Snippets and Tid-bits

This is the tid-bits page, where I'll relay short ideas I've had, and others sent in.

Latest News - 28 July

Is the Riddle page a "newsgroup"?

I had a message from John on Sunday. He pointed out that the German for "Old" is "Alt". So it doesn't take much pushing to turn Old Red Cracker into , which to me sounds a lot like a newsgroup.

If you're looking around for likely URLs, don't forget to look for a news server that hosts a newsgroup called Has anybody seen one like this? It might just have an old message on it...

And if the newsgroup doesn't exist, maybe it should be set up?

18 July

All that glisters is not Oz?

Had a message several days ago (I got delayed) that amused me, from servo. He pointed out something obvious that I'd not noticed... The major metal in the Riddle helmet references is Gold. The chemical symbol for Gold is Au, which happens also to be the Internet country code for Australia (aka Oz). Should have seen that one... Maybe +ORC is hiding out somewhere down here?? ;-)

9 July

Two new +ORC candidates?

Had two messages waiting this morning, about possible +ORC sightings (they're rarer than Elvis sightings).

The first was from Blok relayed via He said:

Hey, are you aware of the fact that there is 
an hacker/cracker/IRCker with the name XORC (!)
that has a well established page?

XOrC's page is at [note: the page is moving soon]. He seems mainly interested in IRC activities, but there are H/P/V/A/C links there too. There's also a message in his Guest book asking him if he's +ORC!

I don't think there's a connection. +ORC is more secretive than that. Good observation, though.

The second was from cbd. He's tracked down a couple of pages in .se, one of which has the tag ~orc ! Here's what cbd says:

wel i have found a few html files that you might
wish you further check here are the links
this could be totaly off but it is worth a look.

The first link is It has a picture of the page owner. I don't think he's +ORC: too young, according to the evolving +ORC theory. Many of the links are broken, so you can't get at all the data.

I looked up the IP address for the site: Name: IP Address: . The site is the same address, obviously just using different port numbers.

No obvious link to the +ORC Riddle URL, although the "10.66" octet groups have some historical connotations for British history (William the Conqueror and all that). But I think that's pretty tenuous.

The second link is on the same server, but appears to have no connection with +ORC, so I've not listed it here. (No, I'm not being secretive, I just don't want to swamp an innocent ftp server in Sweden with hundreds of +ORC seekers!)

Previous stuff

Does the Riddle indicate a port number ?

I had a message from Sasben (from a non-traceable email address) suggesting that the Riddle might indicate a port number, in addition to the URL octet digits. Since the original URL does not respond to any kind of Lookup or Ping, I don't think the clue is just a port number. But we certainly should not assume that any URL is necessarily an http server. I think the Port Scanner software (see Hackmore's contribution to the Fravia site) would be valuable in sniffing out ports on suspect URLs.

Further thoughts on Horak

At the end of the main +ORC page, I mentioned that it had been suggested (I won't say by whom ;-) that +ORC might be Petr Horak. I don't think he is, but I wondered what the name "horak" meant (if anything). According to an online dictionary, the Czech word "horak" means "torch" (as in flame). Seems an appropriate metaphor for +ORC.


Playing card numbers

I had an email from Bruce, who suggested the numbers allocated to the "users" (royalty, dukes etc) might have some card-game link - such as the King (royalty) scoring 13, next down (technically the Queen) 12, and lower still 11. Might provide another option for the fifth column in the matrix!


Further thoughts on how to deconvolve the Riddle.

Think about the process of converting the Riddle URL into the true URL.

The process of solving the Riddle goes like this:

Riddle URL -----> Conversion Process -----> True URL
                  Riddle Information

In the ideal situation, we know the true URL, the conversion process and the Riddle information without any ambiguity. Obtaining the True URL is a simple mechanical process. We take the Riddle URL, apply the Riddle information to it using the conversion process, and, bingo, out pops the true URL.

[Oink, oink, there goes another pig flying past...]

In practice, all we know without ambiguity is the Riddle URL. We may also assume the existence of a True URL. The conversion process is a matter of speculation and the Riddle information is clouded with "noise".

We are given no information on the conversion process - it is a matter of pure guess work. We must deduce it from the nature of the Riddle itself. The Riddle information presumably tells us something about the conversion process, but it (probably) includes junk information that obscures both the useful information and the implicit conversion process. This additional rubbish is what I call "noise"

So what we actually have is:

Riddle URL -----> [Process?] -----> True URL
                     ^ ^
                     | |
                     | |
         Riddle Information + Noise

- where the [Process] must come from the Riddle Information (+ noise), as well as it providing the information that is actually used in the process

The noise plays two roles: the first in hiding the useful information in the Riddle, the second in obscuring what process must be used.

This makes the whole algorithm rather unstable. It is imperative to reduce the "noise" as much as we can.

This perhaps suggests where effort should be directed. We must ask of the Riddle, what bits should we ignore?

Another way to apply the Riddle matrix to the URL

I received another email from The Joker on further thoughts about the Riddle, and how to apply the "matrix" to the URL. I'd been mainly looking at using the first line to modify the first URL digit group, the second line for the second group, etc. The Joker suggested using the columns, not the rows. Thus, the first column (the metals) would apply to the first URL digit group, etc. He thinks this makes some sense, as the last column in the Riddle matrix refers to people, and the last grouping in the Riddle URL is "+ORC", also a person.

This is another useful way to look at things, which I shall explore.

Basil Isk
28 July 1997

Any comments? .

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