about & FAQ

absorptions is a blog about my hobbies. So far it's mostly about signals, electronics and programming, but may pick up a random new field at any point. It's a place for me to direct my need to talk nerdy. Why? I like the smell of unsolved mysteries. Call them obsessions or special interests; I call them absorptions.

Here I've collected some questions often asked in the comments section etc.

Contact info

How did you learn about signals and could you suggest literature?

See my nerd story. I learnt by spending most of my free time SWLing, programming, playing musical instruments, and reading for many, many years. This geeky stuff is what I've always enjoyed doing and I find it relaxing as well. It's like when some people like listening to heavy metal or reading manga, and end up having a lot of knowledge on the subject as a byproduct.

As an introduction to signals, The Scientist and Engineer's Guide to Digital Signal Processing is pretty good.

I don't sell ad space nor do I write sponsored content at this point.

Do you do talks or workshops?

Yes, I've talked about my blog at several events, notably Chaos Communication Congress (CCC) in Hamburg, 44CON in London, and t2 infosec in Helsinki. See above for contact info.

Videos of some talks:

What's your decoding software of choice?

I like to write my de/modulators from scratch. Simple and hassle-free. If I just want to quickly test something I may write it on the "math level" in Perl, using pack() and unpack() and the built-in trigonometric functions sin(), cos(). I then use SoX for sinc filtering, resampling, and file format conversions. If more throughput and usability is needed I may write the tool in C++ using my own wrappers for the liquid-dsp library. For simple FSK stuff, minimodem is the perfect choice.

Have you heard about GNU Radio?

I have heard about GNU Radio, but haven't found it particularly useful yet. I don't use GNU Radio in my projects.

What kind of radio hardware you've used in this blog?

In most radio-related projects I've used a cheap USB DVB-T receiver stick, also known as RTL-SDR. Some FM radio related projects were done using a modified "worldband receiver".

What's the software you use to draw graphics and waveforms?

For waveforms I use my own program called oscille (explained in a blog post). Baudline renders beautiful spectrograms. For graphics design and compositing I use Inkscape, GIMP, ImageMagick, and librsvg.

So you're a 'hacker'. That means you break into computers? Could you hack my friend's Facebook account?

No, this is a misconception. People who break into computers are security hackers; I'm not a security hacker. Contrary to popular belief, a 'hacker' is someone who misuses technology to learn and alter how it works. See hacker definition ambiguities on Wikipedia. Why I originally labeled myself a 'hacker' is explained in this post. I can't hack your friend's Facebook account.

Hui, olet siis hakkeri. Ethän murtaudu tietokoneelleni?

Tietokoneisiin murtautujat ovat tietoturvahakkereita; minä en ole tietoturvahakkeri. Vastoin yleistä käsitystä hakkerit ovat yleisemmin tietokoneiden ja muiden teknisten järjestelmien toiminnasta, muuntelusta ja rakentelusta innostuneita harrastajia. Populaarikulttuurissa sen merkitys on typistynyt tietoverkkorikolliseksi.

Tämän postauksen alusta selviää, miksi kutsuin itseäni hakkeriksi: erään salausmenetelmän kuvausdokumentissa todettiin, että salaus on riittävän vahva pysäyttääkseen muut paitsi "kaikkein määrätietoisimmat hakkerit", ja purin tämän salauksen.

Oletko ns. valkohattuhakkeri, joka paljastaa tietoturvahaavoittuvuuksia?

En ole; tämä on yleinen väärinkäsitys. Itse asiassa en tee minkäänlaisia tietoturvahommia, vaan olen työkseni ohjelmistokehittäjä eli ohjelmoija. En siis etsi tietoturvahaavoittuvuuksia enkä siksi myöskään voin sellaisia paljastaa.

Tämän postauksen alusta selviää, miksi kutsuin itseäni hakkeriksi: erään salausmenetelmän kuvausdokumentissa todettiin, että salaus on riittävän vahva pysäyttääkseen muut paitsi "kaikkein määrätietoisimmat hakkerit", ja purin tämän salauksen. Hakkeri on myös yleisemmin sana, jota käytetään näperrystasolla tietotekniikkaa harrastavista ihmisistä.

Will you decode this signal / write this program for me?

Yes, I can be paid to do reverse engineering or programming; see contact details above.

C++ and Perl are my preferred programming languages. I don't do GUI / mobile app / web development at this point. Please note that I also have a full-time job.

Could you release source code for this project you wrote about?

Unfortunately I don't usually release source code. This is to spare me of the burden of dealing with bug reports and support requests. Also, some of my hobby code might be Perl code that is write-only or unsafe for public use. All of my released source code is on GitHub.

What do you do for a living?

I work as a C++ programmer.

What's your educational background?

I'm a High School graduate, see my nerd story.

What are you working on right now?

I work full-time as a software developer. As or the blog, I always have some posts as drafts, but there are no rigid plans or schedules. Sometimes I take pauses of several months to think about other things that are outside the subject matter of this blog. These include classical music, photography, and the universe, broadly speaking.

How is your name pronounced?

It's /ɔ:nɑ/ ("awna").

I have questions!

I'm on ask.fm.


  1. Discovered the dial-up poster last year. Loved it.
    Discovered your blog today. Enjoyed it.
    Saw that you have a radio license. Congrats!

    de VA1DF

  2. I grew up hacking telephone systems, A lot of this for me is the old school of tech. Still, I find your signals analyses really interesting. Thanks again.


  3. Hi

    Great blog! Would you mind sharing the details of the HW you use for your investigations?


    1. Thanks, I've added info about that.

  4. Hi Oona,
    I started to follow your blog some years ago, congrats, I love this stuff... A personal question came up (sorry I'm curious), what's your type/result of Myers-Briggs test?


  5. Oona, what is the baudrate of the human ear and auditory processing system? What I mean is that someone could listen to and process a morse code transmission at 300 letters per second using just a single frequency (and different durations). If we added more frequencies could we double or quadruple this rate?

    1. Googling around, seems there's a world record for CW RX from 1939, at 75 WPM = 6 letters per second.

  6. hi, if you didnt know there is a nice project on SDR, modem, codecs. There is even a physics defying low power tests... http://www.rowetel.com/blog/


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