Remember, all the codes for this series eventually solve to the format
xxxxxxxx#keyword#. This is a typical format for passcodes distributing volatile intel around anomalies.
Tic Tac Toe
A Peanuts character would likely find the hidden order.
0. 1. 2 3. 4. 5 6 7. 8. 9. A. B C D E F.
K Y T P P H U P N I L E A D F O
What is in a name? Only the winning moves.
Arrange the filenames into a 7×6 grid. Highlighting the winning moves.
Concatenate by reading only the highlighted letters top to bottom, left to right:
Correct the keyword spelling:
After eliminating the obvious, whatever remains, however invisible, must be the answer.
In Scrabble, each letter appears a set number of times in the bag and has a point value denoted in the bottom right of each tile.
For the English-language editions of Scrabble they are:
1 point: E ×12, A ×9, I ×9, O ×8, R ×6, N ×6, T ×6, L ×4, S ×4 U ×4
2 points: D ×4, G ×3
3 points: B ×2, C ×2, M ×2, P ×2
4 points: F ×2, H ×2, V ×2, W ×2, Y ×2
5 points: K ×1
8 points: J ×1, X ×1
10 points: Q ×1, Z ×1
If we take out the tiles that are on the board, we are left with the following pieces:
A B B C D E F H J L M N O T U V
There are 16 missing letters and 16 tiles across the top of the picture.
Figuring out which tile is which by only the bottom requires some guesswork, but you will eventually get:
Converting c and f to numbers by their alphabet positions comes up invalid, so take their tile values for:
Machines can feel stacks of numbers.
Write them down in two rectangles of 8×4 dots.
Knowing the format used for volatile media (
xxxxxxxx#keyword#), we can see that the number spaces are different. We expect numbers in decimal to be in the 48-57 range. The digit right after the split looks like a braille 5 (5), and the one below it like a braille 3 (3). So, they’re stacked braille numbers, and just lack the extra top row of spaces that normal Braille characters have.
Reading the stacks down:
79 87 66 83 82 89 71 65 53 77 65 78 84 82 65 55
Convert from decimal to ASCII:
White and black are the only possible values.
Taking white as 0 and black as 1, read horizontally skipping the spaces:
Binary to ASCII:
Symmetry (n.): It adds up.
Take the number values added to the image:
20 1 11 5
14 15 21 20
6 15 18 1
19 16 9 14
43 60 66 66
79 59 58 48
64 46 55 57
77 58 89 65
Take the first 16 numbers, and convert to letters via Alphabet Index:
From that, let’s rotate the bottom half of the numbers 180 degrees:
65 89 58 77
57 55 46 64
48 58 59 79
66 66 60 43
Notice that if you do that with the image (rotate the bottom half 180 degrees), the blocks with and without checkers line up perfectly on both sides, pointing to the hint of Symmetry (n.): It adds up.
Using the hint further, add each number pair together in the two sections.
E.g. first half first number is
20, second half first number is
65. Added up it is
85 90 69 82 71 70 67 84 54 73 77 80 85 82 69 57
Decimal to ASCII:
Order of play is important.
Note that the board looks unusually similar to the final result of the first game of Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo. The description further confirms this:
The final board position of the first game, an unexpected victory for AlphaGo, is shown below.
Let’s try and manipulate the image with free image editing tools. Go to Adjustments > Curves and select the Red channel. Drag the line to the top left, select the Green channel, and drag that line to the bottom right. Now we can see several letters.
Use the play order of that game to get an order for the letters, using only the plays with letters and splitting between black moves and white moves.
An interactive play order can be found here at the bottom of the blog post.
Convert from the NATO alphabet to letters and numbers:
Stop Dithering, by Vera Invernine
In the image along the top, there are pixels of white, black, and blue. Part way through this is a section that does not follow the pattern.
The top row is black and every other column is blue, so they can be removed.
Now, every other row is white and can be removed. What we are left with is a 7×19 grid of blue and black.
If we assume each column is a character, we can read the columns vertically with black becoming 0 and blue becoming 1.
1001110 1010110 1000010 1001110 1011000 1000001 1010110 1011010 0111001 1000001 1001100 1001001 1000111 1001110 1001101 1000101 1001110 1010100 0110111
Add a 0 onto the front, and convert from binary to ASCII:
Highlights will question the answer.
QUITE WEST OF HOUSTON, THE GENTLE HOME OF THE CHINATI FOUNDATION IS THIS TOWN IN TEXAS
What is Marfa?
So, now that we have a keyword, for the letters and numbers apply a filter to differentiate between #FFFFFF and #F9F9F9:
And, take the slightly darker letters:
FOU becomes 4 and SIX becomes 6. Insert the keyword:
Hexed by pieces of the name?
The phrase bbrbnkbbnnkrbnbbbnbnpbpknrnbpkbpnbnkbbpbbknbk groups well into threes. We only see 5 different letters (bknpr). Base 5 doesn’t give anything meaningful, but note that the characters represent chess pieces. Add the missing piece (queen) to the index, sorted by chess piece value (pbnrqk). Base 6 decode.
bbr bnk bbn nkr bnb bbn bnp bpk nrn bpk bpn bnk bbp bbk nbk
223 215 221 153 212 221 210 205 131 205 201 215 220 225 125
87 83 85 69 80 85 78 77 55 77 73 83 84 89 53
Convert from decimal to ASCII:
That which is valid is constant; much is old, but new is there four finding.
Note that upon refresh the list changes. Only the valid codes remain constant.
Full solution list. Most of these codes did not contain volatile media, however it is impossible at this time to determine which.