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I tried a few attempts at decoding it in 5 bit and 7 bit but with no results. I might have "REFRACTORY" converted wrong for the five bit code. Anyway, I think I'm giving up for now. I'm tired from a long day caching in the rain. The new rain jacket ($30) and pants ($18) worked very well today in the intense weather we were in. For about 30 minutes, our 100 closest list was clear, but then Becky posted another... icon_rolleyes.gificon_biggrin.gif We were tempted to go out and get this one, but then decided to wait until morning.



"All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer with a backlit GPSr"

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I must be getting close, but I'll let someone else be the one to crack it. If you convert the ct to binary then subtract the ASCII value of the key REFRACTORY (repeating every 10 bytes) you end up with following interim ct (in decimal):


432 700 698 686 447 319 429 819 175 296

688 700 571 433 449 447 300 690 688 553

304 443 701 175 833 957 430 177 560 424

431 445 571 433 320 319 173 434 687 554

304 700 572 815 448 704 686 435 431 679

559 445 572 686 705 190 558 305 431 552

688 573 827 687 191 830 173 689 305 552

687 443 571 430 322 702 430 434 430 426

432 444 573 175 704 703 558 562 942 553

688 572 442 815 321 447 686 434 559 680

430 445 698 559 703 445 814 945 430 425

687 445 698 559 321 575 429 434 942 423

688 699 443 559 448 445 430 691 559 427

559 700 442 430 704 319 430 436 815 427

174 572 827 687 577 574 557 690 561 296

560 443 699 943 448 702 558


I have arranged these in columns of 10. As you can see, the frequencies in each column are highly non-random. They are typical of English frequencies in fact, and the frequencies in columns 1, 4, and 9 are essentially the same, indicating they were encrypted with the same column key (i.e. the letter R in REFRACTORY). Now all we have to do is to figure out exactly how the key was originally applied and reverse to decrypt. icon_cool.gif

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Originally posted by Mr. Vic:

Wow! All this secret code stuff sounds like the book I just finished reading; Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson. Secret codes, treasure hunting with GPS's, lot's of good stuff. One of the best books I've read in years...




Cryptonomicon is a great read. I have a partial solution, but I'm not quite there. icon_smile.gif



















This was obtained by XOR'ing the first text against the other - assuming one to be the OTP left unsecure. The remaining ct was periodic at per. 10, and when I processed that ct with the word REFRACTORY I got an interim ct that decrypted as a Vigenere with key TTTTTTTTTT as above, but all the spaces came out as N's and some of the text was garbled. The capital letters are my edits. Obviously I didn't process the text quite right. I'm not sure whether to xor the interim ct against the key, subtract the key, or what. I have to reduce it mod 26 to get all the numbers in the same range. The fact that there are spaces may make it necessary to process mod 27 (26 letters plus 1 space). Still working on it. C'mon you programmers, help me out here.

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coldwar?age Travel Bug will be placed in Double Agent Cacheuratnefndd.Noon on December 31, 2002. It will be removed atur.600 03 same day if not retrieved.ur


It uses ASCII symbols inclusing punctuation and numerals, so you can't use mod 26 to keep everything in the alphabet. Still needs some work, but I'm going to bed.

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"GoldGarbage Travel Bug will be placed in Double Agent cache

at 12:00 Noon on December 31, 2002. It will be removed at

1:00 PM same day if not retrieved."


I must give credit to The Rat for determining that the two groups were XOR together

(despite the unequal length). I figured out everything else independent of other's

work, although it didn't hurt having a partially revealed message icon_smile.gif.


Thanks to everyone who worked on solving this.

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1. Drop the last byte (80) of the first hexcode group.

2. Exclusive OR the two hexcode groups together.

3. Convert REFRACTORY to 8-Bit ASCII hexcode and replicate to

match the length of the ciphertext.

4. Exclusive OR the results of 2 and 3.

5. Convert the resulting hexcode to ASCII text.


Note: The characters at bytes 60-61, 120-121, and 156-157

represent Carriage_Return Line_Feed as shown in the previous post.


[This message was edited by Lamneth on December 16, 2002 at 08:37 AM.]

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I didn't think to xor the first message with the second. I'm such a newbie. Was it a common thing to xor with a "one-time pad" which the first must have been (since the one-time pad should be at least as long as the original message) and then xor it again with some known repeated sequence? It seems like this wouldn't be any more secure.



"All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer with a backlit GPSr"

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Joani and I really got into the whole decoding thing. It was neat to see all the different approaches. Researching stuff about Venona, and Magnetron was pretty cool. Magentron's journals were pretty interesting reading. I think Joani wants a job as a code breaker now... icon_wink.gif



"All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer with a backlit GPSr"

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Just to summarize, it appears this cipher was linked to the Venona Project in the following ways:


* The message was encrypted using the Vernam cipher.


* The cipher was encrypted a second time (re-ciphered).


* The cipher was broken by obtaining a copy of the pad.


Knowing little about cryptology myself, I found The Rat's analysis very cool.


This is what struck me regarding the approaches:


Coming from a computer background, the dropping of the LSB of one number before performing a logic operation is unthinkable (this would cause a significant error). Coming from a crypto-analyst background, I expect that ignoring part of the ciphertext is common place.


Coming from a crypto-analyst background, the natural tendency is to look for a 26 element code. Coming from a computer background, the natural tendency is to look for ASCII code.


Coming from both backgrounds, you get someone like SCRYER who breaks the cipher in an hour icon_smile.gif.


Another thing I find interesting is the word REFRACTORY:


One definition is...


"difficult to fuse, corrode, or draw out; especially : capable of enduring high temperature"


...which fits the REFRACTORY SEMICONDUCTOR MATERIALS book found next to the Venona note, but also fits the Vernam cipher as in the following quote (taken from here)


..."the highgrade cyphers proved refractory."


But another definition is...


"resisting control or authority"


...which fits perfectly with the Rush 2112 aspect of the Double Agent cache. icon_cool.gif


My compliments to Venona, but please... no more ciphers icon_biggrin.gif.


[This message was edited by Lamneth on December 16, 2002 at 06:32 PM.]

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If you are into Lord of the Rings trivia, The Fellowship of the Rings cache and The Two Towers cache are great. Both will take you to various areas around the south bay, and the trivia is non-trivial (meaning if you don't have the books, you probably won't know some of the answers), and both will take you at least two days, unless you really push it. These two caches are two of our favorites.



"All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer with a backlit GPSr"

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Originally posted by georgeandmary:

Ok, I went for 21 since I didn't find it I'm not sure if Marky is evil or clever or maybe just both. I had some ideas but I could not confirm it by actually spotting the cache.

Blame Joani for this one, it is her brainchild and is representitive of her 'craftiness'. I put additional hints on the page but Joani found out and made me remove them. And you thought she was the nice one... icon_wink.gif Also, Pepper has held this cache in her hands before. A big clue to those that haven't found it yet: You can get this cache without your feet leaving the ground. I didn't need any additional equipment, but some people might.



"All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer with a backlit GPSr"

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A girl can only pack so many boxes before caching withdraw sets in. The twins and I headed out this moring for the South Bay. Funny how many caches I found that looked just alike.

Gosh I enjoy caching!


Fizzy where are you?




Horizontals where it's at!


[This message was edited by SuperGenius on December 22, 2002 at 05:52 PM.]

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Originally posted by wa6ube:

If anyone has Monty's email address

(The one that used to be at IBM, and was

at the picnic) .. I'm totally blanking

on how to get in touch with him...


Hmmm... sounds like a "people cache" icon_eek.gif


Any leads?

You can contact him here via geocaching.com's e-mail sender.



"All of us get lost in the darkness, dreamers learn to steer with a backlit GPSr"

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Originally posted by georgeandmary:

I think I'm addicted to puzzle caches now. I took Marky's suggestion and worked out cipher sites and cipher creek. They were a lot of fun, now all I have to do is go get the actual caches. icon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gificon_biggrin.gif




I didn't think I could make a cache out of this one, but I thought this was a fun puzzle posted recently to a Scrabble mailing list:





I'm off in my own little world. That's okay, people know me here.

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Originally posted by fizzymagic:

I had a great vacation. Did a few high-quality caches, which have interesting stories. Discovered that my SporTrak Pro is NOT waterproof. Rather, it _was_ not waterproof and it _is_ no more. Looks like there have been interesting developments in the Venona case while I was gone.


Glad you enjoyed your vacation. Waterproof would be nice but my e-map has never let me down. I did put in in a ziplock baggie in Hawaii but I'm not sure that trick will work when I go to T4 cache.


Anyway, Welcome home.


Bill of Green Achers


"Why is 'Tourist Season' not mentioned in the Fish and Game Manual?"

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Originally posted by georgeandmary:

To bad you missed the event. Lamneth showed up


We huddled together and discussed at length during the pizza and we all have our suspicions.


And...? Do you guys know who it is? I'm dying to find out!


[This message was edited by fizzymagic on December 23, 2002 at 10:35 AM.]

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Welcome home Fizzy.


I have come around to believing that Venona must be Green Achers mostly by following the Travel Bug trails but I still want to compare the handwriting. If anyone does El Camino Viejo see if you can get a photo of GAs writing and post it on the Forum. Otherwise see you all at noon on the 31st.


What is the "Marky 21" thing that has riled Georgeandmary? What is the Waypoint?

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Originally posted by hotfoot:


What is the "Marky 21" thing that has riled Georgeandmary? What is the Waypoint?


Oh we're not riled to much, just good and stumped. I have a better idea of what I'm looking for now. We were reading to come back with scafolding and safety ropes but it looks like they're not needed.




Oh, here's the link to the cache, looks like it's had many visits since I failed.





Pedal until your legs cramp up and then pedal some more.

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Originally posted by SuperGenius:

out this morning with Hotfoot we just did GA's new cache and we stopped by Double Agent so I could take some pics of handwritting samples. Will post pic after I get back from gathering up SuperGenius #1 on Diablo.



Please don't post any logs that contain spoilers icon_smile.gif


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