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  July 16 >>  

A Strange Package
Down the Rabbithole
Dana's Blog
Weird Happenings
The Corrupted Pictures
The Widow's Story
The MAYDAY Texts
The "Computer" Texts
ILB Technical Information

Thoughts on August 24th
#beekeepers and #ilovebees
Strange Email from ladybee777
The Halo Connection
odd behavior cry for help
July 27 >>

July 27th
Phase 1 Complete
Hidden Links
The Links Puzzle
The Operator's Monologue
Dana Freaks Out
Dana Is Gone

The History of Dana
Persuaded to Come Back

Phase 2 Complete
The New Wavs
Operator's Monologue Part 2
The Spider and the Flea
The Cylinder Artifact & Virus
GPS Coordinates
The Princess' Secret

New GPS Coordinates
The Princess 404
Go Hot
Dana's Request
August 24 >>

Sleepy and Intangible
Wide Awake and Physical
The Flea Is Chatty
The Princess' Riddle
The Extraordinary
Successful Transmission Threshold Reached
Axon Cancelled
Media Coverage
Spying on the Queen
The Princess' Axons
Troy Goes Hot!
Hello Goes Hot!

Early, Early Update
The Looking Glass
The Hivekuts Wavs
Wandering_Angela is the winner!
Day 50

Fable Axons
Key Lime and Candidate
Six Degrees of
The Clockwork Rat
Recipe 3 - Take 3
Is a phone ringing near you?

The Comatas Axons
SP's Hidden Message
No New Riddles?
The Fable Wavs
Found and Lost
Whew! THAT was exciting.
The London Axon
The Comatas Wavs
September 21 >>

Recipe 1 Axons
The Riddle Wavs - Take 2
777 Axons!
Axon Spike Rendezvous
Axons Cancelled & Recipe 1 Wavs
Cranky_Old_Man Changed
Sometimes a mistake is the last thing you make
Cranky Old Man Has a Name
Email from the Flea

Recipe 2 Axons
Freeing the Princess
Rogue Process Wild
Perdita's Story - Proper Ending
Recipe 2 wavs
< Success
Recipe4 Axons
I'm feeling betrayed
!transmit durga
Astald - Creepy

Jan's Going to Have a Bad Day?
The Truth
Pending Relay Code Completion
Recipe4 Wavs
hide and
Recipe5 Axons
What Is Your Version Number!
13 out of 14 wavs (No Prepositions)

October 12 >>

October 31 >>

Week 0 - Phase 1
Before July 20th

A Strange Package

Friday afternoon was winding down when vpisteve made a post to the UF Forums. It seems that he received a strange FedEx package in the mail. The return address on the package was:

Margaret Efendi
Margaret's Honey
2370 Market St. #510
San Francisco, CA 94114

This happens to be a PO Box inside a UPS Store in San Francisco.

Upon opening the package, a jar of honey was found, with some cutout letters inside the jar. Steve was nice enough to take pictures of the honey jar, and pictures of the letters inside. Once free of the honey, Steve found the following letters: o-i-v-e-e-s-e-l-b. Among the many things this spells out is "I love bees" which happens to lead to www.ilovebees.com.

Quickly checking on the ilovebees domain shows that it is registered to Margaret's House of Bees. The whois information shows a different box number, but otherwise the information is the same. § We even get a contact number of 415-248-2617. When we call the number we get the voicemail of someone named Dana.

Down the Rabbithole

The first thing you notice about ilovebees.com is that it's having some serious problems. Pictures are corrupted and text that has no business being on a bee website pops up. § Whatever is happening here, it looks like things are going to really start happening on July 27th, with more occurring on August 10th, ending with a climax(?) on August 24th.

The rest of the pages on the site aren't faring much better. More picture corruptions interspersed with odd computer text and "Maydays". Someone seems to be in trouble and is using the ilovebees.com site to tell us about it.

However, the owner of the site doesn't seem to be the one in trouble. In fact, they are just as perplexed as we are as to why this is happening. The index page asks "What happened to this site?" and gives a link to ilovebees.blogspot.com, a blog run by the webmaster of ilovebees.com (who also happens to be the niece of the owner Margaret), Dana. Could this be the same Dana whose voicemail we found? All signs point to "Yes."

Dana's Blog

Dana has created the blog in the hopes that someone will be able to help her with the stuff going on at her aunt's site. She's checked her code, run virus and spyware checks, installed updates, and rebuilt from scratch, all to no avail. She even thinks that the problem is getting worse. §

Luckily Dana has comments enabled on her blog, so we can leave comments for her directly instead of emailing her. Sapagoo is the first to tell Dana that we're around to help, and the rest of us chime in giving her our support and ideas of what she can do. She has been checking the comments and is surprised at all of the support she's getting about her problem. §

Weird Happenings

Now that we know that Dana is just as clueless as we are as to why the site is all messed up, we should go back and start looking more deeply into the pages.

Checking out the source code, the first odd thing that appears is the keywords. §

Some of these keywords you would expect (honey, bees, hives, etc.) but "strong intrusive inclination" and "network throttling" don't. Dana is obviously in over her head with these problems as "WTF is going on with damn thing" and "a little help would be appreciated" indicate.

Within the System Peril Distributed Reflex text, we see the time the java script is counting down to:

<SCRIPT LANGUAGE="Javascript1.2"> 
 var chinatime = new Date(2004,7,24,6,7,0); 
Sapagoo notes that the date does not point to July 24th, but August 24th due to the way JavaScript numbers it's months and days. It has a zero-based Month, but a 1 based day. So January = 0, February = 1, and August = 7. January 1st would have Month = 0 and Day = 1, while August 24th would be Month = 7 and Day = 24. The format for JavaScript time is (Year, Month, Day, Hour, Minute, Second) giving us August 24, 2004 6:07am. But as for why this particular date, we still have no idea.

Sometimes when you refresh the index page, more text shows up.

Seek the truth

Behold the truth

Reveal the truth

That is the law and the whole of the law

The first three lines then repeat 19 more times. This is followed by an identical block of text, positioned so that it overlaps the first, and a third block that overlaps the second. Very, very odd.

Going onto the rest of the pages reveals more added source text. This comes in three varieties: The small white "Seek the truth" text, the "Mayday" texts, and the "Computer" text. There is also a fourth set of messages, hidden not in the source code, but in the corrupted pictures themselves. We'll take a look at these first since it requires the most work.

The Corrupted Pictures

As you visit different pages on the website, you'll begin to notice that the pictures randomly appear corrupted. There are even different versions of the corruptions. Something obviously is going on. After doing some quick tests to see if the images are stegged, and finding nothing, we turned to opening the pictures in a text editor, such as Notepad. Once that is done, the reason for the pictures being corrupted becomes obvious: there are little bits of text inserted into the pictures, with several different versions for each picture. As more and more of the snippets are collected, it dawns on us that the snippets are all part of a larger story. Each picture contains one or two distinct sentences, which then must be woven into one coherent story. Strifey and Rose manage to knit all the separate threads into one story known as The Widow's Story.

The Widow's Story

The Widow's Story is a fairy tale about a Widow struggling to return her Queen to the throne after the kingdom had been hit by enchantment. It is told as a flashback by someone who dreamed the story, but the narrator never gives their name. It does however introduce four new characters to us: The Widow, The Queen, The Sleeping Princess, and The Pious Flea. §

The MAYDAY Texts

The second additional source texts are the MAYDAYs. These, instead of being written by a computer program, sound as if they are written by a stranded/shipwrecked individual who is being tortured by spiders. Once again, they appear randomly on various pages and almost all start with the phrase MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY. §

The "Computer" Texts

The Computer text shows up as black blocks with small white text in them. They've been dubbed the Computer text since the text seems to have been written by a computer program. Refreshes upon refreshes netted us 23 unique snippets placed on various pages. Brienigma was nice enough to lend us Wiki space on his website so that we could add new additions easily.

Once we found all the snippets, the next task was trying to analyze them. Several people over at the UF Forums took up that challenge and did a fantastic job. xnbomb, and later on Roc, realized that some of the computer text seemed to match what was happening in the Widow's Story - and created a detailed step-by-step comparison of the Widow's Journey and the Computer Text. §

ILB Technical Information

The comments on Dana's blog have been filled with tips and tricks on how Dana can her website back up and running. However, since we don't have specifics on what she's tried or what type of system the page is on, it's hard not to repeat ourselves. Dana is nice enough to post a comment on the blog, which gives us a bit of an update as to what she has already tried. §

Week 1
July 20th and Onwards

Thoughts on August 24th

New blog entry from Dana today. Seems she's been thinking a lot about August 24th and what it could mean. Going by some of the other August 24ths in history, it's obvious that Dana does not have a good feeling about this one. She and Aunt Margaret are glad we are helping out (Aunt M. even wants to name a new flavor of honey in honor of us!), but she's still worried enough to be losing sleep. §

#beekeepers and #ilovebees

When we first realized that ILB was a new ARG, the room #beekeepers was created on irc.chat-solutions.org. However, when Dana asked us in her blog entry about where she could send other people to talk to us, we created a second room called #ilovebees and told Dana about it. § This was done for a few reasons, which all got talked to death in a META thread on UF. Dana seemed to make our points moot the next day by posting another comment on her blog which stated that she would keep her life simple and stick to her own websites instead of visiting ours, but she was glad she now had a place to send new people for information instead of answering it all herself. § And so while we all sat in #beekeepers discussing away, our little #ilovebees channel sat empty, save for a few newcomers who popped in (and whom we quickly introduced to #beekeepers). Little did we know then how grateful we would be for this channel in just a few short days.

Strange Email from ladybee777

Later on Tuesday, everyone who had emailed Aunt Margaret at ladybee777@hotmail.com got a very strange email back. It didn't make a lot of sense. The sentences seemed cobbled together (when there were sentences) and the rest seemed to ramble. § Through discussion on IRC, it's discovered that the email is in fact made up of bits and pieces of our own emails sent to ladybee777. How odd. Has Aunt Margaret gone off her rocker, or is this the same entity that took over the site to begin with? Hard to say for sure, but it seems like a good idea to write back so that whoever is writing this email will have more words to work with in the future.

The Halo Connection

Rumors start flying about that www.ilovebees.com shows up at the end of a Halo 2 trailer playing at the movies. The first mention came from a comment on Dana's blog § and a second came from a newcomer to #beekeepers. This started to intrigue us, especially since the second source seemed quite reliable. So, doing a bit of research, we found out that the trailer is only being shown at Loews Theatres. Since I just happen to live near a Loews Theater, I decided to check out. Normally I never go to the Loews Theatre since a: the theatre sucks and b: I have discount passes to Regal, but nevertheless, I paid my $7.50 to go see I, Robot on a Wednesday evening. The first three or four commercials that showed where all Loews commercials, and I was getting quite upset that the Halo trailer wasn't going to show. (I didn't entirely believe the rumor that something happened during the trailer, but if I didn't see the trailer how would I know one way or the other?) And then the trailer finally started. I sat on the edge of my seat and waited for the ending, trying not to blink in case I missed something.

Right at the end of the trailer, when the X-Box logo appears, I saw www.xbox.com underneath. Nothing strange about that. But then, for a split second, before the trailer faded out, the URL switches to www.ilovebees.com.

I couldn't believe it. Ilovebees on a Halo 2 trailer? This must mean that it is bigger than any of us thought. As I sat through the rest of the movie, I kept thinking, "I have to get home to tell everyone -- even though they won't believe me."

Thursday morning dawned with everyone trying to find proof for themselves that ilovebees did appear on the Halo 2 trailer. Scouring the net earned us some blurry bootlegs that showed something happening at the designated time, but not what that something was. Screenshots were taken and enhanced, but there was still room for doubt. Google searches and checks on the halo forums showed nothing about this connection. Did the Halo fans miss the split second change or was I just smoking crack the other night? It wasn't until Friday afternoon that we found some rock-solid evidence in the form of a high-res trailer. Those still with doubts finally conceded that yes, ilovebees was there.

odd behavior cry for help

During The Beast, updates usually appeared on Tuesdays and Fridays. And wouldn't you know, Dana updates her blog on a Friday. This time she lets us know what was up with that odd email from Aunt Margaret. Turns out, it wasn't Aunt M who sent it. In fact, all of Aunt M's emails have disappeared from her hotmail account. Dana's on the verge of deleting the account when an email from our very own xnbomb convinces her to do nothing. So now Dana is just going to sit back and let whatever it is run its course (at the same time trying to shield poor Aunt Margaret from the strangeness of it all. §


It's been a week since the Halo trailer came out and so far there has been no mention of an ilovebees connection on any of the Halo boards. Even trying to Google for ilovebees and halo nets nothing. So far, the only people who know about all of this are those who heard about the honey packages. This can't last, can it?

Of course not.

Around noon, new comments start showing up on Dana's blog - obviously from people who don't understand the ARG concept. Dana has to post a comment on her blog to warn people that she'll delete off-topic, hostile or prank comments that show up on her blog. §

The next sign that the Halo fans have found the ilovebees mention in the trailer is that they start showing up on IRC. First it was a trickle, then a steady stream, and then a flood of newcomers. They all showed up in #ilovebees and were quickly introduced to the world of ARGs and then sent over to #beekeepers for more in-depth discussion. The channel quickly grew into 100+ people all with their own theory about what was going on. From there, the new members found UF and started post upon post of Halo background information, Halo spec and lots and lots of Trout. The channel ops and the UF moderators began to have their work cut out for them.

A note from the guide author about Halo information (or lack thereof) in this guide. §

July 27th and Onwards >>