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The following are keys for the Countdown page.


Cipher Key # Key Puzzle Resulting URL
1 wh0isl0ki 9x9 letter grid
2 wh3r3t0g0 HTML code
4 iw4nttwinyou phone number
5 imm0rtaliz3m3 audio file
6 3akix3ozidd1b / 3scap3grav1ty 20x20 letter grid
? formula colored connect the dots


Method of discovery: Somebody named "lokivanishes" posted a hint in a forum at neowin. The content of that hint is this:

Well, I don't normally do this, but since you guys were first on the scene, here's a cypher key for you. Impressive job!

More to come....but not delivered like this. Keep your eyes on the Post.

Good luck!



<spoiler> Taking the highlighted letters (from Vanishing_Point2.jpg on the IE Blog) and shifting them gives the key wh0isl0ki.



N < R > C     I < C > O     R > D < J
^   v   ^     ^   v   v     ^   ^   ^
Q > B < L     J < N > B     I > O < S
v   ^   v     ^   v   v     v   ^   ^
B > U > S     Z > E > P     G > B > I

J > Y < D     E < M < R     D > N < B
v   ^   v     ^   v   ^     v   ^   v
Z < O < C     Y > J < N     S < R > A
^   ^   ^     v   v   v     ^   v   v
U > R < G     R < A < U     N > I > I

P < B < N     D < O > Y     S < Y > P
^   ^   v     ^   ^   ^     ^   v   v
U < J > S     H < I > H     A < O > Y
^   ^   ^     v   v   v     v   v   ^
R > D > C     U > R < S     M < I < J


This grid...

<spoiler> Ymgve at Unfiction posted:

I partially solved the Sudoku puzzle, and got the first letters. I got the idea from earlier in this thread, about the arrows being greater than/less than signs. If you completely remove the letters, and only contentrate on the greater than/lesser than, it's possible to recreate the Sudoku puzzle. When you've done that, you use the numbers in the lower right to "map" it to the puzzle.

To explain better, this is my sudoku grid after some a few tries:

592 487 613
817 563 924
643 921 875
428 156 739
135 749 286
769 238 541
256 374 198
371 895 462
984 612 357

Now, take the number in the lower right, which was 142966259 - out of the grid, I got b_og_____, and as I looked at the upper right corner, I realized that "biography" matched and had letters in all the correct sections.

Note: By 'take the number in the lower right... out of the grid', Yngve meant that for each of the 3x3 squares of the Sudoku, write down the letter that is represented by the number correspondingly indexed in '142966259'. The first 3x3 box (the upper left) has a '1' in the middle, which the original puzzle labels 'B'. The second box (to the right) has an 'I' where the '4' is, and so forth. They spell out BIOGRAPHY. Thanks to KonaMouse for explaining this. --Vraal


And this leads to a URL.



I was always smart. That was my first mistake.

My parents gave me everything: books, puzzles, games, tutors and tests. They quit their jobs and put me on game shows.

So I learned Chinese and English and Latin and Greek. I learned that music was a kind of astronomy and that pure light was infinite but invisible.

I figured out on my own that:

Pic 04.jpg

Which brought me to:

Pic 06.jpg

and the fact that small secrets govern the universe, and we approach them by vanishing. Most of all I learned to escape.

Vanishing Act

Once I realized I didn’t have to give the right answer, even when I knew it, life got easier. Without prize money to pay tutors, I got to return to regular school. I could learn what I liked, instead of what other people told me to.

My parents went back to work.

I learned the trick of sliding by: did just well enough to get into an exclusive college and then kept my head down, graduating with a GPA of exactly 3.1415. That’s harder to do than you might think.

One of my professors didn’t buy my vanishing act. He called a friend in a certain large corporation. Now I have the job of giving stuff away to the smartest people on the planet.

When the countdown hits zero, we’ll find out if you’re one of them.


Cipher Key 2

Method of discovery: Laughing Squid received a Puzzle Box Package containing the following key:

Cipher key 2.jpg

This gives us a key and resulting page...

<spoiler> Entering wh3r3t0g0 returns the following HTML fragment: </spoiler>

Html clue.png

Solving this...

<spoiler> as easy as loading in a browser and looks looks like:


...spelling out CIRCUMAMBULATION. </spoiler>

...leading to the URL...


This shows a bunch of countdown timers:

Las Vegas, Nevada

Monday, 8 January 2007, 6:30:00 pm

Los Angeles, California
Saturday, 13 January 2007, 9:00:00 am

Sydney, Austrailia
Miami, Florida
Austin, Texas
Saturday, 13 January 2007, 1:00:00 pm

Phoenix, Arizona
Saturday, 13 January 2007, 1:02:00 pm

Saturday, 20 January 2007, 4:30:00 am

Berlin, Germany
Saturday, 20 January 2007, 10:00:00 am

London, England
Saturday, 20 January 2007, 07:00:00 pm (or possibly 06:00:00 pm)

Toronto, Canada
Saturday, 20 January 2007, 4:00:00 pm

San Francisco, California
Saturday, 20 January 2007, 7:00:00 pm

Seattle, Washington
Saturday, 27 January 2007, 6:00:00 pm

(These times and locations are also on the Countdowns page for quick, direct reference.) </spoiler>

Cipher Key 4

Method of discovery: A poster at a Halo site received a mysterious Puzzle Box Package containing a grid. (See his post.)

12/23/2006: Earlier today I received a package from Microsoft containing a puzzle box, which after figuring out the puzzle and opening it, contained a small 256MB USB Key. The Key contained a video, a letter, and a cipher key, which I have attached below ... the key seems to be related to the image on the Internet Explorer blog. Anyone figure it out?

Iwant grid.png

This gives the key and resulting page...

<spoiler> Key: iw4nttwinyou

Check your sources to find



Thestandard.png </spoiler>

Further investigation shows...

<spoiler> In the source code (PIN=5813):


Calling the number and entering 5813 as the PIN:

Calling the number and entering 35813(?) as the PIN:

Note: The PIN solution is 3581. Kecihaus posted an explanation at neowin [1] ,

The capitalized letters in THe STaNDaRD,

"TH ST ND RD stands for 4TH, 1ST, 2ND and 3RD; maybe this is the order for the PIN code provided:
"DECODED" 3581"

which was later confirmed [2]


This leads to a new page...

<spoiler> "Good job! Now go to the antepenultimate directory." This leads to here:

Getting to this page means you're paying attention. Keep it up when the countdown hits zero and you could win high-end laptops, gaming computers, media centers, software, gaming consoles, media players, and games


Cipher Key 5

Method of discovery: Doug Stockwell performed cryptanalysis on the entire ciphertext, scanning through various possible decryptions. Later, an official key with the same information was discovered by Gear Live.


<spoiler> He noticed that "ortalize" was clearly visible after applying rot 13. Expanding that a bit, shows "imm0rtaliz3m3" to be a key

This leads to (mirrored here: File:1234.mp3) </spoiler>

Analyzing this file...

<spoiler> Ehsan at Unfiction discovered that a graphical mapping of the tones in the image shows that the tones form the word "FILE."

Sound-file.jpg </spoiler>

This leads to a new URL.


Here’s a riddle for you:

At the end of our journey together, I will be discovered—and I will disappear.

One person will find me at my vanishing point. I will make that person famous in a way the world has not seen before. Their name will be repeated as many times as there are stars in—

No. Let’s be more precise. That name will be repeated as many times as there are grains of sand on a beach. That’s my promise.

Your chance to be that person will start when the countdown hits zero.

In the text, my is italicized. There is a parked Go Daddy site which may or may not be in-game. </spoiler>

Cipher Key 6

This key was mailed to people on a 256MB memory stick in a silver envelope. However, apparently an error was made as it should have read "Rot -4" rather than "Rot +4" in the picture:


Result: <spoiler> Key: 3akix3ozidd1b </spoiler>

This key is not the "word" it should have been. Apparently someone realized the mistake and posted a corrected picture as lokivanishes in the Neowin forum (post was later removed):



<spoiler> Key: 3scap3grav1ty </spoiler>

However, the website will still accept both keys, and both lead to the same page:


This picture again has two errors in it (is Loki that sloppy?):

1) The numbers at the end of the second row have to be: 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1
2) The numbers at the bottom of the 11th column have to be: 2, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, 1

Solving this...

<spoiler> It looks like this is a nonogram/griddler/picross puzzle. Solving it reveals a maze. Solving the maze gives some text. This picross puzzle contains an error, so it can not be solved in it's given form. Horizontal line #2 contains the code "1,1,1,2,1,1,". The extra comma at the end presumably hints towards a missing number, and adding a 1, so the code becomes "1,1,1,1,2,1,1", allows the puzzle to be solved as below. The text states: "it was cearly over his head the monk who screwed up the transliteration samt ar-ras" (ref)


Konamouse on Unfiction points out:

Googling samt ar_ras leads to a few interesting pieces of information.

1387, from O.Fr. cenith (Fr. zénith), from M.L. cenit, senit, bungled scribal transliteration of Arabic samt "road, path," abbreviation of samt ar-ras, lit. "the way over the head." Letter -m- misread as -ni-. The M.L. word may as well be influenced by the rough agreement of the Arabic term with classical L. semita "sidetrack, side path" (notion of "thing going off to the side"), from se- "apart" + *mi-ta-, suffixed zero-grade form of PIE base *mei- "to change" (see mutable).

samt ar-ras = [Arab] the way of the head

The zenith is the point in the sky that is straight above your head. The altitude of the zenith is 90°. The opposite point is the nadir, and the horizon is midway between the two.


This leads to a URL

<spoiler> , giving:

The vanishing point is the boundary between Something and Everything; between What Is and What Can Be. Fewer than a thousand people have ever been there to see the ultimate vista. The grand prize winner will be one of them.

The race for that destiny will begin when the countdown hits zero.


Ignition Video

A new YouTube video, Ignition, was discovered. (ref) It hints pretty strongly that a key is "formula" and entering that key gives the following result:


With this, you...

<spoiler> ...connect the dots of the same color. Raiden provided this extraction of the individual color coded dots:


This leads you to a new URL


Builders build. Writers write. Dancers dance.

I disappear.

In a few weeks, I will vanish. In the meantime, my job is to find—and reward—some of the cleverest people on the planet. Every week I will leave you twelve puzzles, ranging from easy to.....well, not so easy. Solving them earns you the chance to win some unbelievable prizes.

Impress me. This has been but a small taste of what I have in store for you. The real challenge starts both online and off when the countdown hits zero and the game begins.

Remember, countdowns usually end with a launch, and this will be a lift-off like the world has never seen.