The Solution To The 10th Anniversary Code

A few weeks ago, [1o57], a.k.a. [Ryan Clarke] gave a talk about puzzles, DEFCON, and turning crypto puzzles into an art form at our 10th anniversary party. Ever the trickster, [1o57] included a crypto challenge in his talk, and a few days after our little shindig, nobody had yet solved the puzzle. Finally, someone bothered to sit down and figure it out. We don’t know what [tahnok] won, but as [1o57] said, solving it is its own reward.

Some of the slides in the presentation had a few characters sitting off to the side for no apparent reason. [tahnok] put these together and came up with:


In cases like this, you might try a Caesar cipher, or just shifting characters to the left or right a certain number of places. Since [1o57] noted this was the tenth anniversary of Hackaday, [tahnok] tried that first:


It doesn’t look like much, but that’s only because the string is backwards. Tricky, tricky. tricky. With instructions to send a codeword to an email address, [tahnok] now needed to find a code word. There was one picture [1o57] put up on twitter that was still an unsolved part of the puzzle:


With no idea what these little stickmen are, he scoured google with variants of ‘stickmen code’ and ‘semaphore’ until he hit upon the Sherlock Holmes story, The Adventure of the Dancing Men. It’s a simple substitution cypher, translated to, “codeword psychobilly ciphers”

And that’s the entire puzzle. As far as we know, this took about a month to solve, and compared to the DEFCON challenges, was fairly simple. [1o57] will probably chime in down in the comments to tell everyone how many people have picked up on the clues and sent an email.

16 thoughts on “The Solution To The 10th Anniversary Code

        1. It was a movie reference, to contast the book reference. Ghostbusters, Egon’s response to Jenene, after being asked if he likes to read. I believe his response indicated that he prefers to study things that are alive(oddly enough), rather than print being a dead medium. I could be wrong.

    1. I assume that was aimed at me: “Someone”? no – the “average reasonably educated person”? yes – there may well be 10 billion books in the world, but few so popular and well regarded as “the canon”. At least in the English speaking world.

      And let me say the term “not well read” is hardly a metaphor for “scorn and disdain”

      1. Your overuse of quotation marks leads me to believe you are barely literate. One might describe “The Adventure of the Dancing Men” as canon – I would not – but you cannot describe it as “the canon”. The collection itself is not an entity.

        It’s also clear that you hold in contempt those who haven’t read whatever works you regard as mandatory reading. Don’t quibble about something so obvious. If you’re going to be a snob, at least have the decency not to weasel out of it.

        1. Good grief. I understand that you are what is commonly known as a “troll” and you aren’t really worth arguing with, but at least try and get some facts straight:

          In addition I am not trying to weasel out of anything – I merely object YOU putting words into MY comments.

          I hardly need comment on your silly claim of “over use of quotation marks”.

          The only people I hold in contempt are over sensitive, offensive dolts like yourself.

          1. I am not here to troll, but I don’t agree with your definition of “not well read” as having not read Sherlock Holmes. More over not recognizing these stick men as being from that universe is not proof that he didn’t read the books.
            I most certainly have read the books and upon seeing the figures I looked at many things never once thinking about fiction.

            Perhaps it is you who is ill-read, if upon seeing stick figures posed in different stances with repetition the only thought you had was a fictional book series.

      2. Hey, guess what: some of us just don’t like Sherlock Holmes. The Holmes books, by the way, are far from among the most prevalent in the english speaking world and only appeal to a limited set of readers, ldwbr.

      3. This is a common cypher used in literature. I was with you at first, but now I’ll take that back. I can think of three other literary sources that use this gimmick (not all with stick men) but I have never once read one Sherlock Holmes book.

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