This topic contains 7 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Anonymous 2 years, 4 months ago.
05 Dec 17 at 2:10 pm #33375
Could some people suggest some commands you can use in Excel? I’m not very experienced, and it would be great to know how to use it to do the steganography!05 Dec 17 at 6:58 pm #33385
This link on the cipher challenge homepage is very helpful: https://2017.cipherchallenge.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Programming_for_Cryptologists_101.pdf06 Dec 17 at 2:00 am #33406
Personally, if you want to get into cryptography, I would recommend learning to program instead of learning the excel commands (as from what i know, they work pretty similarly, at least to visual basic? not sure, don’t use excel, but i can program)
I would recommend python to start off with, as its syntax (commands) is quite easy.
For cryptography, string manipulation is probably what you’re most interested in, and maybe some basic maths.
You can find decent lessons on https://www.codecademy.com/ (hopefully that doesn’t get clipped), or just search up on google ‘getting started with programming in python’. If you do decide to take this approach, I would also recommend installing a better text editor (such as notepad++) than the python IDLE (although not necessary, even i find myself using the python IDLE more frequently because i only need short programs, and executing my code is much quicker), as the so called ‘integrated development learning environment’ isn’t great for learning.
The resource MissC has linked is also a good place to get started at, although i think that two pages on python might not be enough.
If you’re determined to use excel, searching up something like ‘excel commands string manipulation’ in google, and looking at https://www.techonthenet.com/excel/formulas/index.php is probably not bad.07 Dec 17 at 2:37 am #33417
Thanks! That was really helpful. I’ve made loads of mistakes so far this challenge, but I’ll practice Python, and maybe next challenge I can do better.07 Dec 17 at 5:09 pm #33437
hi21 Dec 17 at 11:09 pm #33757
I’d like to say that Excel deserves more credit than it receives, it’s easy to learn and has a very accessible interface, graphs are easy to make, you can make a digraphic frequency table that shows what cipher it is almost all the time, where most other programs can only tell you the ioc and a few numbers.(Unless you program a bajillion lines of codes where you only need about 10-15 in Excel) The visual representation is also easy to make.
Obviously I’m a bit, actually no , make that very biased, but I’ve managed to do very well without python and it can’t hurt to know more than just Python/ C++/ whatever language you use at the moment.
Some commands you may want(all those I’ve used and have had to use(And you don’t even need all of them, some just make it even easier(You’ll also need brackets(lots of them)))): CODE; CHAR; MOD; UPPER ; INDEX ; CONCAT ; TEXTJOIN ; MID ; IF ; COUNTIF ; MATCH ; SUBSTITUTE ; COLUMN ; SUM; IFERROR; HLOOKUP; VLOOKUP.24 Dec 17 at 4:55 pm #33859
Yeah, Excel deserves a ton of credit. I’ve basically only used it for the past 5 years and, while i’ll admit on later challenges from those years, such as the solitaire and bifid, it doesn’t hold up so well (though its always been possible to make a working spreadsheet), for poly / monoalphabetic ciphers and most transposition ciphers it is a lot more intuitive to solve with excel i find, especially with graphs and conditional formatting.
In terms of making spreadsheets, you’d probably be best starting out making something like a monoalphabetic cipher sheet. For that, you’d only need:
Knowledge of excels autofill and referencing stuff, MID and VLOOKUP. (Also COUNTIF for frequency anaylsis)
If you’re just looking to do the stenography, I just used MID, the autofill and conditional formatting (basically, if a cell was “b” colour it black)29 Dec 17 at 9:34 pm #33915
I do not like excel, probably because how I was taught.08 Jan 18 at 4:02 pm #34187
I am a teacher who is supervising a group of students completing the challenge. I cannot code, but some students who are competing for my school can and have been.
I have been able to complete all of these challenges using Excel only and often quicker than the students who are solving using coding, although I will admit that is down to the years of Excel practice I have had rather than the an inefficiency with coding.
The functions I have predominantly used in Excel are:
as well as standard arithmetic and $ to make cells, rows and/or columns sticky.
I also find the replace function accessible via ctrl+f very useful. I have been able to solve many of the puzzles using one or two sheets and several stacked formulae.
If you are trying to use Excel for the first time, I strongly recommend you use the function tool rather than free write them as it provides instructions for each term of the function so you have a greater chance of inputting the correct information.
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