Solution to At Your Service

by Alex Vandiver

Each line clues a one-word answer which happens to be a UNIX service name that appears in /etc/services — though some services are more obscure than others. Reading down the first letters of the clues yields the suggestion "TAKE MOD TWENTY SIX" — if we take the port numbers that correspond to each service name, take them modulo 26, and index into the alphabet, we get "BANG PATH PROTOCOL". The only protocol that used "bang paths" with any frequency was UUCP, the precursor to email. Thus, the answer is UUCP.

Service         Mod 26  Letter  Clue
asia            2       B       Twenty million square miles, almost
domain          1       A       A set of values that the independent variable might be
uma             14      N       Karuna is her middle name
echo            7       G       Eventually died of love for Narcissus
bootpc          16      P       Might be steel-toed + Latin for "after meals" (abbrev.)
finger          1       A       One of five digits on a hand
tacnews         20      T       Diminutive kind of nuke + CNN or BBC
zserv           8       H       The sign of a fictional Californian swordsman + Chrysler's only ballistic vehicle
nameserver      16      P       What you're called by + waiter
dixie           18      R       Eponymous paper cup
multiplex       15      O       Name of multiple-screen theater
syslog          20      T       Tsimbl-accompanied Kushner + trudge
graphics        15      O       Y = F(x) visualized + semiconductor devices (abbrev.)
statsrv         3       C       Study of large data sets (abbrev.) + large automobile used for "camping"
submission      15      O       Inverse of domination
genie           12      L       Xanthic lamp dweller

2006 MIT Mystery Hunt