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believe in subtext

MacHeist 3... START! (No, really. This time I mean it.)

After an agonizing wait including points, aptitude tests, team sorting and bizarre images involving podiums (assodium), three ears of corn, rabbit ears, and a book, we have the first official Mission!

In the Briefing, you get 3 files, all *.sc files. According to Google, *.sc files can be opened with the program SuperCollider, so once you download that, you should be able to open them, right...? Well, I opened them, but there's still gibberish! Must be a secret to them. Perhaps they're still encoded?

We need to find 3 passphrases then, to find the ORIGINAL documents, and then head on over to http://nextinternal.com/[passphrase], where [passphrase] is the passphrase!

While we try and figure out what those passphrases are, let's check out the 3 files Sophia's uploaded for us. File 1 references lines from the song "Luck Be A Lady," from the musical "Guys and Dolls." (Luck Be A Lady, The Pickings Are Lush, etc.) The Source must have a sense of humor! Then there's a bunch of gibberish followed by the lines "I know you have the Midas touch, Authur Aski."

Midas was a Greek figure that supposedly turned everything he touched into gold. Supposedly *.sc files also relate to an old Apple II filetype that had something to do with Midas! But what?

Authur sounds a lot like "Author." Hmm. Note that it's not ARTHUR.

Well, the Aski part is easy-- Aski sounds like "ASCII" or the special kind of line art made with only characters like ! @ $ and so on.

Copy and paste all that gibberish into a text editor (I used Text Wrangler) and be sure to disable text wrapping. You should then see an ASCII image that shows something that is smoking, a bee, the Roman numeral IV (4), and then some flames (fire). That translates to smoke bee four fire or "smoke before fire," so why not head to SmokeBeforeFire.com?

Okay, now we get presented with an interesting card table. Place your bets, it says. J is worth K (club), K is worth M (heart), and A is worth A, of course. What does that mean? Well, J could refer to Jack, one of the suits in a deck of playing cards. So could K (King) and A (Ace). But what could M refer to? Well, M is the 13th letter of the English alphabet, and today is Friday the 13th....

Also notice the cards. The following cards are repeated in at least one hand:
* 7 of Hearts
* Ace of Clubs
* 8 of Clubs
* 5 of Clubs
* 5 of Hearts

The following hands are exactly the same (order and all): the second from the left, the second from the right.

Following the idea that the suit numbers could represent letters of the alphabet, we get
9 = I

7 = G
8 = H
5 = E

5 = E
5 = E

2 = B
6 = F

7 = G
8 = H
5 = E

5 = E
7 = G

Which makes IA GHE QEAE BF GHE EAG. Notice there's no K in there to make "worth M," nor is there an "M" in there to possibly reverse to "K!"

Also, did you notice the Mainframe bar at the top? If you click the swirl symbol from the Nanoheist, it'll take you back to the Mainframe, which we aren't doing anything with at present. The words say "Chronological anomaly detected, request routed through Mainframe to September 29th, 1996.

Anything significant about that date dealing with our clues: the NeXT CFO, perhaps?

If you think the value of the hands might be significant, here they are, from left to right:

That means if we were playing Blackjack, the third hand would be the winning one, but how does that help us when the cards aren't interactive? I'm beginning to lean toward the idea that the cards refer to letters and we have to decode or unscramble those letters!

The two suits printed on the table (and the only two suits present in the cards) are clubs and hearts. So if you start with clubs and move onto hearts, associating the letters on the table with letters of the alphabet, you get this:

A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K A 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 J Q K

Note that A (Ace) = A, J (Jack) = K (the letter), and K (King) is worth M (the letter)!

Following this chart, it means our earlier "unscrambling" of the card values equaling letters was wrong! Let's redo it according to our chart
9 Clubs = I
Ace of Hearts = N

7 of Hearts = T
8 of Clubs = H
5 of Clubs = E

Q of Hearts = Y
5 of Clubs = E
Ace of Clubs = A
5 of Hearts = R

2 of Hearts = O
6 of Clubs = F

7 of Hearts = T
8 of Clubs = H
5 of Clubs = E

5 of Hearts = R
Ace of Clubs = A
7 of Hearts = T


Hmm, let's go to intheyearoftherat.com!

This takes us to a page with another *.sc file, Projections.sc. We can't view it still, because SuperCollider still can't make sense of the file, so in the meantime, why not try the listed Viewer? Click on the link for Viewer and see where it takes you.

This time we get to another page that's a "chronological anomaly." The mainframe's directed us to July 18th, 1996 now. The spreadsheet we see has some errors on it: ERROR: INVALID DATE and ERROR: DIVIDE BY ZERO. Very strange. What do you make of it? Perhaps the other numbers have some significance?

Let's take a look at the source code-- if there's anything GENERATING those numbers, we'd want to know about it. If you dig around a bit, you should find this URL: http://intheyearoftherat.com/viewer/liveupdate.php?date. Let's go! This gives us a plain text version of the same chart. But what if we specify a date? Assume the "realtime projections" use the MMDDYY format, and enter 071896, which is the date these projections are supposedly from. You'll get a different chart. But is there any significance to it? If you enter in 092996 (for the date we saw on the card table), you'll get a plaintext version of the same chart from before! Hmmm....

Hm, seems like the /viewer/ directory has a few files under it. Why not try 1995.sc and 1994.sc as well? They bring up different charts, but what do they mean?

I've got an idea-- a way of tricking your computer into going "back in time." Set your system clock to one of the dates we have:
July 18, 1996
September 29, 1996

The second one produces another chart with invalid dates, but the first one produces a chart where the bottom row says "STACK THE DECK."

Hmm, maybe that's a passphrase, or perhaps another website!

Let's go to http://www.nextinternal.com/stackthedeck/

Ah-hah! We get a directory with 1996.sc and the option in the upper-right to replace the file. If you saved the 1996.sc from Sophia's original briefing, now you can replace it! Once you complete that, the button will read "File Replaced!"

You might also want to make note of the two dates we see here:
August 21, 1996
June 16, 1996

Why not try revisiting the In The Year of the Rat (henceforth ItYotR) viewer to see if your system clock being set to those dates makes a difference?

Hm, negative for the August date AND the June date. Perhaps we're done with the ItYotR for now?

Let's head back to the Briefings section of MacHeist and look at File 2.

It says: eɪtʃ tʰiː tʰiː pʰiː ˈkoʊlən slæʃ slæʃ ˈdʌbəljuː ˈdʌbəljuː ˈdʌbəljuː dɒt tu ˈdʌbəljuː əʊ ɑr diː ɛs wʌn ɛs əʊ juː ɛn diː dɒt siː əʊ ɛm

Well, what the heck is that? It sure isn't a language I recognize, and the letters aren't simple reversed or upside-down English letters. What could it mean?

Word has it that when letters look like letters but aren't letters, they're part of something bigger and simpler: the International Phonetic Alphabet.

To be honest, I'm not sure whether there's an online translator for the IPA into standardized English, so I'll just cut to the quick here: It says "h t t p colon slash slash w w w two words one sound dot com," so let's go to www.2words1sound.com

This takes us to a site where there's a page on it that reads "For sum, the thrill of the chase is all that matters. No matter how you frays it, whether in a positive or negative light, it’s all about the excitement. Even when the weights bear down on your chest, like the force of the heavens, it mite be your last chance for glory. Bee that as it may, the whole is often grater than the sum of its parts, so having strong opinions and being herd in these times of yearning is all that you can pursue…Your hands are tied.

Actually, if you copy-paste the text, that last line changes to "Your hands are free when you enter the code tongue-tied."

Hmm, there are some words spelled wrong there. Or rather, they're spelled right, but the words are homonyms of the words they SHOULD be. Two words that have one sound-- that's a homonym! (More specifically, a homophone.) I've pointed them out in bold above.

sum = some
frays = phrase
mite = might
bee = be
grater = greater
herd = heard

Some phrase might be greater heard? Doesn't make sense to me, yet, but the phrase that's not visible but got copy-pasted is interesting. Perhaps its our second nextinternal.com passphrase? http://www.nextinternal.com/tonguetied

Note the date on the Mainframe bar: June 8, 1994.

Let's try http://nextinternal.com/tonguetied (note, I removed the hyphen).

We get to access 1994.sc now, and we can replace the document! This time our date is September 16, 1994.

If you return to the Briefings, you will have check marks beside Files 1 and 2 now! Let's move on to File 3.

This time we've got a "device" to play with over on at http://holding.macheist.com/device, along with the following message:

The source sent us another package, attached was a note with just these numbers written on it:


What could these numbers be?

Let's check out the device and find out!

The device has two "pies" on either side, both half-full (or half-empty, depending on your perspective!) The one on the left has a minus sign under it; the one on the right has a plus sign. There are also 10 digits: 4180921657. Perhaps these are random if you reload/refresh?

Nope, they're the same. Perhaps they're set that way for a reason!

Looking at our numbers, we have way more than 10 digits (we have 25 total, or 12 sets of numbers). How would we know which ones to put in?

Let's start with the 10-digit number we do have. What are 10-digit strings usually used for?
* Phone numbers in North America: 418-092-1657 - 418's an area code in Quebec
* ISBN - A Google Book search yields no results for this ISBN
* Time - MM DD YYYY H:M would yield 41 80 9216 5:7, which isn't a valid time at all! It could be formatted differently, but how? While all of our clues have related to time so far, something tells me this might not be it for our device code.

Let's check out the device itself. You can click the up or down arrows above the numbers, and/or the pie slices to rotate your "slices" of the pie.

The only way to figure this out is by experimentation, I think, so let's play.
First, the number 4:
If you increase it to 5, nothing happens.
If you increase the 5 to a 6, nothing happens.
If you increase the 6 to a 7, nothing happens.
If you increase the 7 to an 8, nothing happens.
If you increase the 8 to a 9, nothing happens.
If you increase (by clicking the up arrow, obviously not literally "increasing") the 9 to a 0, the "plus" pie loses one slice and the "minus" pie gains one.
If you increase the 0 to a 1, the "minus" pie goes back to five slices and the "plus" pie stays at four slices.
If you increase the 1 to a 2, both pies return to five slices a piece.
If you increase the 2 to a 3, nothing happens.
If you increase the 3 to a 4, nothing happens.

So the only only numbers that produced any significant change are 9 -> 0, 0 -> 1, and 1->2.

For now, let's just assume the number we want in the first slot is 1. Why? Well, it is the first slot, and if we'd gone down from 4 instead of up, we would have seen the change with 1 first. That means our minus pie has five slices and our plus pie has four.

Now let's play with the second number. No changes for any numbers if we increase... until we get to 6. When we go from 5 to 6, our minus pie loses a slice, meaning both are at four slices now. If we go from 6 to 7, the plus pie regains a slice. Nothing happens again until we go from 9 to 0, which is when the plus pie loses a slice again and the minus pie gains one. This is the same as it was with the previous "number slot" on the device.

To make your plus pie one slice lower and your minus pie one slice higher, set the number from 9 to 0.

But what exactly is the goal with the pies? To fill one pie up, to fill both pies up, or to empty them both out? Or something else? Let's keep going.

So far, we've DECREASED the original first number (4), INCREASED the second number (1)... will we DECREASE the third? If there is a pattern here, then we would need to make the 8 lower-- in other words, some number 0 - 7 will have an effect on the pie slices. Let's go for the lowest number (that is, the biggest difference from 8, which is 0), and see what happens.

Hey, that decreased our plus pie slices to three! Maybe we're on the right track here, and the goal is to decrease both pies until they're done?

The fourth number slot is 0. Following our pattern, we should probably increase it. That's pretty much ANY number, so let's take it one at a time. Nothing happens when we increase that 0 to 1 or from 1 to 2, but when we increase the 2 to 3, our minus pie loses a slice, meaning both pies are now at 3 slices!

The fifth number is a 9. If we really do have a pattern, we'll have to decrease it. We can't increase it, after all! Let's decrease it to 0, since that's the easiest change to make. That decreased our plus pie by one slice! Now we have 3 slices in our minus pie and two slices in our plus pie.

The sixth number is a two, and we're going to increase it. Let's go from 2 to 3. That brings our minus pie down to 2 slices!

The seventh number is a one, and we're going to decrease it-- that is, go from 1 to 0 and onward until we see a change. 1 to 0 doesn't do anything, but 0 to 9 takes away a slice from the minus pie and ADDS it to the plus pie! Oh no, we don't want MORE slices in one pie! Let's keep trying. Haha! When we change it from 6 to 5, the new slice to the plus pie vanishes, leaving the minus pie with only one slice and the plus pie with only 2!

The eighth number is a 6, and we're going to increase it. Nothing happens until we go from 9 to 0, which, as predicted, takes a slice from one pie and adds it to another. That's not a good thing, so let's keep going. If we go from 0 to 1, then we lose that extra slice and now we only have 1 slice a pie! With only two digits left on our device and two slices, that should mean that the next two number changes will result in the rest of the slices disappearing!

The ninth number is 5. Let's decrease it. Again, nothing happens until we change between 0 and 9. Then our minus pie loses a slice and our plus pie gains one! Let's keep going. When we change it to 8, then we lose that extra slice and our minus pie is empty! Whoo-hoo, only one more to go!

Our last number is 7. Let's increase it. If we go from 9 to 0, again, the pie slices shift. Good thing or bad thing? Well, we need to GET RID of our last pie slice, so let's keep going. Change it from a 3 to a 4 and all of a sudden your last slice disappears, the device flashes, and... nothing happens. But we have a new 10-digit number string: 1 6 0 3 0 3 5 1 8 4

Maybe this has more significance than the previous number?

Again, 10 digits:
* Phone number: 160-303-5184. Well, 160 appears to be a bogus area code, so let's skip that.
* ISBN: 1603035184. Hey, this gives us a Google Books result... for H.G. Wells' "Time Machine!" If that's not a big clue, I don't know what is!

Go to the Google Book and let's see what we can see.

Remember our number sets from earlier?


Maybe they're PAGE numbers? Let's start with 58. Okay, so we've got a page now, but what do we do with the second number? Maybe it's the word number. Let's get counting. The 137th word (whew!) is "be."

Page 71, word 56 is: "not"
Page 6, word 56 is: "the"
Page 28, word 90 is: "servants"
Page 101, word 44 is: "of"
Page 22, word 70 is: "words"

Let's check out http://www.benottheservantsofwords.com

We see a sort of "Rosetta" stone with phrases in various languages. Unfortunately, the text isn't selectable, which means we can't copy-paste the lines into Google Translate to see if they're significant. That probably means that the text itself isn't so important-- there's something we should SEE on the stone that's important.

We do have a date at the top, though: January 6th, 1995.

Looking at the different languages, we can see they're fairly unevenly spaced, except for one area near the beginning, where all words cut off and a straight line down the rock is formed. One one side, the letters going down vertically are gznkootos and a Hebrew character. But on the other side, the letters spell out "chronology!" Maybe that's our last passphrase for the nextinternal.com site! Let's try it!


Bingo! We get the original 1995.sc and the opportunity to "go back" to November 13th, 1995. Also note the date of our new *.sc file-- it's December 4th, 1995. Let's upload the 1995.sc we got from Sophia and see what happens!

All done! The Briefings on the Macheist site should report that you've completed everything-- Files 1 through 3. Now you can see the Debriefing and the Evidence.

The Debriefing video sure is mysterious. "The secret lies in the mountains?" Hey, you know in the nanoMission, we had to do some origami, and here we've got a new Directorate liaison who seems to be engaging in kirigami-- the art of folding and cutting paper. Maybe we should copy her and see if there's a clue in the "mountains" we make!

First, take a square piece of paper and fold it diagonally so you have a triangle. Fold it in half again. Now take some scissors and cut an "L" shape from the "top" of our "mountain," assuming that the base of the "mountain" is the widest edge of the paper. You should have cut out a plus-sign, or an X-shape. If you unfold your paper and hold it square like our mysterious hooded Directorate person did, you'll see an X.

What do we do with this X?

Well, if you try and enter any combination of numbers on the Macheist.com page's "safe," the numpad will fall away and reveal a dot matrix grid. Play around with it. If you click, the dots will light up and light up the lines between the dots. Click again and you will get a message: Invalid Gesture.

Perhaps our X is a valid gesture? See how it looks on the dot matrix grid. After you "draw" this with your mouse (drag, do not click!), the screen will go black and you'll be taken to your Loot. You'll have a $2 bundle discount, AllSecure, 3D Hearts Deluxe, and Sticky Notes. You may have seen 2 of these (AllSecure and 3D Hearts Deluxe) prior to finishing all your clues; you do get loot just for participating in the Heist!

You're all finished with Mission 1. Until next time, agents...


What the url for x-gesture? %_%
If you're talking about the URL to the image that shows you what the X-gesture looks like, it's the very last link in my post. Or you can click here. As for WHERE to enter the X-gesture, it's on the main MacHeist.com site. Just click on the numpad underneath the safe until it falls away, and it will reveal the dot matrix grid.