Barcode Challenge


This morning we logged into Google to find a Barcode instead of the normal logo (how strange that Google would change their graphic!). Apparently today is the anniversary of the Barcode. This method of easily labeling items for computer scanning is used for every type of commodity in our society. But do you know how to get the cryptic information back out of the Barcode?

Here’s the challenge:  The image at the top of the post was created by the devious writers here at Hack a Day. Leave us a comment that tells us what the message says and explains how you deciphered it. There are programs that will do this for you and some smartphones can do this from a picture of the code, but we’re looking for the most creative solutions.

The winner will be decided in a totally unfair and biased way and gets their name plastered all over Hack a Day (and possibly slandered a bit).  So get out there and start decoding that machine-readable image.

Update: We’ve announced a winner for this challenge.

184 thoughts on “Barcode Challenge

  1. – hacking since 2004

    I decoded using an Intermec CK61 Mobile Computer, using a piece of software I wrote using .Net Compact Framework 3.5 and the Intermec Developers Kit.

  2. It says “ – hacking since 2004” and I decoded it using my Symbol MC3000 barcode scanner running Windows CE, since my job involves developing an application for them. Not very creative, but it was already on when I read the post!

  3. – hacking since 2004

    decoded using a beetle2 (computer used in supermarket here in france) and a bluetooth scanner with the debug mode of the program “mona”.

  4. – hacking since 2004. I cleverly decoded it by reading the first post in the comments section.

    What? Isn’t finding the solution of least resistance, not necessarily playing by the rules, the essence of hacking?

  5. “ – hacking since 2004”

    printed to our laserjet 4, then the “bardimm” module picked up on the barcode and added it to the document management system.

    I suppose I could have just used one of the symbol barcode scanners though…

  6. It says “ – hacking since 2004″, I just copied and pasted the other poster who executed this idea before I did.

    I copy and pasted mikes. one good plagiarizing deserves another

  7. It says “ – hacking since 2004″. I wrote out the widths of the bars and gaps in binary, which were then processed using the following whitespace program:

    This program converts the cuneiform into a QR code which I had made into a crop circle. I then waited for Google Earth to be updated to include my crop circle. Finally I forced third world world children to manually decode them QR code image at gunpoint.


  8. I dug around in my garage for a few minutes and found an old ‘cuecat’ printed out the image and slid the cuecat across it till I got a good read, which took a while. I hunted around in old backup CD’s till I found one with a copy of ‘Skin the Cat’ cuecat decoder, and plugged the data into that. It came out garbled. No points for me.


  9. I read the image into MATLAB converted it into a one dimensional vector, wrote a simple bar-space length decoder, gave up because I didn’t want to make a huge look up table to convert the bar and space lengths into ascii, and then used the comments to decode it the rest of the way.

  10. – hacking since 2004

    scaled up – printed…

    Separated bars into groups, and disregarded the beginning and ending of the code… Hence other readers picking up an H at the end.
    Once grouped I placed numbers on them, added… then matched the numbers to corresponding letters using an ASCII chart

    I got bored and had finished my homework for Circuits lab….

    This is basic cryptology

  11. The barcode says “ – hacking since 2004″.

    -In order to decode it, I used an old and easy-to-learn chinese technique. The chinese call it “复制粘贴” (Just use google’s tranlator, if you don’t know how to read it).
    It requires someone else who has been fronted with the same problem.
    Now you just have to hope the he already solved the problem and posted his solution to the internet. Because it’s never a good way to trust the word of only one anonymous guy, you have to find a way to verify the solution.
    The smart chinese found a way for this step, too:
    “等着看别人是如何解决这个问题” (you know, …google translator)

    After you completed this step you’ll have easily gained a verified solution for your problem.
    In this case a translated barcode.

    P.S. This technique applies for nearly every problem you could face. Try it out! :)

  12. – hacking since 2004

    used my recently hacked dolphin 7400 barcode scanner!

    proof –

    They were charging $200 for a stupid “homebase” charger. I noticed the battery inside was marked as 3.7v so I figured that was close enough to 5v USB and I spliced it open and it charged back up just fine.

  13. Pen and paper, with a lot of bits guessed at when I had enough letters (i.e. “hackaday” and when I got since I looked around t’interweb for the since date as it was faster =^p)

  14. “ – hacking since 2004”

    I took the mode of the responses to this article. My answer has been reaffirmed by the various techniques used by all the posters.

  15. I tried the cuecat on a print of google’s image, and it clearly pops up as ‘google’ with the ‘skin the cat’ software. I think I forgot how hard it it to get a good clean read on a long code with the cat.


  16. – hacking since 2004

    First I did a copy image from the context menu, then pasted it into MS Paint, saved it as a monochrome bitmap, uploaded it to my Epson 6000II printer through TMFLogo, printed out a receipt with it set as the header image using a [redacted] then scanned it with a Voyager MS9540 barcode scanner.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.