The @LANta.con code challenge

Here's a little something to keep you entertained and/or frustrated during the con:

02323630302N312R333Q783Q707764030000000000000000000000000000[ortva 644 P
C,2LG>'102C4&``````$``0`K````8```````][`][raq][Pbagrag-Qvfcbfvgvba: nggn
puzrag; svyranzr="pyhr02.mvc"][Pbagrag-Genafsre-Rapbqvat: ONFR64][Pbagra
g-Glcr: nccyvpngvba/bpgrg-fgernz][][HRfQOODNNjNNNXpxrlbES/ugCjNNNQZNNNNX

Clues: lock = Playfair, key = Atlantacon


I, jonnyx, have provided puzzles the last couple of years for PhreakNIC (, Nashville's annual hacker con.

In 1998 (at PhreakNIC v2.0) I wrote what I thought was a simple code and put it on the cover of that year's program booklet. I thought it would keep some people amused for a few hours & I'd give a free tshirt to the first person to solve it.

No one ever solved it. (Though in fairness, Karezza - Dagmar's non-hacker gf at the time - came closer than anyone else on the very first day, and Korc (205-2600) was only a couple hours behind her).

People harassed me for months, trying to pry clues out of me while exchanging tips & theories via the mailing lists. I had great fun taunting people, feeding them red herrings and laughing at them in a most drunken fashion when I presented the solution at PhreakNIC v3.0.

A rematch was demanded, so I had prepared a PhreakNIC v3.0 code, which can be found at (note that after April 15th this URL will be dead; the new URL will be No one solved it during PhreakNIC v3.0, despite many attempts to drug/bribe me. So I once again began taunting people and gave out a supplemental flier at @LANta.con six months later (with PhreakNIC v4.0 info on it as well, just to be blatant). It still remained unsolved. Messages related to the code on the various se2600 lists climbed into the hundreds. Finally, at DragonCon 2000, a gamer named Elonka checked out some of the EFGA/se2600 panels, found out about the code, and dove into it.

Elonka cracked the code rather quickly, despite not being a hacker or initially familiar with such terms as "rot13", "uudecode" and "steganography". Her solution and walkthough tutorial is at

She got some free PhreakNIC v4.0 shirts and had her hotel room paid for as the prize for cracking the code.

Due to popular demand, I have produced an @LANta.con2 puzzle. It will be handed out on fliers at the con (so actual con attendees can have the first crack at it) and will probably be put on the @LANta.con webpage somewhere ( if it isn't solved at the con.

Note: Past code crackers are ineligible for prizes associated with solving the @LANta.con2 puzzle; give someone else a chance, Elonka.

As for the PhreakNIC v4.0 puzzle, um, due to circumstances beyond my control, the PhreakNIC v4.0 code has been greatly delayed. Originally, it was to appear on bootable credit-card sized cd-rom badges given out at the con. The individual responsible for mastering the ISO was unable to make my deadlines, so less than two weeks before the con I had to go with laminated badges instead. The original code depended on some large data files on the badges; I didn't want to toss out a half-assed rewrite, and there wasn't time to come up with an entirely new code. My Christmas deadline (and planned "Xmas puzzle") was missed due to grave health problems. Seeing as I'm still alive, and people continue to bug me about it, the PhreakNIC v4.0 code will be ready as of June 1st, 2001. This will give everyone five months to solve it. First person to crack the code gets their hotel room paid for at PhreakNIC5, as well as free t-shirts.

See after April 15th for details.

Version notes:

April 3, 2001: April 8, 2001:
April 9, 2001:
June 24, 2001:

Transcribed page last updated June 24, 2001

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