Coding Up A Coded Message

I love codes and ciphers. As a kid I loved to play with simple substitution ciphers. Since I like these sorts of applications anyway I was happy to see at post on the Visual Basic team blog called Sshhh… it’s a secret (Matt Gertz) I love the story of how Matt used a code as a seventh grader to sort of/kind of communicate his affections for a girl. I think that middle school was when I started getting interested in codes so I could communicate without anyone knowing what I was communicating. Later in life I learned how to write in mirror image (I was inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci and his notebooks) so I could keep a journal that would not be easy for others to read. But of course real codes are harder to break/read but they are also harder to actually use to encode messages. The code that Matt shows how to use is called the Vigenère method and is simple to understand and use but hard to break. A little tedious to use though. So a computer program is a natural.

Codes are natural applications for computer software because they can be so tedious to do by hand. Tedious is one of those emotions I think we’re all glad that computers don’t have. :-) Matt has some sample code and some images you can download as well as some code in the blog post itself. He really explains things well too. As someone who is always concerned about the need to teach input validation I was very pleased to see that Matt spends some time on validation code in his program. So this blog post was great in my opinion. Check it out.

 In related news, the FBI is apparently in the code education and challenge business. See the code to break on the FBI's home page at and at the code challenge page. There is an easy code at code on the FBI Kids' page.

Also there is this interesting page at PBS that includes a video. [Thanks to @higgysports who sent me that link on Twitter. I'm learning a lot on Twitter these days.]