovered the text "Black Rock" in the digitally altered photograph of Sonya that was sent to him.) Tracey says that the Black Rock was a slave ship, possibly owned by New World Sea Traders. Tracey says that the owner of New World was a man named Magnus Hanso, who "may have been captaining the Black Rock when it vanished." The blast door map seems to confirm these facts, as it lists the Black Rock as the "known final resting place of Magnus Hanso". Former LOST writer-producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach confirmed during The LOST Experience that Magnus is the great-grandfather of Alvar Hanso, who is the founder of the Hanso Foundation, one of whose projects was the Dharma Initiative. Tracey continues: "After the Black Rock disappeared, New World Sea Traders was sold to a company called the East Ocean Trade Group. In the 1950s the East Ocean Trade Group was taken over by the Hanso Group, who renamed the company Allied Copenhagen Marine Merchants."

There's a memorization activity which leads to a "LOST Season 4 clue word," which is "423 Cheyne Walk". Presumably this is part of an address, but what exactly does it have to do with Season 4? When this code is entered on Find815.com, it unlocks a "Season 4 clue" dubbed "Penny's Number". There is a shot of a book or diary with words written in the front: "If found please return to Penny 020 7946 0893", as seen in this screenshot:

Unlike previous phone numbers in the ARG, this one is not a real telephone number (source: DarkUFO). Since the clue is Penny's number, are we to assume that 423 Cheyne Walk is her address in London?

In the video, I noticed the prominent tattoo on Sam Thomas' left arm, which appears to be a black, filled-in, five-pointed star:

This could simply be the actor's tattoo, but this is so far unconfirmed. Matthew Fox (who plays Jack) had tattoos prior to the first season of LOST, and the writers chose to work them into the plot—even devoting an entire episode's worth of flashbacks to explain them—so there's a precedence for tattoos having meaning in the LOST universe. If anyone can confirm whether actor Rodger Corser has this tattoo, please post in the comments section.

Finally, this is probably insignificant, but I noticed while playing the clue hunt game at the end of Chapter 2 that the photograph of Sonya on Sam's desk looks strangely distorted:

Note that the map above the photograph also looks ghostly, so it's possible that some accidental (or intentional) smudging of the image took place when editing this scene together during game design.

The final part of Chapter 2 is a video recorded by Sam in which he explains that he's found out that the boat he's on, Christiane I, is searching for the Black Rock, which is presumed to have sunken on a return trip from a gold mining expedition. Sam says that he's getting tired of searching for a needle in a haystack and questions what any of this has to do with Flight 815 anyway.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Find 815: Numbers E-mail and Owen Talbot [Updated]

Note: This post may contain minor spoilers for the Find 815 LOST ARG.

Since the last time I posted a Find 815 ARG update, there's a new e-mail on Sam's computer (click to enlarge screenshots; note that the text overlaps a bit between these two shots):

The name of the Sender appears as "Sender" and the e-mail apparently has "[no subject]". The contents of the e-mail are as follows:
At this point, it's unclear what (if anything) these numbers mean or whether they have any significance to the game. Each of the Numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) appears in this e-mail, some very frequently:
  • 4 - 142 times
  • 8 - 76 times
  • 15 - 3 times
  • 16 - 2 times
  • 23 - 44 times
  • 42 - 25 times
If anyone is able to decode anything from this message, please post a comment on this article.

UPDATE: Reader "superservo15" pointed out that certain numbers in the e-mail are slightly more gray than others, as now visible in the text above. When the gray characters are written out it gives "-11.1784". This could perhaps correspond with 11.1784°S latitude, which if combined with a longitude coordinate may possibly be either south of the Sunda Trench or off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. (Incidentally, the Sunda Trench also appears to be near Phuket, Thailand, where Jack got his tattoo from Achara in a flashback.)

Meanwhile, as the story of Sam Thomas continues, he meets a suspicious man named Owen Talbot. The man seems to be an owner of the Christiane I, the boat that is about to take Sam to the Sunda Trench.

Owen Talbot's conversations with Sam and then with the captain are very interesting. First, Talbot pressures Sam to explain why he's on the boat, and then makes a comment about Sam's "perfect girlfriend." He challenges Sam's story by saying, "I wonder what you're 'getting away' from?" Owen Talbot seems to somehow know Sam's motives.

Owen Talbot's conversation with the captain, Mr. Ockham, indicates that the boat may not be able to handle the voyage that they're about to take. Ockham states, "Given our destination, I can't rule out a complete electronics meltdown. This is an insurance policy you need to take out." Sam, who is listening to the conversation, appears a bit concerned by this. Talbot apparently ignores Ockham's advice, saying simply, "Call me when it's fully operational." Talbot then says "I'll need to install security measures."

Curiously, Talbot is a name we've heard before on LOST—in the Season 3 episode The Man From Tallahassee, Peter Talbot is the name of the young man who tracks down John Locke to find answers about Locke's father, Anthony Cooper aka Adam Seward. We learn that Peter is murdered shortly after Locke confronts his father, and Locke immediately suspects that his father is the killer. Owen Talbot, like Peter Talbot, seems to be a wealthy American, and given the many character connections on LOST it seems possible that the two characters may be related somehow.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Find 815: Ghost Flight Attendant, Game Snafu, and New Oceanic Hotline

Note: This post contains Find 815 game spoilers.

Yesterday brought a new piece to the game puzzle, with a new video featuring Sam awakening to a window shutter slamming in the wind. When the window is closed, a female flight attendant appears in the reflection (screenshot below; click to enlarge in a new window):

When Sam turns around, nobody is there. This sequence is followed by a game in which the player must locate four objects in the room that have to do with each season of the show. It's fairly simple until you get to the fourth clue; once you find and click on the hotspot, you're required to go to another site (in my case, the ABC homepage) to play a game, which when completed will give you a key word that will unlock the fourth clue.

The problem is, however, that the game can't be found on ABC.com (or couldn't when I played it); apparently ABC released the game early, pulled it from the site, and didn't put it back up when it was supposed to be there. This is quite a blunder since it basically forces players to have to go to a third-party site and potentially have parts of the game spoiled. You can play the game at http://au.yahoo.com/lost/find815/ to get a code.

After entering the code on the find815.com site, the "Season 4 clue" is revealed: a new Oceanic Hotline telephone number. It is not yet clear whether the Oceanic Hotline really has anything to do with Season 4 or not, but at least this may hint that we'll learn more about Oceanic Airlines in the fourth season.

According to some reports, the Oceanic Hotline number originally gave the same recording as the Georgia Cavanagh press release from flyoceanicair.com, but when I called it just rang several times and then gave me an error message. There are reports (thanks, DarkUFO) of a new recording at this number, however, with the following statement:
Thank you for calling the Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 hotline. Information is updated as the investigation proceeds. Investigations are thorough and, as such, may take a period of time to complete.

At this time we do not have any additional information regarding the crash of Flight 815. If you are a family member or relative of a passenger on Oceanic Flight 815, we are sorry for your loss. Detailed information is given during the daily family briefings. This briefing updates families on the progress of the investigation and allows for questions to be asked of the medical examiner or coroner and other parties connected to the investigation.

Please contact your accident coordinator or call back later for more information.
The last part seems to indicate that the hotline will be updated again sometime during the ARG.

Perhaps even more interesting, though, is the mention of a "medical examiner or coroner"—does this mean that an alleged Flight 815 crash site was found? As mentioned previously, this would fit with Naomi Dorrit's claim. This recording contradicts the first video at find815.com, which indicates that the crash site had not yet been found.

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Tom Killen Isn't Sam Thomas—He's Thomas Killen! (Or So It Seems)

Note: This post may contain Find 815 game spoilers.

The latest theory about the mysterious Tom Killen is that he's not Sam Thomas at all. Apparently, there may be a real person named Thomas Killen (who also goes by Tom) and is attending Queensland University of Technology. (Actually, we don't know for sure at this point whether Thomas Killen is a real person or whether his site is an extended part of the alternate reality game.) Remember how uncannily similar Sam Thomas and Tom Killen looked? Well now let's compare Thomas Killen with Tom Killen:

There's no doubt about whether the people in these two photos are a closer match. They even have the same curly hair—no hair cutting or styling required! As sure as I was about Sam and Tom, I'm much more certain that Thomas and Tom are the same person.

Shortly after his page was discovered by ARG players, Thomas removed all contact information from his page, posting instead a note that says simply, "actually dont contact me right now".

So, the question remains: Does this Thomas Killen fellow have anything to do with the Find 815 ARG? Or was he just some clever guy who happened to find the Flickr group early and thought he'd have some fun with the LOST fans? If the latter, I'm sure he got more than he bargained for. If the former, then perhaps more information about this character may yet be forthcoming.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Sam Thomas Is On Facebook and MySpace, and Is He Tom Killen?

Note: This post may contain Find 815 game spoilers.

Is Sam Thomas—the main character in the Find 815 LOST ARG—the same person as the mysterious Tom Killen? Observe the facial similarities:

The hair is obviously different, but the faces look very similar. Does this mean that Tom Killen is the same person as Sam, or does it just mean that Tom has access to a random photograph of Sam before he got a haircut?

Also, it appears that Sam has profiles on Facebook and MySpace. (Credit to DarkUFO's site.) Note that a free Facebook account is required to access the Facebook link. (While you're making friends with Sam, you can add me on Facebook and MySpace as well.)

Stay subscribed to this blog for more clues!

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Sunda Trench, and Who is Tom Killen?

Notes about the Find 815 LOST ARG follow. These notes may contain game-related (and possibly LOST-related) spoilers.

In the ARG there's information about a Sunda Trench. You can find out more about it in Wikipedia's article Java Trench (another name for the Sunda Trench). According to Wikipedia, it's located at 10°19'S, 109°58'E — just off the coast of Bali, Indonesia, which is where Naomi Dorrit said that the remains of Flight 815 had been found. Was Naomi telling the truth after all? If so, why was the plane so ridiculously far off course? (Refer to my Google Earth map comparing the flight path and Bali.)

In my last post, I mentioned a strange image that I found on Flickr. It's starting to look very much like this is in fact part of the ARG. DocArzt pointed out an e-mail address found on find815.com that bears a resemblance to the name of the Flickr user, killen_tom. The e-mail address is zkillen_t99@hotmail.com. If you send an e-mail to this address, you will get an automatic reply such as this one:
Subject: Vacation reply

Since the dawn of our species, man's been blessed with curiosity.
Your curiosity will be rewarded.


Zeke Klotho Freundlich
So which is this person's real name, Zeke or Tom? Either way, it's no coincidence that the character Tom (aka Mr. Friendly) from LOST was nicknamed Zeke by Sawyer—nor is it any coincidence that Tom offered the same Alvar Hanso quote ("Since the dawn of our species...") to the Losties.

Also interesting: could "Zeke Klotho Freundlich" be an anagram? There were an awful lot of anagrams to unravel in The LOST Experience.

Finally, the game made reference to a domain, the-maxwell-group.com. Right now there appears to only be a login page, but new information may appear there at some point during the game.

Stay tuned! According to the find815.com, there will be new parts of the game in about 14 hours. Subscribe to my blog for more insights on the ARG!

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New LOST ARG: Find 815

In case you haven't heard by now, there's a new LOST alternate reality game (ARG), much like The LOST Experience. This game is called Find 815, and it all starts at flyoceanicair.com.

NOTE: The rest of this post includes clues that I discovered within the game, and may be considered minor game spoilers.

At present, flyoceanicair.com contains an Oceanic Air promotional video that was recently hacked by a guy named Sam. He's trying to find out what happened to Oceanic Airlines Flight 815. During the hacked video, the text FIND815.COM appears. Find815.com seems to be where the majority of the game will be played.

I noticed this on the wall in the first video at find815.com:

This may provide clues as to where Oceanic Flight 815 crashed. Could these be latitude and/or longitude coordinates? (Compare with my Google Earth plottings of possible crash sites.)

Sometime within the past few hours, a new link appeared on Find815.com to a Flickr group. There was already one strange photo uploaded to this group, and it's been there for a couple days, even though the Flickr link was just posted on the game site. This could indicate that the photo is part of the game, or it could just be that someone found Flickr group early and is trying to play tricks. It's an inverted-color image. Here's what it looks like with the colors inverted back:

More details on the ARG as they become available. Subscribe to this blog and the accompanying podcast to stay up-to-date!

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