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#11494 - 11/29/00 09:52 AM Etaoin shrdlu  
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Ann's postings on typesetting set me off on this. It's more a challenge than anything else, but fun anyway. What is the significance of the title of my post - both to the world of typesetting, and to that of code-breaking!

cheer

the sunshine warrior


#11495 - 11/29/00 03:57 PM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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this too shall pass
"With the idea of speeding up..." research, here is Michael Quinion:
http://www.quinion.com/words/weirdwords/ww-eta1.htm

(but he only hints at the code-breaking part...)


#11496 - 11/29/00 05:15 PM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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It's the frequency distribution of the letters in English words. See Sherlock Holmes in "The Dancing Men". It may be noted that there are other lists with different arrangements.


#11497 - 11/29/00 06:09 PM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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A sophistication of the letter frequency method for cracking a simple code is provided by a knowlede of which digraphs and trigraphs appear most frequently in English, e.g. TH, HE, IN, ER, RE, AN, ON and IN; THE, AND, TIO, ATI, FOR, THA, TER and RES.



#11498 - 11/29/00 07:36 PM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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Ok, OK, I got note from shanks re this subject and sent him a private note declining to be the one to introduce it. He has more courage than I do so he brought it up.
L'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace is this Board's motto!
I have no idea about the cipher aspect, being hopeless at codes. That is all new and I will try to follow the answers on that. Good luck to me.
I ran into the phrase when my Dad first showed me a Linotype machine. Hey, I'm talking me as a toddler in the 1930s. Yes, I am an oldie.
The letters on the keyboard of a Linotype are not set up the same as a typewriter and the men who did typesetting were incredibly fast on their machines but could not transfer the skill, at speed, to a typewriter.
The Linotype makes lines of type from pigs of lead fed into the machine and heated to melt and reformed into letters and lines, the lines become banks of type that are locked into a form which later becomes part of a page. If a typesetter made a mistake he would make an X on the keyboard (starting in upper left) and the type would set as ETAOIN SHRDLU. - (My favorite swear word) - Typesetters' eyes could pick out the X'd line at a glance and remove both it and the line before it where the mistake was made. So there you go, that's my explanation.
As an aside : when visitors came through the typesetting area the operators would often set the persons name in type for them which the typesetter handed to the visitor. The men's hands were toughened to the heat but visitors got a gift of HOT type and the typesetter got a chuckle and a "gotcha" for slowing the work.
Linotype operators (typesetters) belong to one of the oldest unions. Newspapers were among the first businesses to be "automated." That's another thread for a different board.
If any of you have a newspaper near you that still uses one of the great HOE presses, ask for a tour. You'll learn a bit about how type is made, how the technique was apllied to computers, and you'll have a great time.
That's it. I am off the printing, typesetting thread for good. Why did I ever start with it? Not another word. No explanations for type lice or buckets of steam or left-handed quion keys, or chocolate kerns, or a 10 point minion, or a woolen offset blanket. And if shanks wants to go off on horseback and also intoduce the keyboards used by signalmen in WWII well, don't expect a word from me. (I heard that!)
Blessings on you all. wow


#11499 - 11/29/00 07:41 PM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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This is really my last word...I read the link and I admit my mistake....it was not an X, rather the top lines of the keyboard. I was a five-year-old for heaven's sake!
wow


#11500 - 11/30/00 09:04 AM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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shanks Offline
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And is probably the only way to crack codes of the Playfair type - with doublets being transposed?


#11501 - 11/30/00 09:08 AM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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shanks Offline
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Thanks for that Ann.

The point being (just stating the obvious here) that they were on the top for the logical reason that they are the most frequently used letters - as most of the code-breakers below have appreciated. If we hadn't the historical accident of qwerty keyboards, we might well be using etaoin keyboards these days...


#11502 - 11/30/00 01:32 PM Re: Etaoin shrdlu  
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codes of the Playfair type

Sounds like a merger between Playboy and Mayfair!

Reference or explanation please, shanks.



#11503 - 11/30/00 02:17 PM Re: Ciphers/codes  
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May I recommend a book to those who love ciphers/codes/good story ? "From SIlk To Cyanide" by Marks. Published within the last year in US. As noted I am hopeless with codes but this is also a whacking good tale, and true. The writer is the son of the owner-founder of Marks & Co of London, a bookstore that is featured in the delightful tale "34 Charing Cross Road." The story is set in England in WWII years where he was in the business of helping spies. Anyone who has done some reading on WWII will recognize the names of many spies who became famous after the war when their work and sacrifice were finally recognized. Happy reading, wow


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