So, today is your birthday, and one of your so-called friends has sent you an electronic birthday card.  But you can’t READ it.

Before cursing them out, let’s see what others in your situation have done


web page of puzzle


Strange, no?  Here's a link to a local copy of birfday.html .

Read the bottom; notice the title “Birfday Wisheses! (ding ding ding),” and look at the source .  Source isn’t too odd, other than you notice that there are 3 gif’s, instead of just one big gif.


Now hopefully, you recognize the symbols as being “wingding” characters.  It’s a special font that’s been around since 1992 in Microsoft Word.  It can be useful for small graphics included in a document.


Now, we have to decrypt the code.  If you have the program “Character Map” (under Start, Programs, Accessories, or under Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools), then go ahead and run it.


Start path to Character Map


Then choose the windings font.


Character Map using Wingdings


If you don’t have the utility Character Map, try searching google for “wingding font”.  After wading through all the NYC 9/11 conspiracy theories, down at # 10 is one helpful webpage (your mileage may vary).


webpage with wingdings


Either way, you can now start transcribing your message.  For some, it may be easier to print out the original birthday card.  Or, just transcribe to a text editor.


Remember how I said that the code was made of 3 gif's?  This is block one.


block one


And I run into my first road-block.  Wingdings has "numbers inside circles," but no colored-in hands, only outlines of hands.


The second block of code doesn’t seem to match either.


block two


The third block, however, does match. 


block three


Maybe I’ll start there.   I’ll use that wingding font web page, instead of Character Map.

Starting with the “raindrop”, I get:   “She has no feet or hands,the longer she stands the shorter she grows.”  It was a simple scan and replace.  That was easy and straightforward.


Now, back to the first and second blocks.  Fortunately, if you were using Character Map, you saw a “Wingdings 2” and “Wingdings 3”.  Upon further investigation, we can see that block 1 uses Wingdings 2, and block 2 uses Wingdings 3.


You could continue searching for “wingdings 2” on the web


webpage with wingdings 2


Or, using Character Map, just start finding the characters.


Hand pointing right, 10, 9, 6, 1 , 5 ...      using character map to decipher the puzzle


By double clicking the characters (or pressing Select) you can put these characters into the "Characters to copy" box (buffer).

After you have several words in the buffer, you have 2 options.


Click “Copy”, then paste (Ctrl-V) into a text editor like Notepad.


view of notepad


Or, if you highlight the line, and change the font to another font, it will change the characters.  (Note, if you don’t highlight the line, the characters will stay in wingding2)


character map using Wide Latin


Using either method, I get

“As round as an apple, As deep as a pail:

It never cries out

Till it’s caught by the tail.”


And finally, using wingding 3, we decode block 2.

“The land was white,

The seed was black;

It will take a good scholar

To riddle me that.”


So, all together now...

As round as an apple, As deep as a pail: It never cries out Till it’s caught by the tail.

The land was white, The seed was black; It will take a good scholar To riddle me that.

She has no feet or hands, the longer she stands the shorter she grows.


There you go.  Now you can start cursing!

Now solving the riddle is not as straightforward.