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This puzzle is part of the Monthly Topic Challenge #1: Restricted Title: xkcd 1xxx


I’ve been tasked with auditing a certain computer. I was advised that the owner of the computer might have deleted some evidence before handing it over. Upon inspecting the file system, I found to my relief that no files had been recently deleted, and all their contents and time stamps were intact. But I noticed something very odd: all of the file extensions had been removed. Here is the file listing of the disk:

audio/homophonescompressed.___              02:17:05
audio/homophonesrawrecording.___            03:13:00
emus/wine/system32/recyclebin.___           15:04:10
emus/wine/system32/spinninghourglass.___    19:16:07
puzzling/prooffermatslast.___               09:21:20
puzzling/theultimatechessstrategy.___       12:00:06
scripts/bash/wordmatcher.__                 22:01:00
scripts/python/anagramer.__                 11:14:00
scripts/typescript/rot13.__                 18:08:00

Who am I and what has the owner of this computer been up to?

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1 Answer 1

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Who am I and what has the owner of this computer been up to?

You are working for a fiscal authority and are trying to find evidence of tax evasion.

The file extensions ...

... can be derived from the nature of the files. They are:

    .oga: an OGG Audio file
    .wav: an uncompressed sound file
    .ico: an icon
    .ani: an animated cursor
    .tex: a TeX source file for typesetting formulas
    .pgn: the portable game notation for chess games
    .sh: a shell script
    .py: a Python script
    .ts: a typescript source file

The timestamps ...

... have the curious property that each number from 1 to 22 appears only once, either as hour, minute or second. They probably represent a kind of order. There's also a correspondence between the three letters of the file extension to the three numbers (hh:mm:ss) in the timestamp. (For the files with two-letter extensions, the seconds are zero.)

The letters from the extensions and the hh:mm:ss numbers can be seen as sequences. The first letters are O, G, A, W, A, V, …; the first numbers are 02, 17, 05, 03, 13, 00, …

Now create 22 empty slots. Put the first letter O into slot 02; put the G in slot 17 and so on. (If the number is 00, do nothing.) A message is spelled out:

HOW CAN I STOP PAYING TAXES

The answer to which is

FILE EXTENSIONS

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  • $\begingroup$ @M Oehm, Very nice, everything in your answer is exactly right. However it is missing a final step that @JLee has almost identified: what is the answer to the question you have discovered? hint: rot13(gjb jbeqf) $\endgroup$
    – cap
    Jul 14, 2022 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I see. Let me extend the answer ... $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jul 14, 2022 at 12:39
  • $\begingroup$ @MOehm, nice job. You've solved it. Sorry I made the final answer so convoluted. Mind if I make a slight edit? $\endgroup$
    – cap
    Jul 14, 2022 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ Not at all. I had an inkling that I was missing something, but I just couldn't see it. $\endgroup$
    – M Oehm
    Jul 14, 2022 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ Note that in the US at least, you must still pay your taxes on time. Filing an extension only grants you additional time to file the paperwork. $\endgroup$ Jul 14, 2022 at 19:37

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