Help me find a way to incorporate codes and ciphers into my everyday life.
April 13, 2007 5:51 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a way to incorporate codes and ciphers into my everyday life.

I've developed an interest in codes and ciphers, but I have no secrets that are worth keeping, and nobody to tell them to. I'm trying to find an engaging way to incorporate these tools of secret communication into my everyday life, be it through games, at work, online puzzles, or in my everyday communication. Suggestions?
posted by Astro Zombie to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Leave secret messages in public places (chalked on walls, for example) and see if anyone cracks them and responds in kind. You could meet some interesting friends this way. Or evil spies. Or both.
posted by pracowity at 6:02 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

How about talking using Cockney Rhyming slang, or perhaps talking in anagrams. Not exactly secret communication, but enough to keep people on their toes...
posted by Chunder at 6:04 AM on April 13, 2007

Learn to read and write ROT13'd text?
posted by Leon at 6:07 AM on April 13, 2007

Cipher game
posted by DU at 6:10 AM on April 13, 2007

All your lists must be encrypted: grocery, work to-dos, etc. Proceed from simple ciphers to more complicated ones as your skills develop.

I don't know if you draw, but I've incorporated messages in morse code into my line shading at times. That's a fun one.
posted by safetyfork at 6:10 AM on April 13, 2007

posted by dmd at 6:10 AM on April 13, 2007

(It's not very hard.)
posted by dmd at 6:11 AM on April 13, 2007

You just need geeky enough friends that "Hey guys you coming to the bar tonight?" will be a message worth encoding.

Looks like this thread oughta be a good place to meet people for that....
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2007

Sign all your mail with PGP. Cryptography isn't just about secrets!
posted by mendel at 6:27 AM on April 13, 2007

I have no secrets that are worth keeping

What about your ATM PIN number, your personal information, your online passwords or your mailing address?
posted by hooray at 6:29 AM on April 13, 2007

Vagrerfgvat dhrfgvba. pbqvat rirelguvat va ebg guvegrra znl abg or irel bevtvany, ohg gur punyx-ba-jnyy vqrn vf xvaqn arng. Naq vaqrrq, rapbhentr lbhe sevraqf gb bayl pbzzhavpngr jvgu lbh ivn rapelcgrq znvy. Gung jnl, jura lbh svanyyl unir n zrffntr gung jbegu rapelcgvat, vg jba'g fgnaq bhg fb zhpu, naq gur AFN jbhyqa'g xabj ng juvpu zrffntr gb fgneg. Hfr n fgebat xrl gung rkcverf rirel fvk zbaguf.

Nabgure avpr nern gb qryir vagb vf ovbzrgel. Hfr lbhe svatref be vevf nf n zrnaf gb ybtba, be gb npprff gur cnffcuenfr gb lbhe cevingr xrl. Gur fxl vf gur yvzvg!
posted by lodev at 6:34 AM on April 13, 2007

real cryptographers use ROT26.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:36 AM on April 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

In Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins, the main character, Leigh Cherry's husband Boomer becomes a kind of outsider artist, and one of his art projects is a trenchcoat with a bunch of hidden pockets sewn into it, and in each pocket is a rolled up piece of paper, and on each piece of paper is a message written in a different code of the artist's own devising, and each coded message reads "I love you Leigh Cherry."

Now if that sounds sweet and endearing to you, then I would recommend Tom Robbins as an author you might enjoy. If that sounds like the height of cheese to you, then I would avoid him.

What is the question again, what books should I read if I want to be an outsider artist?

I don't know.
posted by ND¢ at 6:48 AM on April 13, 2007

Oh wait. I would learn morse code, and when you were talking to someone, you could be saying "Yes. That is very interesting", but the whole time you would be tapping on the table that you were sitting at, and you would be tapping like "dot dot dot dash dash dot dash" and it would just be repeating over and over again in morse code "You are a douchebag. You are a douchebag." That would be cool.
posted by ND¢ at 6:52 AM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

By the way, if you use Firefox, you can get the LeetKey extension which has all sorts of different editor modifiers, including ROT-13, 1337, Morse, and even DES encryption.

Orpnhfr fbzrgvzrf lbh whfg arrq gb -.-. .... .- -. --. . - .... .. -. --. ... ..- .--. 01101001 01101110 00100000 01101101 01101001 01100100 00100000 01110011 01100101 01101110 01110100 01100101 01101110 01100011 01100101 00110011 00100001
posted by Xoder at 6:58 AM on April 13, 2007

A while back I learned to write in Elian, which is both a cipher and a beautiful way of writing. It's pretty easy.

I don't recall why I wrote Will in Elian, but here's a crappy example.
posted by unixrat at 7:23 AM on April 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

via delicious:

* Try decoding some Famous Unsolved Codes and Ciphers.

* Try building an Enigma Machine. (Virutal Enigma)

* Explore these web-based chipher tools.
posted by stungeye at 7:30 AM on April 13, 2007

I suck at codes and shit. Every time I see something written in code, and I have done this with every example that I have seen in this thread, is to look and see if it is written backwards. If it isn't, then I just go "Oh well, fuck it" and give up. So, I suppose that my advice would be to not write your codes backwards, because if you do then I will decipher the hell out of those motherfuckers.
posted by ND¢ at 7:31 AM on April 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

You could take up cryptograms.
posted by box at 7:51 AM on April 13, 2007

Use tor when you browse the web. Read about and use other anonymity systems (like Mixmaster or Mixminion). Read the papers (the ones surrounded by boxes are the best/most influential, IIRC) on the freehaven anonymity bibliography

Use GnuPG to send email (sign the messages you send and find other people with GPG/PGP keys to exchange encrypted messages with).

Switch to Linux and use EncFS to encrypt your files on disk (there may be something like that for Windows or OSX, but I don't know what).

The Code Book by Simon Singh and Crypto by Steven Levy are both good books on the history of crypto (The Code Book, IIRC, is more in depth and goes back further in time while Crypto talks mostly about the more recent inventions of DES and Public Key Cryptography. But I could be wrong, it's been a while since I've read either).

Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson is good fiction about crypto. if you read this, you could spend time understanding the solitaire card game based cypher that was invented specifically for this book (called "Pontifex").
posted by paulus andronicus at 8:08 AM on April 13, 2007

Two ideas I found from the Elonka web page that stungeye linked to:

* Art

* Just because you can

Now I've spent all afternoon finding out about codes and not working....
posted by Helga-woo at 8:19 AM on April 13, 2007

I'd suggest finding some friends who are of the same mindset and corresponding solely in code to them.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:48 AM on April 13, 2007

Join a secret society.
posted by milarepa at 8:50 AM on April 13, 2007

dud3, teh l33t sp34k!1!
posted by YoBananaBoy at 8:55 AM on April 13, 2007

Learn several other alphabets, such as Greek, Cyrillic, Hebrew, etc. Do all of your writing in English transliterated into those alphabets.
posted by alms at 9:55 AM on April 13, 2007

Building on alms's suggestion: I've always thought the Deseret alphabet (^) was pretty cool. Plus it's a phonetic alphabet based on English, so there's no confusion about which letter corresponds to what sound.
posted by harkin banks at 11:42 AM on April 13, 2007

You could write an interesting book a la The Voynich Manuscript (previously), or Codex Seraphinianus (also previously).
posted by ikahime at 12:09 PM on April 13, 2007

There's usually lots of codes & ciphers in ARGs. If you have the time to spare you could play one of them.
posted by juv3nal at 5:04 PM on April 13, 2007

In everyday life I find cipher for verbal comunication much more useful than the written ones. To be able to speak about persons in their presence without them understanding is great. Doesn't have to be secrets, just something worth commenting. The possibilities are unlimited. (You need to be careful with body language though, otherwise they'll get that you're talking about them.) My girlfriend and I have this for free as two Swedes living abroad. Not having to learn ciphers are one of the great things about not having a global language as your mother tongue. (And yes - those ununderstandable people sitting next to you in the subway are talking about your haircut.)
posted by pica at 12:41 PM on April 14, 2007

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