Saturday, November 17, 2007

Colossus Breaks Code, But Loses Race

Having finally intercepted the radio messages (we know how poor conditions are in solar minimums), the Bletchley Park museum staff put the rebuilt Colossus computer to work on them, while also giving them to a Colossus emulator programmed on a common laptop PC.

The PC beat the 2000-tube, paper-tape-based Colossus, but not by much. Actually, though, another crypto type who'd written his own software already had them both beat.

Still, the clunky replica machine, which fills a large room, was able to break a long message in a complex RTTY Baudot encipherment scheme in about 4 hours, 20 minutes. Not too shabby for vacuum tubes, even though a couple of "valves" blew out toward the end.

It was the timeliness of the decipherment which made these machines so important in shortening World War II. In particular, it gave planners of the D-Day invasion useful information about German defense preparations.

BBC:

Last Updated: Friday, 16 November 2007, 13:43 GMT

Colossus loses code-cracking race

By Mark Ward

Technology Correspondent, BBC News website

An amateur cryptographer has beaten Colossus in a code-cracking challenge set up to mark the end of a project to rebuild the pioneering computer.

...

At the same time as Colossus cranked through the messages a separate team used a virtual Colossus on a laptop to read the scrambled messages. That too beat Colossus and deciphered the message mid-morning on Friday.

...

The ciphertext from the messages will also be placed on the museum's website so amateur code-crackers who do not have access to radio can have a go at breaking the signals.

UK Colossus Computer Decrypting Messages Again!

The huge, vacuum-tube- and paper-tape-based Colossus computer, widely accepted as the first truly programmable machine, will be put to work breaking Nazi coded messages again. These will be real intercepts of transmissions with the original German WWII encipherment devices by special event hams in Germany. The copy from receivers in the UK will be put through a replica of the original 10 Colossus machines that helped win the war by deciphering the Lorenz transmissions sent to the secret crypto facility at Bletchley Park.

All plans to the Colossus were destroyed for secrecy, but this is as close as anyone can get. It still uses tubes and a paper tape reader, and so it is still, uh, colossal. A standard COTS personal computer will be programmed to emulate the Colossus, and decryption times will be compared.

BBC:

Last Updated: Thursday, 15 November 2007, 14:59 GMT

Colossus cracks codes once more

By Mark Ward
Technology Correspondent, BBC News website

For the first time in more than 60 years a Colossus computer is cracking codes at Bletchley Park.

...

The re-built Colossus will be put to work on intercepted radio messages transmitted by radio amateurs in Paderborn, Germany that have been scrambled using a Lorenz SZ42 machine - as used by the German high command in wartime.

...

Speaking to the BBC, Andy Clark, one of the founders of the Trust for the National Museum of Computing, said radio problems had stopped the challenge getting under way on time.

"The radio path has not been particularly good between Germany and here," he said. "We are at a bad point in the sunspot cycle."

Signals had improved throughout the day, he added, and he hoped to get 100% of the ciphertext - the code - through soon.


Stay tuned...

More XSS

16 November (UTC):

10420.0 XSS sounding at 0017, 0047, 2358.
14782.5 XSS sounding at 0044.

17 November (UTC):

14728.5 XSS sounding at 0025.
10193.5 XSS sounsing at 0029.

Other times and frequencies are no joy. The fact that the best signals seem to come in the late afternoon local time in November would tend to rule out the UK as a source. Perhaps XSS/ DHFCS/ TASCOMM is continuing to add transmitters as the network is built out and used by the UK military.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

XSS Finally Heard in Western US!

XSS is the Automatic Link Establishment address (ID) for the probable control station of the UK's new Defence High-Frequency Communication System (DHFCS). The control location is Forest Moor, England, though remotes are possible. It has been heard widely in Europe and the eastern US, but not out here on the Left Coast.

Not until today (UTC date 15 November), anyway. Several ALE soundings have been received on 14728.5 kHz. Here's the PC-ALE output:

[01:03:16][FRQ 14278500][SND][TWS][XSS ][AL0] BER 28 SN 02
[01:03:13][FRQ 14278500][SND][TWS][XSS ][AL0] BER 24 SN 02
[01:03:11][FRQ 14278500][SND][TWS][XSS ][AL0] BER 16 SN 01
[01:03:10][FRQ 14278500][SND][TWS][XSS ][AL0] BER 20 SN 01
[00:33:02][FRQ 14278500][SND][TWS][XSS ][AL0] BER 21 SN 07

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

PEMEX ALE Net

11095.0 kHz ALE is very busy with soundings from Pemex (Mexican oil company) facilities in the Gulf of Mexico. In the past few minutes, calls copied include ATASTA1, AKALJ2, REBOM1, ATASTA2, REBOM2, AKALN1, AKALN2, and AKALL1. All are soundings, all passing the first three characters in the TWS word, and the rest in DATA.

Oddly, the only other frequency being reported for this net is on 2182 kHz, the international USB distress and calling frequency, where it is stepping on other traffic.

Space Shuttle Landing Scheduled for Wednesday

Wednesday landing opportunities are at 1:01 p.m. and 2:36 p.m. EST. The backup landing sites at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and White Sands Space Harbor, N.M., will not be activated on Wednesday. Presumably, they will be if weather forces a wave-off until Thursday.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hurricane Noel Forecast/Advisory #22

That's right. Noel is now a hurricane. Wouldn't you know the deadliest storm this year, and the only one to come north, would be in November. Now here's the good news:


000
WTNT21 KNHC 020239
TCMAT1
HURRICANE NOEL FORECAST/ADVISORY NUMBER 22
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL AL162007
0300 UTC FRI NOV 02 2007

AT 11 PM EDT...0300 UTC...ALL WATCHES AND WARNINGS FOR THE BAHAMAS HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED.

A GALE WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR BERMUDA.

HURRICANE CENTER LOCATED NEAR 27.3N 76.1W AT 02/0300Z
POSITION ACCURATE WITHIN 20 NM

PRESENT MOVEMENT TOWARD THE NORTH-NORTHEAST OR 30 DEGREES AT 17 KT

ESTIMATED MINIMUM CENTRAL PRESSURE 981 MB
MAX SUSTAINED WINDS 70 KT WITH GUSTS TO 85 KT.
64 KT....... 40NE 0SE 0SW 0NW.
50 KT....... 75NE 60SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT.......125NE 100SE 25SW 100NW.
12 FT SEAS..540NE 300SE 30SW 210NW.
WINDS AND SEAS VARY GREATLY IN EACH QUADRANT. RADII IN NAUTICAL MILES ARE THE LARGEST RADII EXPECTED ANYWHERE IN THAT QUADRANT.

REPEAT...CENTER LOCATED NEAR 27.3N 76.1W AT 02/0300Z
AT 02/0000Z CENTER WAS LOCATED NEAR 26.6N 76.5W

FORECAST VALID 02/1200Z 29.5N 74.7W
MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT.
64 KT... 40NE 0SE 0SW 0NW.
50 KT... 75NE 60SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT...150NE 150SE 25SW 120NW.

FORECAST VALID 03/0000Z 33.0N 72.5W...EXTRATROPICAL
MAX WIND 65 KT...GUSTS 80 KT.
64 KT... 40NE 40SE 0SW 0NW.
50 KT...120NE 120SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT...240NE 240SE 0SW 320NW.

FORECAST VALID 03/1200Z 37.5N 69.5W...EXTRATROPICAL
MAX WIND 65 KT...GUSTS 80 KT.
64 KT... 40NE 40SE 0SW 0NW.
50 KT...180NE 180SE 150SW 180NW.
34 KT...360NE 360SE 300SW 360NW.

FORECAST VALID 04/0000Z 42.5N 66.5W...EXTRATROPICAL
MAX WIND 75 KT...GUSTS 90 KT.
50 KT...240NE 240SE 150SW 150NW.
34 KT...480NE 480SE 300SW 240NW.

FORECAST VALID 05/0000Z 53.0N 58.5W...EXTRATROPICAL
MAX WIND 70 KT...GUSTS 85 KT.
50 KT...300NE 300SE 0SW 0NW.
34 KT...480NE 540SE 480SW 240NW.

EXTENDED OUTLOOK. NOTE...ERRORS FOR TRACK HAVE AVERAGED NEAR 225 NM ON DAY 4 AND 300 NM ON DAY 5...AND FOR INTENSITY NEAR 20 KT EACH DAY

OUTLOOK VALID 06/0000Z 62.5N 50.0W...EXTRATROPICAL
MAX WIND 60 KT...GUSTS 75 KT.

OUTLOOK VALID 07/0000Z...DISSIPATED

REQUEST FOR 3 HOURLY SHIP REPORTS WITHIN 300 MILES OF 27.3N 76.1W

NEXT ADVISORY AT 02/0900Z

$$
FORECASTER AVILA