If you’re like me, you’re often not at home when the clues from Niantic drop. And if you wait until you get home to start working on them, you miss out on the codes they lead to. True; often the codes are hidden as plain text somewhere, but Niantic has also been known to hide them by encrypting with various ciphers and that can only be figured out on a computer, right?
I ran across an app the other day called GCC – Geocache Calculator. It contains calculators for all kinds of ciphers, so I thought it might be good for trying to decipher on the road. As you can see from the screenshot, the options pretty much cover the gamut of what’s needed. Looking good and having the ciphers is all well and good, but if it doesn’t work well, that’s ultimately useless. So let’s see how well it works in action.
I tackled some ALREADY_REDEEMED codes so as to have a baseline to check accuracy and whatnot. This one was from December 4th and used the Vigenere cipher (original write up on Decode Ingress here). By tapping on the Vigenere cipher, entering the scrambled text, typing in the key, then selecting “decrypt” as the mode, we get ninedoubleugsevenconspiracyzsixxseven. Like in the original, the ‘r’ at the end would have to be brute forced. What do you know? It works!
What if we’re doing a different cipher, though? What if it’s one of the ones where we need to convert to ASCII? That’s a little trickier. The hex and ASCII converters pretty much only work on one character at a time, so the easiest way I found was to just pull up the reference chart and still do it manually.
Rotation also works, though was a bit tricky, too: one of the codes involved using ROT-21 followed by a Cesarian -5 on the numbers. If you use the ROT-X button, you’re only given a few pre-programmed choices. You have to go into Rotation and set it to 21, then type in the encrypted text. That worked and gave the code … still needing the numbers to have 5 subtracted from them. That can easily be done by hand, but it’s still worth noting that I couldn’t find a tool for that.
The above is only minor inconveniences; there are two main drawbacks I found, one of which is going to be present no matter what app you use. The matter of entering the encrypted text. You have to fight auto-complete the whole time and continually double check that you’re entering it correctly. That’s just a result of being on a phone, however; not the app itself. The other main drawback is when you’ve got the cipher solved and you want to copy it over.
No go. You can’t long-press on the result text and copy it. You need to switch between apps to enter your newly-discovered code.
Update: There is an option under menu button, to copy result!
However, I’d say it’s a very useful app, especially for the whopping price of $0.00. If it let you copy/paste your results, it’d be an excellent app.