How I beat Gawker Media's contest to win an Intel Ultrabook

I was browsing Gizmodo (hey, you gotta check everything out as part of a well balanced web news diet) on October 2nd and noticed they had a post with some great car photography. Looking over the gallery, the last image stood out. A picture of a laptop? That's odd. But I read the caption for it and turns out they are running a contest:

Where is this Ultrabook™?

Tweet your guess along with the hashtag #ultrabookspotted and a link to this post (here, we've made it easy for you: right click this link and select "Copy Link Address" to paste into your tweet) by 6 PM ET on October 9. You could win an ultra-sleek Ultrabook™ for your very own self.

Well I desperately need a new laptop and I also love a good contest.

I'm in.

The problem is, I don't have a clue as to where this photo was taken. I mean, it could literally be anywhere. But I didn't let that deter me and long story short, I'm confident I found the exact location. Read on for my breakdown on how I found it or skip to the end for my conclusion.

  • Had NO idea where to start so I began by looking up the photographer. I found his site and Twitter feed and was hoping to find something else from the same shoot as that laptop photo.
  • While on his site, I saw that his recent photos had one photo that looked to be in the exact same location and was even captioned as San Francisco.
  • After checking out his Twitter account, I scanned his Instagram feed and found a very similar looking location. Someone mentioned military bunkers and Point Bonita.
  • Went digging for information on bunkers near Point Bonita (and Marin Headlands) and found some history on the area.
  • Tried Google Maps satellite view, then Bing Maps Birds eye view, and then Apple Maps Flyover. Flyover gave me the best view with good 3D terrain rendering.
  • Googled "bunker door marin headlands" and found some decent photos (the bunker door type looked similar). Moved on and came across an article on SF Weekly -- It mentioned something called "Battery Construction 129" and that the "Park Service plans in December to raze the Monterey pines that now spread thickly across Hawk Hill, where the battery is located."
  • I then searched "Battery Construction 129" on Flickr and came across another photo from the same area.
  • I knew I was on the right track...
  • A little more digging and I found a more exact photo. The photographer also had the location available and it was right where I thought it was; in a cluster of trees on Hawk Hill.
  • I went back to the satellite views of the area but only Google had the most recent imagery with stumps shown. I compared the two images from the photographer, counted the stumps and found the exact spot where the Ultrabook was photographed.
  • Then I mapped it out. I obtained the GPS coordinates below using Google Maps.
  • The Ultrabook in the photo was on the third stump from the door to the West (at the photographers back).

Where is it exactly?

The Ultrabook in the photo was on a stump at approximately:
N 37.828242 W 122.500154

[click to embiggen]

What do you all think about my super sleuth skills? I'm actually quite proud that I was able to find this location! Any questions?

I submitted my entry and anxiously awaited the end of the contest. It was running until the 9th at 6PM and since that time I've been checking my email and Twitter like crazy.

Well the other day, I got the news I was waiting for. I got a tweet from the Executive Director of Content for Gawker Media:

@mikepetrucci Would you mind DM'ing me when you have a free moment -- I have some very good news to share with you. // @raywert


I told myself to calm down and just send him a message. I was careful to be all cool and chill... "Hey man, what's up?" (hahah!)

Long story short, I won the Ultrabook! The only problem is, I'm more of a Mac guy... so if anyone is interested in this, let me know.


I won a laptop from Gizmodo by using Internet "detective" skills.