Monday, November 22, 2010

SECURITY - On the Liter Side, CIA Stumped?

(click for better view)

"Clues to Stubborn Secret in C.I.A.’s Backyard" by JOHN SCHWARTZ, New York Times 11/20/2010


It is perhaps one of the C.I.A.’s most mischievous secrets.

“Kryptos,” the sculpture nestled in a courtyard of the agency’s Virginia headquarters since 1990, is a work of art with a secret code embedded in the letters that are punched into its four panels of curving copper.

“Our work is about discovery — discovering secrets,” said Toni Hiley, director of the C.I.A. Museum. “And this sculpture is full of them, and it still hasn’t given up the last of its secrets.”

Not for lack of trying. For many thousands of would-be code crackers worldwide, “Kryptos” has become an object of obsession. Dan Brown has even referred to it in his novels.

The code breakers have had some success. Three of the puzzles, 768 characters long, were solved by 1999, revealing passages — one lyrical, one obscure and one taken from history. But the fourth message of “Kryptos” — the name, in Greek, means “hidden” — has resisted the best efforts of brains and computers.

And Jim Sanborn, the sculptor who created “Kryptos” and its puzzles, is getting a bit frustrated by the wait. “I assumed the code would be cracked in a fairly short time,” he said, adding that the intrusions on his life from people who think they have solved his fourth puzzle are more than he expected.

So now, after 20 years, Mr. Sanborn is nudging the process along. He has provided The New York Times with the answers to six letters in the sculpture’s final passage. The characters that are the 64th through 69th in the final series on the sculpture read NYPVTT. When deciphered, they read BERLIN.

But there are many steps to cracking the code, and the other 91 characters and their proper order are yet to be determined.

“Having some letters where we know what they are supposed to be could be extremely valuable,” said Elonka Dunin, a computer game designer who runs the most popular “Kryptos” Web page.

Note, there is a multimedia link for a hint on the article page.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

WINXP - My Documents Folder

I was answering a question on the Computer Help Forum (sidebar) when I realized that this subject should be posted here.

This has to do with the location of your My Documents folder. Specifically if you want to move it to another hard drive. This is specially handy if your C: is getting a bit tight (full) AND you have a second hard drive (like D:) has enough free-space.

Note that this move is transparent in the use of [Start] menu, Documents. After moving your My Documents folder, the menus get you to the correct folder.

Note that for this post I will use C: and D:

Lets start with some background info. There are a set of special folders in My Documents that have a Special Folder Icon (see screenshot) like My Music or My Pictures.

There are 2 ways to move your My Documents folder:

For Multi-User system (more that one user logs on)

Any user can drag-drop their My Documents folder from C: to D:
  1. In Explorer (aka My Computer) find your My Documents folder (in C:\Documents and Settings\your-profile-name)

  2. Open another Explorer window on D:

  3. Now drag your My Documents folder from C: to D:

You SHOULD get a set of folders in D:, here's where those Special Folder Icons come in.

For user John Doe, you something like:
  • John Doe's Documents
  • John Doe's Pictures

The same happens for any other user that is logged-on and moves their My Documents folder, but with their logon name.

Single-User system

Here is how I moved the My Documents folder on my home system


  1. Created D:\My Documents

  2. COPIED the full contents of C:\Documents and Settings\my-profile-name\My Documents to D:\My Documents, DO NOT DRAG/DROP

  3. IMPORTANT - use the Registry Editor to change my Document Path (see screenshot)

  4. (click for readable view)


Regardless of which method you use, you now should test to see if it worked.
  1. Click [Start], Documents to open your My Documents folder

  2. Now find a simple file you saved before (suggest a text file) and open it

  3. Now use the File menu, Save As, and rename the file (example MyDocsPathTest.txt), save

If things went correctly, the MyDocsPathTest.txt should be in D:\My Documents but NOT in C:\....\My Documents.

At this point you can delete the contents of C:\....\My Documents, OR the entire folder. In my home system I deleted the My Documents on C:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Where I work (IT Tech) our software engineers have to transport classified code to/from customers, and using USB drives is not authorized. A solution was agreed to by a customer, one that is simple and does not require expensive software.

When I became aware of the method used I thought that this could be used by anyone who wishes to transport any data files on a CD.

Courier CD System:

The first requirement is to have a good ZIP utility (like WinZIP) that is capable of password protection of ZIPed files.

To create a Courier CD

  1. ZIP your files into a first file, and give it a filename that does not reveal what it contains

  2. Example:

  3. ZIP into a second file, with password protection

  4. Example:

  5. Now write to a CD

Why the double ZIP?

When you ZIP a set of files with a password, anyone with a ZIP utility can see the directory of the contents. They just cannot extract the files without the password. The double ZIP will allow only (in this example) to be seen.

Now you can transport the Courier CD without the worry that the files can be compromised if you loose the CD.