Metafilter makes it to cable news December 14, 2015 1:06 PM   Subscribe

23 months after Metafilter solved my grandma's coded messages, and we briefly went viral, the HLN network has produced a short video segment about the true hero of this story: Metafilter's own harperpitt, her code-breaking skills, and the power of the hive mind in tackling web mysteries. Article & YT Video.
posted by JannaK to MetaFilter-Related at 1:06 PM (64 comments total) 65 users marked this as a favorite

This is wonderful!
From the video: "MetaFilter is a community blog kind of like reddit, but it tends to attract a _different_ crowd..." :D
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 1:25 PM on December 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


The music is oddly menacing. But this is very cool!
posted by ChuraChura at 1:48 PM on December 14, 2015


That's a really nicely done video, thanks for posting it (and for posting the original riddle)!

TARNDVTFPI (AFPTOR)
posted by languagehat at 1:55 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, can we get HLN's Chris Pettigrew to produce more MetaFilter focused content that can be published under the "Out of the Blue" banner? This (minus the menacing music) is kind of what I thought that podcast would be.
posted by jazon at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2015


That was very cool and well-done. I liked the little parallax thingy they did with the snapshots and the light-up letter effect. Everyone, get ready for your families to say "Hey, I saw that green website of yours on the news" this Christmas.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:45 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Neat!
posted by Glinn at 2:49 PM on December 14, 2015


I'd never heard of HLN before. I was getting a weird fundamentalist Christian vibe from the site, but apparently it just stands for — or used to stand for — Headline News. I must have been confusing it with some other acronym.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:52 PM on December 14, 2015


You guys! This was so weird. Here are all the reasons why:

1. What the even fuck.
2. I've lost 20 pounds since then, and looking at myself at that weight feels really bizarre.
3. WHAT THE EVEN FUCK.
4. I really do read Metafilter a couple of times per day, though I rarely post, and it's weird to be an Internet Ambassador (ambassadrix?).
5. They made me wear my bathrobe.
posted by harperpitt at 3:07 PM on December 14, 2015 [92 favorites]


"i extrapolated from there" oh god what is this even
posted by harperpitt at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think perhaps the director has seen The Shining a few too many times but this is really cool.
harperpitt you have the most freaking gorgeous house.
I couldn't help but think it must have been so awkward to film all those "here I am on the internet", "now I'm solving the riddle" shots. "Can we get another shot of your fingers on the trackpad?"
posted by chococat at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Haha, in the original ABC segment, they told me to "pretend I was typing the question on Metafilter", and I was actually g-chatting with coworkers and trying not to burst out laughing.
posted by JannaK at 3:15 PM on December 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


I actually saved the document I typed while they were filming me. Here it is, uncut:

Now is the time when I am typing. I am typing on my computer doing internet things. Isn't this interesting? Cool internet things. I solved a puzzle and now people are taking pictures of me pretending to solve a puzzle. I am doing this typing as an easter egg for anyone who actually bothers to see if my fingers correspond with any actual typing or if it's just gibberish. If you can read this, send an email to [MY EMAIL] and let me know who you are. I'll send you $20. Actually, I probably won't, but maybe I will. Take a chance. Who knows. This could be your lucky day. Anyway, I'm probably going to have to go soon. There's only so long a person can film b-roll of someone typing on their Macbook. You know, this is probably one of the least interesting things I've ever done. I'm a pretty good touch typist, though, so at least there's that. Did you know that I'm starting to feel hungry and I have a little bit of a headache because I didn't eat any breakfast or have
posted by harperpitt at 3:17 PM on December 14, 2015 [191 favorites]


IHAFIMP
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 3:19 PM on December 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


That is totally awesome harperpitt.
posted by chococat at 3:20 PM on December 14, 2015


Awesome.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:30 PM on December 14, 2015


I hope you got something to eat.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:30 PM on December 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


I realize I'm threadsitting like a pretty pretty princess, but I forgot to say here (and did say to these people, although it didn't make it to the final cut) that I am 100% sure that someone else, or a dozen someone elses, would have solved this if I hadn't gotten to it first. You are the smartest people it has been my privilege to Internet with, and Metafilter makes my life better. So thank you.

I did eat at some point during the intervening 23 months, so I'm good to go. And, alas, it was a group house...but I like my new house too.
posted by harperpitt at 3:53 PM on December 14, 2015 [23 favorites]


I am wearing my bathrobe in solidarity.
posted by mochapickle at 3:55 PM on December 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


MetaFilter is now one-degree of separation from Nancy Grace.

Be afraid.
posted by Atom Eyes at 4:01 PM on December 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


This is really neat! I also ended up smiling at all the cable news-isms.

"Can you focus and unfocus on the website like two or three more times?"
posted by naju at 4:23 PM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


See you at Hunt in January, harperpitt.
posted by maryr at 4:54 PM on December 14, 2015


"Because I didn't eat breakfast or have"

Coffee!! You didn't have coffee and now you have a headache! Did I get it? #codebreaker
posted by areaperson at 5:23 PM on December 14, 2015 [26 favorites]


Show of hands, who wants Atom Eyes banned for even making that remark?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:01 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


OMG, are you both okay? Is everyone okay? Are you OKAY??? I'm only halfway through the video and I'm pretty sure one of you is going to be found in your garage in the middle of the night (is that why the bathrobe??), in a pool of blood, the outcome of a love triangle gone bad -- complete with a weird twist about a gambling debt and someone's absconding to a little village in Mexico.

I really hope everyone is okay, because this was such a neat story and Metafilter is awesome and I love you and don't want you to die, or to have already died in a pool of blood in your garage.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:19 PM on December 14, 2015 [17 favorites]


Wow, thanks mudpuppie. Was just about to crawl into bed and now I'm super freaked out that I will wake in a pool of blood in my non-existent garage. I will admit that I got a bit of creepy mail from overly religious folks after the initial post, but no murder...yet.
posted by JannaK at 6:27 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


No no! Since you're typing here, that means you survived! I am so relieved!

(I get that this was a "mystery" and all -- a really good mystery -- but what were they thinking with the ominous-ness of it all? The editorial choices were a bit baffling to me, which makes me sad because I love this story so, so much.)
posted by mudpuppie at 6:41 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Maybe we should go with a lighter touch?" -words a Headline News producer has never uttered
posted by naju at 6:52 PM on December 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


The zooms and pans all over the website were making me seasick so I'm just listening to the video now. I do love this story though.
posted by sweetkid at 6:56 PM on December 14, 2015


I'd never heard of HLN before.

Well they used to announce it as CNN Headline News, but I guess that dates the last time I watched it.
posted by bongo_x at 7:01 PM on December 14, 2015


Bathrobes are the deerstalker hats of internet sleuthing.
posted by littlesq at 7:17 PM on December 14, 2015 [37 favorites]


"Well they used to announce it as CNN Headline News, but I guess that dates the last time I watched it."

Ha! That's totally me. I read this thread, looked up "HLN" and thought, huh, when did CNN Headline News go away? And then I realized that it could have been twenty years ago and I wouldn't know any better because I'm old.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:32 PM on December 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


This needs to be remade into a full-length Da Vinci Code parody.
posted by XMLicious at 8:40 PM on December 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Well now, isn't that just the coolest thing ever!!
posted by SLC Mom at 9:02 PM on December 14, 2015


I am 100% sure that someone else, or a dozen someone elses, would have solved this if I hadn't gotten to it first

Then again, I totally remember staring at those letters and thinking yeah I could do that, and then my eyes glazed over pretty quickly and you were done with it.
posted by Namlit at 10:32 PM on December 14, 2015


"Well they used to announce it as CNN Headline News, but I guess that dates the last time I watched it."

When I first read the MeTa, I kind of assumed the "HLN Network" was just some random channel no one would have ever heard. I guess it's been a very long time since I paid any attention to CNN Headline News, but it's really awesome that they did this segment. (It also now makes so much sense why they had to throw in all the spooky, tense framing.)

So, do you think they changed the name because:

A) CNN was like, "Even we have standards that are high enough not to want to be associated with this kind of thing."

B) Headline News was like, "Um, we don't want to turn off our main viewer demographic by making them think we are anything other than a sensationalist tabloid news source."

C) They realized that no one could remember a channel name unless it can be abbreviated to 5 letters or less, and ideally no more than 3 because let's be honest, MSNBC is really pushing the envelope.

D) All of the above

--

But seriously, this is awesome. I remember reading this question, although it got posted when I was still a lurker, and it's still one of my favorite askme memories, not just because the 20 year old mystery got solved, but because harperpitt managed to solve it in 14 minutes (although I did notice the video voice over rounded up to 20).

Also, I kind of love that they felt the need to bring in an "expert cryptographer" to weigh in on this.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:05 PM on December 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I remember this thread and the complete impenetrability of the text, to me, even now.

They did a pretty respectable job of turning it into a video story - I kept waiting to find out how the guy from Johns Hopkins was involved because I figured he was either a Mefi's own, as well, or he was gonna explain how he put his computer at this and solved it or something.
Turns out he's just some dude giving his dudely stamp of approval and explanation that this is a thing that happens. Mrumph.

Well done harperpitt, not only did you type well for the b-roll but you sounded smart and interesting and, basically, everything I imagine a mefite to be.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:10 PM on December 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


It was pretty awesome to see Matthew Green in the story... I think they just tried to find the most accredited person they could find to comment on the story. He's a pretty big deal in the crypto world.
posted by el io at 12:07 AM on December 15, 2015


Oh, the guy is an awesome guy?! Awesome. I thought he was just computer expert 'X.'

Ok, male computer expert 'X.' because dammit if I haven't started noticing these things. This, noticing, is a feature.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:53 AM on December 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


IHAFIMP

I have a fish in my pants?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:02 AM on December 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mind babooked
posted by josher71 at 6:52 AM on December 15, 2015


That's just wonderful! It's so cool to see faces to people from here, wherever they pop up, and this segment was just really well-done. A little over-the-top, but I think it worked at the end, because I got a little choked up at the end, even though I already had seen this story unfold in "real time" on Ask when it happened.
posted by xingcat at 7:12 AM on December 15, 2015


I found it ridiculous how they kept showing reddit, even though reddit has nothing to do with it.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:14 AM on December 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


When I first read the MeTa, I kind of assumed the "HLN Network" was just some random channel no one would have ever heard

I first read it as the HSN Network, and started thinking huh, Metafilter is branching out...
posted by Melismata at 7:42 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Editing choices are weird, as is crypto-expert commenting. Besides the music and the constant mentions/visuals of reddit (even crypto-guy "Now you have sites like reddit and.....Metafilter? where people can go" sounded to me like he was trying to remember the name of the site that he had just been given), this got me:

They made me wear my bathrobe.

Of course. You're typing things on the INTERNET, on a BLOG even, and therefore you must be one of those HACKER types who live in a BASEMENT and never get dressed, because it's ALL VAGUELY CRIMINAL and DISREPUTABLE (or at best, a bunch of SOCIALLY AWKWARD NERDS) even if you were, you know, solving puzzles of a religious nature. Because that's how it is on TV; internet folks are FREAKY and WEIRD and do everything in their BATHROBES or UNDERWEAR.

goes off to put on pants
posted by nubs at 8:28 AM on December 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


They made me wear my bathrobe.

So... Being someone who doesn't cooperate well with media* and someone who takes things too literally, do they seriously pull stuff like this? Or is this just a funny way of saying "They asked me to wear my bathrobe and I said yes."?
posted by ODiV at 8:38 AM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Something lovely struck me, watching the video, that had escaped me during the original excitement. It was that segment where succeeding letters of the code were illuminated as the narrator read, "Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name," and suddenly it wasn't about the puzzle but about those words flowing through the dying grandmother's mind, her hand recording the initial letters of the words, and what that said about her state of mind, clear, directed outside of herself, thankful, prayerful.

I mean, if that were me, the deciphered code would be something like, "Fuck I'm dying I'll miss the dogs they'll forget all about me but I guess that's okay because they're dogs plus I won't care once I'm dead."
posted by Short Attention Sp at 8:58 AM on December 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


I found it ridiculous how they kept showing reddit, even though reddit has nothing to do with it.

I didn't find it weird at all that they're using reddit as the point of comparison, since Josie Q. HLNwatcher is more likely to have heard of them. The number of unique visitors we got last year? Reddit got more than twice that last month.
posted by zamboni at 9:08 AM on December 15, 2015


JannaK, thank you so much for sharing this and the original post; I've cried over this (in a good way) more than once. Much love to you and your family, and to the memory of your lovely grandma, Dorothy Holm. Harperpitt, you were glorious; I loved your presence and voice and commentary! You are the bee's knees.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:23 AM on December 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


Hi everyone! I just found this site after seeing the segment on HLN and I just wanted to say TRUMP 2016
posted by item at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


Welcome to MetaFilter. No ironic racism, please.
posted by ODiV at 9:42 AM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


"MetaFilter is a community blog kind of like reddit-

Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME (just kidding, awesome video!)
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:07 AM on December 15, 2015


MetaFilter: The music is oddly menacing.
posted by scalefree at 10:38 AM on December 15, 2015


MetaFilter: They made me wear my bathrobe.
posted by scalefree at 10:39 AM on December 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: I just wanted to say TRUMP 2016
posted by languagehat at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


TRUMP 2016

pics or it didn't ha...

wait
posted by Namlit at 11:06 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I actually saved the document I typed while they were filming me.

Well, that's my new Lorem Ipsum text sorted.
posted by comealongpole at 11:58 AM on December 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


My wife and I watch Forensic Files on HLN more often than not as we sleep (because nothing is more soothing to sleep to than murder, mayhem and the apparent infallibility of hair and fiber evidence.) I don't mind it, except when I occasionally wake up in the middle of the night to find Nancy Grace proclaiming from the rooftops that the perp du jour is guilty! guilty as hell! guilty as sin! Then it's time for the remote control.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:00 PM on December 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Harperpitt, you come across as a brilliant, cool person in this video. I followed that MeFi thread as it was happening and thought you were pretty amazing then, but this just cinched it. I'm totally crushing on your brain. You are indeed the bee's knees.

I think this is my first Mefi fan letter.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:39 PM on December 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I saw that thread when I was just lurking, and I think it was the first time I seriously thought about paying my $5 to join just to be part of something so cool. I mean, I didn't, but I really thought about it! (I was seriously dedicated to my lurking for several years.)
posted by biogeo at 8:02 PM on December 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


HLN came to my work and took some stock footage of us doing science while they were there. They were particularly fascinating by our intern balancing tubes for a spin in the centrifuge, which is possibly the least advanced, least technical thing I do at work.

He was wearing a lab coat, though, so it looked like TV science.
posted by maryr at 8:46 PM on December 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


So glad you finally joined biogeo! Welcome! (says a fellow years-old lurker who signed up in 2015)
posted by cynical pinnacle at 4:29 AM on December 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am wearing my bathrobe in solidarity.
Er... me too! That's why I'm wearing my bathrobe.
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:55 PM on December 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


You people with your fancy bath-robes...
posted by bongo_x at 8:36 PM on December 17, 2015


That is very cool! I love how when at the beginning they zoom in to harperpitt sitting at the table and her laptop, she's scrolling through memes, because that's what those hacky internet people do :)
posted by Ender's Friend at 6:49 AM on December 25, 2015


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