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Judge Creates Own Da Vinci Code 463

Posted by Zonk
from the judges-with-a-sense-of-humor dept.
xmedar writes "The BBC is reporting that the judge who presided over the recent Da Vinci Code plagiarism case used steganography to embed his own code in the judgment using italic text in random places throughout the text. The full text of the code reads 'smithcodeJaeiextostpsacgreamqwfkadpmqz' if you want to have a go at cracking it." From the article: "Although he would not be drawn on his code and its meaning, Mr Justice Smith said he would probably confirm it if someone cracked it, which was 'not a difficult thing to do'. In March, he presided over a High Court case brought by authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh, who claimed Dan Brown plagiarized their own historical book for The Da Vinci Code."
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Judge Creates Own Da Vinci Code

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  • by griffjon (14945) <GriffJon&gmail,com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:27AM (#15211496) Homepage Journal
    Which only turns it into "nrvrkgbfgcfnpternzdjsxnqczdm"

    I checked double, triple and even quadruple ROT13, too! No luck!! ;)
  • by propellerhead_prime (777032) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:27AM (#15211499)
    Anybody who puts that kind of stuff in their formal documents is clearly too cool to be a judge. Anybody know where you can find info on what the italicized letters are?
    • by gormanly (134067)
      FFS, Her Majesty's Courts Service is slashdotted! [0@42 downloads]$ wget http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/images/judgmen t -files/baigent_v_rhg_0406.pdf [hmcourts-service.gov.uk] --14:30:51-- http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/images/judgment -files/baigent_v_rhg_0406.pdf [hmcourts-service.gov.uk] => `baigent_v_rhg_0406.pdf' Resolving www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk... failed: Temporary failure in name resolution.
      • by gormanly (134067)
        doh.

        FFS, Her Majesty's Courts Service is slashdotted!

        [0@42 downloads]$ wget http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/images/judgment -files/baigent_v_rhg_0406.pdf
        --14:30:51--  http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/images/judgment -files/baigent_v_rhg_0406.pdf
                   => `baigent_v_rhg_0406.pdf'
        Resolving www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk... failed: Temporary failure in name resolution.
    • by Elemenope (905108) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:40PM (#15213348)

      How about Alex Kozinski? Only judge I've seen who, just to make a point, wrote a dissenting opinion as a one-act play for the sole purpose of shaming the government into dropping their obviously stupid case. He succeeded. And, as a bonus, the play was hilarious.

  • by Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) * <whineymacfanboy@gmail.com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:28AM (#15211503) Homepage Journal
    The line in the summary "The full text of the code reads 'smithcodeJaeiextostpsacgreamqwfkadpmqz' if you want to have a go at cracking it." seems to be contradicted by the linked article
    Italicised letters in the first few pages spell out "Smithy Code", while the following pages also contain marked out letters.
    I would not have a go at cracking what's in the slashdot summary (if it's missing one letter who know's what else is wrong)

    Offtopic: For those unsure about whether Dan Brown is a fool or a genius, I offer a quote from Digital Fortress: [wikipedia.org]
    "We've got a five-tier level of defense," Jabba explained. "A primary Bastion Host, two sets of packet filtersfor FTP and X-eleven, a tunnel block, and finally a PEM-based authorization window right off the Truffle project. The outside shield that's disappearing represents the exposed host.It's practically gone. Within the hour, all five shields will follow. After that, the world pours in. Every byte of NSA data becomes public domain.
    You cannot make this stuff up :-)
    • by fatduck (961824) * on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:38AM (#15211584)
      While the five-tier defense system of the NSA computer network is well-publicized, few people know about the hidden "sixth tier" of defense run by the sysadmin superman "The Plague" It is comprised mainly of an overwhelming number of "garbage files" to muddle even the most leet hax0r. It seems quite unlikely that anyone will ever hack the Gibson.
    • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by PhilHibbs (4537)
      Oh, come on, name me one major hollywood movie with more realistic IT in it. This is mass-market fiction, if it was authentic then it would not be as successful. Dan Brown did what he had to. The only example of popular fiction that I can think of that contains a believable depiction of an IT system is Jurassic Park - the novel, not the movie.

      Having said that, I read Angels and Demons (which I think is a marginally superior novel to DVC) but seeing the liberties that he took with physics I stayed well clear
      • This is mass-market fiction, if it was authentic then it would not be as successful.

        There are plenty of examples of both hacks and decent writers being successful. As successful -- maybe there you have a point -- but the question was whether he's a genius or a dork, and the "dork" clicker on my geiger counter just went off a ton during that excerpt.

        John Grisham is putridly bad in terms of the legal setting he sets his pop schlock in, whereas Scott Turow is pretty danged good and gets his stuff close to

        • John Lecarre, especially early on, was writing his espionage thrillers based on personal experience in British Intelligence; Ian Fleming was writing pop nonsense.

          Maybe so, but it was based directly on his personal experience in British Intelligence. To claim le Carré's work is superior because of his intelligence background is nonsense. It may be superior (although that's subjective), but given Fleming's background in naval intelligence, personal experience is certainly not going to be the reason f

      • "name me one major hollywood movie with more realistic IT in it"

        ID4?
        • ID4?

          Zigactly, never heard of it.
        • OK, I now realise that ID4 means Independence Day - and therefore that you are either joking, trolling, or having some kind of episode.
          • Well, take your pick. If I wanted to REALLY mention realistic (more or less) portrayal of IT-systems in a major Hollywood-movie, I would have propably picked Matrix Reloaded. And it deserves a mention for mere 5 seconds of footage.
      • The only example of popular fiction that I can think of that contains a believable depiction of an IT system is Jurassic Park - the novel, not the movie.

        Oh yes, Michael Chricton is just the person I'd point to for realistic [everything2.com] portrayals of science in popular fiction.
      • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:3, Informative)

        by bigdavex (155746)

        oh, come on, name me one major hollywood movie with more realistic IT in it. This is mass-market fiction, if it was authentic then it would not be as successful. Dan Brown did what he had to. The only example of popular fiction that I can think of that contains a believable depiction of an IT system is Jurassic Park - the novel, not the movie.

        Jurassic Park makes up for it with stupid biology. They think they can contain the dinosaurs contained on the island by making them "lysine dependent". People are fu

      • by phong3d (61297) <jim AT inomi DOT com> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:06AM (#15211812) Homepage
        Oh, come on, name me one major hollywood movie with more realistic IT in it.

        The First Wives Club [imdb.com]. At one point in the movie, one of the characters is in her husband's office. She opens up a document in Microsoft Word and saves it to a disk.

      • Antitrust wasnt bad. At least the video of the guy working on the commandline. That honestly impressed me.

        I'd be curious to see how shows like ER or House actually compare to real medicine. I wonder if its that much a crapshoot most of the time.
        • I'd be curious to see how shows like ER or House actually compare to real medicine. I wonder if its that much a crapshoot most of the time.

          I'd bet they have some sort of consultant on staff to steer things in the approximate direction of vaguely accurate when it comes to medical matters. The thing about computers is everyone who's spent more than 20 seconds using a word processor thinks they have the whole thing licked. The writer sits down, clicks through their MS Word menus, mixes them with words they alr

        • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by good soldier svejk (571730) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:43AM (#15212130)
          I'd be curious to see how shows like ER or House actually compare to real medicine.
          I can't comment overall, but on ER I have seen a couple of very realistic portrayals of medical technologies with which I am experienced. On one episode the doctor with the limp described an ongoing beating heart valve replacement using the Cohn Cardiac Stabalizer. [jeromegroopman.com] She even credited Bill Cohn at Beth Israel in Boston with its development. In the background they showed the procedure on the monitor. The footage was Dr. Cohn's own from a procedure he performed. He also does his own editing. The others were passing references to medline and paperchase online medical reference searches. [paperchase.com]
        • by Sheriff Fatman (602092) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:00AM (#15212286) Homepage

          That's your standard Linux distro ought to include the mystical "tawgo" command. Anyone who can actually keep up with the command-line will get the joke, and it'll look just like ordinary movie computer fluff to everyone else...

          [root@fortress]$ cd /home/dr.evil/
          [root@fortress]$ tawgo "PREPARING TO COPY SECRET FILES..."
          [root@fortress]$ cp -Rf * /mnt/floppy
          [root@fortress]$ tawgo "SECRET FILES COPIED"

          [root@fortress]$ tawgo --help

          tawgo: Tell Audience What's Going On

          Usage: tawgo [option] MESSAGE

          Displays MESSAGE in big bright coloured letters, probably in some sort of futuristic animated dialog box.

          -a --animation Show cheesy animation
          -w --warning Use yellow & black warning stripes
          -s --self-destruct Initiate fake countdown sequence
          -v --voice Reads MESSAGE in a Female Computer Voice

          Use -v -s if you need Female Computer Voice counting down the seconds to our hero's impending destruction.

          [root@fortress]$ tawgo "INITIATING SATELLITE ALIGNMENT"
          [root@fortress]$ /usr/sbin/comsatctl -a --lat=324.3 --lon=213.4
          [root@fortress]$ tawgo "SATELLITE ALIGNED."
          [root@fortress]$ tawgo "BEGINNING FIRING SEQUENCE"
          [root@fortress]$ /usr/sbin/comsatctl --target 01 -n

          It'd save them a fortune on getting media companies to hack up fake OS screens in Flash as well...

          • Re: Smithy Code? (Score:3, Informative)

            by Dr. Manhattan (29720)
            That's your standard Linux distro ought to include the mystical "tawgo" command.

            tawgo: Tell Audience What's Going On

            Hey, that shouldn't be hard to whip up, using whiptail [tifr.res.in] or zenity [freshmeat.net] or something!

      • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Qzukk (229616)
        Oh, come on, name me one major hollywood movie with more realistic IT in it.

        Tron, of course ;)
    • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KE1LR (206175) <ken.hoover@gGIRA ... minus herbivore> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:44AM (#15211623) Homepage
      Too bad the book sucked, though.

          Dan Brown uses basically the same plot outline for each of the three books of his that I've read. (Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and Digital Fortress). Here it is in a nutshell:

          Egghead professor-type gets sucked into something Really Important To the World (tm) with the help of a very intelligent woman who happens to be an expert in the Really Important Thing (tm) but STILL needs him to explain everything to her anyway. While they try to make it to the end of the book they are pursued by a merciless killer who wants to bump them off before they discover the Big Secret (tm). Did I forget anything?
      • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:50AM (#15211671)
        Dan Brown uses basically the same plot outline for each of the three books of his that I've read.

        Makes one wonder why you keep on reading his books if they're all the same...
      • You have also just described the plot of Deception Point, another Dan Brown book, except the hero is actually a woman (heroine), and the geeky expert is a man baby, yeahahh (tm).
      • Did I forget anything?

        Yes. The books (at least for A&D, DVC, and DP) take place over 24 hours.

        In fact, the producer of the DVC movie originally tried to buy the rights for the TV show 24.
      • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Rude Turnip (49495)
        Just thought I'd throw this in: http://duhvincicode.com/index.php?title=Main_Page [duhvincicode.com]
      • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Terrasque (796014)
        Did I forget anything?

        You forgot that the apparent bad guy is the good guy in the end, and the helpful good non-hero character is the criminal mastermind.
        • What really bugged me about DVC was how blatently obvious that the good non-hero character was actually the bad guy. I mean as soon as our hero brought him up, it was obvious that he was the Teacher. Brown tries from then on, really hard actually, to make you doubt that conclusion, but never succeeds at it. The book really needed another possible character to play that role and maybe it wouldn't have been so obvious.
      • While I agree that Digital Fortress is far from a "Great Work". His other works, Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, and Deception Point are very good. Digital Fortress was his first published work and you can see that it's a little rough compared to the others. While they all do follow a simalar pattern that is because all his works are a part of the same genre. I don't believe it makes them a boring read. He is a great author. I've read hundreds of books and those three are some of the best.

        Just as a
      • Well, yeah.

        SPOILER WARNING
      • Re:Smithy Code? (Score:4, Informative)

        by npsimons (32752) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @12:09PM (#15212989) Homepage Journal

        Egghead professor-type gets sucked into something Really Important To the World (tm) with the help of a very intelligent woman who happens to be an expert in the Really Important Thing (tm) but STILL needs him to explain everything to her anyway. While they try to make it to the end of the book they are pursued by a merciless killer who wants to bump them off before they discover the Big Secret (tm). Did I forget anything?

        You forgot the link to the parody [ubersite.com].
    • I would not have a go at cracking what's in the slashdot summary (if it's missing one letter who know's what else is wrong)

      It is [reuters.co.uk] "smithcodeJaeiextostpsacgreamqwfkadpmqz".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:28AM (#15211507)
    What if they are markers and the character count between italics is the true code (for example)? He said it isn't difficult so the italics might suffice, but still...
  • It's "Smithy code" (Score:5, Informative)

    by Creosote (33182) * on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:28AM (#15211511) Homepage
    The first boldface italicized letters actually spell out "Smithy code"; you can see the 'y' in section A.1.3 of the ruling [hmcourts-service.gov.uk] (PDF).
  • by Mazzie (672533)
    smithcodeJaeiextostpsacgreamqwfkadpmqz = "Can't we all just get along?"
  • Media circus (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm suprised nobody seems to notice that they both are linked to the same publisher, the book has been in existence for 3 years already, so why now?, and suprise, suprise, the film is about to come out. What better than a pointless media frenzy and "cool judge" to get everyone talking about it? So transparent...
    • It's funnier than that - the plaintiffs were saddled with the legal costs of the trial ($2M) - so not only does the publisher get completely free publicity - their own authors pay for it.
  • I got it! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jpellino (202698) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:55AM (#15211721)
    d-r-i-n-k-m-o-r-e-o-v-a-l-t-i-n-e !
  • One Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @09:56AM (#15211724) Journal
    Can we get this guy on the US Supreme Court? It's gotten way too stuffy for my test. Mr Justice Peter Smith might just bring some much-needed humanity to court deliberations.
  • More Clues (Score:2, Insightful)

    From another article [timesonline.co.uk]

    Mr Justice Smith confirmed Mr Tench's suspicions when he said the pattern was "something more than a typo". The judge, who is 53 and lists some of his hobbies as reading military history and the sinking of the Titanic, said that paragraph 52 of his judgment would give readers a clue to the puzzle.

    That paragraph reads: "I have set out at some length what in my opinion is an overall analysis of HBHG [The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail]. I have done that and will do the same further in
    • by tddoog (900095) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:25AM (#15211964)
      What an asshole.

      The judge, who is 53 and lists some of his hobbies as reading military history and the sinking of the Titanic,...

      I just can't respect a person who sinks cruise liners and kills thousands as a hobby.

      That seems more like work to me:)

  • Blah, subject, blah (Score:3, Interesting)

    by caluml (551744) <<gro.mulac.erehseogmaps> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:08AM (#15211828) Homepage
    Is it just a subsbitution ciper with the letters "smithcode" being the first ones?
  • by beady (710116) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:16AM (#15211901)
    To grab single italicized letters from the document.
    As far as I can see the letter list is:

    smithycodeJaeiextostgpsacgreamqwfkadpmqzviMi
  • by dep01 (730107) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:18AM (#15211913) Homepage
    i'm pretty sure it has something to do with those numbers in Lost...
  • A Codesmith Exists (Score:5, Interesting)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:20AM (#15211928)
    smithcodeJaeiextostpsacgreamqwfkadpmqz

    Reverse the first part to get 'codesmith' and take away the word 'a' & 'exists' from the next few letters
    This leaves you with 'Jaeotpcgream' which you will use later.
    Take letters on the keyboard next to 'qwfkadpmqz' to get 'asriseonas' which is then combined with 'Jaeotpcgream' to form 'jaeotpcgreamasriseonas'
    You take out the words 'to raise a scam' then throw away the rest of the letters.

    These words are then rearranged to form the sentence:
    'A codesmith exists to raise a scam.'
  • Well there are two q's and no u's so I don't think it's a simple jumble. Also, I wonder what the significance of the capitalized J is. If it were just a matter of rearranging the letters then the J would either be the first letter of the phrase, or a name; but what would a capital letter signify amongst lower case letters?

    Maybe it could still be a jumble with odd words like 'qasida' and 'qere'. Maybe it's a simple substitution cypher where each letter points to another, and a J represents the same letter as

  • by Kinthelt (96845) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @10:31AM (#15212017) Homepage
    Well, using "SMITHCODE" as the key to a Vigenere cipher, I managed to get a partial decryption:

    ISALQRAPPXGSJZPQNIYKXRTBBJMH

    As you can plainly see, the first three words are: "Is All Crap"
  • S o this is what al l these judges do in their free time. It was my impression th a t they sh oul d be more intrested in the case, n o t working on secre t codes.
  • Clue? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by darthservo (942083) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @11:52AM (#15212827)
    I have set out at some length what in my opinion is an overall analysis of HBHG [The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail]. I have done that and will do the same further in this judgment in respect of DVC [The Da Vinci Code] because that is essential in my view to deciding this case. The paragraph ended: "The key to solving the conundrum posed by this judgment is in reading HBHG and DVC."

    I don't know if this is useful or helpful, but I noticed that the character sequence past smith(y)code has the same number of characters from the phrase to abbreviate both books:

    Jaeiextostpsacgreamqwfkadpmqz

    HolyBloodHolyGrai lDaVinciCode

  • by robpoe (578975) on Thursday April 27, 2006 @01:06PM (#15213643)
    I'll bet the NSA already analyzed the code .. just call them and ask for the decryption for i(NO CARRIER)

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