I recently received an email from my friend Bob Fish, he'd stumbled upon something scary, and people were watching him, I was to visit him at the beach. I've attached his email (also if you want to skip, make sure you read the important part at the end of the question). :

I have to be quick, I'm being watched.
Pool cleaning in Santa Ana, saw some strange high power tech.
Have some photos, I'll need you to ID them to confirm, but this is bad.
Meet me at our beach in 15 minutes.


I arrive, and find Bob lying on the sand, he'd tripped on a mollusc and shattered his skull. He always was clumsy.

I flipped him over and searched for the photos, but there's nothing. I hear a sound and look up to see a black vehicle speeding into the distance. I call the police, but before they arrive I notice something in his top pocket, it's just a business card but the address listed is wrong. Then it hits me, Bob is wearing sneakers... Bob never trips in sneakers! Someone killed bob...

The police said it's just an accident and wont investigate further, but I know someone killed Bob! Can you help me find out why!

Bobs business cards: Bob Fish business card front Bob Fish business card back (He used to be a c̐a̐r̐t̐o̐g̐r̐a̐p̐h̐e̐r̐, but then became a physicist, and finally decided that pool cleaning was easier)

I scanned the QR codes, but they appeared to be jibberish:

QR code 1 (always use these codes over the one in the image, the quality means some QR readers will yield different results)

ce  44  70  1d  72  df  f9  14  38  8c  82  f9  d5  ef  56  e3
cd  d4  97  34  66  b8  ad  11  3e  d9  66  5e  0b  7d  f0  a2
2a  ff  60  db  ae  5d  1e  35  5a  fa  20  e4  d4  bd  93  d4

Base 64:


QR code 2

9a  da  48  d7  5d  80  ca  a0  37  41  2b  d3  dc  07  b8  85
80  73  b0  f4  3b  f4  98  48  9f  c2  6a  44  1c  ed  fe  b8
bc  91  90  98  cf  e3  2d  19  ac  d4  0d  cc  92  9c  20  92

Base 64


Can someone tell me, what did they kill Bob to hide?

General hint 01:

Keys are lowercase, and are generally the full representation where they are found.

Daily Hint

Day 01:

Bob's the kind of guy who always knew e̐x̐a̐c̐t̐l̐y̐ ̐w̐h̐e̐r̐e̐ ̐he̐ ̐w̐a̐s̐

Day 02 (will link to day 1 until first part solved):

Bob was always good with n̐u̐m̐b̐e̐r̐s̐

Day 03 (no more till first part solved):

Three parts in the body of this question and in the previous hints are highlighted with a c̐o̐m̐b̐i̐n̐i̐n̐g̐ c̐a̐n̐d̐r̐a̐b̐i̐n̐d̐u̐ (because it looks cool), this should be all you need.

Day 04 (okay, one more hint. But this is legit the final hint for part one):

The entry point to this puzzle is the phone numbers on the card (let me know in the comments if anyone thinks this was too much of an intuitive leap to make (considering hint 3 and the highlighted sections of the main body), and I'll take note for my next puzzles to clue it in more in the main body).

Day 05:

Bob was a simple guy

Day 06 (relates to day 05 hint and general hint 01):

'What's here?', well, that would be the key ;). Sometimes the right context when you're mapping out a solution can be all it takes. Now all you need is the algorithm, I wonder where I could find that?

Day 07 (relates to 06, 05 and general 01):

Feel like you're going backwards solving this, well, you should! Start with the algorithm.

Day 08:

Opposites often reveal necessary information.

Feel free to post parts as you solve them to help others who may be trying to solve, there are roughly five parts to this puzzle, and you will know when you've solved a part.

================== !!!! IMPORTANT !!!! ==================
================== !!!! IMPORTANT !!!! ==================
Any decryption / encryption should be performed using the QR code base 64 representation in the question itself, don't use a phone scanner, the image resolution turned out pretty bad. Also, the address in the card should really be 821 SEA cct. ECB, although this shouldn't have stopped anyone from solving the puzzle, but running through it myself I did notice that (fixed in new edit)! I'd recommend using https://www.tools4noobs.com/online_tools/decrypt/, keep in mind Bob isn't stupid, he doesn't roll his own when it comes to security, he'd be using an established (but potentially outdated - he was pretty old) algorithm.

  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Alice must be devastated $\endgroup$ May 18, 2017 at 6:02
  • $\begingroup$ @BeastlyGerbil but Grace isn't ;) (don't figure out what this means if you don't want a kinda sorta hint hahha) $\endgroup$
    – Liam Daly
    May 18, 2017 at 6:04
  • $\begingroup$ Is "Bob Fish" a Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show reference? $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    May 18, 2017 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy non intentionally at-least, not sure about at a subconscious level though. $\endgroup$
    – Liam Daly
    May 18, 2017 at 6:09
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I get something different when I scan the QR codes. Anyone else? I get something starting with 0c ee a2 ed d6 48 7a dc ... for the second one. First one is also different. I used the app called "QR Reader" on an Apple device. I'm a QR noob so I don't know if that's significant. $\endgroup$
    – user33097
    May 22, 2017 at 13:57

3 Answers 3


Partial Answer

Decrypting the first QR code

with algorithm Rijndael-128 (821 SEA backwards) and key "north pacific ocean" (that's where the phone coordinates point to), we get:


  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Feedback: As puzzle-solvers, we don't expect a point in the middle of the ocean to be relevant (likely to be just a coincidence); you should have picked a recognizable landmark so we could tell we were on the right track. $\endgroup$
    – ffao
    May 25, 2017 at 1:08
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the feedback @ffao and nice work! Sorry for that too, it is a bit contrary when I think about it (by definition a point in the middle of nowhere) - It'll tie in later, but in this particular puzzle I could have reversed the puzzle and it would have solved this issue, so for next time will consider making steps more clear when solved. $\endgroup$
    – Liam Daly
    May 25, 2017 at 1:20

May 22nd 2017

More to add to Hakdo's answer.

A Cartographer is a person who makes maps. Perhaps a map of the local sea floor might reveal something. Further more, the address listed doesn't come up with anything on google maps/earth, so I think "SEA" and "Cct." Have something to do with the answer. I'm going to also convert the Q R codes into text and scan them for their links, will report back when done.

Edit 1: QR code one reads to this

"ÎDprßù8ùÕïVãÔ4f¸­>Ùf^}ð¢ÿ`Û®]5Zú äÔ½Ô"

No clue what any of this means, possibly a cypher, will do more research tomorrow. Code two will be up in a quick minute.

Edit 2:

Here's QR code number two.

"ÚH×]Ê 7A+Óܸs°ô;ôHÂjDíþ¸Ïã-¬Ô Ì "

(Note: my translations were wrong, I will correct them shortly)

Alright, thts all for tonight. I'll research maps of the area and possible cyphers tomorrow.

May 23rd 2017

Alright Lads, back to it! I'll be working on this throughout the night, and I will update this post when new info or possible leads are dug up!


The mode is ECB! The algorithm might be something to do with a sea, or ocean, such as twofish. Also, 128 is part of some algorithms, which is 821 backwards. Wait one.

May 24th

5:13pm PST

I'm trying to decode the hexadecimal, base-64, and translated hex, but nothing is appearing in the decoded text box. I'm going to try more keys, I've tried: Santa Ana, what's there, cartographer.

Will be back soon.

6:33pm PST

I took a short break and I'm back to it. Mode is still ECB, I'm trying both of the XX-128 algorithms with all the keys I can think of, and the output is still blank. I'm going to see if this is a technical issue.

Just realized that the algorithm is rijndeal!! It's being used by the AES! Also, thanks to ffao for uncovering the location! I'll work on number two!

  • $\begingroup$ nice work so far, also see my edit re the QR code scanning, possible ciphers and the question in general - might save you some time. $\endgroup$
    – Liam Daly
    May 23, 2017 at 8:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LiamDaly I used the provided hexadecimal text provided $\endgroup$
    – Bobalobdob
    May 23, 2017 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ You're getting there Bob, close now! $\endgroup$
    – Liam Daly
    May 24, 2017 at 10:29
  • $\begingroup$ the algorithm you use will be critical to your success, so I'd put your efforts behind getting this first. You were close with your 11:30 update $\endgroup$
    – Liam Daly
    May 25, 2017 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ I think part of my problem is I'm using an iPad, not a desktop. I don't think the site is running the correct scripts on ios $\endgroup$
    – Bobalobdob
    May 25, 2017 at 1:43

Incomplete answer

Hint 3 highlights cartographer, hint 4 pinpoints phone numbers. My guess for step 1 is:
Convert the phone numbers into geocoordinates.
+2(7) 957 265 -> 27.957265
15(3) 425 513 -> 153.425513
But searching 27.957265N 153.425513E on Google Maps returns a point on Pacific Ocean 1500km south-east of Japan's Chiba peninsula. Pretty sure I'm on right track though.

Edit after QR1 was cracked by ffao:

I did some mirroring around this geocoordinate, and: (still searching on Google Maps)
27.957265S 153.425513E returns a point on Main Beach of Gold Coast, New Zealand
27.957265S 153.425513W returns a point on Pacific Ocean 600km south of the Cook Islands
27.957265N 153.425513W returns a point on Pacific Ocean 800km north-east of Hawaii
But since the first phone has the plus sign and the card also has It's the positive reviews that promote us, and the negative ones that build us on the phones' side, I'm going for the Gold Coast path.

  • $\begingroup$ nice work, you've got the first part, the general hints will come in handy going forward now $\endgroup$
    – Liam Daly
    May 23, 2017 at 1:41

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