What Is An Escape Room?


I get asked this a lot. “What is an Escape Room?” or ”What is a Puzzle Room?” people ask. The best way to find out is to book some time and go experience it, but I can offer the newly interested party some more insight.

First, it is either a solo or team oriented experience. You can go it alone with nothing but your intellect and your ego for companions; leaving yourself as the sole winner and/or loser as the case may be. If you go it as a solo player, you have a very exhilarating experience, but you have no one to lean on. When teams undertake the game it is even more dramatic as the group percolates the excitement as challenge after challenge is overcome through the power or group think that a team can generate. Whichever style you choose you will have fun and if you are unsuccessful, you will certainly have learned much about a given room and can reattempt it in the near future and then join the ranks of winners who have conquered that room.

Secondly, it is an immersive experience. You, and perhaps the rest of your team, are dropped in a physical space prepared for your adventure. Each room will have a different set of challenges, puzzles and brain teasers to overcome that are all tied to a theme. By manipulating the materials and navigating the space you solve the puzzles and accomplish it all within a 60 minute time limit. If you complete it within the time, your finishing time becomes your score for our Winners Board.

Finally, it becomes a shared real adventure that you can share with your friends and family. Whether you are running it alone or as a team, you can take the vivid memory and share it with each other or regale your experience to other players. You have that in common and then you have that to look forward to all over again when the room refreshes with a new adventure.

Don’t take our word for it though. Here is an excellent article from Newsweek reviewing one of the other escape rooms in New York. It looks like they had a lot of fun.

We hope you will join us some time and have a great time too!

I just got a dollar!

Square Cash MobileWhile that isn’t the most amazing thing to me happen today, it was one of the easiest transactions I have seen to date.

Utilizing the same solid infrastructure that Square.com has been using for business transactions, they now offer public to public cash transfers using their CASH platform ( http://square.com/cash ).

It worked like this:

  1. I went to their website.
  2. I entered my mobile number and clicked the arrow next to “We’ll text you $1 to try it.”
  3. I received a text with a link to sign up.
  4. Downloaded the app and entered my debit card info.
  5. Cash will be in my bank account by the day after tomorrow (if not tomorrow).

That was amazingly smooth.  From there I can add my email and make a login, but it doesn’t require one.  Lite, portable and secure.  I have to applaud anything this graceful for the user.  Well done!

What are you using for Brain Storming?

What easily lets you flow ideas quickly?

all-about-coggle[1]For me that is a Mind Map program.  It has to be web-based and work on all my devices.  I did the research and even bought one from Buzan some time ago.  Its their weird licensing that put me off the time-tested on there.

The one I think I now call my favorite is Coggle.  It is a simple little tool and even integrates with Google Documents on the Google Drive.  I found it very easy to use and quickly rearrange ideas.

My best advice.  Just try it out.

Are you using Trello?

I needed a way to stop using Cards and Post-it Notes.

That is how it started.  I have been using a largely manual system for brainstorming and Todo lists off and on while trying many online tools for a really long time.

That ended when I started using this tool.  Unassumingly, it is free for most all of their functionality.  If you need the extra oomph, it is very reasonably priced as a monthly subscription model.  But I am getting ahead of myself.

This is what it is and how it works.  First it allows you to create a virtual Card.  that card has a front side and a back side.  On the front side it shows the title or a graphic if you tell it to.  On the back side it retains the title or image, but also comments,  check lists a description of the subject matter and even allows for file attachments.  Best news of the day: all changes here are recorded as transactions.  That means that you can back track your changes and review your notes in the context of time.

But wait!  That’s not all.  Each card can have a team member added as a responsible party for that action.  The system supports you adding all of your team so they can follow the progress, but I prefer having a single responsible party, then asking people to subscribe or unsubscribe to following the card’s progress and changes.  Whether you subscribe to follow it or have it assigned to you, email notifications of the changes will come to you.  If it gets too heavy, you can just unsubscribe – that is unless you are the person assigned to the task.

The card is the atomic center of the application, but cards are placed on Lists.  By default the lists are To Do, Doing, and Done but you can add your own and rename these so that really you can group cards however you want.  When you move a card from one list to another that is logged too.  You now have an instant status report feed to your team members.   Pretty handy, right?

Lists and Cards exist within the context of a Board.  It is a named project or area of interest.  The team members mentioned above are added to the Board and only they can see the included lists and cards.

By default all Boards are private to the creating user and are on your myBoards group from the top of the application.  However, you can also create your own organization and add members to it also.  Members of an Organization can join and drop boards on their own, so that way you can empower your volunteers to self-select their interests.

It does much more, but its free to try.  Go review the Trello site and if you like it, shoot us a note and let us know.  Maybe we can work on a project together.

Now I need to find better Mind Mapping software…

Inspired by Dragon Con

qr sms with workds roll 4d20 mark2

When I look at a phone, I think, “What can it do for me today?”  As I considered my trip to Atlanta’s Dragon Con mega-fandom convention this weekend, I was impressed that so many gamers were carrying small pieces of plastic to simulate random numbers.  To that end we developed a small SMS application to allow a person to quickly roll some virtual dice and get a result – even when they didn’t have their own dice.

The technical challenge really was that the convention is so large.  Large events such as Dragon Con bring the telecommunications network to its knees.  It is assumed that folks are careful and conservative with its use, but in reality there are streaming video, geo-location apps such as Foursquare, not to mention simple phone and text SMS usage.  To that end, we chose a solution that would use the lowest common denominator: SMS.

With SMS a player could send a short message and sneak past all the other competing devices and protocols and get a small message returned in a timely manner.  We tested all weekend and found that our assumptions proved valid.  Even when web-browsing or email were impossible to access, text messages flew through and returned; albeit a tad more slowly than usual, but with a certainty and only a small delay.

What is next for this application?  We will be adding listener options so you can share your dice rolls with your friends.  That should allow a virtual game to take shape.  That is what we want to do.  Empower the device to do more to connect people in fun and unusual ways.  It lets an application shoulder its way past the other casual programs.  I am sure you agree.  That is what every promotion wants .  There own special place in the users heart (and phone!).

SMS as a Solution

binary-digitalWe are all carrying the equivalent of magic wands through our day-to-day life.  Its that cell phone.  Smart or not, it holds the keys to the kingdom and with a little automation can become a tremendous tool to grow your business.

“Why?” you might ask.  With any number of contemporary systems you can send it off to cyberspace to determine where you are and where you are going.  You could, research a new product or talk to a friend a world away.  In any time but the present day, this would be high magic.

Not meaning this to be just so much fancy talk, I want to briefly consider SMS.  SMS stands for Short Message Service.  Designed initially to be simple bursts of text from phone to phone it has been used to “check-in” and communicate briefly with friends and even co-workers as needed.  But then this simplified system was connected to Internet-based systems and the email network (for most providers).  That is when all the magic became possible.

My first “How do you do that?” moment occurred when I had a potential client that had an awkward solution but wanted to use SMS to connect with clients for real estate solutions.  The tool he was using was not too well suited for his needs, so the workflow was confusing and frustrating to use.  After some research we determined a solution but that required I learn more about this protocol.

What I was pleased to learn, is that you can connect incoming messages to databases and automate a response.  With the right business logic, you can provide anything from a rich query system to a simple billboard.

If you text us using the link on our contact page, you are experiencing that technology.  As we continue to learn and use these tools more, it seems the time and logic are the limit.  The logic trees required are straight-forward and then it is a function of guiding your visitor to the right website or other information to quickly help them out.

Even more fun is MMS but it is more rarely used.  We will leave that topic for another day.

If you are curious or have an idea we might be able to help you explore, please reach out to us today.


Posting More Often…

MetronomeTo grow this beachhead, we must produce more often.  Words are poor media, but in the world of the Internet it is the currency of exchange and so our goal is to post daily if we can and at least a few times a week when we can’t.

Revising this as a creative outpost.  We will be blogging about ideas and projects underway and they will be linked as they take form and materialize either into projects, products or hobbies.

Since we are going all over, it is most appropriate that the first project we highlight is how to “Build Your Own TARDIS!”

Watch for our specific projects here.  As to where we will be working when not in our own shop, I highly recommend, The Maker Station, a maker/hacker space about a block South of the Marietta Square in Marietta, GA.

If you are wondering what a maker space is visit them and see if it is someplace that you or a friend might enjoy.  Think 3D printers and a community of like minded people.  We would love to have you join us,


Build Your Own TARDIS!

Content and Expertise: Telling your story… better