• Member Since 30th Oct, 2018
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debug


Just a harmless little bug in the code. An unexpected feature. A bit of entropy. I’m sure they’ll patch me soon enough.

More Blog Posts7

  • 69 weeks
    Wake Up - Buggy Code

    It’s that time of the week again, and that means another glitch chapter! Last week’s Extra Chapter Challenge has come to a close, and the reward for solving the latest chapter will be… something different. No longer will finding the hidden message in any of the earlier chapters qualify for the extra chapter challenge. But there is a new chapter with a new reward just waiting for you to get

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    0 comments · 279 views
  • 70 weeks
    Wake Up - Bug Bounty

    We’re continuing the strange and cryptic tradition of a new glitch chapter this week. And with that, again, we have the end of one contest and the beginning of another. No longer will finding the hidden message in Wake Up (the chapter) qualify for the extra chapter challenge. But don’t fear! A brand new chapter has just

    Read More

    0 comments · 316 views
  • 70 weeks
    Wake Up - The Origins of Queen's Heart

    A few of you have asked about Queen’s Heart, and whether or not I’m still continuing my work on that now that I’m working on Wake Up.

    If you haven’t read about Queen’s Heart in my previous blog post, or even if you have, here’s a more detailed explanation of what it is:

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    1 comments · 216 views
  • 71 weeks
    Wake Up - Something's Been Bugging Me

    We’re continuing the strange and cryptic tradition of a new glitch chapter this week. And with that, again, we have the end of one contest and the beginning of another. No longer will finding the hidden message in SWEET_DREAMS["are_made_of"](this); qualify for the extra chapter challenge. But don’t

    Read More

    5 comments · 473 views
  • 72 weeks
    Wake Up - A Bug in the System

    It’s been one week since the release of the first “Glitch” chapter in Wake Up. And with that comes the end to one contest and the beginning of another. No longer will finding the hidden message in *** HALT - LP0 ON FIRE *** qualify for the extra chapter challenge. But don’t fear! A brand new chapter has

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    2 comments · 520 views
Nov
10th
2018

Wake Up - A Bug in the System · 6:10pm Nov 10th, 2018

It’s been one week since the release of the first “Glitch” chapter in Wake Up. And with that comes the end to one contest and the beginning of another. No longer will finding the hidden message in *** HALT - LP0 ON FIRE *** qualify for the extra chapter challenge. But don’t fear! A brand new chapter has just been posted for you to cut your teeth on. And this one’s not nearly as easy…

So let’s recap a few things:

The Extra Chapter Challenge:
That’s right - solve the puzzle in any week’s glitch chapter and I’ll tack one whole extra chapter onto the end of the story. Imagine these chapters like “Deleted Scenes”, with the challenge winner offered the option to suggest any part of the story they’d like to revisit in their chapter. If you’re up for the challenge, load up the latest chapter - SWEET_DREAMS["are_made_of"](this); - and get cracking!

Winners - Week 1:
You’re all winners because everyone gets to see the extra chapters once they’re completed. But you owe your thanks to the following individuals for a whopping 6 extra chapters!

Writing the Glitch - Week 1:
With the conclusion of the contest each week I’ll post an explanation of how I created this puzzle. Everything below this point should be considered spoilers if you intend to figure it out yourself.

When I was first conceptualizing this story, I struggled with the idea of how to handle one of the most frequently ignored aspects of any AiE fic. The question “Why is Anon here?” or “How did Anon get here?” is almost never answered for two reasons. The first reason is that it never fits in the flow of a story, any time I’ve seen someone write that it’s usually a rambling, monolithic chapter that tries way to hard to explain something that is impossible anyway. The second reason is that it’s hard to come up with a good answer regardless of how it fits into the story.
I decided to solve both of these by taking an out-of-the-box approach, the “Glitch” chapter. These chapters take you out of the story, so they don’t have to worry about how jarring or boring it is to suddenly delve into the realm of science fiction, but they also answer the question from the other side. Not so much a “How did Anon get to Equestria?” but instead a “Why is Anon not on earth.” Of course you only get those answers if you actually decode the chapter, but even if you don’t you still walk away with the sense of “something’s not right…” which is exactly what I want.

So for this first challenge, I wanted to set the undertones of a glitchy, error-filled digital stage upon which these chapters play out. What better to do that than the transcript of a lowly data entry tech interacting with a system older than (s)he is. Of course this system errors out, and in turn it reveals its secrets to you.

Read on for instructions to solve *** HALT - LP0 ON FIRE ***.
Tools needed:

  • Hex Editor (e.g. HxD or Bless)
  • Text Editor (e.g. Notepad++ or nano)

Process:

  1. Identify hex dump in middle of chapter.
  2. Strap that into your choice of hex editor and realize that with ASCII encoding all you get is garbage. Couldn’t be that easy…
  3. Look back at the chapter and put together the hints, determining the encoding to be EBCDIC.

    1. Alternately look at my comment and realize something’s up.
    2. That last line… six sets of matched numbers. They’re all prepended by zero so… octal?
    3. Decode and match up each pair to sentence:word in that comment
    4. You end up with: Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code - EBCDIC.
  4. Decode using hex editor in EBCDIC and render to textfile in a sane encoding
  5. View in text editor to preserve linebreaks and control characters
  6. Replace the character in position 421 with “B”, determined through context (how many words match STA?LE) or sneaky mathematics (0x43 binary reversed is 0xC2 = B)
  7. Read the hidden data and become worried.

Announcing the Glitch - Week 2:
I’d also like to start writing a bit about the freshly posted glitch in these posts as well, just to set the stage as the trials get harder and the stakes get higher.
This week’s glitch chapter is unique in that it hides two secrets. One that should be fairly easy to decode, that asks a simple question with a not so simple answer. I wanted to leave something in for everyone to solve, so that whether or not you find the final answer, you still get something out of the chapter. However, the second secret is much more difficult to find. To frame the difficulty you may encounter solving it, I would like to say that it took me half an hour to solve when I was testing it, even knowing how to reach the solution. I intend for each of these challenges to be harder than the last, but I’m not yet sure how I’ll top this going forward. If you play your cards right all you should need is some clever introspection and a bit of math, but if you find yourself going down the wrong path, you’ll be stuck with challenges much more difficult. Good luck.
As a side note, I hope you guys are having fun with these. I honestly put more effort into these glitch chapters than maybe two or three story chapters put together. For this one specifically I had to dust off skills I hadn’t used since I was studying data structures at university, which was a fun challenge for me as well.

Thanks again to everyone who is reading Wake Up, and a special thanks to everyone who given me their feedback. It still blows my mind that I’ve commanded the daily attention of more than 400 different people, and I take great pride in being a small part of your busy day.

Report debug · 520 views · Story: Wake Up ·
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Comments ( 2 )

Straight up I could more then likely reattach a severed limb but this coding stuff is basically mumbo jumbo to me I probably will not be doing these anytime soon.

Holy shit, just starting the story and saw this. EBCDIC? Boy, someone is a nerd! The hexdump was already surprising, but wow I didn't expect that curve ball.

Looking forward to future glitches! Maybe I'll be able to join the solution wagon

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