[an error occurred while processing this directive] Secret Codes and Crazy Cryptography [an error occurred while processing this directive] [an error occurred while processing this directive]

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Were you obsessed with morse code and secret languages as a kid? Now, with the help of the internet, you can continue to obsess indefinitely! Here's just a few of the coder/decoders out there. But first, to get us in the mood, here's Monty Python's Semaphore Version of Wuthering Heights.

Morse Code
Morse Code We might as well start with the classic, morse code. There are lots of tools online for getting going with this simple but flexible code. One of the best of them is Stephen Philip's translator. Morce code can be rendered in different forms; usually we think of it as audio, but it can also be expressed visually using an Aldis lamp (I haven't located a web-based simulator for that, but there's a stand-alone program called superaldis).

There's some reason to believe that morse code beats SMS texting in terms of potential speed, comparing expert to expert.

Hobo sign
hobo sign for kind person Hobo sign is a system of symbols used by hobos to tell each other about dangers or opportunities in a particular locality The cat sign on the right apparently means that a "kind-hearted woman lives here." There's also sign for man-with-gun lives here, and you-can-sleep-in-hayloft. Wikipedia has a little bit more information, and there's a good "alphabet" at slackaction, although there are plenty of variants.

This is a useful code for expressing evaluations of people and locations in, but might be difficult to translate Hamlet into. Hmm, sounds like a challenge to me...

Flag semaphore
semaphored can you hear me now With two flags and some free time, you can learn to say a lot with the semaphore code. There's a scout server to help with this. For the maritime signal flags, see the Naval Historical Center site. I'm brushing over a lot of subtleties about variations and dialects here.
DNA Yes, you can code your message in the stuff of life itself, with the attotron cybertoy secret coder tool. Apparently games like this are used in teaching. And maybe even in real life.
code quacker On our own site, we use a rather more traditional approach to encoding messages: words. The code quacker, encodes messages in a vocabulary of your choice - the quacking of a duck, the hissing of a snake, or something you make up yourself. This lets you send two messages: the original one, and the message conveyed by your choice of vocabulary. For example "Snuggle snuggle cuddle! Snuggle smooch hug! Hug wriggle! Snuggle hug. Hug tickle wriggle snuggle kiss." means "jerk". Fun, if a bit verbose.
Secret decoder ring
I mention these since they were a part of some people's childhood. Pick a fixed offset, and permute the letters of the alphabet by that amount. Child-like simplicity. For a basic online coder/decoder, see Goodnight Stories. But honestly, you don't really need a computer to help you with this one, do you? For details on this class of code (and why it is not a code, but a cipher), see Ron Hipschman's page.
Rather than hiding messages, some people try to come up with messages so clear that even aliens could understand them.
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