Dash to join in with dotty web chat

25th March 2005 at 00:00
".- - .-.. .- ... - - ....- .- - . .. - . - . .-.. .-.. .. - . . - . - - .... .-. . .- - .."

These were the jubilant words of "Shifter", a TES online staffroom contributor who had clearly been waiting for this moment: a thread written almost entirely in Morse code.

For those not fluent in Morse it means: "At last - an intelligent thread."

Others soon logged on to the chatroom and the thread promised to live up to all that Shifter had hoped for, if not more. It became a battle of wits, with wags even quoting AE Housman, who just happens to be a favourite poet of one Inspector Morse.

"Old Harry" chipped in that he had learned how to use the code in the navy.

But Old Harry must have been on dry land for a while because it took him a couple of attempts to spell SOS correctly.

Before long a website that could automatically translate Morse code was tracked down by a contributor, a move that riled "Strawberrykate". "Oi, that translator is cheating!" she cried... in Morse.

Even attempts to placate her in code went unheeded. "-.-. .... . .- - . .-.

... - . . ...- . .-. .-. .-. - - ... .-. . .-." she sermonised ("cheaters never prosper") .

Strawberrykate need not have worried: even using the Morse translator proved too much for some contributors and they resorted to other means to join the thread. "Sorry I only did semaphore in the Brownies, so here goes," said one - before saying that she was now waving her arms frantically at her computer screen.

Shifter's dream of an "intelligent" thread was already starting to look a bit shaky when "laptop babe" took things in an altogether less cerebral, but rather popular, direction.

"I know this is naughty," she said. "But I can't resist. I want to see if the TES filter detects swear words in Morse..."

For the record, it didn't - but it does now.

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