Friday, November 4, 2016

cracking codes

It was a damper, I have to admit. I opted to stay in the hotel instead of exploring Tokyo again because my laptop bag's lock combination changed without me knowing how it happened! Suffice it to say that I basically had to puncture a hole through the zipper of my bag to get my phone (which contains my schedule for the day and instructions on where I was supposed to go); I couldn't get my business cards out; and I was very lucky to be staying in a hotel a few minutes' walk away from where I was supposed to go and be intelligent (I didn't have to pay train fare).

Cracking codes... I thought that this should be easy. A three-number lock has 1000 combinations. All I had to do was try all of them and finally get my bag properly opened. Right? I mean, this has happened before when I was traveling (but on my checked-in luggage) and it's the most straightforward solution. I have opened my previous bag in half an hour. No biggie. So thought that my carry-on's bag would be a piece of cake.

But no. It was definitely not a piece of cake. Apparently, my carry-on's bag's lock was a bit more sophisticated than my checked-in bag's lock. I couldn't unlock my bag throughout the day! Oh well, I thought, I'd have all evening to work on it... after dinner.

Back in the hotel, after dinner, I finally had a chance to crack the code in earnest. In the worst case scenario, I'd just bring the bag to the repair shop and have a locksmith jimmy it open. But I thought I should be able to do this. Or at least give it my best shot before taking it to the locksmith. I mean, I've solved three Mystery Manila games with teammates previously. Code-breaking should be easy. Or not. Yeah... I did mess up on a combination lock during my first successful game because I'm left-handed and I processed the instructions differently from how a right-handed person would do so.

Anyway, as I was trying to figure out how to get the right combination, I felt like I was (again) Charlize Theron's character in the Italian Job. This time, it's not because I was driving a car; rather, it was because I was in a hotel room, trying to coax a lock open, listening to the clicks of the combination lock while the telly was on... for ambient noise. Also, I tried to channel MacGyver. But the only thing I have in his repertoire of tools is a Swiss knife and a piece of thin plastic (from my phone's magnetic holder). I don't have chewing gum... haven't eaten one in decades. 

What a time to be a damsel in distress, right? But it was a puzzle to solve and I was determined to crack it.

An hour later, I finally got the combination! I still don't get the clicking because my ears aren't attuned to it. But I learned that it's all about figuring out the feel of a dial turning into the right number. 

Another life (lock-picking) skill unlocked. I wish I don't have to use it any time soon.