Case Study: Hiding Information In a List

Do you wonder what David Letterman is really doing each evening with
his top ten list? Do you think the Top 40 is manipulated? This software
lets you hide your own message in a list.

If you have a Java-enabled browser, then an applet will start up below.

Here are instructions for using it:

  1. Choose a password. Only people with the password will be
    able to get the message.
  2. Write your message. This version only sends upper-case
    letters to reduce the complexity of the message.
  3. Add your list. The software begins with some disco songs,
    but you can make your own list. You can add your own. Put one
    list item on each line. Don't hit return or you'll split an item into two
    parts that might be resorted. 
  4. Press encode.
  5. The list will now be resorted. The new order hides your
    message. If you're curious, the software converted your message into a big
    integer that's you can see. Then, it used this information to choose one
    of the n! different ways to arrange n items.
  6. Cut and paste the result into a message to your friend.
  7. To decode, make sure to copy the list exactly. Any typographic
    error can scramble it. 
  8. Type in the same password.
  9. Press decode. The message should appear in the message

Your browser doesn't recognize Java applets. Get one that does.

Please let me know if you make any changes. I'll be glad to roll
good ideas into the source tree. Write me,, if you have trouble. 

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