[CQ-Contest] Contesting Technology - Phone Skimmer Nears Beta Test

Pete Smith N4ZR n4zr at contesting.com
Wed Apr 1 06:04:51 EDT 2015

To CQ Contest: This press release appeared in PY1NB’s mailbox a few days 
ago.The original was written in Esperanto, presumably to disguise the 
national origin of those involved, but we have managed to get it 
translated, and believe that the news it transmits is too important not 
to pass it on.



April 1, 2015 Teresopolis, Brazil

_Phone Skimmer in Alpha Test_

Thanks to an anonymous NSA computer scientist who is presumed to be a 
radio amateur, working computer code for a Phone Skimmer has been made 
available to a clandestine development team, and will be released for 
beta test to the amateur radio community in coming months.It promises to 
bring to phone contesting and DXing the same incredible capabilities 
that VE3NEA’s CW and RTTY Skimmers have brought to those modes.

It was long thought that the decoding problems posed by human speech, 
even with the limited vocabulary employed by radio amateurs, rendered a 
workable automated system beyond the reach of anyone but the NSA and 
their competitors in the shadowy world of signals 
intelligence.Fortunately,as predicted by Moore’s Law, recent 
developments in microprocessor architecture such as Intel’s new Skylake 
series have made it possible to move voice recognition and decoding from 
a massively-parallel-processor environment to a relatively 
straightforward 32-core CPU.The development team believes that within a 
few months PCs running these CPUs under Windows 10 will be able to begin 
serious beta testing.

Lest readers question whether the new Phone Skimmer is just more 
vaporware, the development team has been using alpha test versions of 
the software since last fall’s CQWW SSB contest.While the testers are 
not yet ready to disclose their identities, the emergence of some new 
calls in the top ranks of phone contesting since then demonstrates the 
impact it can have.

At the same time, the developers wish to emphasize the challenges that 
remain before the phone Skimmer can reach full potential.Testing against 
phonetics in different languages, as well as English phonetics when 
pronounced by non-native speakers, has brought out some of the hardest 
issues.High accuracy in copying the International phonetics Juliet, 
Kilo, Lima, Romeo and Golf, for example, will probably depend on rapid 
lookup in Super Check Partial files and online licensing databases to 
help accuracy,Similarly, numbers like Five and Nine pose special 
challenges, and may lead to initiatives to do away with signal reports 
altogether in contests.

The development team has asked me to represent them in the media, to 
spare them the bombardment of e-mails from radio amateurs from Ireland 
to California to Thailand, so they can get the product ready for beta 
release as soon as possible.Please bear with us as, once again, 
technology moves forward!


Larson E. Rapp, WIOU

Ludditeville, WV

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