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Encryption Security

Cracking the Quicksilver Code 183

wka writes "Todd Garrison describes in detail how he solved the cryptographic puzzle promoting Neal Stephenson's forthcoming book Quicksilver, and the reward for his effort. Stephenson himself calls Garrison's story 'remarkable' because Garrison was completely unfamiliar with the system of writing (Real Character) used in the puzzle. Also, Stephenson notes that the system and its creator play roles in The Baroque Cycle."
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Cracking the Quicksilver Code

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  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:28PM (#6333652) Homepage
    That's kind of like when I cracked the "stilted English" code used in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings.
  • Remarkable (Score:3, Funny)

    by MisterFancypants ( 615129 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:28PM (#6333656)
    I also think Garrison's story is remarkable in that you'd think just about anyone would have better things to do with his or her time than crack a fake cipher being used as a promotional tool for a book.

    Guess not!

  • Cracking the server code. /.'d already?!
    • Google cache of the Baroque Cycle site: http://216.239.39.100/search?q=cache:g7LhllA_h6YJ: www.baroquecycle.com/quicksilver.htm+&hl=en&lr=lan g_en&ie=UTF-8

      No cache of the slipstream site, sorry :)
  • is Garrison's poor unwitting server, slashdotted to a smoking ruin within mere MINUTES of story posting. That is what I call a proper and most righteous slashdotting.

    Here here!
  • by killmenow ( 184444 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:31PM (#6333683)
    why fix it?
    • by zerOnIne ( 128186 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @05:12PM (#6334043) Homepage
      that was horrible... this is worse:

      Baroque: When you are out of Monet.
    • I've never understood that line...

      Maybe it's because I'm British; but 'baroque' and 'broke' sound quite different; they share no vowels, and don't even have the same number of syllables!

      Do they sound much more alike in other accents, or is it just a very lame pun?

      • Maybe it's because I'm British; but 'baroque' and 'broke' sound quite different

        In American English, the "roque" and "roke" of "baroque" and "broke" are pronounced identically. And obviously, the "b" is pronounced the same. The "a" is pronounced like "uh".

        So they sound the same in English except for the addition of the "uh" in "baroque".

        I imagine that in British English, "baroque" is pronounced "buh-rahk", sort of rhyming with "Bach" or "clock"?

        • I imagine that in British English, "baroque" is pronounced "buh-rahk", sort of rhyming with "Bach" or "clock"?

          To rhyme with 'clock'. ('Bach' is pronounced completely differently, with the vowel of 'bath', and a proper Germanic 'chhh' final consonant.)

          Or at least, to rhyme with how we say 'clock'... which of course doesn't tell you very much about how we say that word, either! (It's at times like this that I wish I knew the International Phonetic Alphabet...) In British English, 'rock' and 'clock' et

  • Stephenson has always appealed to me as a writer. His writing is eloquent, and he is able to tell a wonderful story. By the time I had finished Cryptonomicon, behemoth that it is, I was craving for more. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of this book!
  • Whew... mention Stephenson and the /. starts almost immediately...

    ::clutches his copy of Snow Crash::
    It's my preciousssss...

    • by Moderation abuser ( 184013 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @05:19PM (#6334106)
      Starts off well, but loses it long before the fairly disappointing conclusion. It didn't make me want to rush out and get Cryptonomicon, which I've never bothered to read.

      There are plenty of better writers out there.

      • Having read both, I'll agree with your opinion of Snow Crash, but I found Cryptonomicon quite entertaining. At least give him a second chance.
      • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @05:47PM (#6334303)
        > Starts off well, but loses it long before the fairly disappointing conclusion. It didn't make me want to rush out and get Cryptonomicon, which I've never bothered to read.

        Yeah, give Cryptonomicon a chance. After two or three novels, he's gotten to the point where he can end a novel in about 4-5 pages, rather than just a paragraph or two.

        I'm a Stephenson fan, and Snow Crash is among my favorite reads, but I do feel your pain. It's as if the ending of most of his books is cut off in mid-

      • My girlfriend hated snow crash, but absolutely loved cryptonomicon. And she even hates math!

        Snow crash is one of his earlier, less developed books. Like he had a cool idea but no story to go along with it. Cryptonomicon is from a much more mature stephenson, at least as a writer -- a very well written, deeply layered and interesting book. Give it a chance :)
      • It didn't make me want to rush out and get Cryptonomicon, which I've never bothered to read.
        big mistake. you can't read one of stephenson's novels and conclude, that you won't like the other ones. his writing and storytelling varies big time from book to book.

        how did you like diamond age? this was my entry into neal's works.
  • by AtariAmarok ( 451306 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:32PM (#6333700)
    Here's the secret. Don't tell anyone. The password he uses is "neal".
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <teamhasnoi&yahoo,com> on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:32PM (#6333705) Journal
    I explain my Law of Unified Fields on the /.ed page too. WTF good is an article that nobody can read?

    I guess the only thing that is ontopic is dicussion of 404, 500 and timeout messages.

    /waiting for inevitable mod point retribution - go gettim, Tiger!

  • Slashdotted ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigjocker ( 113512 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:34PM (#6333721) Homepage
    I'm having trouble loading the page 3, that subscription thinguie should last a little longer .... anyways, here are the first two pages from Mozilla's cache ... if yo can post the 3rd page, reply to this message:

    By Todd Garrison

    This blow-by-blow account was created for all the Neal Stephenson readers who, in anticipation of his upcoming book, Quicksilver, took it upon themselves to try to solve the cryptographic puzzle they encountered at the Baroque Cycle Web site. If you had difficulty making heads or tails of it or are simply curious as to what it all means, what follows is an explanation of how one person arrived at the solution. Bear in mind that this narrative will reveal the translation of the code written in Wilkins's script, so if you are still interested in solving it for yourself, you may want to reconsider reading further.

    Some time ago I received an email from HarperCollins's Author Tracker system, notifying me of some news relating to the publication of Quicksilver. I was directed to their promotional Web site, www.baroquecycle.com, where they had posted some information about its release date, an author bio and an excerpt from the book. Now sated, my attention was drawn once again to its strange introductory page. Without fanfare, nor any form of communication whatsoever, appeared this image of some parchment strewn with strange symbols. Added in the corners were little icons of what appeared to be oldish-looking glassware. What a strange way to welcome you to the site, I thought. In order to get to the Good Stuff, one must first pass through this page--an indication that it was meant to be noticed. Was this some sort of secret message? If this had anything to do with Neal Stephenson, I found it hard to believe it was all just window dressing. Sensing there was a mystery to be uncovered, I decided to dive in and see what I could come up with.

    I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

    Page 2 (cont.)

    I started with the assumption that if this was intended for a mass audience to figure out, there had to be a relatively simple solution lurking out there. My first thought was that this "code" was concocted out of thin air, designed to look old. Cryptonomicon had taught me some things about codes, and assuming each symbol stood for a particular letter of the alphabet, I knew that frequency analysis was a tool often used for decoding simple substitution ciphers. This is the process whereby one counts the occurrence of each symbol and compares it with a normal letter distribution for written English. Therefore, with the letter "E" being the most common, I should then be able to substitute it for the most common symbol; likewise for the next most common letter, "T," then "A," and so on. Unfortunately, this strange alphabet seemed to have well more than 30 letters and only a few of them were used more than once. Mr. Stephenson, one - Todd, nada.

    I was still convinced the solution was a simple one, so my next thought was to try looking at TrueType fonts of ancient languages, reasoning that if I found the correct one, all I had to do was key in the ciphertext and change the typeface to say, Times Roman, and the translated message would magically appear. But more than a hundred or so unsuccessful attempts later, this line of thinking was also abandoned. It was starting to get ugly.

    I needed to take stock of the situation; it occurred to me that there no longer appeared to be a simple solution I could arrive at with basic guesswork. The only clues I had to work with were derived from the excerpt, and it had to somehow be tied in with the people or ideas from that period. Therefore it was probably pretty old, had something to do with alchemy, Kabalism or the occult, and it might have been the product of one of the leading scientific minds of the 17th century, etc.

    The key to deciphering the message seemed to be predicated on finding a real-life example of this strange writing. Once that happened, the p
    • Re:Slashdotted ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Donut2099 ( 153459 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:42PM (#6333780) Journal
      Page 3 (cont.)

      My biggest wild goose chase was a result of discovering some all-too-coincidental similarities between a biblical Enoch and Enoch Root, the casually ethereal character from Cryptonomicon, who, I discovered while reading the excerpt, appears in Quicksilver as well. Digging through such concepts as Enochian Magick, the Book of Enoch, and even an Enochian alphabet, the existing parallels were a little too spooky to dismiss without some serious fact checking. I'll spare you the grim details of every connection-based lead I chased down, but I will say that I learned enough about the prophet Enoch over the course of the next couple days to start forming my own conspiracy theories about the beloved Enoch Root. Be that as it may, my once-promising leads melted away, and in the end, I was left with only the salty taste of red herring in my mouth.

      (time elapses as more leads fizzle out...)

      After much cursing of the name Neal Stephenson and almost burning my own copy of Cryptonomicon on general principal, I returned to cross-referencing "codes" and "secret writing" with names and concepts mentioned in the excerpt. Strangely, it was a bizarre collision with John Hooke, another great mind from the 17th century, that propelled me into the final phase of my search.

      While investigating Hooke, like a two-by-four to the stomach, I somehow stumbled upon a real-world, honest to goodness, graphic example of the writing I was looking for! I couldn't believe my eyes. Finally, proof that this ancient language existed! In one fell swoop, my quest had been validated, and I felt energized enough to see this damn thing through.

      To make a long story slightly less so, Hooke was erroneously credited for the creation of this mysterious alphabet, and only through another sufficiently high number of wrong turns later did I make the connection to its true inventor, John Wilkins.

      Once I found Wilkins, it soon became clear that what I was dealing with here was no ordinary code or simple system for secret writing, but an entire language.

      This all led to An Essay Toward a Real Character and a Philosophical Language, of course, but to decode the message, I needed the book. Unable to find one, I did manage to find the next best thing--a Rosetta Stone of sorts--a scanned image from one of the pages from his book that used the Lord's Prayer as an example. He had written the prayer in his Real Character, and displayed beneath each symbol was the English translation. Using that translation, I was able to decode a few words of my text, but from this a couple of things became apparent: 1) each symbol represented, not individual letters, but whole words, and; 2) I would need the whole book if I were to have any chance at decoding the rest of the message.

      thats as far as I got, wait 20 seconds... post!
      • Re:Slashdotted ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Richardsonke1 ( 612224 ) * on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:46PM (#6333809)
        (Page 4 - Last Page)

        Now if I wanted to spend several hundred dollars, I?d be able to purchase my very own reprint from a specialty bookseller, but that seemed a little severe for the purpose of cracking a message that, for all I knew, contained the publishing equivalent of "Drink more Ovaltine." I looked into borrowing one from a nearby university?s rare books collection, but one phone call made it quite clear that no self-respecting librarian was going to let my grubby hands anywhere near a 335 year-old book. Desperate, I scoured the Internet looking for online versions of Real Character. It turned up in bits and pieces, but those were invariably converted into plain text?useless if you want to view the original symbols and even worse if you wanted to decode anything.

        And then, like a bolt from the blue, it appeared. One site that seemed to have an eerie fascination with Wilkins offered me everything I could have asked for. Not only was the entire book online, but it was in its original form too, scanned and converted into large GIF files. Displayed within the browser?s window, the pages were too small to be legible, but I found that if I downloaded each page individually to my computer (there were more than 600), I could then read the document in its original size.

        The Final Push consisted of trying to figure out how Wilkins went about creating this language, requiring a healthy chunk of the book to be actually read. As Mr. Stephenson pointed out, Wilkins was trying to create a universal language, and it was supposedly understandable by anyone as long as you knew how the system worked. He came up with a hierarchal means of classifying words, dividing the English language into roughly forty categories. These categories were then divided into smaller and smaller subsections, until every word would fit somewhere within.

        In order to take the message and convert it back into English, I needed something that would give me the roadmap as to which category any particular word belonged. Once I had located this particular chart, I realized this was the key to using his "dictionary," from which I could then look up words. To make things easier, I began with a word I already knew (from the Lord?s Prayer), and reverse-engineered it to better understand the system. From there, it became a pretty straightforward process to do the same with the remainder of the words.

        Getting the hang of the language?s subtleties like verb tense, adverbs, etc., was a bit stickier and required some extra reading, but in the end, every word found on the Baroque Cycle site was capable of being identified and translated. There were some liberties taken with words that didn?t exist in 1668, like "fax" or "telephone," but Lisa Gold, the message?s creator?and my greatest aggravation?found a clever way to work around these obstacles.

        It turns out that the message was really a set of instructions to anyone who could read it, and the first person to do so would receive a reward for their efforts. For all of you who have waited patiently through all this, you?ll find the complete translation taken from Wilkins?s script below:

        Quicksilver will be published in the fourth week of the ninth month
        in the year of our Lord 2003. If you understand this, send
        a fax to 1 (212) XXX-XXXX with your name, address, phone number,
        and email address along with your translation. The first person to
        accomplish this will receive a signed copy of the book.

        See the image below for a literal translation:

        [Image was here]

        I hope you enjoyed the story, and despite my protestations to the contrary, I really did enjoy the challenge of tackling Wilkins's system of writing. In fact, the whole process was an immense learning experience as well. If you have any additional questions or comments about any of the above, you are more than welcome to email me at todd@substream.com.

        Cheers,

        - Todd Garrison
        June 2003
    • Re:Slashdotted ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by bigjocker ( 113512 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:44PM (#6333795) Homepage
      And here is the rest .... reading from the beginning it seemed a lot more interesting ....

      And hey, don't mod me up, I'm already posting this at two ...

      Page 4 (cont.)

      Now if I wanted to spend several hundred dollars, I'd be able to purchase my very own reprint from a specialty bookseller, but that seemed a little severe for the purpose of cracking a message that, for all I knew, contained the publishing equivalent of "Drink more Ovaltine." I looked into borrowing one from a nearby university's rare books collection, but one phone call made it quite clear that no self-respecting librarian was going to let my grubby hands anywhere near a 335 year-old book. Desperate, I scoured the Internet looking for online versions of Real Character. It turned up in bits and pieces, but those were invariably converted into plain text--useless if you want to view the original symbols and even worse if you wanted to decode anything.

      And then, like a bolt from the blue, it appeared. One site that seemed to have an eerie fascination with Wilkins offered me everything I could have asked for. Not only was the entire book online, but it was in its original form too, scanned and converted into large GIF files. Displayed within the browser's window, the pages were too small to be legible, but I found that if I downloaded each page individually to my computer (there were more than 600), I could then read the document in its original size.

      The Final Push consisted of trying to figure out how Wilkins went about creating this language, requiring a healthy chunk of the book to be actually read. As Mr. Stephenson pointed out, Wilkins was trying to create a universal language, and it was supposedly understandable by anyone as long as you knew how the system worked. He came up with a hierarchal means of classifying words, dividing the English language into roughly forty categories. These categories were then divided into smaller and smaller subsections, until every word would fit somewhere within.

      In order to take the message and convert it back into English, I needed something that would give me the roadmap as to which category any particular word belonged. Once I had located this particular chart, I realized this was the key to using his "dictionary," from which I could then look up words. To make things easier, I began with a word I already knew (from the Lord's Prayer), and reverse-engineered it to better understand the system. From there, it became a pretty straightforward process to do the same with the remainder of the words.

      Getting the hang of the language's subtleties like verb tense, adverbs, etc., was a bit stickier and required some extra reading, but in the end, every word found on the Baroque Cycle site was capable of being identified and translated. There were some liberties taken with words that didn't exist in 1668, like "fax" or "telephone," but Lisa Gold, the message's creator--and my greatest aggravation--found a clever way to work around these obstacles.

      It turns out that the message was really a set of instructions to anyone who could read it, and the first person to do so would receive a reward for their efforts. For all of you who have waited patiently through all this, you'll find the complete translation taken from Wilkins's script below:

      Quicksilver will be published in the fourth week of the ninth month
      in the year of our Lord 2003. If you understand this, send
      a fax to 1 (212) XXX-XXXX with your name, address, phone number,
      and email address along with your translation. The first person to
      accomplish this will receive a signed copy of the book.

      See the image below for a literal translation:

      Click image for larger view

      I hope you enjoyed the story, and despite my protestations to the contrary, I really did enjoy the challenge of tackling Wilkins's system of writing. In fact, the whole process was an immense learning experience as well. If you have any additional questions or comments about any of the above, you are more than welcome to email me at todd@substream.com.

      Cheers,

      - Todd Garrison
      June 2003
      • That's IT???

        Geez, cheap publishers...

        'Tis a worthy story, though, even if there's not much in the way of cryptography to it...
      • Feel free to view said image here [spu.edu], until you kill my old school's servers. *evil grin*
      • Page 5 (cont.)

        Addendum: After faxing in my information to the New York fax number stated, I sat back and hoped that I would get a runner-up prize. After all, it took me several weeks of effort to solve the puzzle and surely there were other more learned people who would have recognized the script system used and been able to decode it in a day or two. I feared that my signed copy of the book would never materialize and, instead, that I would be notified that I was correct submission number one hundred an
  • by Cthefuture ( 665326 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:51PM (#6333834)
    I don't get it. Maybe I should go read up on Real Character, but it just sounded like a different way to write english.

    I mean, the english language was broken down and made into a script of symbols to words. Like Chinese and other complicated languages except more ordered... I assume.

    What's the deal? That doesn't sound universal or even particularly interesting. I mean, they had to "hack" the language to get things like "fax" and other modern concepts into it.

    Maybe I'm just missing something (a healthly brain?) :)
    • by Dashmon ( 669814 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @04:58PM (#6333882)
      What I think Real Character does is break up not the english language, but the ideas the words in that language represent. Those ideas exist in almost all languages for the largest part - so if you know what eacht "break up" means, you get a description of what the character means, in your own language.

      The system might, for example, have a way of saying "this word is a noun, it's something abstract, it's something postive", etc., and you might end up with something that can only mean "good". "Good" in itself is an english word, but if you know the sytem, you could still apply it using another language, and come up with the meaning of the character in your language, or, if you're advanced enough, you might be able to understand the meaning without having to translate (that's how really knowing a language works - you know what is ment by words without having to think about/translate them).

      That way, this system'd allow for people who speak totally different languages to understand eachother by describing the meaning of words using a universal system. At least, that's what I think it does. Can anyone confirm?
      • I think you're on the right track but what's so different about this language versus any other language? You still need a translation table from your native language to this universal language.

        I could just as easily say "English is the universal language". So the concept of "good" in German translates to the symbol "good" in my new universal language.

        Some languages have concepts that can't be easily explained in another language. What would make Real Character any easier to translate to and from? It h
        • Well, what makes it truely universal is that you describe words with graphical properties rather than by having a word for each concept, so it's not really a language, but rather a way of describing parts of a language. What practical uses it has? I'm not sure, but I suppose it could be useful in some cases. Imagine a 17th century englishman trying to communicate with a chinese scholar who don't speak any other languages, other than their native ones. If they'd both understand this universal system, they co
          • Yes, I think I get it now.

            So rather than translating to something unorganized like English, you would use Real Character which breaks down the concepts into logical groupings.

            So really it's just a more structured language that would hopefully be easier to learn than a complex native language. Interesting. There are tons of other languages like that too, this one is interesting because of the cool looking script though.
      • That way, this system'd allow for people who speak totally different languages to understand eachother by describing the meaning of words using a universal system. At least, that's what I think it does. Can anyone confirm?

        Certainly that's what Umberto Eco seems to think in his non-fiction "Search for the Perfect Language" -- that is, it was in the same spirit as something like Volapuk or Esperanto, intended to transcend national language barriers. Of course, Wilkins was bit more mystical than the creators
      • What I think Real Character does is break up not the english language, but the ideas the words in that language represent. Those ideas exist in almost all languages for the largest part - so if you know what eacht "break up" means, you get a description of what the character means, in your own language.

        From what I can tell your mostly correct. Check this localy linked to index of the language for more insight:
        ucsu.colorado.edu/~smithwis/real

        Two other points worth noting.

        1. A language is more than just
      • or, if you're advanced enough, you might be able to understand the meaning without having to translate (that's how really knowing a language works - you know what is ment by words without having to think about/translate them).

        Apparently, I don't "really [know]" the language spoken by most /.ers... Some I have to read 6 or more times... sound out each syllable, try to find relevant context, etc., all just to find out the person was only saying "me too"...
    • 0x110 0x157 0x167 0x144 0x171 0x041
  • sheesh (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by autopr0n ( 534291 )
    slashdotted already. Anyone got a mirror?
  • Still trying to crack the /. effect!
  • by mfago ( 514801 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @05:03PM (#6333927)
    Not sure if this is the website, cut it does have the complete text [teknowledge.com] on-line of Wilkins "An Essay Towards a Real Character..." Also see this summary [robotwisdom.com].

    Anyone find the "Rosetta Stone" chart that he mentioned on his website in the (600 page) essay?

    Congrats to Todd!
  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @05:04PM (#6333943) Homepage Journal
    Although he doesn't seem to understand a lot of the underlying technicalities, Stephenson seems to have a poking hard-on for crytography. The science of "hacking" has become the sexy niece of the more stolid scientific arts, validating anyone who's ever pushed a slide rule or logged on to a serial console.

    Bestselling yarns from Stephenson, Tom Clancy, and others get a lot of praise from geeks. Geeks are usually notoriously persnickety about minutae, but it seems that beloved authors like Stephenson and the late Douglas Adams get a free pass.

    What is it about the relationship between geeks and authors? The author takes a relatively mundane scientific field and uses it as a base for a typical hollywood story, usually betraying his interest and love for the scientific field (sometimes begun in his/her childhood).

    In response, geeks buy the book en masse, and they don't pick apart the bad science (like they usually do in lesser books). They become fans-for-life of the author who has tipped the cap to them.

    So there's like a symbiotic relationship at work. The author who's looking for new frontiers, new avenues of masculinity (a great race car driver is dull and trite, but a great hacker is new and sexy). And the geek who might not have the most exciting job in the world, but he loves it...and he loves his job being validating in a book or movie more than anything else.

    Is this cultural phenomenon unique to the US? Or do the schlocky escapist maestros in Japan, Germany, or Italy mix so well with the taciturn gadgeteers of those locales? It's really an interesting parasocial relationships.
    • I just finished reading the book Idoru by William Gibson. What an utter piece of cybertrash. While reading it, I thought I was learning impaired because the story was presented in such a disjointed fashion and the characters are all very one-dimensional. The writing was horrible! I've since started re-reading the novel Gai-Jin by James Clavell and oh, what a relief! Quality writing *does* exist out there and, no -- I'm not learning impaired. ;-)

      I previously read Snow Crash by Stephenson and found the
    • by devphil ( 51341 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @06:18PM (#6334548) Homepage


      that Stephenson has submitted a bug to Debian. (Read his In the Beginning Was the Command Line, it's excellent.) A skilled novelist who also participates in the open source process?

      That gets him the same free pass that /. gives out to Linus Torvalds and Larry Wall. :-)

    • by 0111 1110 ( 518466 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @06:21PM (#6334577)
      Have you actually read Cryptonomicon? I think the writing speaks for itself. I don't mean the plotting. I mean the writing itself, his use of language. It's poetry in the form of prose IMHO. Pretty much all plots have been done by now. It's the writer's skill with language that makes the difference for me. I can relate to what you are saying here in general terms, but I just don't agree that it applies to our beloved Neal.
    • That's just silly...

      Did geeks embrase "The Net"? It was the first computer-related Hollywoed movie... By your reasoning, The Net should be more of a geek cult-classic than The Matrix, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc. Hey, Sandra Bullock is better than Carrie-Anne Moss anyhow.

      Speaking of the Matrix, Reloaded was quite lowsy. Do I get removed from Geekdom now? (and don't even mention Star Wars... As far as I'm concerned, George Lucas died a tragic and untimely death after the "Return of the Jedi" was complet
      • Hey, Sandra Bullock is better than Carrie-Anne Moss anyhow.

        Just about anything is better than Moss. She's not at all attractive; her face is far too masculine. As far as I can tell, the fixation with her seems to be based solely on her Matrix character's habit of running about in tight plastic clothing. Pretty sad, really.

  • The Davinci Code (Score:2, Informative)

    Reading this guy's thought process reminds me of the recent book 'The Da Vinci Code' by Brown. If you like this sort of thing you should pick it up, there are a lot of codes in the book that the main charactors are trying to solve, and it is quite fun to try to beat them to it.

    It is also fun to follow their thought processes, which read like this guy's account of cracking the quicksilver code.

    • Re:The Davinci Code (Score:2, Interesting)

      by topologist ( 644470 )
      I've read "The da Vinci code", and while it was superficially entertaining, almost every topic the book touched upon had a factual error, including the geography of Paris, some details about Leonardo's paintings, and several others. The subject matter (conspiracy theories involving the Holy Grail) is very exciting though, and a blitz marketing campaign made it a success. If you liked the subject, but prefer to get your facts straight, I recommend a novel by Umberto Eco (author of "The Name of the Rose", wh
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Monday June 30, 2003 @05:15PM (#6334063)
    Imagine being the guy so obsessed with Real Character that you have scanned in the whole book and made a huge website about it.

    Meanwhile, someone just stumbling across the site uses all your work to get a signed copy of the book!

    If the web site author had run across it, he probably could have just read the thing right there and solved it in about a minute. I wonder if they knew the site existed before publishing the puzzle?
  • Read faster people; I've already read the first three pages, stop /.'ing the fourth!
  • <A HREF="http://www.baroquecycle.com/flash.htm>"Flash Version</A>

    In case you missed it on the first page. It seems to not be /.ed yet.
  • "drink more Ovalteen"
  • From page 4:
    Not only was the entire book online, but it was in its original form too, scanned and converted into large GIF files. Displayed within the browser's window, the pages were too small to be legible, but I found that if I downloaded each page individually to my computer (there were more than 600), I could then read the document in its original size.

    I think he wasted some time there. It sounds like he was using IE, which rescaled the GIFs to fit in the browser window. If he'd just held the mou
  • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @06:01PM (#6334407)
    Here's the plaintext:

    "You have just violated the DMCA, our lawyers shall be contacting you soon. Have a nice day."
  • More crypto fun! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bastion ( 444000 ) on Monday June 30, 2003 @06:25PM (#6334619)

    CIA Kryptos Sculpture

    Located in the northwest corner of the New Headquarters Building courtyard is a sculpture by artist James Sanborn entitled "Kryptos." Dedicated on November 3, 1990, the theme of this sculpture is "intelligence gathering." "Kryptos" incorporates native American materials such as wood and metal. A piece of petrified wood supports a large S-shaped copper screen that looks like a piece of paper coming out of a computer printer. On the "paper" are inscribed several enigmatic messages, each written in a different code.

    CIA Website [odci.gov]

    ABC News Article [go.com]

  • by Sheltim ( 673293 )
    I heard SCO was trying to sue Wilkins because of his use of "code"...
  • He already takes ten pages to describe the taste of Kap'n Krunch without milk, and he's only now going baroque???

    <shudders>
  • It's just instructions for some wierd dance.

  • Hey, slashdot, where's the obligatory/unavoidable 'you can preorder this for Sept 23 delivery from BN' link? C'mon, push those product links, make OSDN profitable!
  • Oh yeah? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TerryAtWork ( 598364 ) <research@aceretail.com> on Monday June 30, 2003 @08:12PM (#6335471)
    That's not a real cipher, just a secret writing with it's own font.

    Here's some crypto on the net that you may find amusing (Note - this page is not work safe)

    http://irresponsiblecybernetics.com/latexblue/ar ch ive.php?date=20030514
  • Great... I hope they come something else for promoting the book in the rest of the world - we've not even got publication dates here yet (Well, neither books etc or waterstones have one).

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