Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Li it so - lxu is khg tame pfle lue lid

codeI was looking at my old (very old) high school year book and I came across the following in the quote section:

Li it so - lxu is khg tame pfle lue lid

An obvious cipher. Amazing the author got away with it; less paranoia in those blissful pre-9/11 days. But that aside, I was intrigued as to what the message might be. I tried all the obvious stuff I could think of, some not so obvious, but couldn't crack it. The distribution of letters is roughly consistent with the distribution of letters in normal English writing, so there's no obvious signature of character translation. But I tried anyway, using character rotations from 0 to 25 characters:

0: Li it so - lxu is khg tame pfle lue lid
1: Mj ju tp - myv jt lih ubnf qgmf mvf mje
2: Nk kv uq - nzw ku mji vcog rhng nwg nkf
3: Ol lw vr - oax lv nkj wdph sioh oxh olg
4: Pm mx ws - pby mw olk xeqi tjpi pyi pmh
5: Qn ny xt - qcz nx pml yfrj ukqj qzj qni
6: Ro oz yu - rda oy qnm zgsk vlrk rak roj
7: Sp pa zv - seb pz ron ahtl wmsl sbl spk
8: Tq qb aw - tfc qa spo bium xntm tcm tql
9: Ur rc bx - ugd rb tqp cjvn youn udn urm
10: Vs sd cy - vhe sc urq dkwo zpvo veo vsn
11: Wt te dz - wif td vsr elxp aqwp wfp wto
12: Xu uf ea - xjg ue wts fmyq brxq xgq xup
13: Yv vg fb - ykh vf xut gnzr csyr yhr yvq
14: Zw wh gc - zli wg yvu hoas dtzs zis zwr
15: Ax xi hd - amj xh zwv ipbt euat ajt axs
16: By yj ie - bnk yi axw jqcu fvbu bku byt
17: Cz zk jf - col zj byx krdv gwcv clv czu
18: Da al kg - dpm ak czy lsew hxdw dmw dav
19: Eb bm lh - eqn bl daz mtfx iyex enx ebw
20: Fc cn mi - fro cm eba nugy jzfy foy fcx
21: Gd do nj - gsp dn fcb ovhz kagz gpz gdy
22: He ep ok - htq eo gdc pwia lbha hqa hez
23: If fq pl - iur fp hed qxjb mcib irb ifa
24: Jg gr qm - jvs gq ife rykc ndjc jsc jgb
25: Kh hs rn - kwt hr jgf szld oekd ktd khc


Then I combined these with one-of-n samplings. But no luck. Then I tried reversing letter order and repeating the whole process. Nada. I even tried increasing the rotation count by ±1 each letter position. Zilcho. My brother-in-law pointed out thata sentence beginning with three two-letter words is rare, so I ignored the spaces. No help.

Obviously there's an issue of gamesmanship here. With something this brief, total obfuscation is fairly trivial. So it needs to be something fairly simple. Too complex, and nobody could solve it, and what fun would that be?

I was fairly embarrassed to be unable to break the code. I used to be fairly good at this sort of thing. But I was more embarrassed because I was the one who'd written it. It was my quote.

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