Creating an interactive cryptogram solver (Introduction)

Execute Interactive Solver

I’ve been a member of the ACA (American Cryptogram Association) for about a year now.  I started out solving Aristocrats and Patristocrats with pen and paper.  It was definitely a slow start as trial and error created a lot of eraser dust on my desk.  Being a programmer by trade, my brain instantly sees how I could speed up the process using computers and programming.  Now, I didn’t want to ruin the sense of accomplishment that I got when I solved my first Aristocrat by hand by making the computer just do all the work for me.  It has taken much constraint for me not to write an automatic solver.  The happy medium I found was with computer assisted solving.  Let the computer do all the tedious manual labor and let my mind work on the actual solving process and techniques.

I started writing my own interactive solver about a month after I joined the ACA and I wanted to share my experience with others.  Hopefully, someone will find this information useful or it might inspire them to delve into cryptography or programming.

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Portable Google App Engine For Windows

Update: An enhanced version of this tutorial has been published that is a lot more efficient and more powerful.

Recently, I’ve been playing with Google App Engine.   It is a neat platform and I wanted to take it around with me so I could develop anywhere. To get a portable version of Google App Engine for Windows you need to download the following:

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Python 2.6 on the eeePC

Recently, I purchased an eeePC because they were on sale and I wanted a small netbook that I could use as my primary solving computer for Cryptograms.  I’m new to Linux so starting out was a little rough.  I really wanted to get Python 2.6 running so that I could use the latest features of the language (Native SQLite support). Below are the steps I took to get everything working the way I wanted it to.

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Social Cryptogram Solving

I have recently joined the American Cryptogram Association and have been busy trying to solve the items in the November/December issue of The Cryptogram magazine.   Since I am still quite new to the world of cryptography and cryptograms, I am still building up my solving skills.

While attempting to solve a Patristocrat cryptogram, I began to wonder what processes or thoughts do other people use to solve Patristocrats?

Originally, I planned on having each person give one step in solving the below cryptogram.  After seeing some of the comments that came in so far, I actually think it would be more beneficial to have as much detail from each person as possible.  This way you can see more detail into how each person solves the same puzzle.   So if you would like to, please tell me how you would go about solving this puzzle.  You don’t have to explain from start to finish.  Mainly the idea is how to get started.  Most of the time, if you can get a little bit in then the rest starts to fall into place.

Thank you in advance for those who choose to participate. See the comments for all the great feedback!

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