How it came to be found - and where you can find itOne Saturday lunchtime, a few weeks ago, I had an email from Hackmore Readrite telling me he thought he’d found +ORC’s page. He asked for any information I could send him, no matter how trivial, to help him verify what he’d found. Needless to say I immediately scratched around in my email archives to see what might be of value. I wasn’t going to delay responding when I stood the chance of finding the mystery page. After over six months looking for it, on and off.
Then another email followed quickly after. He was certain now that this was the page. But he wouldn’t tell me where it was.
I looked around for more stuff that might be useful. Maybe I could bribe him into telling me where the page was?
No success. But the next message that turned up, an hour or so later, included a zip file. In it was the full page image, but with crucial information missing. Like the URL and any clues that might tell me where it was.
What did I think, he asked. Did I agree it might be the fabled +ORC page? Well, possibly. My immediate reaction was that it wasn’t quite what I’d expected. I asked how he’d found it. Through a dead gateway, he said.
Things went quiet for a bit, so I took a careful look at the page image he’d sent me. On the surface it looked like a fairly ordinary cracker’s page, but one which had not been updated for quite a while. For example, it linked to Fravia’s Geocities page, which died I think in March this year. It included a set of +ORC essays that seemed to date from about the same time. And it had a whole lot of other stuff that made no sense, such as references to “BlakAdder”, the Gremlin GIF and a meaningless title for the GIF, “IPOL-009-008-007”. Hackmore had carefully cut out any of the obvious pointers to where the site came from, replacing them with asterisks. All he had left was the gremlin image and the page text, with all the email addresses and URLs erased. As Alice said, curiouser and curiouser.
So, I thought, if this is an image of the page, maybe there’s something in there I can run through the search engines. At least it would give me something to do until Hackmore relented and told me where the page could be found. Better than nothing. So I set to work.
I ran all the distinctive words and phrases through 13 search engines on 3 continents. As the English say, not a sausage. Zilch. This was a site that had not been indexed by anything. At least, not by any of the general search engines. So what other clues might there be? The only thing to go on was the phrase “This page hosted by ***** Get your own Free Home Page”. Sounded familar. A quick Altavista search confirmed it only appears on Geocities sites. Aha! So I called up the main Geocities page, and, as it turned out, followed Hackmore’s earlier path, and did a search on “ORC”. Guess what turned up? Yes, the same page that Hackmore had sent the image from. Found it!
And here it is!
[Yes, you now have enough information to find the page! But to save time, here it is: http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lakes/6310/ ]
The page belongs - apparently - to one "LoLander". I'll have a bit more to say about this later...
In the meantime, Hackmore had taken pity on me - and had brought Fravia into the loop too, and disclosed how he’d found it. He had sent the zip image to Fravia too, but without the Geocities clue, because, as an ex-resident, Fravia would have twigged immediately! As you may have noticed, there’s not much in common between the Geocities IP address (18.104.22.168) and the numbers in the +ORC riddle (22.214.171.124). So what was the connection? Again, Hackmore was not telling all. He wanted to see what +ORC himself had to say. So messages were dispatched and over the next 24 hours, +ORC had indeed responded.
Here’s what he said:To Hackmore
So you are trying to find gates.
I'm afraid there are not many left.
The (other) Aussi guy did not have
much luck either until now.
I believe I will send him (and you)
a list of the two remaining ones soon,
just tell me you give it up.
on the other hand...
accidit in puncto quod non speratur in anno
(The Latin means, roughly, it happens in an instant what was not expected in a year. Or, in other words, "Sometimes things happen quicker than you think".) Thanks to RedHerring for pointing out my earlier (dyslexic) error. He advises that this is a direct quote from Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria, so +ORC knows his stuff.
So have we now tracked down the +ORC riddle page? Well, you’ll need to wait and see Hackmore’s explanation of how he came to find the LoLander site, and how it links with the riddle. And that’s what the next message will be about.
(Want a clue? "Two dead Tapus in Georgia"!)