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Hitch-Hackers Guide To the Galaxy

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the using-a-towel-while-coding dept.

84

An anonymous reader writes "Jay Beale, of Bastille Linux fame, has written a hacking puzzle short story based on Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. It's called Hitch-Hackers Guide to the Galaxy. The short story is pretty funny and the puzzle lets you have some quick fun with web hacking. There are prizes for best technical answer and most creative (while technically correct) answer."

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84 comments

Best answer (3, Funny)

midkay (984862) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714321)

"There are prizes for best technical answer and most creative (while technically correct) answer."

Quite clearly they're looking for "42".

Re:Best answer (1)

Fei_Id (937827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714345)

What's the question though? Thats what should garner the most $$$ = bling

Re:Best answer (1)

Zarniwoop_Editor (791568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714929)

I'm working on the question... I should have the question for you in about ... well.. Really soon now ... ;-)
Umm... What was the answer again?

Re:Best answer (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716757)

Umm... What was the answer again?

For tea, too. Or something like that.

Re:Best answer (1)

Fei_Id (937827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717261)

I love Tea!!! :D Especially on cold days when my next door neighbor comes over to drink tea with me... yeah her body responds to the cold very well :)

Re:Best answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16722421)

You're on Slashdot, wake up. Your next door neighbor is a CMOS fabrication plant and that's an exhaust tube you're fingering.

Re:Best answer (1)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714347)

"There are prizes for best technical answer and most creative (while technically correct) answer."


Quite clearly they're looking for "42".

I'm afraid not. One of the criteria was "creative".

Re:Best answer (1)

Fei_Id (937827) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714433)

Creative is only a perspective of the mind and the majority. I made a funny about 42 being the answer and even my own Anthropology professor didn't get the joke. Its more funny than creative now.

Re:Best answer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16714479)

Its even funnyer when you relise what the question is, the ultimate question, "whats 6 times 7?", and why that question? Well, clearly the computer dirived that the awnser to the ultimate question about the universe, was that its so obvious, that the only way to express that, would be a number. And why 42? Because, it was bored, after soooo many decades of thinking, it decided that 42 was a number that made people feel good. You might hear horror stories about 48, religious hatred about 69, clearly anything over 99 is to big. anything less then 10 is to small. anything odd is just to weird, but 42? Nope, its a number people can see as neutral, a feel good number in a forest of hated, and scary numbers. Like a cup of hot coco with whiped cream and m&m's and a cold winter sunset, 42 is just a number people can enjoy, as its a number that isent feared. This is why 42 was chosen as the number, and that created the question to be "whats 6 times 7?", 6 and 7 multiplied creates 42, quite clearly, its the perfect question to the perfect awnser. Now, if this leaves you with a dry spot of "whats not a question!" or a hated "Thats not the awnser we wanted!!", then, you never asked the right question, as is clearly so, if the awnser you got was not for the question you asked. Since this is the case, its only safe to assume, the awnser to the question you dident ask, and the question you never wanted to ask, are related to your inability to grasp what you really wanted to know. For those with a better understanding of asking questions, then the awnser to the question you never knew to ask, the awnser you got, the awnser the biggest, and most expensive, and slowest calculator created from your inability to ask a actual question, will make more since, once you heard the question.

Now do you understand dear? Good, how about a cup of tea?

Re:Best answer (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714517)

...
You can't even remember the book. The question in the book was "WHAT IS SIX TIMES NINE".
The answer is 42.

Exact phrasing (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714535)

I think the exact phrase was "WHAT DO YOU GET IF YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY NINE."

Pretty much means the same as the parent, though.

Re:Exact phrasing (0)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714587)

Okay, you win the pedant competition, but my point stands - he cocked up the facts and still wrote over two paragraphs on it.

Re:Exact phrasing (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717781)

Actually, at that point he ran out of Scrabble tiles, so there could be more to the question. I think it's "WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY NINE WITH BISTROMATHICS" and this changed the universe into one involving Bistromathics.

Re:Best answer (1)

nowonmai (764592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714801)

Ok, you do know that the 'six by nine' as opposed to 'six by seven' was indicative of the fact that the original human species populating earth had been corrupted by the arrival of hair stylists and phone sanitisers?

Re:Best answer (1)

Andrew Kismet (955764) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714953)

No... the idea was that there's something just fundamentally wrong with the universe.
As a side note, I recall Douglas Adams had one overzealous fan (like ourselves) write to him claiming that six times nine equals 42 in base thirteen, and that therefore the universe of Hitchhiker's Guide was built around base 13.
His response was something to the effect of "Nice idea, I wish I'd thought of it."

Re:Best answer (1)

pudro (983817) | more than 7 years ago | (#16715411)

I always figured that it was supposed to be six times seven, and that the reason he got six times nine is that the question was still a million or so years from being completed properly.The only reason I would even doubt that for a second is that Adams never pointed it out to shut up the base 13 people. If something was fundamentally wrong with the universe, then I think the fact that the ultimate question is "WHAT DO YOU GET IF YOU MULTIPLY SIX BY SEVEN" shows that well enough.

Re:Best answer (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718325)

But it wasn't a million or so years before the question was completed. I mean, yes, Dent was physically 2 million years into the past when he did the Scrabble tiles, but the idea was (in theory) that he was part of the program when Earth would have finished the calculation and therefore he should be able to get the full Question.

Re:Best answer (1)

pudro (983817) | more than 7 years ago | (#16723433)

What the heck are you talking about? The Question didn't come from him, he got it from one of the prehistoric humans. And the idea was that he had nothing to do with the Question, since he wasn't descended from Earth (nor were any modern "humans"), but rather from the rejects from another planet. So he got the Question from a source that was long from having the Question finished.

Re:Best answer (1)

masterzora (871343) | more than 7 years ago | (#16728359)

What the heck are you talking about? Arthur definitely was the one to pull the tiles:

Arthur picked up one of the letter stones from his home-made Scrabble set. It was a T. He sighed and out it down again. The letter he put down next to it was an I. That spelt IT. He tossed another couple of letters next to them They were an S and an H as it happened. By a curious coincidence the resulting word perfectly expressed the way Arthur was feeling about things just then. He stared at it for a moment. He hadn't done it deliberately, it was just a random chance. His brain got slowly into first gear.

"Ford," he said suddenly, "look, if that Question is printed in my brain wave patterns but I'm not consciously aware of it it must be somewhere in my unconscious."

"Yes, I suppose so."

"There might be a way of bringing that unconscious pattern forward."

"Oh yes?"

"Yes, by introducing some random element that can be shaped by that pattern."

"Like how?"

"Like by pulling Scrabble letters out of a bag blindfolded."

Ford leapt to his feet.

"Brilliant!" he said. He tugged his towel out of his satchel and with a few deft knots transformed it into a bag.

"Totally mad," he said, "utter nonsense. But we'll do it because it's brilliant nonsense. Come on, come on."

The sun passed respectfully behind a cloud. A few small sad raindrops fell.

They piled together all the remaining letters and dropped them into the bag. They shook them up.

"Right," said Ford, "close your eyes. Pull them out. Come on come on, come on."

Arthur closed his eyes and plunged his hand into the towelful of stones. He jiggled them about, pulled out four and handed them to Ford. Ford laid them along the ground in the order he got them.

"W," said Ford, "H, A, T ... What!"

He blinked.

"I think it's working!" he said.

Arthur pushed three more at him.

"D, O, Y ... Doy. Oh perhaps it isn't working," said Ford.

"Here's the next three."

"O, U, G ... Doyoug ... It's not making sense I'm afraid."

Arthur pulled another two from the bag. Ford put them in place.

"E, T, doyouget ... Do you get!" shouted Ford, "it is working! This is amazing, it really is working!" "More here." Arthur was throwing them out feverishly as fast as he could go.

"I, F," said Ford, "Y, O, U, ... M, U, L, T, I, P, L, Y, ... What do you get if you multiply, ... S, I, X, ... six, B, Y, by, six by ... what do you get if you multiply six by ... N, I, N, E, ... six by nine ..." He paused. "Come on, where's the next one?"

"Er, that's the lot," said Arthur, "that's all there were."

He sat back, nonplussed.

He rooted around again in the knotted up towel but there were no more letters.

"You mean that's it?" said Ford.

"That's it."

"Six by nine. Forty-two."

"That's it. That's all there is."

Re:Best answer (1)

Tributary (1022837) | more than 7 years ago | (#16719869)

It's not even in base 13, though.

7 x 9 = 63 in base 10.

But 42 in base 13 is only 54 (4 x 13 + 2).
And 42 in base 14 is only 58 (4 x 14 + 2).
It's almost in base 15, which is 62 (4 x 15 + 2).
It's not actually possible to write 63 as 42 in an integer base. You can, however, do it in a noninteger base, and in fact, base 15.25 works (4 x 15.25 + 2 = 63!).

Re:Best answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16715057)

Of course i dont remember the book, i dont really like books you see, like the number 13, i find it distasteful, much like 7 or 14, most books just have it in them, 7 and 14 i mean, 7 pages, and 14 letters. But, facts where not the point of my post, which further reinforces the fact that you need to take a number 2, then whach some girly 69, over a nice cup of 3. Further, since you seem to be a logicial, platapus, i should further say that any speculation on the 42 with regards to the ultimate question, in the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy, is as totally pointless as my previous post, as well as the numbers found at the start of this post, weather or not they where naughty, or distastful.

Re:Best answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16715183)

Marvin, is that you?

Get away from that console.

Zaphod B.

Re:Best answer (1)

sparkz (146432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720351)

Nice try, but you didn't quite manage to contrive the mis-spellings and grammatical flaws of the original troll. I would "correct" (de-correct?) your post, but I don't think that I am up to the level of the original poster's dexterity.

Re:Best answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16721059)

Actually, i should correct you. I am the poster you are replying to, as well as the original poster. To achive my level of incompetence within the english system of language, and general communication in general, i fail to reread my posts (having reread my orginal post i am embarist, for such bizzare mixups of words, letters, and entire sentences usally go noticed by me before i hit "send", well, most of the time). Truth be told, im not very good at communication, quite often, i think way to fast for my own good, which results in letters being replaced by wrong letters (and me thinking its the right ones), words being mixed up and replaced with ones that make no since (at least they make more since then when i talk), sentences that flow as the way i think (which as you can tell, is quite diffrent then what probably you do, the way, i refer to). The reason the posts where diffrent, as aside from that they are diffrent posts, is that sometimes i can write clear, other times, i whirte for shit, and not even realise it. However, i can trust that you will find that we are the same person (or at least the same body, forgeting any cells that have grown in, and others that have died) within the behind of the meaning of the letters written by me, and the words they form.

Now if you dont mind, i have other things to think about. lesser on the list is weather or not i should create a account so i dont have to post as AC all the time (i hate registrations, as much as i hate 54, which is strange, as i dont hate 9, or 6, or 3, but i do hate 2, which is probably why i dont like 54).

Re:Best answer (1)

sparkz (146432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16778931)

Good reply. Still not up to the quality of the original, but not far off.

I doff my cap in admiration.

Re:Best answer (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718021)

No, YOU can't remember the book. The computer was contaminated when golgafrinchan telephone sanitizer breeding stock was introduced to the system. Since Arthur was partially descended from them, his question (assuming the scrabble-oracle system was accurate) was corrupted by this influence. Not to mention the fact that the actual mouthpiece, a little girl in the first book, was vaporized by the vogon destructor fleet.

All we can be sure of is that "what is six times nine" is at a minimum slightly off from the real answer. Since "What is six times seven" actually is forty-two, the logical assumption is that that is the correct question, but even that requires quite a few prerequisite assumptions.

Re:Best answer (1)

sparkz (146432) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720329)

That must get an award for the greatest number of grammatical and spelling errors in a single post, even on slashdot.

Re:Best answer (1)

shrykk (747039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714589)

I made a funny about 42 being the answer and even my own Anthropology professor didn't get the joke. Its more funny than creative now.

Except that most geeks will use the number 42 every chance they get and chuckle over it. I'm as guilty as the rest of us, but it is a bit hackneyed, notwithstanding that you found a room full of anthropologists who didn't get it.

DON'T PANIC! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16714331)

Let the one liners begin!!!

Re:DON'T PANIC! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716391)

In Vogonic Russia, poems read you!
This gives a whole new meaning to the Blue Poem Of Death.
In Korea, only old Vogons throw people out of space ships.
Does Marvin run Linux?
Imagine a Beowulf cluster of depressed robots!
I don't have a Heart of Gold, you insensitive clod!
I for one welcome our new Vogon overlords.
It's not a moon. It's a Vogon constructor fleet.

1. Find the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything.
2. ???
3. ???
4. ???
5. ???
6. ???
7. ???
8. ???
9. ???
10. ???
11. ???
12. ???
13. ???
14. ???
15. ???
16. ???
17. ???
18. ???
19. ???
20. ???
21. ???
22. ???
23. ???
24. ???
25. ???
26. ???
27. ???
28. ???
29. ???
30. ???
31. ???
32. ???
33. ???
34. ???
35. ???
36. ???
37. ???
38. ???
39. ???
40. ???
41. ???
42. Profit!

Ok the last one wasn't exactly a one-liner ...

Help! There's an infinite number of monkeys who want to speak with me about how to get their new Shakespeare script through Slashdot's lameness filter! Improbability level of one hundread and twenty-three million, four hundred and fifty-six thousand, six hundred and eighty-nine to one, falling.

Re:DON'T PANIC! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717411)

If you hadn't pressed <enter> (or <return> depending on your keyboard) so many times, it could have been a one liner...just really long...and still not funny.

Re:DON'T PANIC! (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718981)

Out of curiosity, how long had you been holding back all those jokes before you exploded and spooged them out all over Slashdot?

OT'ish:RIP William Franklyn, the Voice Of The Book (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714339)

Just to go briefly to the original source for a moment, William Franklyn died this week [bbc.co.uk] . William Franklyn was The Voice Of The Book in the Tertiary to Quintessential phases of the radio series - and did a superb job of picking up from where the equally lamented Peter Jones [wikipedia.org] left off.

Cheers,
Ian

re: Guide (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16714381)

Even without looking I could guesstimate I know 90% of it.

The remaining 11% scares me.

(More optimistic in the morning. After sleep.)

OK, answer me this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16714383)

When Arthur and Ford get picked up by the Heart of Gold, how does Zaphod know that Ford is now called Ford? and what was he called before??

It's been worrying me since 1979.

SpN

Re:OK, answer me this.. (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#16714415)

When Arthur and Ford get picked up by the Heart of Gold, how does Zaphod know that Ford is now called Ford? and what was he called before??

Utterly making up an answer on the spot, perhaps Zaphod doesn't call him Ford - perhaps the Babel Fish just lets Arthur (and by implication the reader) think he's said Ford.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:OK, answer me this.. (1)

spike1 (675478) | more than 7 years ago | (#16715143)

Or... alternatively, he heard Arthur call him Ford.

He did say it whilst in the waiting room.
"Ford! you're turning into a penguin! Stop it!"

Re:OK, answer me this.. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16715407)

"and what was he called before??"

Ford Prefect's original name is only pronounceable in an obscure Betelgeusian dialect, now virtually extinct since the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster of Gal./Sid.Year 03758 which wiped out all the old Praxibetel communities on Betelgeuse Seven. Ford's father was the only man on the entire planet to survive the Great Collapsing Hrung Disaster, by an extraordinary coincidence that he was never able satisfactorily to explain. The whole episode is shrouded in deep mystery: in fact no one ever knew what Hrung was nor why is had chosen to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven particularly. Ford's father, magnanimously waving aside the clouds of suspicion that had inevitably settled around him, came to live on Betelgeuse Five where he both fathered and uncled Ford; in memory of his now dead race he christened him in the ancient Praxibetel tongue. Because Ford never learned to say his original name, his father eventually died of shame, which is still a terminal disease in some parts of the Galaxy. The other kids at school nicknamed him IX, which in the language of Betelgeuse Five translates as 'boy who is not able satisfactorily to explain what a Hrung is, nor why it should choose to collapse on Betelgeuse Seven'.

Re:OK, answer me this.. (1)

Nivoset (607957) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717861)

i remember reading something else where when he travels back in time to make it so his name was never that, but only "ford" to save himself on an embarrasing childhood of not being bale to pronounce his name

Re:OK, answer me this.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717225)

Perhaps it was an improbably lucky guess.

Re:OK, answer me this.. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716799)

When Arthur and Ford get picked up by the Heart of Gold, how does Zaphod know that Ford is now called Ford?

At infinite improbability level, such things are to be expected.

Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16714467)

What happened to all the mod points? Reading on plus five over the last couple of days has been very, very fast - did a statistical anomaly give them all that that gimp who mods people down for fun?

Re:Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16716131)

I've noticed this, too. I've been meta moderating and I have good karma, but it's been almost a month since I last had mod points. Whahappin?

Re:Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718213)

I rarely meta-mod but get points on usual every 3-4 days? However, I read almost every article in its entirety..

Re:Off-topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16718697)

I haven't looked, but I think there may be a bug in slashcode. I had one mod point left yesterday that was supposed to have expired several days ago.

Re:Off-topic (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 7 years ago | (#16720831)

Wimp.
I surf with comments folded out at 2 and visible at -1.

And I have the troll option metamodded at +2.

Only Pansies surf at 5.

Hitchhackers Guide huh? Ha-ha! How original. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16714583)

Stop riding the coat-tails of giants and make up your own damned title.

Grammar (1)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16715103)

Hmm, hmm, what's wrong with that title? Oh, I don't know, maybe there needs to be an apostrophe?!
Come on editors, this isn't an AOL chatroom...

Re:Grammar (1)

anothy (83176) | more than 7 years ago | (#16715469)

Come on editors, this isn't an AOL chatroom...
clearly. but the article was submitted as "HITCHHACKERS GUIDE TO TEH GALXY!!!1". you people just don't appreciate what the editors are doing for you, raising the overall quality from AOL-chatroom level to well-funded-blog-on-sterroids level.

Re:Grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16715473)

Ya true.. Slashdot standards have a long way to go.. before they get that good. /.
s/go/fu/g

Infinitely Improbable? (1)

scribblej (195445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716869)

escape(document.cookie)

Okay, so he's got a script that will let him send the contents of this document.cookie to his kitchen server by including them in a request for a .gif.

Wouldn't that just give him the cookie(s) used by the e-mail (if such a thing is even possible?)? It wouldn't send him all the reader's cookies, would it? Certainly not the one for the matter transference server, right? Isn't this described "hack" impossible as described? Maybe with a good source of brownian motion, and an activation of the infinite improbability drive...

Obviously I don't do JavaScript. Anyone?

Re:Infinitely Improbable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717251)

Without giving to much away, they say that everything runs from a web-based application. So the email would be read via webmail, which would be on the same domain as the other services so the browser would allow the page to read all of the cookies stored for that domain.

Re:Infinitely Improbable? (1)

scribblej (195445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16717395)

That nicely answers my question. Thanks. Apparently the Vogon security sucks not to notice the same cookie being submitted from a different IP.

I can just see it now... (1)

PoprocksCk (756380) | more than 7 years ago | (#16716963)

People from the south of the USA must be reading the title of this article aloud and saying, "I don't get it."

I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16717187)

Wow, that's a coincidence, 'cause I thought the same thing about your post.

Oh, wait, okay, you're attempting to propagate the dumb-Southern-redneck stereotype. Okay, I get it now. Elitist liberal much?

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16719975)

Okay, I'm a turd and my previous post was out of line. Didn't read it out loud (as you had instructed).

My apologies. It was actually pretty durn funny!

Re:I can just see it now... (1)

smaddox (928261) | more than 7 years ago | (#16718619)

lol, the funny thing is i didn't even get this joke until i said it outloud myself.

Damn, What's the improbability of this?? (1)

weeboo0104 (644849) | more than 7 years ago | (#16731451)

[user@localhost ~]$ make tea
make: *** No rule to make target `tea'. Stop.
[user@localhost ~]$
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