Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

FBI Overwhelmed With 'Solutions' To Encrypted Note

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the hey-bub-you-asked-for-it dept.

Crime 137

An anonymous reader writes "Recently the FBI asked for the public's help in solving the encryption in a note linked to a man's murder. Well, they got so much 'help' it has overwhelmed the agency's phone and email systems. Dan Olson, chief of the FBI's Cryptanalysis and Racketeering Records Unit (CRRU), urged potential code-breakers to send their tips via mail rather than sending emails or flooding phone lines. 'We don't have the bandwidth to handle the emails we're getting,' Olson told FoxNews.com on Thursday. 'We're getting a bunch [of responses].' Suggested solutions range from a list of the dead man's medication schedule to instructions from a computer repair technician: 'He is speaking to a computer tech on how to fix his computer,' one message read."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered


That's another way... (4, Funny)

fragfoo (2018548) | about 3 years ago | (#35693028)

to be slashdotted.

Epic Fail (was: Re:That's another way...) (1)

beh (4759) | about 3 years ago | (#35693988)

Am I really the ONLY person who thought of House M.D. Epic Fail (season six) when the initial story made it to slashdot?

It's the episode with the guy who posts all new symptoms on the internet, resulting in the hospital phones, faxes, emails getting overwhelmed by people sending 'their suggestions'...

Re:That's another way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694792)


"But the overwhelming number of people..." (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693030)

"Told us it was something to do with drinking Ovaltine. I don't really get it."

Re:"But the overwhelming number of people..." (1)

inflex (123318) | about 3 years ago | (#35693168)

I wonder how many people will get this reference - ah well, was funny for me :D +1

Re:"But the overwhelming number of people..." (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | about 3 years ago | (#35693188)

The FBI has released a public statement, though, regarding a translation of one of the later notes: "You'll put your eye out!"

Re:"But the overwhelming number of people..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694700)

FBI Investigators have begun to believe the murders may have been carried out in accord with instructions by the KGB after many of the emailed responses decoded the message as "In Soviet Russia the message encodes you."

Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (4, Interesting)

Chris_Stankowitz (612232) | about 3 years ago | (#35693040)

How is it easier to handle snail mail than it is e-mail? How does one grep snail mail for starters?


Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (5, Insightful)

VolciMaster (821873) | about 3 years ago | (#35693048)

Well, for one it will mean folks doing just for the heck of it will likely not - the inconvenience of needing an envelope and postage would turn off many, I think.

OTOH, it's a good way to get the USPS some extra business :)

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693062)

It's a trick. They're trying to fingerprint you!

In all seriousness though, send those nice folk some money in mail, they must be in dire straits if they can't even afford the bandwidth for e-mail.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

Soft Cosmic Rusk (1211950) | about 3 years ago | (#35693170)

Money for nothing?

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693330)

...and chicks for free

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

syousef (465911) | about 3 years ago | (#35693406)

Dire straights is so yesterday!!! Today we're WINNING with Charlie Sheen ;-)

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

Miseph (979059) | about 3 years ago | (#35694420)

He might be WINNING, but those chicks are definitely NOT for free.

Should have played the guitar on the MTV, that's the way you do it.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 3 years ago | (#35694334)

might not be computer bandwidth. It might be the agents don't have the time to look through all the crackpot submissions and are hopeful the added hurdle of having to actually mail something will be enough to limit the responses from the people who are truly crazy, have the actual solution, or have a useful part of one. As I recall the notes was broken in parts which were circled, that could mean each uses a different key for instance and a partial solution might have solved just one key.

At any rate it sounds like they are getting bombarded with crap in the form of idle speculation and imaginative nonsense.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | about 3 years ago | (#35693196)

Send them 7G of data on a DVD....encrypted.
Just to be safe, send the key by an independent method -- email them the decryption key. Use a subject "Use this key to solve the mystery".

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693202)

DNA can be extracted from snail-mail, analyzed and entered in the giant federal database.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#35693562)

My dog licks my envelopes.

Re:Your dog... (2)

Tigger's Pet (130655) | about 3 years ago | (#35693582)

If that's supposed to be a euphemism for something else then I'm quite sure it's illegal no matter where in the world you are.

Re:Your dog... (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 3 years ago | (#35694108)

Never thought of that. Picture this: The women all go shopping, and leave instructions "Make sure the baby gets her bath!" The "baby" is a little to old for me to actualy bathe, but a little to young to be left alone in the tub. So, I spend about half an hour, pacing between bath and kitchen, waiting for all those (lever 2000) 2000 body parts to just kind of soak clean. Finally, "Get me a towel, Grandpa!" The chihuahua gets involved, tugging at the towel, she runs, dog jumps up and licks her wet butt, and for another half hour she runs around and around the house, shrieking, "Lick my butt! Lick my butt!"

So - you're saying that as the "responsible" adult, I could be facing jailtime for that? Wow. That would just suck!

Come to think of it, I believe that I read some /. stories while she and the dog were getting their exercise. I have my insanity defense, right there.

Re:Your dog... (1)

mikael (484) | about 3 years ago | (#35694570)

That's what the Unabomber did - get the dog to lick the envelopes to seal them. Post offices in arab countries have a little waterpad and sponge for the envelopes. These days, you just get envelopes that just need a waxpaper strip removed.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693206)

EvelopeOpen(snailemail) | Intern --read --report | Analyst --read --assess

It's an old command so I understand why you wouldn't be aware of it. ;)

In all seriousness it's a theory of constraint problem. Their being flooded so fast that the people lare likely their biggest constraint anyway so why clog up the technology and bring down other core services if it doesn't speed up final results. That even assumes this is of the same priority as all the other stuff it is screwing up and it probably isn't.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693362)

yeah i wonder about that as well.

where has all our federal spending gone if the FBI gets swamped/shut down by simple feedback..



Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | about 3 years ago | (#35693366)

They probably have more physical storage space than e-storage. They could pile it in the corner and review it at their leisure.

"P.S.: Please forgive the lateness of my reply." - Ringo Starr

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (2)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#35693468)

They probably have more physical storage space than e-storage.

You're joking right? I can get a 2TB hard drive on Amazon for under $100 and I guarantee you it can fit more "letters" than any given warehouse you care to choose.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693668)

how many FBI agents does it take to hook up a 2TB hard drive?.......One to fill out the requisition, one to process the requisition, one to disapprove it, one to resubmit with proper justification, one to approve it, one to disapprove it for lack of funding, one to resubmit with justification and cost savings description, one to approve it, one to note that the request wasn't on FBI letterhead, one to retype and resubmit, one to be reassigned to some task force, one to note that last year's funding line to which the request was allocated has now expired, one to disapprove because the IT department didn't sign off on the requisition, one to audit everyone for mishandling of funds and budget, ......... and one to finally get fed up, shell out the money from his own pocket, and just freaking do it.

Total cost to FBI = $236k in manpower and paperwork. total result = NOTHING.
Total cost to individual agent = under $100 on Amazon and his wife and kids have to eat more macaroni and hot dogs for a couple of weeks.

Want to shave $ billions off the cost of federal government. Fire everyone in a "management" position inside the Beltway except the director. Allocate half the savings to pay raises and bonus pools for the lowest level employees. Hint: the ones who actually do the work.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (1)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | about 3 years ago | (#35695330)

Excellent analysis, Mr AC, but you forgot that this agent now has to get authorization to connect his new 2TB HD to a federal computer system.

It ain't over yet.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694610)

Are you fucking dumb?

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693402)

Because our government is a big fucking joke of a moneypit.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? FBIT (2)

OldHawk777 (19923) | about 3 years ago | (#35693558)

Management runs FBIT over 15 years 5 major multi-billions of failures in automation of field+HQ offices.

What is easier for many on /. may be near impossible for the FBI.

The FBI field and lab folks are very good, but they don't set policy on what FBIT will do. Many are isolated from collaboration, aggregation... with other FBI peers.

Management is in charge of failure at the strategic level, because strategy is policy and plan without tactical actuality.

IOW: Any idiot can plan from the top down, but only the worker-bees/pack-mules can build from the bottom up. Contractors work for management not the employees. Management needs a committee of IT competent field+HQ offices branch personnel applying upper-level policy/plans and working to build what really needs to work together.

This is a common problem with .com, .gov, .mil... large organizations. What management wants needs should be need to be tailored to fit the field/branch and HQ offices as individual unique and as unified community. You can put a shirt on like pants, but without the belt-loops, it is a king's new cloths incident.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693670)

Oh, fingerprints are nice to have on file when they are handed over voluntarily maybe? Along with fully trace-ready zipcodes and such. LOL.

Re:Snail Mail vs. E-mail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693906)

It's not easier, but it PAY$ better...and pays more people...justifying bigger budgets.... :-\

Welcome to the Internet, FBI... (1)

bmo (77928) | about 3 years ago | (#35693042)

... where every crackpot has a "theory" and all the others have it wrong. Where we're all being poisoned by chemtrails, where we never landed on the Moon, and where, if you have the tinfoil adjusted just so, you can stop the alien greys from tracking you and giving you anal probes in your sleep.

And where every fruitcake has an answer to the Voynich Manuscript, so a couple of pages or two of code should be "easy"

*hysterical Vincent Price laughter here*


Re:Welcome to the Internet, FBI... (-1, Offtopic)

MoeDumb (1108389) | about 3 years ago | (#35693072)

"Where we're all being poisoned by chemtrails..." Don't think we are? Check the sky above you some cloudless morning when they're flying, laying so many crisscross patterns that by afternoon the sky has become 'cloudy'. Google chemtrail pictures. That's not water vapor.

Re:Welcome to the Internet, FBI... (2)

Dan541 (1032000) | about 3 years ago | (#35693166)

Well done a mysterious black van is heading to your house.... right now.

Re:Welcome to the Internet, FBI... (0)

rednip (186217) | about 3 years ago | (#35693236)

I had to look up 'chemtrails', when I found a site that described them. Apparently, some are attaching sinister plots to water vapor trails from jet engines. From that site, I've pasted below likely the most 'telling' part of the tale:

I experienced that wake-up call in February of 1998. I had taken my 35 mm camera with me to the monthly meeting of the Orange County Chapter of the American Society of Dowsers and after the meeting, I had stopped off at a supermarket. After getting out of the car, I photographed for the very first time, the strange looking "contrails" that William Thomas had been describing on the Art Bell radio program a couple of weeks earlier.

Re:Welcome to the Internet, FBI... (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 3 years ago | (#35693358)

Apparently, some are attaching sinister plots to water vapor trails from jet engines.

They're not even from the engines, they're from the wingtips.

Re:Welcome to the Internet, FBI... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 3 years ago | (#35693394)

They're not even from the engines, they're from the wingtips.

Well, of course. That's where the chem dispensers are.

Very Reliable (1)

XPulga (1242) | about 3 years ago | (#35693044)

This being FoxNews, it's debatable whether there is actually any Dan Olson who works on the FBI. If there is, it's hard to know what he really told FoxNews. Assuming the report is accurate, is interesting that "a bunch of responses" is "flooding the FBI's bandwidth".

Re:Very Reliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693068)

You've discovered the secret to the code. The pages are actually very incriminating conversations between FoxNews execs and the socialist lizard people. They are trying to bury the story!

Re:Very Reliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693156)

But we all know that FNC would never associate with socialists, as they already partner with fascists.

Re:Very Reliable (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35693264)

Murdoch is pretty much a whore, he'll be in with anybody that can get him more money. You don't honestly believe that he believes any of the crap that his media outlets release, do you?

Re:Very Reliable (1)

Xtravar (725372) | about 3 years ago | (#35694586)

He's an old, white man. Are you kidding? He probably turns it on and starts nodding his head in agreement, just like most old people do. He forfeited his Australian citizenship because he prefers our broken government.

Re:Very Reliable (2)

3vi1 (544505) | about 3 years ago | (#35693182)

It must be reliable, the guys at Fox are geniuses...

[...]according to emails sent to FoxNews.com[...]

"He is speaking to a computer tech on how to fix his computer," one message read. "He is trying to write down the instruction as the tech tells him."

...that apparently can't recognize a joke when they read it.

Re:Very Reliable (1)

jav1231 (539129) | about 3 years ago | (#35693280)

Yeah, because this is JUST the kind of story one would use to discredit the Obama administration. Idiot.

Re:Very Reliable (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 3 years ago | (#35693342)

Wow. It's one thing to say that FoxNews spins things to a certain political viewpoint (which I think everyone acknowledges they do). But to make up outright fabrications? That's a pretty bold statement. Do you have any evidence supporting the notion that the do?

Re:Very Reliable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693606)

How many palm trees [wonkette.com] have you seen in Wisconsin?

Re:Very Reliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694380)

Actually, they were in an interesting [wikimedia.org] lawsuit a while back fighting for their right to tell falsehoods as "news". They won.
Doesn't prove that they do lie, but... they're a news outlet. Of course they lie.

Were any of the "solutions" corrrect? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 3 years ago | (#35693060)

Or were most something like, "It was Professor Plum! In the conservatory! With the lead pipe!

Exactly, people have ideas not solutions (2)

Cthefuture (665326) | about 3 years ago | (#35693104)

That is what it sounds like to me too. Morons are just suggesting possibilities of what it could be rather than actually solving the problem.

That's what happens when you involve the general population of idiots.

Re:Exactly, people have ideas not solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693184)

Infinite monkey theorem !?

Re:Were any of the "solutions" corrrect? (4, Informative)

rilister (316428) | about 3 years ago | (#35693478)

Well, I don't think anyone knows yet, but the 'medication schedule' reference probably refers to this comment hanging off this Yahoo News article that I personally found pretty convincing (sorry - I don't know how to link to the comment directly, but it's from 'John')
http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110329/ts_yblog_thelookout/fbi-asks-public-for-help-breaking-encrypted-notes-tied-to-1999-murder#mwpphu-container [yahoo.com]

I checked out the reference (since removed, oddly) that people who are bipolar often keep long-term records of medication schedules and effects (page 2) and historic record of major 'episodes' (page 1) so that they can use them to try and build a personalized medication schedule over time on a bipolar support forum, and it checks out. It's also true that people with bipolar disorder are encouraged to keep them secret, and so would be like to keep coded versions of these notes in case they were found.

(from the comment - 'John')

It is a shorthand log of historic episodes in the mid seventies on (page 1, actually written second, but numbered one to keep events in chrono order) and medications taken with the effects listed. The key at the end is day week month year morning day latenight. It was started on page 2 and then page 1 was added as a log of the earlier childhood which is the basis for diagnosis and the "page 2" is indepth records of changes in meds. The 3 month periods are normal with bipolar episodes in the 4th QTR (September through December in the seventies. These seasons suggest seasonal disorder.


A: Latenight, Phenergan, taken in evening G: Latenight Serenace/Seroquel or Seroquel/Serenace Extended Release Taken Evening

V: Late Serenace Morning take Serenace

On page 1 are lists of manic episodes


From late september really severe episode on December 1971: No cause before episode

Chronic Depression in September, really severe episode on the start of December in 1974, no cause before episode


2x 6mg Serenace in 1974 or 2x 600mg Seroquel in 1974

1999 through 1988

Day weekday month year: morning day or latenight

--- (further comment from 'John')
I'm bipolar and we are told to keep such logs in short-hand because, though we are protected by laws, we are told to stay in the closet, because so many violent crimes are caused by bipolars. If we just came out of the closet, people might realize that those of us who are medicated are fully functional and safe. And we are 2 to 10 % of the population, possibly from recent environmental and stress related aggrevators. But it does take very detailed traking to get our medication right and knowing the triggers is key: week days might relate to work triggers, months to seasonal disorder and times of day are critical to knowing when to take meds and how much. The nature of this note suggests that he is having an episode and is thinking faster than he can write.

Re:Were any of the "solutions" corrrect? (1)

Dan East (318230) | about 3 years ago | (#35693986)

Some of that does seem to fit, but I think it's a stretch in other areas. Documenting back to 1974, 1971, etc, in that detail on the spur of the moment is highly unlikely. If keeping records is that important then that information would have already been documented, and not jotted down randomly at a whim 30 years later. Those numbers (74, 71) likely have another meaning. The 3XORL fits with taking a med 3 times orally, but I'd think someone that into prescription meds would use actual medical terminology, like PO for oral.
The whole thing about keeping it all secret seems a bit over the top to me. The part about bipolar people tending to be violent thus using codes to prevent evidence from being used against them in court is, well, rather far-fetched. I'm sure some do that, but he makes it sound like that's commonplace.

If this indeed is the meaning of the writing then it would be very easy for the FBI to verify by looking at his medical records.

I don't think this is a cipher for several reasons, among which is that it is too verbose and too repetitive. But I do think that poster is onto something, as this does look like a log or record of some kind. It might be drug related, which would make sense why he specifically mentioned taking something orally and trying to obfuscate what he's written. He might also be into collecting things, like baseball cards for example, and the "codes" represent things like team, player, year, card condition, etc. Obviously that could apply to many, many different kinds of collections as well (just threw baseball cards out off the top of my head). I find it hard to believe that, given the amount of additional information law enforcement must have, that they cannot correlate this code with these sorts of theories.

Re:Were any of the "solutions" corrrect? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694300)

The whole thing about keeping it all secret seems a bit over the top to me. The part about bipolar people tending to be violent thus using codes to prevent evidence from being used against them in court is, well, rather far-fetched. I'm sure some do that, but he makes it sound like that's commonplace.

There was no part about that, so no wonder it's far-fetched. There was a part about bipolar people suffering prejudice due to some violent crimes, and using codes to prevent anyone who sees them jotting stuff from realizing they're bipolar.

Re:Were any of the "solutions" corrrect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694562)

I wouldn't be surprised if it were just bi-polar related list. It isn't just the FBI/police he has to worry about. It is discrimination by the masses. This is exactly why confidentiality exists between doctors and patients. The FBI/police/prosecutors should be bared from deciphering or even obtaining this cryptic message in the first place. If this was an unencrypted message they probably would be barred from it.

Re:Were any of the "solutions" corrrect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35695038)

DUDE Its written in english read it. LOL why does everyone assume that this guy was some genius? I write notes exactly like this to myself all the time. Its words, READ IT. Some are abbreviated, others the vowels are taken out. What makes it hard for others to read, Is that the same word can be abbreviated in different ways. Its plain english, and if I knew more about the guy, who he hangs with, or the people in his life, I could probably write it word for word. For one there is directions in the note, There is an address. ( I checked the address with the directions, and came up with a wilderness resort in the same state where he was killed.). So I am confident you are WRONG.. Nice try though.

He's having a laugh. Decryption follows... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693074)

My girlfriend is about 5’7”, weighs around 130 and has brown hair and brown eyes. She is white and while she’s not fat, she is a tiny bit overweight. She has a huge round butt which is very soft.

My first experience with it was in the forest on a walk, she let me kneel behind her and put my nose in her jeans-clad butt to sniff it for a few seconds. She got nervous stopped.

Later, she farted on the couch- It was a small rip, and she stood up so that I could sniff it. It had hardly any smell to it, and she looked embarrassed. Later still, she stopped on the stairs with me behind her and let me put my nose between her cheeks again. I felt her pushing to try and fart, and I felt a tiny bubble, but it didn’t stink. At night, she sat on my face in jeans and rubbed her butthole over my nose. I could smell a fart, but I didn’t hear it. I also followed her outside when she told me she had to fart and knelt behind her and buried my face in her jeans. She let out a five-second silent fart, and I sniffed- It was weak, but still very eggy.

The next day she woke me up and sat on my face for about 5 seconds in her pajamas, which where pink and very soft, letting my nose press up against her butthole and her cheeks spread over my face. I sniffed, and it smelled slightly like rotten eggs. Later she told me that she had farted just before she sat down. Later in the morning she told me she had to fart and lifted up her butt off the couch. I knelt down and put my nose under her raised cheek, which wasn’t high enough for me to get my nose to the source. I heard a long rumble and I sniffed, and It smelled earthy and eggy. She did another quiet one that I sniffed like that for about 30 seconds. She went to the bathroom and let me smell the air afterwards. It smelled eggy and poopy, and I stayed until the smell dissipated, which took about 10 minutes.

The next day, we went to a store for nerdy things like DnD and other such stuff. While there, I heard her rip a quiet fart. I stayed in the area and the terrible eggy scent wafted up to me, and lasted about 30 seconds. She was embarrassed to fart in public. She did another in a jewelry store, but it was silent. It stunk just as bad, and I think the person working smelled it.

Later, she decided to play some video games, and while she was playing I would sniff her butt every now and again. She said she had to fart, so I picked up a stuffed cow and she sat on it and let it rip quietly. I sniffed it, and it was eggy and trapped in the fabric. she said “Does it smell good?” I offered her the cow, and she sniffed it and made a face of disgust. Once when I was sniffing, she ripped a very stinky fart that smelled like rotten eggs and onions- It was a two parter that went Bluurp bruuuunt- and I sniffed it from her jeans. I told her how stinky they were and she laughed. Then I felt her clench her cheeks, and a quiet but very bubbly fart came out and she said “I did another one!”

When we were in the car, she would fart on my hand and then let me sniff it. Once after Italian food, she rolled up the window and ripped a loud raspy one. The whole car filled up with an eggy smell, and she said “Don’t look at me after I fart!”.

She gave me a good face-fart in her pajamas- She
Stood in front of me and I twisted so she could sit on my nose. She sat and spread her butt cheeks apart and ripped a silent fart that stunk of eggs. She let go of her bottom and her asscheeks spread over my face, sealing my nose in her stinky fart. It was even more intense when she let her butt spread over my face, it smelled three times as bad. She did another one a few minutes later and it was even longer, and I could feel the heat on my face. At the end, it made a rasp, low-pitched squeak. “Did you hear the squeak?” she asked, as she settled her butt over my face.
She ripped a terrible one on the couch- She was mid sit when she stopped and let out a four-second series of juicy pops and cracks. “Oops!” she said. I leaned over and sniffed the air, and was surprised by how bad it smelled- It was far worse than boiled eggs, it was like a concentrated eggfart. I pulled my head back up and said “wow!” and she knelt down to sniff it. “Eww! Yuck!” she said. She ripped a silent one that smelled just as bad about 30 seconds later, and I leaned over and sniffed it for her.

We went on a walk and she had to fart, so I layed down on the grass and she squatted over my face, her jeans stretching over her huge butt. She ripped a long poot, about 3 seconds, and I could smell the oniony scent. She stood up quickly though, because she didn’t want t get caught.

Hey, that's my grocery list! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693112)

I wondered where it went.
Come on, guys, my handwriting isn't that bad!

2 stories about others' controlling our thinking (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693134)

remotely, in a row, more to come. fewer secret unproven skeletons being buried from the 'top' down onto us would reduce the whelmage? seems like no matter how much we 'decode' stuff, or rat each other out, stuff keeps exploding everywhere, & babys keep dying for us to pay attention to their plight. how fauxking confusing could that be made? disarm, weapons, fear/hate mongering media etc... leave. the chosen ones holycost is ending abruptly, this time.

secret real sex religious training is contagious (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693222)

the lead symptom is fear (never really safe). the next is perpetration. that filters through our societal conscience, then we're all shame based willing victims & hostages by inheritance (even 'skipping' generations of the real sex religious 'training', doesn't help much), fouling our dna/gene pool (eugenatics) & everything else (greed)? our legacy? carry on. lots more spies, hired goons & chariots of fire will be needed.

US was 'garden of eden' before we got here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693282)

that's what the elder natives say. they still feel sorry for us. of course using their words (which was almost none needed) the unproven 'eden' was pristine & there were never any shortages of anything & everything was free, & nobody buggered anybody. & here's the rock in an uncomfortable spot: there were very possibly almost 1 billion inhabitants of USa way back then, before we 'got here'? unbelievable? there's plenty of room for misinterpretation here?

We need to enhace the quality of the notes (1)

russler (749464) | about 3 years ago | (#35693176)

Pretty funny to see slashdotters in the previous thread talking about these notes and falling into the typical tv trap. Perhaps this was the real test... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk [youtube.com]

Re:We need to enhace the quality of the notes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693348)

In this case the originals are available so a more detailed scan is easily possible. The scans are relatively low resolution making it easier to misinterpret one symbol for another. It is understandable that a more detailed image would be desired.

'We don't have the bandwidth to handle the emails (2)

delta98 (619010) | about 3 years ago | (#35693178)

but we do have the bandwidth to stick our noses in everyone elses business..

Dear FBI (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693208)

Try this:
INSIST the suggestions come in by email.
Collate them then publish them to the internet and run a galaxy zoo type voting system to cull out the obvious crap.

Instant internet flash mob...

It was the plan from the beginning! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693212)

It was just a way to find more people like the guy who wrote the letter...

Fingerprints (1)

smasha (1849308) | about 3 years ago | (#35693258)

It's all just an elaborate plot to get your fingerprints off the letters /sarcasm

Re:Fingerprints (1)

PPH (736903) | about 3 years ago | (#35693536)

Actually, the "please reply by mail" ploy exposes suspects/accomplices to further charges of mail fraud should the FBI need to lean on someone.

Take a modern approach... (1)

thatwouldbeme (1155745) | about 3 years ago | (#35693296)

Can someone please Wiki this so that there can be some systematic collaboration?

Re:Take a modern approach... (2)

Vintermann (400722) | about 3 years ago | (#35693328)

This. We haven't broken it, but there is definitive progress. The thread at Bruce Scheier's has best signal to noise ratio, there only one in ten try to make jokes about ovaltine, compared to one in three elsewhere.

Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 3 years ago | (#35693354)

Now publish all the solutions and ask the crowd to winnow the wheat from the chaff too. Jeez! Guys, haven't you heard of recursion at all?

Re:Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (1)

McGiraf (196030) | about 3 years ago | (#35693374)


I don't think this word means what you think. First to understand recursion you have to understand recursion.

Re:Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#35693488)

I don't think this word means what you think. First to understand recursion you have to understand recursion.

See this post [slashdot.org] and its reply for a better understanding of recursion.

Re:Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (1)

mordjah (1088481) | about 3 years ago | (#35693622)

Well played, sir. I actually opened this link and stared stupidly at it for about five seconds before it it clicked..

Re:Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#35694066)

I just couldn't help myself!

Re:Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35695422)

I have to admit, I stalk these forums religiously, and this was one of the best comments I've seen.

Re:Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (2)

McGiraf (196030) | about 3 years ago | (#35693382)

Or by re-reading you post, you do. And I need coffee.

Re:Newbie coder FBI does not get recursion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694160)

Or by re-reading you post, you do. And I need coffee.

No, re-reading the post is a loop

Damned HTML email! (1)

presspass (1770650) | about 3 years ago | (#35693530)

'We don't have the bandwidth to handle the emails we're getting,' Olson told FoxNews.com on Thursday."

I've warned people for years that email is for PLAIN TEXT! Not some crappy blinky crap.

Now get outta my inbox!


FBI is lazy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693596)

The photo copy of the note is good to have.... but they could have also created and made available an ASCII version. Having, apparently, tens of thousands of people have to copy that text to an ASCII version is a tremendous waste of time when multiplied by that many people. Note to network and system administrators, the same holds true for you systems..... saving yourself 5 minutes, but costing several thousand users those 5 minutes, is a good way to put your own employer out of business.

Re:FBI is lazy (1)

Tigger's Pet (130655) | about 3 years ago | (#35693662)

The problem with having the FBI convert the original note to an ASCII text-only file is that a lot of the potential information would be lost. The positioning of the characters could be just as important (or even more so) than the characters themselves. Also, the characters vary - he had two distinct ways of writing the letter 'E' for example - one looked like the upper-case text that I've just typed, one looked more like the Euro currency symbol.
They'd have been much better served providing a decent high-resolution scan of the notes, rather than the crappy images that actually got linked everywhere - 1200x1200 dpi minimum.

One time pad (1)

Xenna (37238) | about 3 years ago | (#35693604)

If the encryptor was using a one time pad any solution would be correct for one possible key.

Re:One time pad (1)

blincoln (592401) | about 3 years ago | (#35694722)

"If the encryptor was using a one time pad any solution would be correct for one possible key."

Yes, but based on the repeating content in the notes ("NCBE", etc.), it seems unlikely that it was a one-time pad, unless it's for a funny encoding where multiple characters in a row in the ciphertext actually represent a single character in the plaintext (but not always the same single character, of course). I'm sure the FBI would have picked up any sort of common substitution cipher, so the suggestion that it's a bunch of abbreviations/shorthand makes sense.

Very simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35693826)

Normalize the results (for formatting: whitespace and punctuation to one space, all lower case, numbers are spelled out, ect) .

Compare the normalized result strings.

Span the analysis over several metrics: Jaccard, Sørensen, Jaro-Winkler similarity metrics. Cosine as well. Maybe MD5 hashs (no, that is dumb).

There is only one correct result. Check the sets of results that are the same (for the same metric) or very similar first.

Re:Very simple solution (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 years ago | (#35694258)

What little we know about the guy (and I bet the FBI knows a lot more about him, so this is essentially also just a guess) tells us that he has been doing it since he was a kid, and while it's likely that he refined his cypher, it's unlikely that he changed its foundation and basic functionality. Hence I do assume it's a letter replacement cypher, most likely with a rotating key.

Don't forget that he has to be able to do it in his head. This pretty much rules out almost all math based approaches, hire some linguists.

The FBI's fault: No Rules of Engagement (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 3 years ago | (#35694232)

First rule: Details of the cyper used. I don't think they care for a quick piss in the wind what it could contain, write down the way you decrypted it, show us the cypher, if you can't do that we don't want to hear from you. Sending us a piss in the wind version of "I think it could be..." will be treated like spamming us.

Betcha that would have lowered the noise by about 99%.

Mail easier than email? (1)

buybuydandavis (644487) | about 3 years ago | (#35694614)

We don't have the bandwidth to handle emails, but we do have plenty of labor available to open and analyze mail by hand?

The FBI doesn't have the bandwidth? Should I sign them up for a google account? Who do they think they're kidding? How much of the country's email are they already scanning?

Is this a leftover April Fools Day article?

The real problem may be unicity distance (1)

swillden (191260) | about 3 years ago | (#35694908)

Shannon's notion of unicity distance is the length of the shortest ciphertext needed to rule out all but one possible decryption. The theoretical estimate of unicity distance depends on the entropy of the key space and the amount of redundancy in the plaintext. In this case, though, the "key" includes the cipher, since it is also unknown, and nothing is really known about the plaintext. Under reasonable assumptions about both, it's likely that the unicity distance (if it could be calculated) is significantly longer than the amount of ciphertext available.

What this means is that it's entirely possible that we could have thousands of distinct, reasonable decryptions, with no way to distinguish which is the right one. In other words, a huge number of those solutions flooding in could be "right", as far as anyone can tell.

Re:The real problem may be unicity distance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35695300)

The papers here seem to be hand-written letter-by-letter, though, which suggests that the cypher procedure is something that someone can do in his head without the help of a computer. If this is the case, it rules out a lot of possible cyphers, and consequently severely decreases the unicity distance.


Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35694980)

The guy writes words, using abbreviations, as well as taking out the vowels. Just read it, its not a cryptic, its english. There is no code. its logic.

No Wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35695108)

It was bad enough that it took the FBI 12 years to decide they needed help. For them to say they lack the bandwidth to process electronic submittal of suggestions is ridiculous. They don't have the capability to run a program to automatically categorize the submittals? Oh well, maybe in another 12 years they can ask the NSA to analyze the submittals and do a frequency analysis of the word patterns. They could also look for the pattern "I did it" or "I killed him," if they don't trust the wisdom of the crowds.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account