Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Electronics Sounds

277 words

Some machines make noises. Like cars or stereos. For the former ones it's the mechanics for the latter ones it's their job. In the ears of some people that's true for the former ones as well. In both cases, however, I can accept that they make noises and I can see why they do so. The same holds for the hard drive in my Powerbook, say.

But then there are other noises. Like the radio in our kitchen, which, when not playing crappy radio stations or having been completely unplugged by me will make a humming sound. Even for that there's probably an explanation: It's a crappy bit of ultra-cheap consumer electronics. Probably no engineering skill whatsoever went into building it.

But even that noise, probably related to a bad transformer or wiring, can be explained. What I am aiming for are even more subtle noises. Noises in electronics. Why does my Powerbook sometimes make a faint chirping sound when I am scrolling the content of a window? Why does a the large progress bar in Mail's activity window cause the same kind of chirping? Those are true mysteries to me. Why should displaying something on screen cause these sounds? Bad engineering?

Or take the iPod. Why is it that when it's really close to your ear you can hear a high pitched noise? I think it's related to the trackpad thing. When turning it off in that situation, you can even hear the iPod power down. It's quite strange.

And while probably less subtle, this is another example of such problems.

Is is too much to ask for shiny gadgets that are 'seen but not heard'?

March 6, 2004, 3:11

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