# Encrypting your combination lock, and other neat tricks

Here’s a good one I learned the other day –

Let’s say you’ve got one of those standard spinny-dial combination locks locking up your tool shed or junior high school locker. Not the kind you set yourself, but rather the kind that comes with a pre-set combination – say, 24 - 3 - 18. Particularly if it’s a lock you rarely use, you’re almost sure to forget the combo. Some people get around this by just leaving the little combo sticker on the back of the lock. Somewhat defeats the purpose of the lock, though. Here’s a neat trick. Take a number that you will remember. It should include at least three numbers within it. Birthdays work well. You can use this as the key to encrypt your combination and then write the encrypted number on the back of the lock.

Combo: 24 - 3 - 18
Birthday: 4 / 17 / 72
Add each number together and write it on the back of the lock: 28 - 20 - 90

When you need to open the lock, just subtract your birthday. Neat, huh? Anyone else got any tricks like this?

I’ve done things like that in the past. I’d note the combination on the lock itself, but you would have to use those numbers on the diametric opposite side of the dial – basically, pretend the little red arrow was at the 6:00 position instead of the 12:00 position.

I always write the combo down, and put it in my wallet.

It’s notorious that people have a hard time remembering lock combinations, and that they like to use mnemonics based on their birthday. The “90” would be something of a giveaway, as this number is larger than the typical maximum on a lock’s dial. So it might be reasonably easy to defeat this scheme (though it sure beats leaving the sticker on the lock).

One simple trick I’ve picked up involves sandpaper: If you fold it in thirds, each smooth surface touches a rough one, so it has less tendency to slide out of shape.

I’d use my grandfather’s code, a ten-letter phrase with no repeated letters. In this case, it’s a quote, but one of the words is misspelled.

For instance, you could use “Fawlty Towers.” Eliminate the repeated letters, so you have

F = 1
A = 2
W = 3
L = 4
T = 5
Y = 6
O = 7
E = 8
R = 9
S = 0

24 - 3 - 18 thus becomes AL-W- FE. Leave out the hyphens and you have ALWFE.

I use a variation of this for four-digit PIN codes.

We all can come up with a few less-than-obvious four digit numbers that we can easily remember. Pick one and use it as a key for all of your PINs.

For example, imagine my first bank card ever had the PIN 7428, and that number is forever etched in my mind. Now, all I need to do is use no-carry addition with that number and a new PIN. To unencrypt the new PIN, just do no-borrow subtraction.

5130

2949

## PIN 3: 1401 1401 7428

8829

The three numbers I created above would be what I write on the scrap of paper in my wallet.
To “decrypt”, just reverse the process, providing a “1” wherever needed without actually borrowing.

## PIN 1: 5130 7428 -

8712

Of course, if someone ever finds out any of the real PINs, and knows the system, the others will soon follow. If they do not know any of the PINs, there is no way they could figure it out.

Huh?

I think he’s suggesting that you write your notes to yourself on sandpaper and then put them in your wallet?

Or possibly we’re witnessing the first tittilating slide into madness.

I read it as just another little neat trick (which is what I was asking for).

Sandpaper in thirds. Sweet.

I knew someone who had terrible trouble in remembering number sequences, but was great with spatial memory, so he had a little laminated card in his wallet with a dense grid of digits on it, printed in random colours - so if he forgot his PIN, he would remember that it consisted of the red digit in the third column, fifth from the top, followed by the blue digit in the ninth coloumn… (actually, I think the process in his mind wasn’t anywhere near so obtuse - it would have been ‘that one, that one, that one, then that one’)

You can use a potato to get a broken light bulb out of the socket. Make sure the power is off.

Put your kitchen sponge in the microwave for a few minutes while it is moist to sanitize it by killing the germs with heat and steam.

Dust after you vacuum instead of before so that the vacuum doesn’t spread fine dust in the air all over your furniture.

In windows, WINDOW+E opens a new windows explorer page, WINDOW+R opens the run dialog (where you can type ‘calc’ and get a calculator easily), WINDOW+D shows the desktop.

Add a little white vinegar to your droopy lettuce greens to perk them up while they are soaking in cold water.

Don’t forget to turn off the power before taking out the light bulb!

Don’t take out the light bulb without switching off the power first!!!