The Media Guru

Nov 9, 2011


Finally, I have received my un9corn!


If you've been following me on twitter, you may know how I managed to get this N9. If not, here's a recap of the story.

On the 21st June 2011, the Nokia N9 was unveiled to the public. A few weeks later, six ads of the N9 were uploaded, all of 9 seconds duration.

The next day, a website appeared,, where you had to enter 20 six-character codes & you'll win a Nokia smartphone. & so began the N9 Seconds challenge, a race against time to discover all 6-letter codes hidden in the 9-second videos.

The first 11 codes were gone within the first day as they were the most visible ones - times on clocks, the date, the number plate of a taxi, dashboard numbers, 1 prominent letter from each video re-arranged meaningfully (STEPIN) & letters from a road sign (some arranged backwards).

& then as no one could find any more 6-letter codes, Nokia started tweeting out clues at @N9Seconds & @Nokia. These codes were the tougher ones as it required some thinking - the coordinates of where the video was shot, the 9th letter from the YouTube description of each video, the taxi driver's name (was printed on his shirt, but you had to guess some of the letters).

Some were less obvious & couldn't have been solved without the clues - the MD5 hash of Stepin, Leonardo Da Vinci's birthdate in Base 9 & the name of the N9's lead designer. (I suspect some of these last codes were added to the system because some of the letters in the videos couldn't be decoded due to the 720p resolution).

So far 17 codes had been found & I still hadn't come close to finding one. I had spent so many sleepless nights (given that some of the clues were tweeted at 12pm) that I was seeing 6 letter codes in everywhere!


& so was tweeted the 18th clue - 'Six individual characters. The first brings them all together.’
From the onset, I knew exactly what this clue meant. So far, my gut-feelings had proved me wrong in every clue I tried to interpret, but this one felt different.

In each video, there was one prominent character. So basically the first of something from each character corresponded to the code. Since the people were all doing something, clearly it was the first letter of the character they were portraying - their occupation. I had already tried out that combination at the start of the competition but it didn't work out.

So once again, I listed the various possible roles of each character & started trying out combinations. In fact, I had compiled a huge list of everything in relation with the videos & among them were the YouTube tags.

dance dance with me ballerina waitress graceful beautiful gorgeous
maps taxi taxi driver drive drive me fast hot seat jump in
run kick score goal footballer champion celebrate
boy poster icon star BMX rock rock'n'roll
family mother child grandchild son love helicopter playground emotion
right on time precision craft craftsmanship detail design beautiful


After 20 mins of trying out various combinations, like with all previous codes, I quickly got frustrated & bored. I was close to giving up, knowing that the right code was probably something very easy & obvious, but which hadn't crossed my mind yet.
I had already opened up Google Reader & was reading my feeds while entering codes in the background. I entered yet another useless combination & went back to reading an article. A few minutes later when I opened the minimized window of, I saw this.


It took me a minute before it sunk in. Bloody hell! I had won it!
& the most amazing thing is that I didn't even know which code I had entered. I had already forgotten it! A few more minutes passed by as I did a little victory dance, fired Photoshop & took a screenshot. & then feeling very elated, I entered my details & clicked the submit button.

"Error in submitting form. Please retry."

This was absolutely unbelievable! Coming so close to winning a competition with a decent prize for the first time in my life & then messing up everything! (I don’t remember the exact error message, but it was something like this.)

Trying to avoid the panic, I went back to my clues & pondered over each one of them.
1st video, more of a Ballerina than a waitress.
2nd & 3rd video, certainly a Taxi driver & a Footballer.
4th one, poster boy or biker? Let's go with Poster boy.
5th video, the Child.
& the 6th video, craftsman, horologer, watchmaker or clockmaker? Watchmaker as it's the common term.


Phew! It worked! I'm sure if I had delayed it for a few more minutes, someone else would have taken away the prize. So, lesson of that day - don't count your chickens before they are hatched. No need to get over-excited now until I receive my prize. Never before I had experienced such an emotional volte-face - from happiness to despair back to happiness.

That was the 18th code I had solved, while the last 2 codes proved to be the hardest of the entire competition - an El-Gamal cipher encryption & a sum mod by column of the ASCII values of all previous clues. You can find all the solved codes here.

I was contacted a week later by the N9seconds team, promising to be among the first people to get my hands on the N9. As it turned out, I had to wait until the 17th Oct (when the N9 was released in Finland) before it was shipped.



& 2 days ago, I received this. :)

Yesterday, teeming with excitement, I went to the Parcel office in Port Louis. They brought the parcel, opened it & asked if I had bought it. To which I replied that it was a gift & showed them the congratulatory note that was inside. Even though it was a gift, I still had to pay for the VAT. But because they couldn’t determine the price of the N9, they asked me to go to the New Customs House at Mer Rouge for a valuation & to come back with a broker if the value is above Rs 10,000. WTF?


It’s a gift for god’s sake. Why do I need to do all this to retrieve it? I’m sure you will not find such draconian Customs measures in any other country in the world (well, apart from North Korea). I bet it’s much easier to smuggle drugs in Mauritius than to get a parcel from the post office. (Here's a rant I found in Le Mauricien)


So today, I went to the MRA Customs Tower, which is found in Mer Rouge, a 2km walk from Immigration Centre.


To my great surprise, the Customs officers turned out to be very helpful. After I had explained my situation to them, they understood that it was merely a gift & decided to value the parcel at the minimum price so that I didn’t need a broker. :D (Thanks anyway, Yashvin!)

A 2.5km walk back to the Post Office & Rs 1256 later, I finally got my parcel. How hard could it have been?



& here it is.







So I got an N9 & the Play 360º portable speaker, plus a travel adapter & the charging cable for the Play 360º. There wasn’t any BL-5C battery for the 360º though…



Unboxing... This is the N9 64GB version, only available in black & being sold at a price of Rs 23,000+VAT Rs 25,000 in Mauritius.



Ooh, hello beautiful.



Sales contents - N9, USB cable CA-185CD, USB charger AC-16, headset WH-901, soft cover CC-1020 & manuals.



Nokia’s new eco packaging.



Turning on…






First impression – what a fantastic display!




Software updates? Oh, it’s the PR1.1, just released today. What a coincidence!



Later then. :(



The Nokia N9.... the first buttonless smartphone.



Well, almost. You still have the power & volume keys.



The 8MP/7MP camera. Uber fast, but first shots have been disappointing, will have to wait if PR1.1 corrects some of the bugs.



So that was the unboxing. As usual, I’ll be reviewing the N9 in the forthcoming posts, comparing it with its ancestor, the N900. From my first impressions, it’s definitely not as geeky as the N900. But the Swipe UI is just incredible. & the design… well, to appreciate it, you’ll have to hold it. :P

Thanks once again Nokia. :)

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Yashvin Awootar said...

damn! you are so lucky! (and intelligent too).

Congrats :-)
btw, did the customs officers there tell you anything about the gift issue? I think that I am going to meet them and write a post about the gift thing, criterias etc.

carrotmadman6 said...

Thanks. :)

Gift or no gift, you still have to pay the VAT. That at least I can confirm.
However, these guys were very understanding & let me pay the minimum price. If I had bought it, they would have asked me to pay for the full amount. :)

Gireek Ramrachheya said...

Whenever companies have sent me free products for review and sent it through normal post I've never had to pay anything to get it. What they always do is declare the item as sample; print an invoice showing it's worth $1(No fees is applicable whatsoever when a product is priced at $1 and as a sample). Of course; products that have been sent to me never crossed Rs7000 though. >Rs7000 and it is sent through courier...

Gireek Ramrachheya said...

This is one hell of a good looking phone; you're making me want to buy it even more! =_= Am having a hard time choosing between the N9 and Lumia 800; Dead eco system or less geeky specs and software? 

Gotta go and beg WomWorld to lend me one of these devices! Pronto!! 
Anyways; enjoy having the 2 geekiest devices available ;))

Tushal said...

Congrats :)

thatmauritiangirl said...

A well-deserving winner! Congrats...:)

Yashvin Awootar said...

How do they define a minimum or maximum amount? :P

carrotmadman6 said...


I don't know her...

carrotmadman6 said...

Yep, I saw that in the Customs regulations. If it's a non-marketable sample, you don't pay duties.

carrotmadman6 said...

The minimum price was the maximum price allowed for non-broker retrievals. :p

carrotmadman6 said...

Thanks Tushy. :)

carrotmadman6 said...

Thank you. :)

carrotmadman6 said...

The only thing I can say is that the N9 is no N900. :|

Gireek Ramrachheya said...

Why don't you activate the developer mode in the settings? Then you can tinker around with the OS as much as you'd like.

Also; can you try and install Android apps on the N9(or even try dual booting it with Android). If this works then I might buy the N9 over the 800...

Kurt said...

Sa apel la chance. Congrats! :P

carrotmadman6 said...

Thanks! :)

carrotmadman6 said...

Because the N9 isn't as "open" as the N900. It has a new security framework, Aegis, which prevents all the tinkering that made the N900 so awesome.

CuriousEngine said...


carrotmadman6 said...

Thanks. :)

Gireek Ramrachheya said...

:/ Maybe in an effort to make the N9 more mass market compatible; they did say that the N900 was their geek device...

Anyways; let me know about android compatibility. Thanks...

Rahul said...

Glad you are part of their plan.

carrotmadman6 said...

Cool story, bro. :)

Inf said...


Very lucky!

Nitish said...

Indeed....very lucky and incredibly determined to get your hands on the N9! Well done.

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