Saturday, June 07, 2008

How to crack a geek's combination lock

This afternoon, I tracked down my TSA-safe luggage combination locks in preparation for our trip to Washington, D.C, next week. They are a three-digit combination model with a keyhole that allows the baggage inspectors quick access. Obviously they are only to prevent the casual pickpocketer in the airport waiting line, because anyone who steals your bag will (a) be a professional thief who has the TSA key, or (b) break the lock off in the privacy of their thieves den, or (c) tale the time to figure out the combination by a systematic trial of every possible combination from 000 to 999.

Which is what I had to spend the better part of an hour doing, as I couldn't remember the combination. Obviously I picked a combination that made logical sense to me, but which one? The first 3 digits of my social security number? The last 3? My area code? I couldn't remember, and none of the obvious ones worked.

Then I tried a few combinations that a geek like me might use: 255, 007, 666.


So it was time for the combination lock equivalent of the dictionary crack. I set the dial to 000 and tried the lock. Nothing. 001. Nada, but hey, those were both binary numbers. Not 002 or 003. Zippo for 004, 005, and 006. I tried 007, even though I knew I had just tried it (just in case). As I rolled through the digits, I realized there were even more geekilicious 3 digit combinations.

000, 001, 010, 011, 100, 101, 110, and 111 are the 8 binary combinations.
007: Bond. James Bond.
069: Bill and Ted's combination.
123, 456, 789: Not quite Spaceballs, but in the spirit.
255: The number of coins required for an extra life in Super Mario Brothers.
256: Number of unique combinations in 8 bits.
666: The combination on Marcellus Wallace's briefcase in Pulp Fiction.
241: A 50% off sale.
311: Come original.
411: Directory assistance.
711: Convenience store.
911: The reason for these stupid TSA locks.
And of course all of the triple digit combos: 222, 333, 444, etc.

But none of those was mine.

What was?

The first 3 digits of my home phone number.

Which is in the 900s.

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