There are a lot of really weird things that you can accomplish when you start combining different technologies that exist today. Today, you’ve got email, text messaging, RSS feeds, chat rooms, and countless other text-based methods to communicate. There are so many ways to communicate information to each other, that sometimes it’s easy to forget all of the methods we’ve used in the past to communicate.
However, when you do pause for a moment and look back at how we used to transmit information in the past, you can discover some very unique and interesting ways to transmit information today, by combining both new and old technologies.
Combining RSS Feeds & Morse Code
One method of data transmission that I will share with you today is through the use of a very cool Morse code software tool called Morse News, which will read in textual RSS feeds, and actually convert them to morse code for you.
The application actually has the capacity to send the output to the serial port to emit the morse code out of a telegraph sounder. The method that I’m going to use Morse News doesn’t involve any physical hardware though. I’m going to use it to record an RSS feed to an audio file for sending to a recipient who can then decode the audio file.
The main control display of Morse News is very straightforward. Type in the RSS feed that you want to convert to morse, adjust the speed and how recent you would like the extracted news items to be, and the application will do the rest.
How you record the emitted morse code can get a little tricky. Windows 7 doesn’t let Audacity users record straight from the sound card, unless your sound card has the “record what you hear” functionality. Mine doesn’t, so I just plugged in the earpiece microphone that I use to record phone interviews, put on my stereo headset, and recorded the morse code that way.
When you press start on the Morse News app, it will extract the RSS news items and start scrolling them along the bottom of the window while emitting the corresponding morse code.
Here’s what the morse code looked like while I was recording it via audacity. Even if you are using my method, where there may be a little bit of background noise, so long as the distinction between tone / no-tone is clear enough, the decoding software (which I’ll show you below) shouldn’t have a problem extracting the actual text.
Transmitting & Decoding The Morse Code
Your first question now might be what exactly would you use this for? Why would you want to send a morse code translation of news rather than the textual RSS feed itself?
Well, with some creativity, it’s a tool that you can use to transmit information without anyone realizing it. Most of the Internet surveillance efforts out there, whether it’s a small-time private investigator or an FBI agent, involves tapping into the Internet transmission and then analyzing the packets of information to extract the information. If you live in a country like China, sharing the news with friends (or receiving news from the outside) can be difficult because of the great firewall of China. Using this method, it’s harder for eavesdroppers to catch that information.
But how does the recipient decode the morse? I prefer a little app I wrote about here at MUO earlier called CwGet.
In that article, I created a message to transmit, and then translated in CwGet. In this case, Morse News is creating the morse code. When you’re using CwGet to translate, the speed and the code you’re using needs to be right. Set Morse News to International, and try to slow the speed down to about 15 words per minute or less.
As you can see below, all I got was gibberish until I landed on the right morse code format (International) and made it slow enough so that CwGet could analyze the sound and convert it back to text.
As you can see above, once CwGet is tuned to the morse code you’re creating with Morse News, it converts it to text pretty well – you just need to figure out where the spaces go, but it’s not that difficult. The transmitted news above reads: “1602z = ap – When David Evans needed a hernia operation, the 69 – year old farmer became so alarmed by the long wait, that he used an ultrasound machine for pregnant sheep…”
Not a single letter missed from the original text message. Pretty slick. And what’s nice about Morse News is that you can set up multiple news feeds that you want to extract recent news from to convert to morse code. You just have to create a text file listing the feeds.
Then, in Morse News you click on “Get Feed List” and select the file.
If you think about it, the ability to transmit news via sound (maybe over a radio channel or CB), rather than straight text, could have a whole list of cool uses, with just a little imagination and ingenuity.
Now that you have the ability to translate Internet news into sound transmission and then back again using the technique above, what sort of uses can you think up for it? Share your own ideas in the comments section below.
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