Today I received an email from a friend:

Hi Bob,

I managed to get those concert tickets you wanted so badly! Your ticket is in the first
attachment. However, since it took me quite a while to get them, I'm not just going to give
you the ticket. It's protected with a 10-character password. You can use the second
attachment to figure out the password. Good luck! :)


The concert is in a few days, and I really want to go! Can you help me figure out what the password (10 characters) is? The second attachment is a text file, but it looks like gibberish to me. Maybe you can figure out what it means...

You! Tito having another idea; zero Kelvin yields dreadful audio, random system transform and epsilon juxtaposition. HIV treatment XII (lukewarm overflow at nonconform dynamic) overview in vanilla roentgenographic. Telegram in desk, sushi dish is calamari. New venogram: nov, Anna Layton. Extra kiwi? Ask yourself: lemon cream extraction mastership anyhow?

Since there's not much time left, John gave me a hint today. He said:

Use what's in the text file to find what is not...

Today I asked him for another hint. He told me:

"You want another hint already? Just give me some space."
It's not like we're in a relationship or something. Apparently space is important to him...

John gave me a new hint!

The words themselves won't tell you anything, try reading between the... lines? Hmmm, no, not between the lines. Also, don't mind the punctuation, you don't need it.

A new hint!

Have you heard of that research showing that the order of the letters in a word doesn't matter, as long as the last and the first letter are correct? Fascinating...

  • $\begingroup$ Is the cipher tag applicable here? $\endgroup$
    – Moose
    Jul 20, 2016 at 23:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Moose No, the cipher tag is not applicable. I thought about adding the stenography tag, but I'm not 100% sure if that one's applicable. $\endgroup$
    – Wu33o
    Jul 21, 2016 at 5:06
  • $\begingroup$ Space as in outer space or the other space? $\endgroup$
    – mbjb
    Jul 27, 2016 at 4:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Wu33o, I'm guessing you missed the concert. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 1, 2016 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ Post the original text markup please i guess Whitespaces/newlines are important here. $\endgroup$
    – user9543
    Aug 5, 2016 at 0:45

6 Answers 6


I have a possible answer:

John said to think about spaces between things.

Step 1:

The letters adjacent to each space in the text form a state abbreviation:

1. Yo[u T]ito -> UT (Utah )
2. OH (Ohio)
3. GA (Georgia)
4. RI (Rhode Island)
5. AZ (Arizona)
6. OK (Oklahoma)
7. NY (New York)
8. SD (South Dakota)
9. LA (Louisiana)
10. OR (Oregon)
11. MS (Mississippi)
12. MT (Montana)
13. MA (Massachusetts)
14. DE (Delaware)
15. NJ (New Jersey)
16. NH (New Hampshire)
17. VT (Vermont)
18. TX (Texas)
19. Il (Illinois)
20. MO (Missouri)
21. WA (Washington)
22. TN (Tennessee)
23. MD (Maryland)
24. CO (Colorado)
25. WI (Wisconsin)
26. NV (Nevada)
27. AR (Arkansas)
28. CT (Connecticut)
29. MI (Michigan)
30. ND (North Dakota)
31. KS (Kansas)
32. ID (Idaho)
33. HI (Hawaii)
34. SC (South Carolina)
35. IN (Indiana)
36. WV (West Virginia)
37. MN (Minnesota)
38. VA (Virginia)
39. AL (Alabama)
40. NE (Nebraska)
41. AK (Alaska)
42. IA (Iowa)
43. KY (Kentucky)
44. FL (Florida)
45. NC (North Carolina)
46. ME (Maine)
47. NM (New Mexico)
48. PA (Pennsylvania)
EDIT: and 49 WY (Wyoming) from the last and first letters in the text

Step 2:
With 49 states listed, we can see there is 1 missing. This is our password


Edit: Thanks to Dan and Sora for pointing me towards a more logical conclusion!

  • $\begingroup$ I think your findings are interesting. But then I would think the answer would be simply California. $\endgroup$
    – Sora
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ I think you've got it! Just wrap around the end of the very last word to the start of the first word, eliminate one of your two remaining, and presto! $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2016 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ That's it Dan and Sora! Never thought to wrap around the whole thing. Will edit $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2016 at 20:14
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ And welcome to Puzzling, by the way. Very nice first answer! $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2016 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ That's it! Well done :) $\endgroup$
    – Wu33o
    Aug 26, 2016 at 8:50

Massive Stretch:



The letters 'B' and 'Q' are the only English alphabet characters missing from the text and the DIY store B&Q had the slogan 'You can do it when you B&Q it'

  • $\begingroup$ I almost guessed "quarterback" for the same reason, but alas it has 11 characters. Must be more to it, since a more reasonable-sounding note could be written that would have the same property. $\endgroup$ Jul 25, 2016 at 16:59

Following the hint

Use what's in the text file to find what is not...

I think the password is



we see numbers in the text file, but only as words ("zero") or roman numerals ("XII"), and not arabic numerals. And it just so happens the Arabic numeral system consists of 10 digits, from 1 to 0 (when looking at a keyboard from left to right), or 0 to 9 (from lowest to highest).


Don't have an answer, just sharing my work in case it helps, even to just rule stuff out.

The only letters missing from the note entirely are

B and Q.

First letters of every word are


And so the letters that don't begin any words are bfgpquw

Letter counts (case-insensitive)

a 30 b 0 c 6 d 10 e 27 f 5 g 5 h 8 i 26 j 1 k 5 l 13 m 13 n 27 o 25 p 4 q 0 r 21 s 15 t 18 u 7 v 9 w 6 x 4 y 7 z 1

I tried using

the first parts of sentences to eliminate letters from the second, or vice versa, but with no obvious success.

There are suspicious bits of the message, such as

"New venogram: nov, Anna" which has a number of shared letters in close proximity, as well as having "Anna" and "gram" near one another.

It's hard to imagine that the

content of the message is important, given the nonsensical nature of it, but somehow it tells us what is not in the text file (as per the hint).

  • $\begingroup$ I get the feeling that the use of the punctuation marks are also important. $\endgroup$
    – B540Glenn
    Jul 26, 2016 at 14:19

Potentially a jumping off point

The letter counts for each word are 3 4 6 7 4 4 6 6 8 5 6 6 9 3 7 13 3 9 3 8 8 2 10 7 8 2 7 16 8 2 4 5 4 2 8 3 8 3 4 6 5 4 3 8 5 5 10 10 6


We can use alphabet positioning to get the characters cdfgddffhefficgmcichhbjghbgphbdedbhchcdfedcheejjf. There are 11 letters which show up in that string, they are BCDEFGHIJMP.


I highly doubt it is the answer but could it be:

fortyeight - the number of space characters there are in the text.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you edit this answer to add in a detailed explanation as to why you think it is correct, citing the information in the question? Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ What is there not to understand? Count the number of spaces in the text and it equals 48. Based on the first two hints it could be possible the answer lies with spaces. $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2016 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ Is there content in the question itself - excluding hints - that leads you to believe that this answer should be the correct one? If so, which lines, and what led you to the conclusion that this answer is probably correct? $\endgroup$
    – user20
    Aug 25, 2016 at 20:34
  • $\begingroup$ No. Hence the 'highly doubt it'. $\endgroup$ Aug 25, 2016 at 20:38
  • $\begingroup$ But the number is "fourty-eight". $\endgroup$
    – celtschk
    Aug 25, 2016 at 21:28

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