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Translation and explanation of previous post - The online computery journal thingy of a turtle

Apr. 6th, 2008

01:25 pm - Translation and explanation of previous post

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Some blogging software "helpfully" changes double hyphens to en-dashes, triple hyphens to em-dashes, and triple dots to ellipsis characters, which garbles Morse code. So I use E and T instead.


The message was inspired by a little deciphering adventure I had yesterday on the Rifftrax blog when Bill Corbett posted a message in Morse code. I tried to decipher it by copy-pasting it into Notepad and doing search-and-replace, but I ran into trouble, which I soon discovered was caused by the blog software's reformatting, as described in my message above.

At the same time, it occurred to me that there are two possible ways to decipher Morse code by doing search-and-replace. One is to start with the longest dot-dash sequences, the ones of six characters that form the punctuation marks, and then decode all the five-character strings, then the four-character strings, etc. This is the common-sense way to do it, because if you start at the short end of the scale, longer strings will be altered by shorter replaces.

But then it occurred to me that this didn't matter; starting at the short end would work too, it would just be weirder. First, change all dots to 'e' and all dashes to 't'. Then do 'et' -> 'a', 'ee' -> 'i', 'tt' -> 'm', and 'te' -> n. Then more weird letter combinations will start to show up, but it's easy enough to figure out what letters they're supposed to be. For instance, 'ti' = - .. -> -.. -> 'd'.

And then it hit me that if you only did the first step, using 'e' for . and 't' for -, you could post that on any blog without it being mangled by any fancy-punctuation-substitutin' code.

Then I wondered, if I posted a message like that, how many of my friends would figure it out and decode it? :}

Comments:

From:ex_tjcoyote112
Date:April 6th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
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Well, I didn't get it, even though I do know some letters in Morse. Usually when Morse is written without dots and dashes, it's written as: di-dah-dit (R). The most frequent users of Morse these days - Amateur Radio operators - learn Morse purely as a *sound* language, not a written one, so spelling it out lets someone "hear" it in their head. Learning dots and dashes is actually a bad thing when you're trying to comprehend it at a decent speed.
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From:orv
Date:April 6th, 2008 05:20 pm (UTC)
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I used to know someone who could copy by ear at 40 words per minute. At that speed he wasn't even picking out individual characters anymore -- he was hearing whole words as a unit, like any other language.

I got up to about 14 wpm to pass my General Class exam, at one point. I tried some CW QSOs and found it wasn't really my thing, so I've used SSB almost exclusively and my code skills have really atrophied.
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From:ex_tjcoyote112
Date:April 6th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
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Wow, yeah, I've read reports about people who can do that, but I don't know anyone personally.

For a while I'd occasionally try learning Morse to pass the test, but eventually they just dropped the requirement. Even though I have my General, I still haven't gotten on the air! I'd imagine I'd end up using PSK31 frequently, after all, I'm accustomed to online chat.
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From:orv
Date:April 6th, 2008 08:52 pm (UTC)
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Oddly, my computer geekery and my amateur radio geekery don't cross-pollinate much. I dabbled a bit in packet but sort of lost interest. It probably says something that the period in college during which I operated the most was when the campus radio club sent their very fancy, modern transceiver in for repair and temporarily replaced it with a Heathkit HW-101. I think maybe for me the charm of amateur radio is how much you can do with simple equipment.
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From:thecanuckguy
Date:April 7th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
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What is it with amateur radio and furries? There's you two, and I know two others! (Plus my dad is a ham, I know several through him, as well as I studied for the amateur exam but don't have the head for electronic stuff unfortunately. None of the people mentioned in these brackets though are "furries", however.) That seems like a high percentage, really. (Makes me wonder if all the callsigns that read W#FUR (or, up here, VE#FUR) are taken. ;)
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From:orv
Date:April 7th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
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I think it's the general high level of techno-geekery in the furry fandom.
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:April 6th, 2008 06:12 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, but typing out "di-dah-dit" would waste space!
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:April 6th, 2008 06:13 pm (UTC)
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Also I've got a possible idea for a cartoon in my head. Sefo and KT are stranded on a boat or an island or something, and they have a radio, so Sefo tells KT to radio for help. KT switches on the radio and starts speaking into the mike: "Dididit dahdahdah dididit!"
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From:ex_tjcoyote112
Date:April 6th, 2008 06:49 pm (UTC)
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hehee, that sure sounds like something KT would do!

One wonders... would KT's nostrils stick to their canonical pattern, or would they open and close in time to the morse?
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From:deckardcanine
Date:April 7th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)
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OT: I thought of you when I read of the latest Pulitzer winners. Some of the awards pleased me, especially the Feature Writing award to Gene Weingarten. Less pleasing was the Editorial Cartooning award to Michael Ramirez.
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