Inspecting Morse

Does anyone reading this know Morse Code? If so, please let me know what this audio message means (I got as far as figuring out that the subject is “hello”).

I was trying to work out how to solve this conundrum when Brian suggested using Mechanical Turk. Of course! It’s the ideal task for for it. But when I tried to create a request I discovered that I needed an American bank account.

If anyone out there with the necessary connections wants to create a HIT for me, that would me much appreciated.

Go on… decode the message that some smartarse has left for me and earn yourself some .

Update: It’s been cracked! Matthew Somerville and Stuart Langridge earn super geek points for doing this. The message reads:


Have you published a response to this? :


Jeremy Keith’s been sent a Morse message and is wondering what it says. Well, I now know what it says, cos I wrote a program to decode it. First, I went and got the mp3 of the message from Odeo and loaded it into Audacity. (No, not Jokosher; I’m at work, and there’s no Jokosher port for Windows. Audacity is still a free software audio editor, though, so being able to just download it is very handy indeed.) Audacity can read mp3s; I resampled it to 48000Hz (which made the peaks clearer) and made it mono (rather than stereo). At this point I could theoretically have decoded it by looking at the waveform: as you can see from this Audacity screenshot, that’s clearly the Morse code .... .. .-.-.- (short sound is a dot, long sound is a dash; that decodes to “HI.”) However, that’d be boring and laborious, and what if the message was five hours long, eh? You wouldn’t want to transcribe that by hand. So, get the computer to do it! I didn’t want to write an mp3 parser, though, and because I was on a Windows box I didn’t have GStreamer available which would have helped with this. So, I exported the sound from Audacity as a WAV file, and then went off and got sox, the Swiss Army knife of audio converters and another open source program. Sox can convert a sound sample to its “data” format, which is a load of lines that look like this:

 0 -6.1035156e-005 2.2675737e-005 -3.0517578e-005 4.5351474e-005 0 6.8027211e-005 -3.0517578e-005 9.0702948e-005 3.0517578e-005 0.00011337868 -3.0517578e-005 0.00013605442 0 0.00015873016 -3.0517578e-005 0.0001814059 -3.0517578e-005

where each line represents one sound frame; the first number is “number of seconds since the beginning of the sample”, and the second is “loudness of this frame”. So, that’s the answer! The loudness will be high where there was a sound and low where there wasn’t. I needed to go through the data and find all the loud bits and all the quiet bits; a long quiet bit is a space, a long loud bit is a dash, and a short loud bit is a dot. No problem: quick bit of Python scripting:

fp = open("jezza4.dat")
data = [int(abs(float(x.split()[1])) > 0.01) for x in fp.readlines()[2:]]
fp.close() # count all the runs
counts = []
current = -1
count = 0
for i in data: if i != current: counts.append((current,count)) current = i count = 0 count += 1 # now remove all short runs, which also removes the -1 row!
counts = [x for x in counts if x[1] >= 15] # and reaggregate everything
counts2 = []
current = -1
count = 0
for i in counts: if i[0] != current: counts2.append((current,count)) current = i[0] count = 0 count += i[1] mystr = ""
for x in counts2: if x[0] == 0: if x[1] > 350: mystr += " " elif x[0] == 1: if x[1] > 500: mystr += "-" else: mystr += "."
print mystr

and that printed out the Morse code for the message in dots and dashes! Nice and easy. Quick trip over to a Morse code converter to read it, and there we go. Message decoded. Good one, Tom. Oh, you want to know what it said? - --- ..- --. .... .-.. ..- -.-. -.- .-.-.- - .-. .- -. ... -.-. .-. .. -... . .. - -.-- --- ..- .-. ... . .-.. ..-. .-.-.- .-- . .-.. .-.. -.. --- -. . - --- -- .- -. - .... --- -. -.-- --..-- - .... --- ..- --. .... .-.-.-

# Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at 6:25pm

Previously on this day

15 years ago I wrote I've got the power

Praise Jeebus! Electricity has finally been restored to the beach house. It’s good to be back online.

15 years ago I wrote Frances has passed us

The storm has passed.

17 years ago I wrote New feature

I’ve add an extra little widget to my journal.

17 years ago I wrote The Decline Of Western Magazine Design

An excellent article detailing the homogenisation of magazine covers:

17 years ago I wrote The competitive sport of Cup Stacking

Take a look at this video from a cup stacking contest. It looks like some hollywood CGI effect but it’s actually real time cup stacking: