I have been knocking my head bloody against v2.0 of hack.net for over half a year now. This bugger seems even more diabolic than the first version of the puzzle, which wasn't solved until a few years after its initial publication. Every time I think I have come up with some clever approach how to solve the first stage, but no significant breakthrough so far. I am pretty sure that those curly brackets are a part of getting to the next step... How about a subtle hint, Ryan?
Anyone else out there working on it?