PhreakNIC v3.0 Code Tutorial
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PhreakNIC Code Resources

Subj:  [SE2600-P] PhreakNIC Code Resources
Date: 8/15/00 4:53:45 AM Central Daylight Time

This is an ongoing series to dissect the PhreakNIC v3.0 code, which can be
seen at

Here are some links where you can download (or at least look at) a few of the
other utilities we're going to need on this journey.  Or if you don't want to
download them now, I'll bring the links up again when we get to that section
of the code.

Note:  These are *not* necessarily the definitive utilities or info sources
for each of these encryption systems, so if you've already got some other
utility that does the same thing, you probably don't need these.  If this
stuff is new to you though, these are as good a place as any to start:



ROT-13 decoder:

Dictionary & Anagram tools:

Binary/Hex/ASCII Chart:
(6/2002 correction): The above site has moved and is now at:

For a head-start on some other sections of the PhreakNIC code, my
recommendation is to download the PGP and UUencoder utilities, and play with
them a bit so as to become familiar with how they work.  Encrypt a short
message (like this paragraph), and then open up the encrypted message with a
text editor and see what it looks like.  That'll make it easier to recognize
the "fingerprints" of these types of encoding systems when we get to them
later on.

And oh yes:

IMPORTANT WARNING:  When it comes to downloading executables to your own
computer, TRUST NO ONE.

Don't even trust *me*.  I am not planning to Email you any executables, nor
to upload any files to the list.  Plus, even if you *did* get a letter from
me saying, "Here, try this neat utility," do *not* trust the Email.

Especially since you're on a 2600 list in the first place, most of you
already know this, but it's worth repeating:  There are all kinds of icky
little nasties that can be hiding in the background of an "innocent"-looking
executable utility.  Virus-scan everything before running it.  And keep your
virus definitions file up-to-date.  I check for downloadable updates about
once a month, more often if I get wind of something nasty out there, or if I
know I'm going to be downloading executables.

If I want to give you a utility, I'll give you a link where it can be found.
If I give you a link, it means that I have *probably* already downloaded at
least one file from that webpage, run an up-to-date virus checker on the file
I downloaded, and run the executable without any major problems.  But that
doesn't necessarily mean the file is still safe.  So if you want to trash my
suggested hyperlinks, and go find a different utility that does basically the
same thing, do it.  I won't be offended.  In fact, you'll get more respect
from me if you dig up your own stuff.  Heck, you may find something cooler
than I did.  :)

Okay, going on with the "PhreakNIC Code Resources" list, here are a couple
other places to check.  Note:  These are only for if you've got *lots* of
free time, or really really enjoy this kind of treasure hunt, and don't mind
digging through gigatons of unrelated (and even sometimes useless)
information.  Most of what you'll find in the following places will NOT be
related to the PhreakNIC Code.  But some of it will.  :)

  (1) Go to, and find the audio files of the DragonCon
tracks.  Some of these are definitely worth listening to on their own, but
for the purposes of solving the PhreakNIC Code, listen to anything where
JonnyX was a speaker, especially the Hacking tracks, such as when
cryptography is being discussed.  An added bonus of listening to these
tracks: You get to laugh as you hear JonnyX and the other se2600 folks go
through different stages of sobriety, drunkenness, and hung-over states
during the course of the convention.  ;)  Listening to these tracks can take
hours though, so you might want to have it playing in the background while
you do something else.  Or, wait until we get to that section of the lab, and
I'll point you to the exact spots you can listen to for clues.

  (2) (Maybe while listening to the audio tracks) Get a complete index of the
thousands of messages posted to the various se2600 groups. For example,
sending an Email to the automated address* will
return an index of the first 1999 messages in the Root list.  Scanning the
subjects of those messages, you can then request the full text of the
specific ones that you are interested in.  Messages can be retrieved by
number (like write to* to get the full text of the
first 15 messages), or by thread.  There are MANY clues to the PhreakNIC Code
scattered throughout the archives, plus you can get other valuable bits of
info which will help you during our journey deeper into the library stacks of
JonnyX's brain.  Hint:  Pay attention to how JonnyX writes.  Ignore his
typos, but pay attention to words that he deliberately misspells.  Get
familiar with the slang he uses.

For some of you that were stuck on one particular portion of the PhreakNIC
Code, the above might contain the hints that you need to get unstuck.  If you
do "break through" and crack the code, let me know!  I'm eager to see your

If you're *not* interested in going on into the depths of JonnyX's head alone
(and I don't blame you), stick with the group, and everyone will go in
together.  I'm eager to welcome you, because, to be honest, I've already been
wandering around in here for quite awhile.  Part of my reason in posting this
tutorial, is a faint hope that by helping other people *in*, I'll be able to
find my way *out* <grin>.  Then again, it's not too bad in here.  There's
lots of interesting stuff to read, and the beer is good.  :)

If you *do* decide you want to venture in alone, and you have hopes of
finding your way back out in a reasonable amount of time, please follow
strict safety precautions.  Make sure you're properly tethered to something
on the outside.  For a good anchor, avoid using inanimate objects -- live
things are better.  Don't anchor to a computer or another 2600 member, 'cause
they'll just get pulled in with you.  Best is to use a close friend or family
member who doesn't own a computer (if you have such a thing).  Barring that,
try a plant.  One you talk to often.  :)  And if you think you don't need an
anchor, well, look at what being in there has done to *me* <grin>.

Okay, that's it for this round...  Next installment:  Making sense of the

Elonka  :)

"I'm a gamer.  It's what I am.  It's what I do."

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