An Act of Unintentional Puzzling?

Hey there, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers. I’ve got a question for you today:

Have you ever accidentally created a puzzle for yourself?

It could take any number of forms.

A vase you accidentally knocked over and the pieces simply won’t fit back together (until you realize one of the pieces slipped under the table).

An item left in a prominent place, meant to remind you to do something, fix something, move something, accomplish something, complete something.

A Post-it note with a quickly scratched phrase that made total sense when you scribbled it down, but now proves to be nigh-incomprehensible gibberish. (Everyone at one point or another has jotted down a phone number and later struggled to decode it. At least, everyone before the advent of smartphones.)

Gizmodo writer Brian Menegus was presented with a scenario similar to our last example when his modem stopped working. After it didn’t respond to reboots, being unplugged, or “strong language,” he ended up with a new modem after a service call.

All he needed to complete the process and rejoin the greater Internet community was to enter his log-in and password.

And therein lies the puzzle.

The password didn’t work as written. The problem was… some of those characters are a little ambiguous.

The first character could be a lowercase G or a 9. The third-to-last could be an 8, an ampersand, or a capital B. Chestnut could be one word or two. There were a litany of different possible interpretations of what was written here.

Multiple interpretations are at the heart of some visual puzzles. Long-time readers may remember the parking lot puzzle, where the solver must unravel how the numbering of spaces in this parking lot works:

The trick is simple: the numbers are upside-down.

Similarly, the wifi password employs a similar level of misdirection, although in this case, it’s quite unintentional.

As you can see from the scribblings at the bottom of the image, Menegus made a list of the possible permutations and tried them all one-by-one, a classic brute force form of puzzle-solving.

So, which version was it?

Well, after trying every combination and getting nowhere — and then resetting the modem to its factory settings — it turned out to be the most obvious one: 95-chestnut-2805.

Sadly, many of these self-made puzzles end up having frustratingly simple solutions.

Still, they do keep life interesting.

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