A Treat for the NSA

Given the news about PRISM and the widespread monitoring of our phone calls and internet activity, I think we’re all in need of a little break. But we whose privacy has been invaded are not the only ones who have been working hard. After all, NSA agents have been working tirelessly for years to spy on our data. This post is for them, my most loyal blog readers, who’ve been here since the beginning.

Find the mathematician’s target:

Why not put those 5 zettabytes to work on a little fractal puzzle? Below are five longitude and latitude coordinates for various cities around the world, encoded in Julia set images.

If fractal math wasn’t part of your training here’s a quick primer. Each image is generated by choosing a complex constant c, which is made up of a real and imaginary component. I’ve mapped the real component to east-west coordinates (west is negative, east is positive), and the imaginary component to north-south coordinates (north is positive, south is negative). Obviously to get good images I had to scale the coordinates, but you should still be able to narrow it down to a few possibilities. After all, what’s the point of drawing a fractal in the middle of the ocean?

Here’s the quadratic Julia equation for reference:

Need a hint? Two of these pictures are cities where loyal blog readers live. One is the future birthplace of a very important human being. Another is the holy land for those who enjoy a certain childhood toy. And I’ve already given you a hint on the last one.

Now no cheating by looking up my search engine history. Besides I used an alternate search engine named after a failed version of windows, and not the one named after a Friends character.

Find the hidden message:

Here’s another puzzle for you. I’ve hidden a brief text message in this picture using steganography (you’ll have to click the link to get the actual file). Need help on the password? Well I’m sure even the NSA has diversity policies, but even with your massive computers you won’t be able to figure out infinite combinations.

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Since you probably are reading everything I write anyway, why not take a moment to express your opinion? Use the handy widget on the right side of this blog to get even more personal access to my life. And don’t forget to buy a copy of Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach, coming soon.

And speaking of shameless plugs…

As you are no doubt aware, I work in the data center industry in my day job. How’s your new million square foot data center set for UPSs? How about a PDU, Chiller or just some good old fashioned monitoring software? I promise we won’t record and analyze your data.

Happy spying!

Filed under Round-Ups

3 responses to “A Treat for the NSA”

1. Your Vulcan philosophy can’t protect you any longer, Mr. Trube. We are dispatching agents to Riverside even as I speak.

And for the love of god, if you MUST write Q/Kosh slash fiction, at least stop storing it in the Cloud. Ain’t nobody here wants to read that. Our first agent resigned after Chapter 3.

• I take it this means you cracked the steganography? And what’s up with Riverside?

• Never mind just got it. I come up with the puzzle and yet I’m forgetful. Adoy!