April 1st 2014, Followup

It’s been almost too long for this blog post to arrive here after the April Fools quiz this year. Thanks to everyone who participated!

The first ten people who completed the challenges are, in descending order of aprilness:

(times are listed in UTC)

  1. 2014-04-02T18:25:17 booto
  2. 2014-04-02T23:36:53 Fuchs *

  3. 2014-04-03T00:29:29 furry
  4. 2014-04-03T01:34:18 mniip
  5. 2014-04-03T09:41:38 jojo
  6. 2014-04-03T16:29:51 redi
  7. 2014-04-03T18:57:21 BlueShark
  8. 2014-04-04T15:33:24 larinadavid
  9. 2014-04-04T22:27:20 Omniflux
  10. 2014-04-04T23:02:19 apoc
  11. 2014-04-04T23:13:02 thommey

(*) user opted out of any prizes
There were 25 additional nicks who completed the quiz and made it to the winner’s circle but weren’t fast enough to place in the top 10.

The prizes were cloaks for those in the top-10. In addition to the top-10 cloaks everyone else who finished the challenge that ‘opted-in’ were eligible for the cloak lottery. This was a lottery for 3 runnerup cloaks.

Out of the 25 additional people that completed the challenge, the following 3 won a cloak through the cloak lottery:

  • skasturi
  • danielg4
  • jojoa1997

Here are the riddles and their solutions, in the original order:

  • Level 0
    • The clue was given in the April 1st blog post: IyMjI3hrY2Q=
    • That is the string "####xkcd" encoded using base64.
    • The answer: ####xkcd, which was the first channel in the quiz.
  • Level 1
    • Clue: Tnl2cHItbmFxLU9iby1qbnl4LXZhZ2Itbi1vbmU=
    • This is a rot13‘ed and base64’ed string.
    • In Python: "Tnl2cHItbmFxLU9iby1qbnl4LXZhZ2Itbi1vbmU=".decode('base64').decode('rot13')
    • The answer: ####Alice-and-Bob-walk-into-a-bar
  • Level 2
    • Clue: MKWkpKMa
    • This is another string that is encoded with a series of base64 and rot13 transformations.
    • In Python: "MKWkpKMa".decode('rot13').decode('base64').decode('rot13')
    • The answer: ####reddit
  • Level 3
    • Clue: SHg5RkR4SUpIeHFGSnlXVUlJSVFJeHFKCg== | Save this for a later level: https://i.imgur.com/87cX9y4.jpg | 4 decodes needed
    • Yet another string encoded with a series of base64 and rot13 transformations.
    • In Python: "SHg5RkR4SUpIeHFGSnlXVUlJSVFJeHFKCg==".decode('base64').decode('rot13').decode('base64').decode('rot13')
    • Contestants were expected to do a web search for this and find out it is the end of the Zodiac Killer’s infamous message.
    • The answer: ####zodiac
  • Level 4
    • Clue: https://i.imgur.com/x4nejBh.png | LaTeX right direction | Google! | No maths needed
    • The topic changed several times as contestants seemed pretty stumped on this level, the topic line above was its final form.
    • The answer: ####exner – this was expected from figuring out what the equation is. Simply put, the equation in the image is Exner’s Equation.
  • Level 5
  • Level 6
    • Clue: https://www.dropbox.com/s/emz7xy3p9r2ivxe/wat.unknown (verify the file, sha256sum: 0efade1bb29d1b7fdd65e5612159e262cbd41a2e27ed89a0144701a5556da68f)
    • This file is more stenography:
      • Use ‘file‘ to determine what the file type is.
      • Un-7zip the .unknown file
      • Base64 decode the output
      • Use ‘file’ to determine that the output is a .jpg
      • Unzip the .jpg
      • Untar two.tar.gz
      • Open the surprised.txt file.
    • The content of surprised.txt is: ####ImSoMetaEvenThisAcronym
    • The answer: ####ImSoMetaEvenThisAcronym
  • Level 7
    • Clue: AQwPfPN1ZBXNfvNj4bPmVR4fVQYPfPNlZBXNfvNkAP4jZhXNflOS and “Da Vinci” | Jules Verne | s/.02/.03/ in the decrypted text
    • The clue is base64’ed and rot13’ed. To decode it in Python: print "AQwPfPN1ZBXNfvNj4bPmVR4fVQYPfPNlZBXNfvNkAP4jZhXNflOS".decode('rot13').decode('base64')
    • This yields: 48° 50′ 0″ N, 2° 20′ 14.02″ E
    • These are GPS coordinates for the Paris meridian.
    • From this and the “Da Vinci” clue contestants were expected to find the Wikipedia page about the Rose Line.
    • The specific quote that contestants were suppose to find:
      "Dan Brown simply invented the 'Rose Line' linking Rosslyn and Glastonbury. The name 'Roslin' definitely does not derive from any 'hallowed Rose Line'. It has nothing to do with a 'Rose Bloodline' or a 'Rose Line meridian'. There are many medieval spellings of 'Rosslyn'. 'Roslin' is certainly not the 'original spelling': it is now the most common spelling for the village."[18]


    • The “Jules Verne” clue is suppose to reaffirm to contestants that they were on the right track:
      The competition between the Paris and Greenwich meridians is a plot element in Jules Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea", published just before the international decision in favor of the British one.


    • The answer: ####roslin
  • Level 8
  • Level 9
    • Clue: ZCLVLLCOIUTKKJSCEKHHHSMKTOOPBA | OGUCSSGAPVGVLUMBTVOGICUNJDHSTB | RUTJJGNXUNTY | Letters that would repeat in a typical word do not repeat in the key(s), example ‘freenode’ would be ‘frenod’ | https://i.imgur.com/pGIBjEE.png | http://is.gd/TgNsvm
    • Alright this one is really really really tricky. The topic changed several times.
    • The three strings are encoded with Four-square from the previous level with the same keys.
    • Contestants were expected to use ‘UVB’ and ‘RUSSIA’ as keys for the Four-square cipher.
    • It was expected that contestants arrive at ‘UVB’ from the channel name, ####POVAROVOSOLNECHNOGORSKRUSSIA
    • The former transmitter[27] was located near Povarovo, Russia[28] at 56°5′0″N 37°6′37″E which is about halfway between Zelenograd and Solnechnogorsk and 40 kilometres (25 mi) northwest of Moscow, near the village of Lozhki.


    • The is.gd link points to a file that has the “No Q” image from a previous level hidden in it.
    • The “RUTJJGNXUNTY” decrypts to AaronHSwartz
    • The answer: ####AaronHSwartz
  • Level 10
    • Originally this channel (####AaronHSwartz) was suppose to be the winner’s circle, however due to too many people leaking answers and channel names, one more challenge was added.
    • Same cipher as before, this time the keys were ‘DEMAND’ and ‘PROGRESS’
    • Demand Progress is an Internet activist-related organization specializing in petitions to help gain traction for legal movements against Internet censorship and related subjects, started by Aaron Swartz, source.
    • RMS is Richard Matthew Stallman, and ‘Join Us Now and Share the Software’ is an openly licensed song by Richard Stallman.

The topic in ####JOINUSNOWANDSHARETHESOFTWAREWRITTENBYRMS was: Congratulations on solving the freenode’s April Fools 2014 Crypto Challenge | Want MOAR? #ircpuzzles

Congratulations to those who participated this year!

The 25 additional people that completed the challenge:

  • 2014-04-05T04:06:53 knivey
  • 2014-04-05T10:00:12 Tordek
  • 2014-04-05T15:40:50 jacob1 *
  • 2014-04-05T15:48:48 stac
  • 2014-04-05T16:24:01 Changaco *
  • 2014-04-05T17:30:01 Arch-TK *
  • 2014-04-05T17:35:05 ar *
  • 2014-04-05T18:16:20 Weetos *
  • 2014-04-05T18:38:39 nyuszika7h
  • 2014-04-05T18:56:26 vi[NLR]
  • 2014-04-05T19:06:38 tkd *
  • 2014-04-05T21:54:56 Chiyo
  • 2014-04-05T22:46:01 slidercrank
  • 2014-04-05T22:54:10 jojoa1997
  • 2014-04-06T00:55:51 Pixelz *
  • 2014-04-06T02:53:25 Transfusion
  • 2014-04-06T02:58:15 DonkeyHotei
  • 2014-04-06T03:04:01 sdamashek *
  • 2014-04-06T03:07:49 Cypi *
  • 2014-04-06T03:36:03 FXOR
  • 2014-04-06T13:44:35 pad
  • 2014-04-06T19:22:06 skasturi
  • 2014-04-06T19:37:13 Bloodhound
  • 2014-04-07T08:16:22 molly *
  • 2014-04-07T14:42:32 Bijan-E

(*) user opted out of the cloak lottery


UPDATE: This was of course an April Fool… you can “/msg nickserv set property GOOGLE+” to remove the property from your account. There might still be other secrets within the message though…


Edit: Previous versions of the post contained an incorrect NickServ command. We have corrected this and apologise for the inconvenience.

April 1st 2013, the aftermath

It’s been a little more than a week since we started our April Fools quiz this year; thanks to everybody who participated.

The first ten people who completed all three tracks are, in descending order of aprilness:

  • jojo
  • homerj
  • AndrewF
  • stereo`
  • ditzydoo
  • talisein
  • nebkat
  • timgoh0
  • Aster
  • PyroPeter


Here are the riddles and their solutions, in the original order:


  1. ###>++++++++++ [>++++++++++>+++++++++++>+++++++++++>+++++++++++>++++++++++><<<<<<-] >+>++>++++>+>+++> <<<<<< >.>.>.>.>.
    • This was brainfuck code, writing eprog to stdout
    • ###eprog
  2. #####9466848004102444800
    • This was a range between two unix timestamps, from 1.1.2000 until 1.1.2100 (midnight)
    • #####century
  3. ##### 277453665
    • This level was slightly harder, on a phone keyboard (according to TU-T E.161) writing with these numbers spelled aprilfool (with some guessing or T9)
    • #####aprilfool
  4. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHg5SJYRHA0
    • The beloved Rick Roll video. This was a joke idea, the channel ########gotyou was actually hidden as a channel forward (mode +f)
    • ########gotyou
    • Similar to last years keyboard riddle, you had to connect the airports on a map which formed the letters I W I N.
      • Bogota to Boston: I
      • Seattle to Phoenix to Denver to Dallas to Saint Paul: W
      • Cape Town to Oslo: I
      • Santiago to Boston to Cape Town to Stockholm: N
    • ######iwin

The topic in ######iwin was: Congratulations, you finished the misc track. Here, have a puzzle piece: It’s dangerous to go alone! Take this! ###the. Make sure to also play the other quiz tracks!


The list number references the level number of the listed question.

  1. What does Dorothy wish she was on the other side of?
    • ##rainbow
    • Referencing: Dorothy from the The Wizard of Oz sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
  2. What is the first thing Rick Astley will never give up?
    • ##you
    • Referencing: Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley.
    • Source
  3. This person can’t touch “this.”
    • ##mchammer
    • Referencing: U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer.
  4. This old song leaves many people wondering what the writers had wrote it about. Most people think the song is about drugs, however the group has said in interviews that it didn’t really have any meaning at all.
    • ##hotelcalifornia
    • Referencing: Hotel California by the Eagles.
    • Source
  5. This 1975 classic is fairly self-explanatory.
    • ##bohemianrhapsody
    • Referencing: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
  6. The main character, a kid, in this classic music video was mocked for being “this”.
    • ##poet
    • Referencing: Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd, specifically Part 1.
    • This question seemed to trip up the most people, as it was the most vague question.
  7. We reminisces about the good ole days of when those popular in music were radio stars.
    • ##buggles
    • Referencing: Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles.
    • This was the official answer for Level 8, however, as someone pointed out the official name of the band is “The Buggles.”
  8. Michael Jackson’s most popular song predicts this future event that is popular on the Internet as an event worth preparing for.
    • ##zombieapocalypse
    • Referencing: Thriller by Michael Jackson.
    • This one was a tad tricky as the answer was not in the lyrics of the song.
  9. This 80’s song was very controversial when it came out, offending several people, including average working people. It is often censored on the radio when played.
    • ##moneyfornothing
    • Referencing: Money For Nothing by Dire Straits.
    • More about the controversy.
  10. The most popular guitar riff is from the beginning of this group’s most popular song.
    • ##deeppurple
    • Referencing: Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple.
  11. This band was the first band to have three consecutive multi-platinum albums.
    • ##styx
    • Referencing: The Grand Illusion, Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone, and Paradise Theatre. These albums have been certified Multi-Platinum by the RIAA.

The /topic in ##styx was: Congratulations! | You have answered all the music trivia correctly. | Make you to play the other quizzes and you’ll need this for later, ###best


The list number references the level number of the listed question.

  1. Blog post of ##bhggbyhapu
    • This is a simple ROT13 cipher
    • where AtoN, BtoO, CtoP, etc.
    • python -c “print ‘bhggbyhapu’.decode(‘rot13’)”
    • The answer is: ##outtolunch
  2. pTShnJAmo3W0
    • This is base64 encoded then ROT13’ed.
    • python -c “print ‘pTShnJAmo3W0’.decode(‘rot13’).decode(‘base64’)”
    • The answer is: ##panicsort
  3. http://i.imgur.com/AArVy5H.png
  4. QOZTMLUVG IPAJGECYZ | Don’t forget to nT92MKV= | orange
    • nT92MKV=
      • This is the same as the previous level, rot13’ed and then base64’ed.
      • python -c “‘nT92MKV=’.decode(‘rot13’).decode(‘base64’)”
      • hover
    • If you hover over the comic on https://xkcd.com/944/ you’ll see:
      • After exhausting the OED, we started numbering them. When overlapping hurricanes formed at all points on the Earth’s surface, and our scheme was foiled by Cantor diagonalization, we just decided to name them all “Steve”. Your local forecast tomorrow is “Steve”. Good luck.
        • This next step is a bit of a leap, but we expected you to search for key phrases in the string. You should end up on Cantor’s diagonal argument on wikipedia. From here you’ll see some description of it. We want the most popular example of Cantor’s diagonal argument, which is Russell’s Paradox. (Can a set of all sets contain itself?)
    • The answer is ##russell’sparadox
  5. http://git.io/Y60F5g | 936 | UHG | NZCBXBXUSXDBXIWZWMMLLVLHM | WEQ | I’m So Meta Even This Acronym | freenode | 12 | ♥
    • The /topic changed a little bit during the game. This is the most recent form.
    • Hints given:
      • 2013-04-01 18:51:18 <yano> i think you should focus more on how you “cracked” the code for the last
      • 2013-04-01 18:51:32 <yano> and by code i mean, QOZTMLUVG IPAJGECYZ
      • 2013-04-01 18:52:12 <yano> UHG and WEG are pretty important
      • 2013-04-02 04:13:28 <yano> it is vigenere
      • 2013-04-02 05:42:38 <yano> one more semi-important hint: UHG | NZCBXBXUSXDBXIWZWMMLLVLHM | WEQ are each encrypted with the same KEY and method
    • The last hint pretty much gave it away for many people.
      • This is vigenère again.
      • The key is IRC ROT12-ed.
        • IRC is expected to come from the reference of I’m So Meta Even This Acronym and freenode as in an acronym of/about freenode.
        • The 12 comes from the number directly in the /topic.
        • UGH decrypts to
          • AES
        • WEQ decrypts to
          • CBC
      • Now, let’s take a break and follow a pattern from previous levels. Let’s pull up https://xkcd.com/936
        • This should be obvious given the previous pattern of XKCD being involved in these levels.
      • While viewing that you should probably download http://git.io/Y60F5g
        • wget http://git.io/Y60F5g
      • Y60F5g is encrypted with AES-256-CBC. This is provided by the previous clues.
      • The key for the encrypted file is Tr0ub4dor&3
      • openssl enc -d -aes-256-cbc -a -in Y60F5g -out Y60F5g.plaintext
      • The output of the file is: ##K&R
    • The answer to this level is ##K&R

The topic in ##K&R was: Congratulations! You have completed freenode’s crypto challenge! | Make sure to also play the other quizzes, and take this with you ###est | http://git.io/TLfWTg

With ###the and ###best and ###est you are expected to put these pieces together to find ###thebestest

Congratulations to those who have completed all the tracks and levels!

Top 10

All times listed are in UTC.

Rank Nick Time
1 jojo 2013-04-02 06:04:34
2 homerj 2013-04-02 06:14:31
3 AndrewF 2013-04-02 06:42:53
4 Stereo` 2013-04-02 06:51:42
5 ditzydoo 2013-04-02 07:20:45
6 talisein 2013-04-02 08:06:23
7 nebkat 2013-04-02 08:24:36
8 jarick 2013-04-02 09:53:51
9 Sarah 2013-04-02 10:06:50
10 PyroPeter 2013-04-02 10:55:47


Those who have completed all the levels and made it to the final channel but didn’t make it in time for the top 10:

  • alex_joni
  • CeruleanSky
  • DonkeyHotei
  • erkin
  • fsckd
  • kaneda^
  • Kent
  • luckybunny
  • Martok
  • pekuja
  • Pixelz
  • PoohBear
  • Rutix
  • shino
  • slidercrank
  • stac
  • Tordek
  • Valodim

These people were elligible for our cloak lottery, where we used a piece of code to randomly pick three people to win a cloak. Those people were: fsckd, Rutix, and stac.

Top 10 For Each Track

All times are listed in UTC.


Rank Nick time
1 Xneby 2013-03-31 20:19:19
2 Stereo` 2013-03-31 20:25:27
3 AndrewF 2013-03-31 20:31:31
4 FireFly 2013-03-31 20:36:28
5 ubuntor 2013-03-31 20:38:47
6 thommey 2013-03-31 20:40:30
7 luckybunny 2013-03-31 20:44:34
8 lastplacer 2013-03-31 20:48:33
9 Pixelz 2013-03-31 20:50:20
10 Mortomes 2013-03-31 20:51:10


Rank Nick time
1 grawity 2013-03-31 22:00:47
2 PoohBear 2013-03-31 22:32:45
3 nikis 2013-03-31 22:37:01
4 CeruleanSky 2013-03-31 22:37:32
5 ss 2013-03-31 23:31:32
6 AndrewF 2013-04-01 00:01:47
7 Kent 2013-04-01 00:05:03
8 carharttjimmy 2013-04-01 00:07:31
9 Sarah 2013-04-01 00:09:11
10 fsckd 2013-04-01 00:09:49


Rank Nick time
1 jojo 2013-04-02 03:30:13
2 homerj 2013-04-02 06:12:04
3 AndrewF 2013-04-02 06:41:25
4 Stereo` 2013-04-02 06:43:39
5 ditzydoo 2013-04-02 07:12:06
6 talisein 2013-04-02 08:05:32
7 nebkat 2013-04-02 08:21:49
8 shino 2013-04-02 09:21:46
9 jarick 2013-04-02 09:52:16
10 Sarah 2013-04-02 10:05:44