This webpage gives you hints, up to and including a full walkthrough, of Brian’s puzzle business card. If you’ve reached this page by some other method, then you should visit the blog post that introduces this puzzle business card for more context.
These kinds of puzzles normally solve to a word or short phrase. This particular puzzle, because it is a URL-shortener, is a simple word.
Puzzles like this rarely have outright instructions. Part of the challenge and fun is discovering how you solve the puzzle. Although there are no instructions, there is often introductory text, or “flavor text” that can help clue you in on what to do. Puzzles with hidden braille coding frequently contain a keyword in the flavor text like look, see, or touch. Morse code might use dot, dash, or telegram. Binary encodings might use off, on, or some other computer term.
Puzzles often use codes of this sort, but there’s not a whole lot in the flavor text, or in the puzzle content itself, to indicate any specific kind of coding such as Morse, semaphore, binary, nautical flags, and so on. But one of the most simple codings directly converts letters to numbers. In this case A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4, all the way up to Z=26. That might be worth a try. Let’s see what we get:
This message isn’t directly helpful, but it’s a good signpost that lets you know this isn’t the right path — a clue that you should seek another. And don’t feel like you did anything wrong if you missed the message. There are often several ways to approach a puzzle. Not every angle works, but when you find the correct one, there’s a beautiful a-ha moment.
With this puzzle, you’ll note that the word odd in the flavor text is italicized and underlined, for seemingly no reason. What could this mean? You might also note the word “shade” in that same text. If you wandered down the wrong path, above, you might also have the words “blot over.” So let’s see what happens when you shade, or blot over, the odd numbers in the grid.
The shaded squares form letters, and this now gives you your final keyword. If you use that with the URL-shortener, you’ll end up at your destination.