Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Toggle line numbers on vim

For the series "I Can Survive Without Knowing This", how to toggle line numbers on vim:

:se nu!

You can enable automatically line numbers in your vimrc by adding 'se nu', or to make it a little more readable, 'set number'.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

VoIP calls encoded with SILK: from RTP to WAV


SILK is a codec defined by Skype, but can be found in many VoIP clients, like CSipSimple.
It comes in different flavours (sample rates and frame sizes), from narrowband (8 KHz) to wideband (24 KHz).
Since Wireshark doesn't allow you to decode an RTP stream carrying SILK frames, I was curious to find a programmatic way to do it. In fact, this has also allowed to me to earn a "tumbleweed" badge in stackoverflow.
You may argue that a Wireshark plugin would be the right solution, but that's probably for another day.

Initially I thought it was sufficient to read the specification for RTP payload when using SILK; the truth is that I had to reverse engineer a solution by looking at SILK SDK's test vectors.
There, I discovered that a file containing SILK audio doesn't have the file header indicated in the IETF draft ("!#SILK"), but a slightly different one ("!#SILK_V3").

More importantly, each encoded frame is not preceded by a block header, but by two bytes specifying its length.
Given these findings, it was a matter of extracting the RTP payload for each packet.

In Wireshark, I've selected the RTP stream I wanted to decode and exported it as raw binary.

A problem was that SILK doesn't have a fixed length to represent an audio frame. By using libpcap (libpcap0.8 on Debian squeeze) though, I could simply loop on the list of packets, read each length, subtract the packet header length and retrieve the exact payload length. I did this in C, but any other libpcap implementation (e.g. for python or perl) would do. Using libpcap is not strictly necessary, but helps, in particular when padding is involved.

Once the bitstream was ready, I decoded it in raw PCM format with the decoder available in the SILK SDK (downloadable from here). I knew the original encoded audio was at 24 KHz and 20 msec/frame, which also happen to be the decoder's default settings.

$ ./decoder ~/silk_from_rtp.bit ~/silk_from_rtp.raw

From the raw PCM to a WAV, handy to play on any PC, the step is easy and sox does the job. I just had to specify the sample rate, again of course 24 KHz, the encoding (16 bit unsigned, little-endian), and that was it!

$ sox -V -t raw -b 16 -e signed-integer -r 24000 silk_from_rtp.raw silk_from_rtp.wav

UPDATE (11/9/2014): The SILK SDK (and dev.skype.com) has disappeared. If you want to download it, try this (I used version 1.0.9).