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So it's my birthday yesterday and my girlfriend comes over. We're kidding around and I asked her if she'd gotten me something good. She said: "Oh, yeah! Big time!"

Well, of course I wanted to know what it was. She went over to my computer, typed in a url and saved it to my favorites.

"I'm going to make you work for it, babe." She smiled wickedly.

There was a picture of a heart on the screen with a password prompt underneath.

Me: "You can't do that, It's my birthday!"

Her: "If you don't think I'm worth it, I can take this down and give you socks. You can use some new socks."

Me:"How am I supposed to guess the password?"

Her: "You know me," she said. "I'm a numbers girl."

Me: "Yeah, but there's like a billion numbers!"

She handed me a piece of paper.

Her: "That's why I'm giving you this clue, dummy. But think before you type. After three attempts you get locked out."

Me: "You can't be serious about this," I said.

Her: "Half serious. Maybe after you've tried twice if you're really nice and you beg really hard..."

Me: "I mean this note."

Her: "It's a clue. Try thinking. You might like it."

On one side of the paper there were a bunch of numbers and the word scrub in caps:

19011094780691053499064206410029894
SCRUB

On the other side she wrote:

Don't be such a slob, babe. Use a wipe. Dab your face. Try a cleanser, bad boy!

I may not be Mr Clean but I'm not that bad! Anyway, I tried the numbers and I tried them backwards. No luck. I have to know what's behind the password and I really don't want to beg. Can you help me?

UPDATE

My girlfriend came over today. She didn't mention the birthday thing all week.

Her: "So, it's been a week. How's it going with your present?"

She was looking all smug as if she knew I didn't get it.

Me: "I don't know why I can't figure it out."

Her: "It's because you don't listen to me when I'm talking to you. I gave you hints to help with the stuff on the paper."

Me: "I do listen. I even made notes!"

I showed her my notes for this post but I didn't tell her I put it on the Internet. I didn't think that would go over big.

Her: "Oh my God! You really did! That is soooo sweet! You're the best, babe. You do listen. I was wrong."

Things got kind of personal for a while but I had to ask about the password again.

Me:"So why can't I figure it out? Did I miss something?"

Her: "You've got everything you need in your notes. You can't figure it out because you're dumb, babe. But don't worry. You have a super smart girlfriend. As long as you don't mess that up you'll be fine."

Me: "But what's the password?"

Her: "Well, you have been really nice... But I haven't heard nearly enough begging yet."

Me: "Tell me how many digits, at least!" (Thanks, raystafarian!)

Her: "Eight, of course." She kissed me. "I'm going out to look at socks, just in case. See you!"

NOW can you help me?

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  • $\begingroup$ Please take extended discussion on this question to this chatroom. $\endgroup$ – Aza Apr 13 '16 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ Is this story real ? $\endgroup$ – user230452 Apr 16 '16 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ @user230452: It doesn't seem to be. Here is the tag wiki description for "story": "A puzzle that is dressed up as a story or a longer description of a situation." $\endgroup$ – sumelic Apr 16 '16 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ @sumelic There's more on this in the section "Design Notes" below. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 16 '16 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ @HughMeyers: Thanks for pointing that out! When I first read this question, I didn't think it was for real, but I guess some people did. I found it difficult anyway though :) $\endgroup$ – sumelic Apr 16 '16 at 22:48

10 Answers 10

35
+100
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The solution is ...

... indeed your birthday: 19950404

You had to use Hexspeak to solve this:

190 = 0xBE
10 = 0xA
47806 = 0xBABE
3499 = 0xDAB
64206 = 0xFACE
2989 = 0xBAD

This leads you from:

19011094780691053499064206410029894

to:

BE 1 A 9 BABE 9 A 5 DAB 0 FACE 4 A 0 BAD 4

If you scrub the words out, only the password is left:

19950404

So happy belated 21st birthday from my side!


One more quote:
"She's a numbers girl and she's half serious so every second word of the message is actually a number."

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  • $\begingroup$ Gotta say, I have the BEST GIRLFRIEND!! Thanks, man! $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 15 '16 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent work! $\endgroup$ – question_asker Apr 15 '16 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ Great! This was bugging me for a while. Nice to see a solution :D $\endgroup$ – stackErr Apr 15 '16 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ @HughMeyers what was in the gift? $\endgroup$ – D. Tunus Apr 16 '16 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ @D.Tanya Scroll down to "Design Notes" $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 16 '16 at 21:55
10
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Design Notes

There are a few questions that I have been asked more than once concerning this puzzle so I thought I would do a quick wrap up with composition notes. April 4th is not my birthday, I am very much a numbers guy, I don't have a girlfriend like the one in this story and my credit card number is not $pi$.

The details of the solution can be found in the accepted answer. This is a wiki answer: no rep involved, just some notes. If there is anything else regarding the puzzle you wonder about, leave a comment and I'll try to answer. Maybe do it soon because this is an unorthodox answer and as such might get deleted.

How this got put together

I was cleaning up after dinner when I started thinking about

hexadecimal numbers. As you know, you write them with the digits 0 - 9 and the letters a - f so some hexadecimal numbers are all letters.

Good enough. I thought further about the words you can spell with those letters.

Particularly, can you make a sentence with them? Technically, yes but I couldn't come up with anything cool. "Abe, be a babe. Face Dad, Ada." However, it seemed entirely feasible to make a sentence whose every other word was actually a number. I could then hide a password digits in between the decimal versions of the hex "words".

And that's all there is to the puzzle. I decided on two hints.

I would use the phrase "numbers person" to indicate that there was something numerical in the apparent text part and I would use the phrase "half serious" to indicate that it was every other word.

The framing story was a bit of an accident. I wanted a story to introduce the hints in a natural way. I though the puzzle would gain interest if there was something at stake. A birthday present seemed like a fun idea. When I though about it in the third person it sounded awkward. ("It was Joe's birthday and his girlfriend...") I decided to tell it as if it happened to me. Khale Kitha had just done a puzzle in which he answered some comments in the character of Batman's butler Alfred (great puzzle!). I liked the idea so much, I stole it. It crossed my mind that people might take it seriously but I honestly thought the puzzle would be solved in a couple of hours. Just in case, I decided to make the narrator kind of dumb, hence him entering the whole number forwards and backwards then suddenly realizing he has only one try left. I have a fair amount of rep so I figured this was a reasonable nudge. And it was only supposed to be for a few hours.

If you ever want to do something in character, you should think of the following things that entirely escaped me: how to give hints, how to tell people they have the wrong answer, and how to let people know that you are in character. Saying that three tries locks you out means the narrator cannot "try" answers to verify them.

Why was this hard?

I'm not entirely sure but I believe it had a lot to do with the way it came together as a believable story. If you believe (or even semi-believe) that these are people with lives outside of the puzzle, then whole worlds of possibilities open up. In the update section I tried to correct this and strongly suggest that everything necessary was right there on the page in the original problem statement. From my viewpoint it seemed that there were very few places to look: the conversation, the string of digits, and the weird message on the back. To my mind the message definitely sounds "off". I thought that people would start there, wonder about the words and then connect things up fairly quickly. I guess you should never underestimate the power of simplicity.

What was behind the heart????

It's a story. There was no girlfriend, no site; however, if it feels incomplete without a prize at the end then here you go:

You made it!!!
I take back everything I said about you being dumb. :-)
So, you remember how you've been asking me to do that thing I wouldn't do?
You guessed my password so now I'm giving you one in return.
If you want me to do it anytime, anywhere you just have to say:
"I'm a fluffy love bunny" without smiling and I'm all yours.
This password only works three times. ;-)
Happy birthday! I love you!
Ada

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I grumbled a bit when it was not about music :P $\endgroup$ – stackErr Apr 16 '16 at 12:14
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting! From my perspective, it seems the other way around: the question was difficult, and because of that some people started trying to look at outside possibilities and didn't trust that everything was there in the question. I definitely thought the message sounded off, and I thought it had to be combined with the digit sequence in some way by scrubbing, but I just tried doing simple substitution ciphers on it. I didn't think of hexadecimal, and I didn't catch the hint that only every other word was significant. $\endgroup$ – sumelic Apr 16 '16 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ If you wanted to make the question "easier," I think the way to go would have been to make these hints more specific or more obvious. $\endgroup$ – sumelic Apr 16 '16 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ I think this question serves as an excellent example into how you can (perhaps unintentionally) obfuscate the intended solution simply by how you frame the question, nevermind how you set it up. $\endgroup$ – SGR Apr 18 '16 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ I'm a fluffy love bunny! :/ Can I have her? $\endgroup$ – You May 7 '16 at 16:17
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Ok so I am at work but this looks sounds promising:

Reading all the clues, I thought it all related to digital audio as in Scrubbing, Cleaning, DAB (radio), "You don't listen to me".

Then I googled "socks audio" since she keeps mentioning that over and over again and found SoX: http://sox.sourceforge.net/

Did some more research and found that the DAB (radio) is encoded using the MPEG format aka .mp3 files.

I will update if I get more time at work but if someone else can continue from here...feel free to edit/add.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer can be the lead to the right answer, since Hugh is a music guy and his girlfriend is a computer girl. and I see that " Dab" is not actually a verb or an English word $\endgroup$ – Rima Hajou Apr 13 '16 at 9:30
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    $\begingroup$ Just so you know, "dab" is most definitely a verb used in (British) English. It describes the action of pressing on an object lightly, usually repeatedly. $\endgroup$ – LiamH Apr 13 '16 at 11:47
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    $\begingroup$ I would guess that music/sound is the right direction, but I am more convinced by some of the words on the back of the paper that use the letters A through G exclusively (dab, babe, face, bad). A - G are notes ("you've got everything you need in your notes"). Don't know where to go with it, though. $\endgroup$ – Daphne B Apr 14 '16 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @DaphneB I did go down that route but then A-G is only 7 letters (or 12 notes with #s), while we have 10 different numbers.I couldnt find a way to map the notes to the numbers :/ $\endgroup$ – stackErr Apr 14 '16 at 18:38
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    $\begingroup$ @DaphneB All even words on the text are valid musical notes (not only "some" of them). It does not feel like coincidence. Don't be such a slob, babe. Use a wipe. Dab your face. Try a cleanser, bad boy! $\endgroup$ – MariusSiuram Apr 15 '16 at 10:10
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Maybe if we suppose that A = 1, B =2, C=3...

  • S= 19
  • C=3
  • R=18
  • U=21
  • B=2

and if we suppose that each number of the hint has an index

-1-9-0-1-1-0-9-4-7-8-0-6-9-1-0-5-3-4-9-9-0-6-4-2-0-6-4-1-0-0-2-9-8-9-4

-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.....

Thus SCRUB will give us:

90409

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    $\begingroup$ I'm just making an assumption here, but I think that whatever word we need is probably not scrub, given the synonyms in the note. Also I'm thinking the password (whatever it is) should probably be something non-arbitrary-looking, but again, that's just an assumption. $\endgroup$ – question_asker Apr 8 '16 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ @question_asker the question is abstract and I thought that this solution is somehow good for the details given, it can be the password something personal that not anyone can solve the riddle! $\endgroup$ – Rima Hajou Apr 8 '16 at 12:16
  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't trying to disparage your answer, I just thought there may be more to it! $\endgroup$ – question_asker Apr 8 '16 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ @question_asker yes you're right , I'm also not sure about my answer, but maybe it can give anyone any hint for the true answer $\endgroup$ – Rima Hajou Apr 8 '16 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ @crybaba I'm as real as my credit card! $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 12 '16 at 13:26
3
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A long shot

"I'm giving you this clue, dummy"
Here I interpret dummy as fictitious. Meaning the clue is a lure.


"How am I supposed to guess the password?"
"You know me," she said. "I'm a numbers girl."

girl, in numbers, is 07091812, exactly 8 digits

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  • $\begingroup$ I feel like this isn't going to be the answer, but I like it a lot $\endgroup$ – question_asker Apr 12 '16 at 15:50
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    $\begingroup$ Wait, you're saying I'm not the dummy? That can't be right. Good thinking, though. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 12 '16 at 15:53
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    $\begingroup$ @stackErr She's pretty good with computers. She did the whole website and password thing. I'm the musician, though. Put a Fender in my hands and I can shred like hell. I don't go near the sound board. I leave the engineering to the propeller-heads. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 12 '16 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @HughMeyers if you could post the source code or the url to the website...maybe we can just hack in ;) $\endgroup$ – stackErr Apr 12 '16 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ Hey, I may be a bad boyfriend but I'm not that bad. Besides, I think it's kind of personal. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 12 '16 at 18:02
3
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Here's a new way to look at this. I wouldn't waste my last attempt on it unless it means something to you. Perhaps someone will help refine the idea.

Attempt #1:

30032030

Explanation:

"We're kidding around and I asked her if she'd gotten me something good. She said: "Oh, yeah! Big time!"
Big Time refers to Epoch time, the time format used by Unix computers. If you take the first ten digits of the number she gave and convert it into Epoch time, you get Sat, 30 Mar 2030 13:57:58 GMT. This is wasteful, since it only uses the first 10 digits. I've tried various ways to "scrub" the numbers to get down to a ten-digit number and come up with different dates. I don't feel strongly about any of them, though.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, that number doesn't mean anything to me. Thanks for the effort! $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 13 '16 at 15:15
3
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This might just be ridiculous, but hear me out.

There are 35 numbers.

There are 5 letters.

Lets allocate 7 numbers for each letter consecutively.

S = 1901109 C = 4780691 R = 0029894 U = 6420641 B = 0534990

On the BACK of the paper, she talks about wipe, darb etc, but doesnt Mention RUB, which could be back RUB

I know I am REACHING here.

But if we take RUB in our number mapping.

002989464206410534990

We get a lot of numbers, she said it was 8 so lets see what we can strip out.

Duplicates.

029846153 // 29846153

Obviously I have no confidence in this given it's your final try, but my spidey senses tingle about the clean mention.. specifically Clean Numbers ..

Anyway I want a GF like yours!!

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You can't have her! :-) This looks really smart but I'm not sure. Also, I think I was supposed to have at least some chance of getting it before the eight digits hint. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 13 '16 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @HughMeyers good point! Infact, that would be an excellent puzzle in itself as she says: "Eight, of course." — As if to say, you should know that already! :'| Terrifying GF! $\endgroup$ – Pogrindis Apr 13 '16 at 15:17
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I am sorry I didn't mean to say it as an answer but I have not gained enough reputation to comment. Besides it may sound too easy, but yet worth a try. Umm....what if...

S = 19
C = 3
R = 18
U = 21
B = 2

and it's 8 digits. so maybe the answer is 19318212 (?) other hints were a distraction maybe?

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, Farhan. I like your thinking but, knowing her, there has to be more to it than that. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 12 '16 at 14:36
1
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Is the password:

04042016

Explanation (read guessing):

girlfriend $\approx$ the one you're dating = date
So "I'm a numbers girl" could mean "I'm a date"
That would explain the 8 digits "of course"
A date is a bigger version of time, so "Big time"

Other observations:

The birthday was on 4/4/16 and 4*4 = 16
The update was on 4/12/16 and 4+12 = 16

None of this links to anything on the paper, but maybe it was a dummy clue as fffred says...

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, my birthday was on April 4th but she doesn't even know I posted this. No way she could predict I would post and then update on the 12th. I hope. I don't really get how this makes her a date. I need more convincing before I try this one. $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 12 '16 at 19:58
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One possible answer can be:

11965662

Based on

19011094780691053499064206410029894
Partitioning on zeros, we get a list: 19 11 9478 691 53499 642 641 29894 Since it's 8 numbers, we just have to take the first digit of each of these.

A bit too simple, but could be the answer. No idea what 'scrub' means, though.

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    $\begingroup$ I think there's more to it than this. I appreciate your help, though! $\endgroup$ – Hugh Meyers Apr 13 '16 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ @HughMeyers Just throwing around an idea, you know... $\endgroup$ – cst1992 Apr 13 '16 at 15:45

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