Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Message in the WD Drive Heat Vents

Sheva Apelbaum WW II Morse Code Operator

I have been using an WD My World Book Edition II external hard drive for my photographs, music, and movies file storage.  It has been a great and reliable hard drive up until recently, when it decided that it no longer wanted to power up.

WD My World Book Edition II

My dad and I tried to troubleshoot it, but after some work, we found out that it was most likely that the internal power supply was failing.  Unfortunately, it turns out that Western Digital, the manufacturer of the drive, no longer makes replacement parts for it. I figured that it would be a shame to just throw it out so we decided to just put it on a shelf, and there it  stayed  for several months. 

Every day, I would walk by it and look at the cooling vent holes on the back of it.  Last week, I noticed that the vent holes are one of two types:

1. Round holes, and
2. Dashes (with various spaces between them)

I have been studying for a HAM Radio license and suddenly it occurred to me that these holes looked exactly like Morse code markings.  I took a closer look at the drive and, sure enough, it was covered on all three sides with these markings.  After closer examination, I saw that some of the groups of symbols appeared to repeat themselves.

Was it possible that Western Digital used these cooling vent holes to encode a Morse message onto the drive?  There was only one way to find out!

456  

I took a picture of my drive on all three sides and started to decode it.  I first tried to decipher each side independently, but I couldn’t make any sense of it that way.  I then tried reading the text  from top to bottom and backwards, but I still had no luck.  Finally, I tried connecting text on all three sides together and read them as a single message (using a single dot as a word separator, or space).  When I reached the end of the line, I just wrapped it to the next line. 

.--. . .-. ... --- -. .- .-.. ... .. -- .--. .-.. . .-. . .-.. .. .- -... .-.. . .. -. -. --- ...- .- - .. ...- . -.. . ... .. --. -. .. -. -. --- ...- .- - .. ...- . -.. . ... .. --. -. ... .. -- .--. .-.. . .--. . .-. ... --- -. .- .-.. .-. . .-.. .. .- -... .-.. . ... .. -- .--. .-.. . .. -. -. --- ...- .- - .. ...- . .--. . .-. ... --- -. .- .-.. .-. . .-.. .. .- -... .-.. . .--. . .-. ... --- -. .- .-.. ... .. -- . .--. .-.. . .-. . .-.. .. .- -... .-.. . .. -. -. --- ...- .- - .. ...- . -.. . ... .. --. -. .. -. -. --- ...- .- - .. ...- . -.. . ... .. --. -. ... .. -- .--. .-.. . .--. . .-. ... --- -. .- .-.. .-. . .-.. .. .- -... .-.. . ... .. -- .--. .-.. . .. -. -. --- ...- .- - .. ...- . .. -. -. --- ...- .- - .. ...- . -.. . ... .. --. -. .--. . .-. ... --- -. .- .-.. .--. . .-. ... --- -. .- .-.. .--. . .-. ... --- -. .-.. -.. . ... .. --. -.

I struck gold!  Before my very eyes a message started to appear:  PERSONALSIMPLERELIABLE… I immediately recognized the first word “Personal”, then “Simple”, then “Reliable”, etc.

Sheva Apelbaum Morse Code

After 30 minutes of decoding, I had the entire message:

PERSONALSIMPLERELIABLEINNOVATIVEDESIGNINNOVATIVEDESIGNSIMPLEPERSONALRELIABLESIMPLEINNOVATIVEPERSONALRELIABLEPERSONALSIMEPLERELIABLEINNOVATIVEDESIGNINNOVATIVEDESIGNSIMPLEPERSONALRELIABLESIMPLEINNOVATIVEINNOVATIVEDESIGNPERSONALPERSONALPERSONLDESIGN

Properly spaced and capitalized, it reads:

Personal-Simple-Reliable-Innovative-Design-Innovative-Design-Simple-Personal-Reliable-Simple-Innovative-Personal-Reliable-Personal-Simple-Reliable-Innovative-Design-Innovative-Design-Simple-Personal-Reliable-Simple-Innovative-Innovative-Design-Personal-Personal-Personal-Design

It was very satisfying to have decoded the message.  Kudos to .-- . -.. for coming up with the idea!

2 comments:

  1. Are there Nobel prizes for kids????

    :-)

    You are a unbelievable girl Sheva!

    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much Yael! I'm so glad you enjoy my posts. :)

    ReplyDelete