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GCHQ’s Fiendish Christmas Puzzle Book for 2016 – A licence to puzzle

Last Christmas, GCHQ – the codebreaking department of the UK government – released a puzzle in the director’s Christmas card. The puzzle was a nonogram, also known as a picross and it received widespread media attention, as it was called “the world’s hardest puzzle”. Read up on it here.

Some of the best codebreakers at GCHQ have been working hard to create this year’s puzzle, as it was released in conjunction with a GCHQ puzzle book.

The first stage of the puzzle starts with the image below – a Sudoku puzzle adapted to contain 9 letters instead of numbers and a grid of famous faces. If you get stuck on the below puzzle, check this
Reddit sub for some clues. Solve the two puzzles to unlock a website address and proceed to the next stage of the competition.

gchq_puzzle_book_competition

In addition, the GCHQ puzzle book is a necessary companion to the competition and contains “ciphers and substitution codes, tests of numeracy and literacy as well as picture and music challenges.” – GCHQ.

Plus HRH Duchess of Cambridge – Kate Middleton, wrote the foreword to the book and reveals her grandmother worked at Bletchley Park during World War II. Sales of GCHQ’s puzzle book will go to a mental health charity set up by Kate, William and Harry.

Get codebreaking ASAP as this year’s competition closes on February 28th 2017.

gchq_puzzle_book

//Other Escape Room News
– Endgame: The third and final book in the Endgame series is being released on December 27th 2016.
As it stands, no one has yet claimed the prize money for the second novel, Sky Key.

– Captain America (Chris Evans) has released a competition to raise funds for charity. If you are the lucky winner, you and three friends will get flown to Boston in the US to play an escape room with him. It’s $10 USD for 100 competition entries and more information can be found on the omaze website.

– Essa 🙂

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What’s Mr Robot’s Endgame and hacking easter eggs from the tv show #MrRobot

mr_robot

Cyber security engineer by day, vigilante hacker by night.

Elliot Alderson is the lead character in the tv show Mr Robot, an expert at cyber security and dreams of saving the world. He gets persuaded by a person only known as Mr Robot to join fsociety, a small group of elite hackers who are trying to take down a mega-conglomerate called E Corp/Evil Corp.

Season 2 is currently airing on television and the writers of the show have hidden one or two easter eggs in each episode. See an IP address during an episode? Type it into a web browser and see where it goes. For example, 192.251.68.254 appeared in the first episode leading to a fake website that had been set up and there’s a full breakdown for this easter egg here. Another easter egg was a hand drawn QR code, which could be scanned and led to another website.

After each episode of Mr Robot appears on television, keen fans head over to reddit forums /r/mrRobot and /r/argSociety to discuss the latest easter eggs. This Google document lists most of the easter eggs that have appeared so far in the series.

Where do all the easter eggs lead?
Kor Adana, a writer and producer for Mr Robot mentioned in a recent article:

And there is an [final] endgame. In order to get the prize, which Adana says will be available at the end of season two, viewers will have to solve all of the Easter eggs. Even if someone has cracked 90 percent of the codes hidden within Mr. Robot, there is no way to figure out the final egg without completing all of the others. – Vulture

When Mr Robot’s Season 2 ends on September 14th September 21st now, with episode twelve – expect the release of Endgame. What will it take to find the final easter egg?

The world of Mr Robot doesn’t stop there:
Web Game: There’s a 16 bit web-based game called Endgame already on the whoIsMrRobot website. It tests puzzle solving and moral dilemmas across four different levels. If you win a level, you get a certain number of chess pieces that appear on the side of the webpage. Interesting to note, fans have only been able to get 28 out of 32 chess pieces in the game so far.

My current theory is this game is going to lead fans into the release of the final Endgame (in reference to the Vulture article above!).

Mobile App: Fans can get the app called – Mr.Robot:1.51exfiltrati0n.ipa – in the Google’s Play Store or Apple’s App Store for $2.99 USD and over a few days, players get text messages from in-game characters.

The backstory is you found a smart phone near an arcade place, on Coney Island in New York. That phone belongs to Darlene, a hacker who is going to commit a huge cybercrime and the player slowly becomes part of fsociety, the group who want to bring down E-Corp.

Telltale Games, the creators of the game have a behind-the-scenes video of how the game came together on Youtube.

Novel: The companion novel, eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt is a replica of the journal that Elliot records his thoughts in during Season 2. The book contains removable artifacts – parts of a newspaper, an envelope etc. and is released on November 1st. Join the reddit forum – /r/MrRobotRWBook.

What happened when the Season 2 trailer was released?
When Mr Robot’s Season 2 trailer was released, fans saw a phone number scrawled on the side of a cardboard box being labelled as evidence. Calling the number lead to a recorded voicemail and a short online puzzle hunt – here’s the Reddit post which details everything that went down.

In reference to the major hack near the end of Season 1, that happened on 5/09 (9th May) – the first 509 people who got to the end of the puzzle hunt and registered their details received a package from fsociety.

Thoughts
If this was done for the trailer, I’m hoping the release of Endgame at the end of Season 2 is going to be one epic online puzzle hunt.

It’s also been refreshing to see both the recent Gravity Falls ARG and Mr Robot’s current easter egg hunt and just fall down the rabbit hole for a new adventure.

And it shows that people don’t want to only watch entertainment – they want to be pulled into those worlds and play a role within them.

// Other Escape Room News
– The third Great Escape UK unconference will take place in Leeds, England on September 6th from 11am to 7pm. Check out ExExit Games’ post for further details.

Essa 🙂

Trapped: A St. Louis Room Escape Vol. 2

POP-UP EVENT
Company Name: Engima Productions
Description: Enigma Productions are running the next version of their room escape game called Trapped, after an initial run last year in November. According to their website, last time there was only a  6% success rate among participants attempting to solve the puzzles.
How long does it run for: March 26th – 30th and April 2nd – 6th 2014
Theme: Trapped: A St. Louis Room Escape Volume 2
Time to escape: 60 minutes
No. of players: 1 to 10 players
Price: $27 USD per person
Location/s: Central West End, 408 N. Euclid #200, St. Louis, MO, USA
Get Tickets: http://trapped2.brownpapertickets.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/417096151726328/
Website: http://www.stlroomescape.com/#!current-production-more/cb3i
Notes: Tickets are selling out fast. Performances Wednesday – Friday, Saturday and Sunday only.

Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch

Trapped: St. Louis