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Re:Oops. That should have been a numeric sort. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603724)

no.. it looks more like the first two numbers on each line are limited to 3 digits,.. if you have a number less than 100, .. you append a 0 also looks like the second two numbers are limited to 2 digits also

Re:ASCII? :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603725)

what about the lower values, they would then be non alphanumarics... posibly also a decoy? :) btw,.. thanks.. I have not worked with dos in a long time... (finds his dos 5.0 manual somewhere to get a listing of its ascii set) hehe.. well I dont think I have that book anymore..

Re:ASCII? :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603728)

btw,... numbers like 494, are still too high, even for extended ascii

Re:And the message is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603729)

Is that not "One-click"? =)

Re:how about Puerto Rico? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603732)

AFAIK Quebec's laws are based on the French legal system, rather than the English common-law principles. Anyway, the upshot of the whole thing is that to run a lottery/contest in Quebec, you need approval of the "Regie des Lotteries" or something. And probably pay a fee/tax and adhere to specifc rules.

Re:I got it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603733)

"this page intentionally left blank"

Re:Contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603734)

It's not a tech book on crypto, it's a novel.

Re:Couple things... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603736)

noticed,.. see my ac posts earlier about the first 4 numbers not being part of the encripted text :) Although,.. I did not think to try to use them in amazons search engine :)

I call your bluff... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603737)

Aside from a one time pad, I challenge you to come up with two or three algorithms that produce any messages of your choice.

Re:How about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603738)

that's "goo goo ga joob". :-)

Re:A Christmas Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603740)

Yes, a great move. It's called "A Christmas Story", and it's classic. Ralphie, the character in question, locks himself in the bathroom to find the secret Shirley Temple message, and of course it's but a ploy for Ovaltine advertising. Haha.

Re:ASCII? :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603741)

Unicode it is perhaps, then. (Wow, not English good. Tired Feeling reason is.).

uh, cracking one code does not mean everything. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603742)

Their comments lead me to believe that, mathematically speaking, this is an exteremely simple code. At any rate, even if this is a very complex code that very few people can break, it is not reasonable to assume that these people understand the full mathematical underpinnings of a dozen other crypto methods. I will be a little bit disappointed in myself if I fail to crack this one, but I am absolutely certain that there are mathematical concepts introduced in appleid cryptography that would please me endlessly, and surprise me greatly. Have you ever looked under the hood of the crypt() function? damn slashdot forgot my pw.

Re:54-symbol alphabet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603750)

am i missing something? or are there 26 letters in the alphabet, meaning 52 as the double?

Re:Quebec (offtopic) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603752)

And you lottery MUST be French [in language, heh] first (just like everything else there)...

I'll let the slashdotters tear this apart. Quebec, Canada is supposed to be a free province, just as long as you don't write a sign for your store window saying "Popcorn - $1.25" on top, and "Le Popcorn - 1,25$" underneath (Identical in everyway to the english version), even if everyone in that area of Quebec speaks nothing but English.

(Note, don't get too carried away. English IS allowed on signs, as long as the French is MUCH more "prominent" on the sign. Sign police check for compliance with this law... You can be fined for non-compliance. There are likely worse punishments for continued dis-obeyance.).

Re:Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603753)

Okay, I won't quote you on those last four digits up there. The last two should be 99 instead of 07, as you have written it. Correct up to that point, however.

well... DUH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603757)

normally, i wouldn't do this, but this is SO dumb. think about what business they're in...

the first parts of the lines of the cyphertext are obviously ISBN numbers, with the first two referring to "Cryptonomicron", followed by "Between Silk and Cyanide : A Codemaker's War 1941-1945", "The Code Book : The Evolution of Secrecy from Mary, Queen of Scots to Quantum Cryptography" and "Applied Cryptography : Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C". unfortunately, i don't own any of these books.

of course, i'd be very impressed if it turned out that they just did that to throw people off ;)

dan@moore.cx

Re:ASCII? :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603758)

well like I was saying.. it looks like the first 4 numbers are in a certan format.. 3 digits-3 digits-2-2 so if the number is less than 100,.. you put a 0 infront..

Re:ASCII? :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603759)

I thougth that at first but... its not unique, the first two lines have the same first four numbers

cryto contest.... nice (0)

belial (674) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603760)

it's amazing how useful preview buttons are.

This is a truly strange deception. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603763)

Reviews.

Re:ASCII? :) (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 14 years ago | (#1603764)

068-486-42-23-87-434-10-468-151-345-150-494-376-41 5-426 if Im not mistaken,... standard ascii goes upto about 177 octal, 127 decimal But I did notice two things (okay so Im not helping my chances at winning here).. the first 4 numbers are formated the same on each line (three, three, two, two).. and the first two lines have the SAME numbers for the first part at that. first thought it might be a checksum.. but eh,... how can a checksum come out the same for the first two lines when they are differant? :)

Re:Oops. That should have been a numeric sort. (1)

Russ Steffen (263) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603765)

Two observations:

  • 54 symbol alphabet
  • They took care to preserve some leading zeros, but not others. Perhaps it denotes upper/lower case?

What does that mean? no freaking clue.

Re:distributed.net (1)

pod (1103) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603766)

Since the contenst is targeted to a much wider audience, I doubt the code will be 'cryptographic'. Most likely a combination of substitution, context, maybe something like 'first letter from the second word from excerpts for all books with titles starting with A'. You know, just a clever puzzle/riddle to play with. You probably WILL need the clues.

Re:well... DUH (1)

pod (1103) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603767)

Yup, all the first 10 digits from every line are ISBN numbers... I doubt the rest of them refer to the book in any way, why would they offer the same books as the prize? ;)

Oops. That should have been a numeric sort. (1)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603771)

Did that in about 2 minutes, and it occured to me I wanted a numerical sort.

#!/usr/local/bin/perl
while ()
{
foreach (split(/-/,$_))
{
chomp;
$count{$_}++;
}
}
print "results ------- \n";
foreach (sort(numeric(keys(%count))))
{
print "Number of $_ is $count{$_}\n";
}

sub numeric
{
if ($a $b)
{
-1
}
elsif ($a == $b)
{
0
}
else
{
1
}
}


------------------

$ temp.pl
038-097-34-64-242-335-51-377-183-168
038-097-34-64-380-330-115-289-273-189-56
068-486-42-23-87-434-10-468-151-345-150-494-376- 415-426
038-549-53-15-1-193-121-29-109-66-28-160-106
047-111-70-99-24-21-25-12-53-22-56-8
results -------
Number of 1 is 1
Number of 8 is 1
Number of 10 is 1
Number of 12 is 1
Number of 15 is 1
Number of 21 is 1
Number of 22 is 1
Number of 23 is 1
Number of 24 is 1
Number of 25 is 1
Number of 28 is 1
Number of 29 is 1
Number of 34 is 2
Number of 038 is 3
Number of 42 is 1
Number of 047 is 1
Number of 51 is 1
Number of 53 is 2
Number of 56 is 2
Number of 64 is 2
Number of 66 is 1
Number of 068 is 1
Number of 70 is 1
Number of 87 is 1
Number of 097 is 2
Number of 99 is 1
Number of 106 is 1
Number of 109 is 1
Number of 111 is 1
Number of 115 is 1
Number of 121 is 1
Number of 150 is 1
Number of 151 is 1
Number of 160 is 1
Number of 168 is 1
Number of 183 is 1
Number of 189 is 1
Number of 193 is 1
Number of 242 is 1
Number of 273 is 1
Number of 289 is 1
Number of 330 is 1
Number of 335 is 1
Number of 345 is 1
Number of 376 is 1
Number of 377 is 1
Number of 380 is 1
Number of 415 is 1
Number of 426 is 1
Number of 434 is 1
Number of 468 is 1
Number of 486 is 1
Number of 494 is 1
Number of 549 is 1

Re:distributed.net (1)

mmontour (2208) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603772)

Well, their "Project Kangaroo OGR" (http://www.distributed.net/ogr) has been 'coming soon' for about 6 months now, so I wouldn't depend on them for this contest.

Drink...more...Harry...Potter... (1)

Effugas (2378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603773)

Am I the only one who noticed something rather...fascinating about the Title bar on a certain [amazon.com]

So let me get this straight. Harry Potter traveled to the land of the Mighty Ns'AH, where everybody lived happily ever after in peace with one another because of free simple crypto that's simple to crack but still can't be exported...

*WHACK*

Oops. Sorry about that, lost my sense of humor for a second. ;-)

Yours Truly,

Dan Kaminsky
DoxPara Research
http://www.doxpara.com

Re:Drink...more...Harry...Potter... (1)

Effugas (2378) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603774)

Somebody slap me for not hitting preview.

Sorry for the UglyCode(TM). --Dan

Re:how about Puerto Rico? (1)

A. Craig West (3907) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603775)

If I had to guess, I would think that the contest must be offered in French to be legal in Quebec. That's a guess, though. The reason is certainly because of legal restrictions on contests in Quebec.

distributed.net (1)

rodbegbie (4449) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603776)

How long does it them distributed.net chaps to turn-around a new module?

rOD.

--

Any thoughts? (1)

drix (4602) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603777)

This even look remotely familiar to anyone or are we going to have to wait for some hints before there's a realistic chance at deciphering it?

54-symbol alphabet (1)

David Gould (4938) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603780)


The number 54, being twice the number of letters in the alphabet, as well as the size of a deck of playing cards, including jokers, sort of brings to mind Bruce Schneier's "Solitaire" cryptosystem, or at least it does when you mention Cryptonomicon at the same time.

If you haven't read it: Schneier devised a cryptosystem called "Solitaire" that is you can use to encrypt and decrypt messages by hand with a pack of cards. In Cryptonomicon, two characters use this method to communicate, and Schneier's paper describing the system is included as an appendix.

Though low-tech, Solitaire is supposedly secure against modern attacks, so if this contest uses it, it would be pretty hard. Then again, the number 54 and the relation to the book are the only evidence for it, so it's probably unrelated.


David Gould

Same Stunt... (1)

Harper (5397) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603781)

This seems to be very similar to the PR stunt/contest the canadian backpack maker used about a year ago. If i rememebr correctly it generated quite a stir.
I can't seem to dig up the name or URL of the company? was it ever cracked, did the contest work?

Re:ASCII? :) (1)

Siva (6132) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603782)

also, the first number of every line starts with 0

--Siva

Keyboard not found.

Re:I call your bluff... (1)

ocie (6659) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603783)

Well, this may be equivalent to a one time pad, but here goes: Make a bunch of numbered lists of letters (lists can be empty). The message is decoded by taking the first number in the message and reading its list, add the second number to the first number and read that list. Add the third and read that list, and so-on. You may need to create a lot of these lists, but by doing so, you can make any message you want.

I don't have a second algorithm handy that is vastly different from the first, but I do have this: subtract alternating numbers to produce a new list (for the singleton at the end, subtract 0). When you have only one number left, this is the answer. Just because it is not a valid English sentence doesn't mean that this is not a valid interpretation of the numbers. Sort of like what's the next number in this sequence: 3,3,5,4,4,3,5? The "answer" is supposed to be 5 because these are the number of letters in each number one=3,two=3,three=5, etc. But this could equally be following some sort of polynomial.

Re:Trade ideas, but don't just give out the answer (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603785)

The ISBN is important, yes. In calculation, no. (I'm pretty sure I just solved the cypher. The message was twisted enough that it just might be right.)

--Joe
--

*sigh* (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603786)

I wonder if my solution (all of which was grammatically correct) made it in before the /. effect hit. *sigh*

--Joe
--

Re:And the message is (1)

doomy (7461) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603787)

Oops..

s/onclick/one-click

;)
--

Re:ASCII? :) (1)

doomy (7461) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603788)

also, the first number of every line starts with 0


Yes, that is cause, 0 denotes (i believe) caps. So the first letter of every sentence is captilized?
--

Re:ASCII? :) (1)

Wayfarer (10793) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603791)

Maybe not a checksum--I'm guessing perhaps a unique key for each line.

One wonders if the formatting as presented is even significant.


-W-

Re:More notes (1)

Loligo (12021) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603794)

Uhm... isn't that IS*B*N?

-LjM

Submitted my entry (1)

Sowbug (16204) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603799)

The rules say one entry per person... not one correct entry per person, so you'd better double-check your answer before you send it in.

Re:well... DUH (1)

Roundeye (16278) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603800)

I'm glad someone else noticed that.

As an owner of Applied Cryptography I pulled it out to see if the remaining numbers in that sequence made sense as page numbers -- try the first word of each page, last word of each page; nothing sensible; took the numbers as pairs in hopes of one being page number, the next being word on the page ; no dice -- it can't possibly work on the other books (look at the numbers)., Also there are different numbers after the ISBNs for each book, so pairing, etc., won't work.

Then took the numbers modulo 26 to see if they map to the alphabet. Then tried modulo the title length ... no dice.

Took the first letter and/or last letter from each page with that number. Nope.

went and got some pot roast and that's where it stands.

The secret message is... (1)

Imperator (17614) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603802)

"Buy more stuff!" Err, wait, that was the subliminal message. The secret message was "7hi$ /\/\3$$4g3 |-|4X0r3D bY 31337 d00dz."

Not QC (1)

Pope (17780) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603803)

excluding Quebec for some unknown reason

This is usually because of Bill 101.
If it ain't in French, you can't go near it in la Belle Provence. It makes me sick.

My friend Dave who is a native Montrealer, said that last year the Provinical Gubmint started going after web sites that didn't have the proper accents in their URL.
And you thought the US Gubmint went after some dumb-ass policies! :)

PpoE, gettin' out the slide rule and HyperCard to do some Crypto!

Re:And the message is (1)

William Wallace (18863) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603804)

s/onclick/one-click

Substitution replacement not terminated at - line 1.

Counting Words (1)

Jim Morash (20750) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603806)

Yeah, the whole 'random drawing' angle sorta cuts out the feeling of accomplishment. Plus they give way too much time for the contest. They'll have TONS of entries to draw from.
Oh well. Maybe _someday_ I'll get a Mindstorms kit... or I could just do 6.270 :)

As far as counting words goes, try
^u-[number]-Meta-f
for a better count than MSWord is giving you.
(ahhh, emacs!)

Re:Couple things... (1)

cruelworld (21187) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603807)

038-549-53-15 is the ASIN for The Code Book : The Evolution of Secrecy from Mary, Queen of Scots to Quantum Cryptography

047-111-70-99-24 is the ASIN for Applied Cryptography : Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C

the rest of the numbers in the series may be word or page numbers from those books. Hopefully not since the only book I own is Cryptonomicon.

Maybe the rest of the numbers refer to something in the web page for each book on Amazon.com?

Is it just me (1)

exeunt (22854) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603808)

or does this look like it might say "Just annother perl hacker"?
---

that might be pretty dull. (1)

delmoi (26744) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603811)

How about revealing a ciphertext, plaintext and the algorithm and having people try to crack the key?

well, that would basicaly give the prize to whoever had enough CPU power to crack the code the ability to. and it would make for a pretty dull contest IMO.

You're second idea is a little better, but I think there going for somthing a little more 'historic', similar to the cyphers used before we figured out how to make unbreakable crypto (without quantum computers...). This is designed to be something that anyone can crack, not just the propritors of distrobuted.net.

anyway, who knows what the 'clues' are going to be : )
"Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"

Re:well... DUH (1)

Muggins the Mad (27719) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603813)


I think it'll be something that's in Amazon's interests. Perhaps the numbers after the ISBN number refer to letters from the title, or are review/word references. Something that makes us
search through their site.

My link is too slow at the moment to pursue this, and I'm not in the US. (bah!)

No export outside Canada/US (1)

smart2000 (28662) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603814)

Of course, since it is "strong" crypto, it can only be cracked in the US or Canada. Take a look at the rules. [amazon.com]

It doesn't matter whether you got in first. (1)

shaun (29783) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603815)

Didn't you read the rules? Anybody who submits the correct answer by Oct 29th gets entered in a drawing.

Since what Amazon really wants is to add your email address to their list, I think we can safely assume that the hints will give away the answer to anyone smart enough to run a browser, and that, like e-trade says, somebody's going to win, it just won't be you.

Shaun

Trying to sell some books (1)

El Puerco Loco (31491) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603817)

they are probably just trying to sell some copies of these books by doing this. That's why they have the "no purchase necessary" disclaimer in their rules.
^. .^

Obvious patterns? (1)

Vrallis (33290) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603818)

Anyone considered looking for an obvious pattern, such as Amazon or crypto? Pick up values based on position in alphabet, look at the differences, and compare those and look for a pattern.

Re:Oops. That should have been a numeric sort. (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603821)

they could also rotate or wrap around 0-255 or 0-26 just to throw people off.

hmmm... (1)

Zurk (37028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603822)

a bit of alphabet for code substitution ought to crack that..anyone got the frequency analysis of english ? there is no . so one of the numbers has to be a stop.

Re:Wholesome Activities (1)

ReadParse (38517) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603823)

Oh yeah, that hit me hard too. But your "Come on Ma" quote was what put me over the edge :) RP

Pi (1)

_ECC_ (43365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603825)

When I see oppurtunities to crack code like this, I just think of the movie Pi and I get all giddy like 'a little school girl' (-said in my best Hans and Frans voice)... I know I won't be the first to crack it.. but its a lot of fun going thru the commonalities of the codes... and the possibilities... perfect clean fun for a little hacker.

Perhaps when they said 'fun for the whole family', Amazon was speaking in more a general sense like.... the Jumble... and Crosswords.... because aren't those coded messages? Lord knows they sure are cryptic sometimes...

btw... if you haven't seen the movie Pi... I suggest you do so.... excellent film... good sound track... although its not really 'fun for the whole family' kinda entertainment.

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169307

Thats as far as I can remember it right now... been a while since I was at 100 characters... and don't quote me on those last 4 up there...

-Ecc

Re:how about Puerto Rico? (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603827)

The reason is because Quebec has stricter laws than the rest of Canada. It's not that uncommon for contests to exclude Quebec. And that sentence doesn't imply Quebec isn't part of Canada.

Magic Candy Contest! (1)

Field Marshall Stack (58180) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603834)

Am I the only one who noticed that the title of the crypto contest faq page is "Kids' Harry Potter Magical Candy Contest - FAQ"? I dunno, I find it amusing that they forgot to change it.

well, semi-amusing...
--
"HORSE."

Cooperation (1)

Ristoril (60165) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603836)

I know that if we all worked together it would be easy enough to solve, but I also realize that if we did it would decrease our chances individually of winning. So, who's feeling altruistic today? The guy that mentioned ISBN's was right, the first ten numbers on each line is the ISBN for one of the books on the right (one of them gets to go twice). I have no clue what the other numbers are for.....

-Ristoril

ASCII? :) (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603837)

That code looks suspiciously like ASCII thrown into the IBM alphabet...I am a resident of Quebec (how nice), so I don't think I'll bother participating. Those of us outside the jurisdictions can throw ideas around as we have nothing to lose right? :)

Re:ASCII? :) (1)

cdlu (65838) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603838)

Yeah but in dos iirc, ascii codes are $ascii%256, so putting in numbers larger then 255 (128-255 being the 'upper character set', could be there simply as a decoy. The article essentially said you need little experience to decode this, and as a result, few true geeks will get it, as [we] will always be trying to find the more complicated solution, assuming it *couldn't* be so simple.......

how about Puerto Rico? (1)

fence (70444) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603840)

I like instruction #5--

5.You must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada, excluding Quebec, to participate.

Last time I checked, Quebec hadn't secceded from Canada (yet).


The OFFICIAL official rules (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603842)

Little known facts hidden in the HTML source of the official rules:

1. Your method of breaking this cypher will become property of and patented by amazon.com.

2. If the winner is under 18 he or she will not recieve any of the grand prizes but a copy of the Bruce Willis vehicle Mercury Rising.

3. The lego instructions only come in japanese.

4. The signatures on the books are also encrypted.

Re:OK to export? (1)

eries (71365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603843)

Chill. I was kidding.

someone will probably post the answer... (1)

dimator (71399) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603844)

..which is a damn shame. Let people do some thinking on their own, guys. besides, if every slashdotter knows the answer and submits, there go the odds of winning for everyone who actually did some work and thought it up on their own (like me). thats always the problem with online contests like this.

oh well..


-----------------
Your attention please everyone, if I could just say a few words... I would be a better public speaker.

Re:Oops. That should have been a numeric sort. (1)

jackmott (71631) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603845)

damn thats pretty useless....
ah well :)

Re:SOLUTION-Oh, Amazon, feel the mighty effect of (1)

wass (72082) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603846)

I've gotten similar responses to you for the last ones, but different for the first few. I already sent in my solutions, maybe they right, maybe they ain't. They do form gramatically correct sentences at least, but the meaning is kind of vague and strange. Combined words, like "Information Age" seem too connected to be chance, but then again it could be a ruse to throw us all off.

Oh well, they'll probably have 129387 submissions, maybe i have a remote chance to get a lego mindstorm kit. But you never know.

There was a GAMES magazine puzzle a few years back that I solved, with a potential prize of up to several hundred dollars of games and stuff. I never bothered to send in the answer, because it seemed too easy. In the next issue, they mentioned that they only received a handful of answers. So - you never know...

Re:I've got a signed copy of Cryptonomicon (1)

DeRobeHer (76234) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603851)

I've got a first edition copy of The Fountainhead. Too bad I can't get it signed.
--
Donald Roeber

Re:how about Puerto Rico? (1)

Yodalf (83088) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603854)

What is so special with Quebec? Is it prevented by local law or something like that?

Re:More notes (1)

pf kro (86937) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603858)

number modulus 26 minus 5, correct?
now that there is more than one answer that seems correct, these hints will probably give it away, especially considering that we geeks figured it out within the first hour, if some didn't start before the story was written
--

Re:SOLUTION-Oh, Amazon, feel the mighty effect of (1)

pf kro (86937) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603859)

But wait.
After all, didn't they say that it was easy, and that you could solve it with very little experience?
I do have the same feeling you do, however; it does seem very easy.

--

Trade ideas, but don't just give out the answer! (1)

isaac_akira (88220) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603860)

If you REALLY don't want ANY hints, don't read this!

I'm thinking that maybe the first 10 numbers of each line (the book ISBNs) are somehow used to encode the rest of the line. I think this because I doubt the ISBNs are the result of a calculation, so I'm guessing they are *used* in a calculation.

There are no repeated values in the first two lines, so either the same letter isn't repeated in the message, or else the key is applied to each letter in a different way (like using 2 numbers from the key for one encoded letter, then the next two numbers for the next letter, etc.).

Or I'm just way off with the isbn key idea...

Good luck everybody!

- Isaac =)

P.S. If the numbers between each dash are a letter, the first line has 6 letters. "crypto" has 6 letters too. yay wild speculation!

Re:The Answer (1)

dithi (88241) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603861)

That's funny. You know A christmas carol was mentioned today on the Asimovs's science fiction magazine website. They were talking about exactly the same thing. Drink more ovaltine. www.asimovs.com /forum/ strange coincidence.

I've got a signed copy of Cryptonomicon (1)

goop crap (88320) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603862)

And more, like a signed (personalized!) copy of Spiegelman's Maus in hardcover, oh the list just goes on and on... And you can't have them.

Re:A Christmas Story (1)

Section9 (98240) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603866)

Actually it was Little Orphan Annie.

Re:SOLUTION-Oh, Amazon, feel the mighty effect of (1)

Orange Julius (104064) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603869)

Yeah, I got something VERY similar... Last line was exactly the same... something tells me it's not right, though... too easy? I dunno.

- Orange Julius

Re:Magic Candy Contest! (1)

Dragass (104133) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603871)

I thought that was the name of the contest.

Re:Oops. (mod 26) (2)

Bobort (289) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603874)

I changed to to do a frequency count for each number mod 26:

$ ./freq
038-097-34-64-242-335-51-377-183-168
038-097-34-64-380-330-115-289-273-189-56
068-486-42-23-87-434-10-468-151-345-150-494-376-41 5-426
038-549-53-15-1-193-121-29-109-66-28-160-106
047-111-70-99-24-21-25-12-53-22-56-8
results -------
Number of 0 is 2
Number of 1 is 4
Number of 2 is 2
Number of 3 is 3
Number of 4 is 3
Number of 5 is 1
Number of 7 is 3
Number of 8 is 4
Number of 9 is 1
Number of 10 is 2
Number of 11 is 2
Number of 12 is 8
Number of 13 is 2
Number of 14 is 1
Number of 15 is 1
Number of 16 is 3
Number of 17 is 1
Number of 18 is 4
Number of 19 is 2
Number of 20 is 1
Number of 21 is 4
Number of 22 is 1
Number of 23 is 2
Number of 24 is 1
Number of 25 is 3

Still doesn't look promising...

Idiotic! (2)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603876)

How about revealing a ciphertext, plaintext and the algorithm and having people try to crack the key? Or at least some plaintext and ciphertext pairs, along with a larger message that is to be cracked without specifying anything about the algorithm.

By the way, the message reveals who really shot JFK. It's produced by a one time pad. ;)

Sorry. Distribution doesn't seem to reveal much (2)

Derek Pomery (2028) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603879)

At first glance anyway.
That was the first thing I thought of. :)

$ temp.pl
038-097-34-64-242-335-51-377-183-168
038-097-34-64-380-330-115-289-273-189-56
068-486-42-23-87-434-10-468-151-345-150-494-376- 415-426
038-549-53-15-1-193-121-29-109-66-28-160-106
047-111-70-99-24-21-25-12-53-22-56-8
results -------

Number of 038 is 3
Number of 047 is 1
Number of 068 is 1
Number of 097 is 2
Number of 1 is 1
Number of 10 is 1
Number of 106 is 1
Number of 109 is 1
Number of 111 is 1
Number of 115 is 1
Number of 12 is 1
Number of 121 is 1
Number of 15 is 1
Number of 150 is 1
Number of 151 is 1
Number of 160 is 1
Number of 168 is 1
Number of 183 is 1
Number of 189 is 1
Number of 193 is 1
Number of 21 is 1
Number of 22 is 1
Number of 23 is 1
Number of 24 is 1
Number of 242 is 1
Number of 25 is 1
Number of 273 is 1
Number of 28 is 1
Number of 289 is 1
Number of 29 is 1
Number of 330 is 1
Number of 335 is 1
Number of 34 is 2
Number of 345 is 1
Number of 376 is 1
Number of 377 is 1
Number of 380 is 1
Number of 415 is 1
Number of 42 is 1
Number of 426 is 1
Number of 434 is 1
Number of 468 is 1
Number of 486 is 1
Number of 494 is 1
Number of 51 is 1
Number of 53 is 2
Number of 549 is 1
Number of 56 is 2
Number of 64 is 2
Number of 66 is 1
Number of 70 is 1
Number of 8 is 1
Number of 87 is 1
Number of 99 is 1

A silly little script, but will post it anyway.
#!/usr/local/bin/perl
while ()
{
foreach (split(/-/,$_))
{
chomp;
$count{$_}++;
}
}
print "results ------- \n";
foreach (sort(keys(%count)))
{
print "Number of $_ is $count{$_}\n";
}

How about this? (2)

ocie (6659) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603882)

Given any list of numbers, it is trivially easy to come up with an algorithm that turns these numbers into whatever message you want. What if I just say that the message is "I am the walrus, koo koo ka choo" and show my algorithm. Do I win the prize?

And the message is (2)

doomy (7461) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603883)

This msg is encoded using our on-click(tm) patented encoding scheme.

This encoding is subject to US and international Patent laws.

Unauthorized decrypting of this encoding would result in our revoking of your onclick membership

Happy Onclicking.
--

The Answer (2)

Zeni (52928) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603886)

D R I N K

M O R E

O L V A L T I N E

Couple things... (2)

robr (69609) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603889)

Just wanted to point out a couple things for those who might not have noticed.
038-097-34-64 = ASIN for Cryptonomicon
068-486-42-23 = ASIN for Between Silk and Cyanide
etc, etc
No other hints on the other numbers ;)

-rob

Wholesome Activities (2)

Ribo99 (71160) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603890)

Here at Amazon.com, we like to think of cryptography as a good, wholesome activity,
providing hours of fun for the whole family.


I almost blew milk out of my nose!
Come on Ma! Lets go crack some codes!
Is it just me our did this phrase strike anyone else as funny?

OK to export? (2)

eries (71365) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603891)

What will the NSA say when they find out that _foreigners_ can crack the good ole American code? Or even win a signed copy of Cryptonomicon?? What is this country coming to?

(also, first post correct grammar first)

Re:OK to export? (2)

Eponymous, Showered (73818) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603893)

People outside of the US and Canada (excluding Quebec for some unknown reason) are ineligible to win the book (as well as the other prizes).

(also, first post correct grammar first)

If you are flaunting your own grammar, you may want to note that your second sentence is not a sentence and has excessive punctuation. Your third sentence ends in a preposition (something generally frowned on in grammatical circles). If you were criticizing the original story itself, then you may want to note it was a spelling error in the title. The grammar of the post is generally fine.

A Christmas Story (2)

Money__ (87045) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603894)

Here we have Amazon offering 'a major prize' for cracking the code. This reminds me of the sceen in the movie 'A Christmas Story' where the star of the movie (an 8 year old boy) is trying to 'crack the code offered by a radio show (the show was sponsored by Ovaltine). To every day, the little boy listened intently as they gave another piece of the puzzle, and every day, the little boy would use his secret decoding ring to decipher another piece.

And finaly, after weeks and weeks of work and toil, the final message was finaly deciphered, and it read: 'Drink more Ovaltine'

I just get the feeling that the message at Amazon will read 'All hail Bezos'. :)

Contest (2)

pvthudson (100866) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603898)

Hey if you already can crack then why would you need a book on Cryptography? signed, give me a break. Legos on the otherhand are a score.

'You Don't Need Any Special Math Skills' (2)

Orange Julius (104064) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603900)

Modulo arithmetic, encryption keys, x^n?

I think these fall under the category of the 'special math skills' that Amazon says you don't need. Dumb it down a tad. This contest is supposed to be winnable by people who get stumped by crossword puzzles in the USA Today, not by some paranoid lunatic that uses Ordo Novus Seclorum to read his e-mail and encrypts his grocery list so that no one will find out that he's buying stinky cheese and miniature vegatables.

(Wow! Look at the margins on miniature vegatables!)

- Orange Julius

Signed Copies of Cryptonomicon on Ebay. (3)

jelwell (2152) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603901)

For those who don't like random drawing/contest - you can bid for Signed copies of Cryptonomicon... Signed by Neal Stephenson [ebay.com] or even Linus Torvalds [ebay.com] .

-Note: I'm not selling either. :)
Joseph Elwell.

SOLUTION-Oh, Amazon, feel the mighty effect of /. (3)

Nylathotep (72183) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603902)

Or at least I believe its the solution.

As someone pointed out, the first 4 groupings is the ISBN of the book. If you pull up the book in Amazon, each has a review by Amazon. The numbers are word offsets. The key thing to figure out is what they consider a word... I just did a preliminary scan through and came up with the following, if someone spends some time, they can undoubtably get it right...

Resonates from 918 tech to Alan

all ties brilliant coffers an sinks in

sent explains department cut and to men forget zoo would than

People need the bestselling conflict in the Information Age

The suitable specialist offers steps for secure source


As you can see, its not perfect. I was using Word, cutting text then using word count to get position. Things like hypenated words were screwing me up. But the last two sentences seem to well fitted to be chance.

if your asking why im posting this, well, this is some scam contest they are running for two weeks, with a "random drawing" at the end. Yeah right. Ive spent about as much time as I want to on it, Id be curious to the final solution once whoever it is puzzles it...

distributed.net would not crack this! And a HINT (3)

Section9 (98240) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603903)

Distribuited.net's approach to brute-force cracking works fine, so long as you know how the message was encrypted, but just neet to find the proper key to decrypt it.

What Amazon has done is to give people the cypher-text and challenged them to recover the plain-text.

This is why crytanalysis is SOOO interesting. This is more of a "real-world" scenario. You get some stuff and have to find out how it was encrypted and what it says.

Amazon's challenge is much more difficult than the RSA challenges. RSA tells you what encryption algorythm is used and what the beginning of the plain-text message is.... all that's left is key-recovery. Here people will have to think about how to attack the problem first, then try breaking the code.

HINT: Presuming that Amazon's message is in English, and is most likely a cypher (be it block, substitution, output feedback) with standard math knowedge necessary, I can offer the following assumptions for all the budding crypoanalysts on /. ::

It is most likely a subtitution cypher

It is somewhat likely that these are not added modulus anything. (Due to the high range of values)

A good starting point would be to compare the recurring numbers within the cyphertext with common letters in the English language.

Most of all: Have fun...At least you don't do this for $$

I got it! (4)

Signal 11 (7608) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603904)

The message is "this message is not yet here."

--

More notes (4)

Kaa (21510) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603905)

As has been pointed out, 0380973464 is the ISDN for Cryptonomicon, so

038-097-34-64-242-335-51-377-183-168
---ISDN------ C R Y P T O

038-097-34-64-380-330-115-289-273-189-56
---ISDN------ N O M I C O N

and further on,

068-486-42-23-87-434-10-468-151-345-150-494-376- 415-426
---ISDN------ T H E C O D E B O O K





Kaa

Time and some strategy (5)

Shaheen (313) | more than 14 years ago | (#1603907)

Well, not that I'm a crypto expert, but let's see how quickly a brute force decipher could take...

Okay, I obviously have to make a few assumptions. First off, I assume each number between dashes is a single alphanumeric. And since I said alphanumeric, you know I mean A-Z and 0-9.

There are 61 alphanumerics in this message. HOWEVER, I believe we can safely assume that each line is a phrase on its own. If so, we can solve each separately. The breakdown is 10, 11, 15, 13, and 12 (yes, that adds to 61).

So, we have 36^n combinations for each line (n being the # of alphanumerics in each line).

Sum(36^n for all n) = approx(2.1249 * 10^23)

Let's say that it takes 1 millisecond to calculate a single permutation. (I have *no* idea whether that is a fair estimate - I'm definitely no expert in cryptography).

This would make worst case time for solving the code would be 7.011 * 10^12 years. Of course, this doesn't rule out the possibility that there are multiple valid solutions (ie. the code interpreted differently still results in a valid English statement) and other such weird phenomena. I would guess the best chance to cracking this thing, at first, would be to find the weights of each of the numbers between the dashes, and compare that to the English alphabet's weight. At least, that might get you an E or something. I'll let someone who knows what he's talking about comment on that.
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