Noise for Nerds

myphone by Toys for Tentacles
myphone by Toys for Tentacles

I am the lucky person who was given a 27 inch quad-core iMac to work on at my office. A wondrous machine indeed. I was using a Dell equipped with very little memory and a 15 inch monitor. I had to reboot 3 times a day to get my work done; application windows were buried in layers waiting for an archaeologist to show up with little digging tools. Now, with my new machine I feel like a Star Trek captain flying through the future. I can run 5 applications simultaneously and work more efficiently but there is one major problem… noise.

Actually the problem is lack of noise, my flying machine time travels soundlessly. This is nice in many ways, especially when compared to the high pitched whine my Dell emitted as it struggled through my photo files. However, I miss the white noise of a fan running alongside the steady thrum of an inadequate hard drive. When I need to really concentrate I become over sensitive to the hubbub in the office. Of course, I could close my door to reduce the sounds outside but that seems unfriendly so I have been experimenting with headphones and music. I tried Pandora radio for a while but ended up looking up artist’s information, not the goal when I was trying to concentrate on work.

virtual white computer and myphone
Leviathan Akami's white computer and Anamkhai Sodwind's 'myphone'

Then I decided to experiment with the iPod Touch (I know, I know I am turning into an Apple fan girl). I discovered the iPhone App store has a range of ambient sound applications available. I began trying these out to see which worked best for tuning out the distractions around me.

The application Ambiance is a treasure trove of noise and some of the sounds do indeed help me concentrate. However, now I find myself distracted by questions as I scroll through my list of available Ambiance choices. I can’t help wonder about the person who opts to record a vent duct, missile silo, shuffling dominoes or a bath tub filling up with water. Judging by the number of ambient sound applications available we are witnessing the growth of a new industry of  kitsch sound collections.

ambiance in the iTunes App Store

ambiance in the iTunes App Store

Some applications even hint that scientific knowledge underpin their noise development.  These particular aural options combine binaural brainwave frequencies (designed to help you focus or fall asleep) with the sounds of nature. (Handle with care in the office…) You can select a particular type of brainwave then add this to the sound of waves and/or flute music etc. Brain Power AmbiScience delivers three noisy levels of static in the form of Brown, White and Pink Noise. I have discovered ‘Brown Noise’ with the binaural brainwave of ‘Focus’  often works well. Mind you, I am awfully suggestive and I have found that simply reading the description on the side of a packet of pills, potions or lotions cures me.

Brain-Power Lite by Ambi-Science
Brain-Power Lite by AmbiScience

However, after much research I have decided that the ultimate winner of all the ambient sounds I exposed my ears and brain to was none other than ‘Vintage Computer’. This is available on the Ambiance list of available downloads. It sounds like an old dot matrix printer and it drowns out other noises while encouraging an atmosphere of industry. Maybe the new sleek, (and very silent) iMac  should come pre-loaded with this ironic noise making widget?

Ambience's 'Vintage Computer' enhances my silent running Mac
Ambiance's 'Vintage Computer' enhances my silent running Mac

Notes on featured Second Life items:

MyPhone 2.0 created by Anamkhai Sodwind and on sale at Toys for Tentacles in Second Life

White computer created by Leviathan Akami on sale at Leviathan Evans Designs

5 thoughts on “Noise for Nerds

  1. you should really just play radio 4…
    evokes all those emotions..and you can fall asleep before the end of the play…and awake again at “Farming Today”..
    ok (I resist the Iside..)

  2. A lovely fast Mac and not enough noise! Surely the solution is easy…

    …just stick a little bit of paper into the Mac’s fan so it goes brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

    1. Oh, you mean like the playing card that flicks against the spokes on my bike’s back wheel? Good idea…

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