Words, huh? Sticks and stones. This was originally a dummy post in order to do some internal word press technical stuff. But I got intrigued by the nature of words hidden within words and anagrams and stuff when I saw a word within, a word that is now-a-days forbidden and glossed over but once was common currency. A bit like the English town Scunthorpe. The word within bit. Another proof needed that words can have a power? And can be deceptive too, however feint. And my mind dwelled on how much easier it would be to hide information in a message that you – anyone, not you specifically – didn’t like because of the energy of a word so thus turned away from the message. Isn’t that the root of most relationship breakdowns? Then my mind went back to a conv I had had with a friend and colleague of mine, Mark at 3Deal, about a blog post which never quite ticked the boxes. But I reproduce it here. If you have the remotest idea of what I’m on about mail me and you’ll win a prize.
Stega stega stega nog nog free
I understand there may be an elephant in the room, in the modern parlance. Better not poo on the carpet. If you don’t get it, it’s a metaphor. But you don’t – there’s really an elephant in the room – do you? But for these purposes spotting the allegory, analogy, metaphor or whatever gets the message across. If there’s something that we’d rather, in this exposition, not address then this goes out of the window, the baby with the bath water. For writers, or at least writers of fiction, allegory, metaphor, analogy – a message through allusion or plain telling not showing, all are a means of getting the message that the writer means to convey across without the reader knowing necessarily that there is a message in the text at all. Likewise with imagery. Imagery? “He put the phone down on her ‘goodbye’ knowing it was over and looked around him, startled, as all the lights went out.”
The point about the Elephant in the Room aphorism is that it does a job – it lets you know that there is something that you should address, or something that everybody knows about but is pretending that they don’t. The elephant, in cipher parlance, is hidden in plain site. The point about cryptography, well I guess there are a few, is not that you won’t know that I am communicating secretly to your wife, or the Chinese / Russians / Blofelt or my own forces in the field, but that you a/ won’t know what I’m saying or b/ it will be too difficult to find out so you’ll go and do something else. Not necessarily so with Steganography (from the Greek – ). I don’t care if you see my message because you won’t know that it is hiding something. Look all you want.
How well did that first paragraph read? Well, I hope because I’m a writer and I hope to be able to get my message across to you, the reader, without arresting you. But if it juddered a little, I accept that. Why? Because it had a job to do.
What do I mean by that?
So. Read Simon Singh’s Code book. It’s excellent, a good read, you may well go on to find out about Fermat’s Last Theorem or other stuff he has written. What’s my point? My point is there’s an elephant in the room. Cryptography is about theorems, algorithms, it’s not for the feint of heart. It’s about mathematics. But, in a funny way, Steganography doesn’t have to be – although it can be, believe me.
Every picture you see on a computer monitor is made up of pixels – no, no, don’t get excited in Ireland, not pixies, pixels. Each pixel has three colour ‘channels’, representing the primary colours red, green and blue, and a transparency channel. (How much can you see through it to the underlying image below.) By the nature of bits and bytes there are 256 (red) x 256 (green) x 256 (you guessed it, blue) x 256 (am I insulting your intelligence now? Transparency) available permutations – or is it combinations? see I told you mathematics is involved – and if I lose some of those bits and do something else with them your eye won’t notice the difference. Huh? If I have an image of 940 x 250 pixels – bear with me, am I losing you at the back? – a standard web page banner – which in term of the number of pixels to display it on your screen is 256 to the power of four times 960 times 250 (have you done the maths yet?) pixels and I alter one bit in each pixel your eye won’t know the difference but I get 245, 760, 000 bits to hide a message in. And that’s big bits.
And that isn’t rhyming slang.
Sorry, where was I? Fibonacci gets a mention in Singh’s Fermat’s last theorem. Look it up. Then use the first seven positions to come up with the word, it might be the syllable position and transpose that position for each of the first seven sentences in the first paragraph. (The par after Gx, that is.)
And if the first paragraph lost you, as a reader, and you went somewhere else, that’s ok. Even for a writer. Because it had a job to do.
A message, hidden in plain site.