Hmm... Well I declared the pinMode to output in a for loop as you did. When I get home tonight I will try them indiviually, see if that does anything.
As for the ternary bit, excuse my programming newness, is the ? in the
digitalWrite(ledpin[j], (letter & pow(2, j)) ? HIGH : LOW);
I thought the ? was called that. I googled it and thats the name it spit out. Then I found out the & (who knew it was called ampersand???) and did the bitwise run around. Busted out the calculator with Binary and started fidling.... It is a pretty neat way to do things. I have no idea what base 3 is though.
I will be looking into it more though.