White Noise

I listen to white noise most of the day. It’s the background sound that drowns out my tinnitus that isn’t a distraction like letting Netflix run in the background. While plenty of folks make claims that it boosts brainpower, I’d argue it’s probably because folks tend to be more focused.

While sites like Noisli and A Soft Murmur allow users to make general white noise sounds to cancel or at least drown out tinnitus and nearby room noise, I find that actually noisy sounding white noise is best for me.

In order to add my two cents to the endless stream of opinions on the Internet, I’ll recommend a few videos from two channels that I use almost everyday.

Sleep Ambient

This channel has two main focuses - general fantasy settings and video game environments. It’s particularly good for its blend of environmental noises - the weather, the interior sounds, active agents (typically animals) and maybe water.

It’s also a good place to appreciate the sound designers of video games and their level of detail for environments the player is typically running past. The channel is often in fact recordings of just letting the game run without moving the controller, as every now and then game notifications will pop up.

Harry Potter ASMR

I liked the Harry Potter series but even if you didn't, this channel does an excellent job of not only doing environmental mixes as Sleep Ambient does, but also creating shifts in those environments over time, such as with the "Dumbledore's Office" where presumbably he wanders to grab a book or in the Three Broomsticks where the noise will get louder as the pub fills up and quieter as guests leave. Of course, you only see a few minor shadows moving in and out of the pub.

I greatly appreciate the people who put these mixes together. For anyone with tinnitus or prone to easy distraction, the soundscapes provide an ignorable level of distraction and the right amount of audio buffer.

I would been in a massive debt to YouTube if they would set the commercials to ones that don’t involve people screaming right before or in these middle of these videos. 


Civilization is Words

A civilization runs on words, Your Reverence. Civilization is words. Which, on the whole, should not be too expensive. The world turns, Your Reverence, and we must spin with it...Once upon a time nations fought like great grunting beasts in a swamp. Ankh-Morpork ruled a large part of that swamp because it had the best claws. But today gold has taken the place of steel and, my goodness, the Ankh-Morpork dollar seems to be the currency of choice. Tomorrow...perhaps the weaponry will be just words. The most words, the quickest words, the last words.

Terry Pratchett, Truth

Haul from Powell's

Went to Powell's the other week and got a might haul of books from their computer sections. None of these are very modern, but I love old books.


The Art of Computer Programming Vol 2


Switching and Finite Automata Theory

Charles Babbage: On the Principles and Dvelopment of the Calculator and Other Seminal Writing

Towards Skyscrapers

I was once asked by an employer what I wanted to build and I told him (a couple drinks in at this point) - skyscrapers.

I'm no architect, what I meant, was that I wanted to build large pieces of software. The challenge of a large piece of software is there for most developers whether they are working in OS, web apps, games or whatever else. There is some skyscraper for your world. Except, maybe brouchure-ware.

Walking in downtown Seattle, I realize that I feel should never be trusted to build a skyscraper. What do I know to preserve a standing structure in the face of a real world environment? I take solace in the three posts below of a few people who started by asking simple questions and built cities from there.

Larry Page co-founder of Google on a Java forum asking about User-Agents:

I have a web robot which is a Java app. I need to be able to set the User-Agent field in the HTTP header in order to be a good net citizen (so people know who is accessing their server). Anyone have any ideas?

Notch inventor of Minecraft, sharing his alpha build:

It's an alpha version, so there might be crashes. You can read some background and insight on my blog available from the game page. The main inspiration for this game is Infiniminer, but it's going to move in a more Dwarf Fortress way, gameplay wise. =)

[Personally - I'm a little disappointed he didn't keep fortress mode]

Linus Benedict Torvalds asking for documentation for a project:

Due to a project I'm working on (in minix), I'm interested in the posix standard definition. Could somebody please point me to a (preferably) machine-readable format of the latest posix rules? Ftp-sites would be nice.

No one starts by building Skyscrapers and I guess after all, history didn't either.

Found on the Streeet

Found this drawing on the side of the road in a box of great books. It looked like it was part of a batch of assignments. It's hard to make out, but it was a simple drawing of a phone. However, the top was a list of everything that was wrong about it, clearly written by the artist (penmanship of the signature looks the same). Maybe it was a part of an assignment, but I hate to think that someone would be so critical of just trying. 

Particularly, because their pictures of dogs were quite nice. 

Outside of the set

Leibniz's belief in a universal digital coding embodied his principle of maximum diversity: infinite complexity from finite rules. "Nothing is a better analogy to , or even demonstration of such creation than the origin of numbers as here represented , using only unity and zero or nothing," he wrote to the Duke of Brunswick in 1697, urging that a silver medallion be struck (with a portrait of the duke on the reverse) to help bring the powers of binary arithmetic, and "the creation of all thing out of nothing through God's omnipotence," to the attention of the world.

Where does this meaning come in? If everything is assigned a number, does this diminish the meaning in the world? What Gödel (and Turing) proved is that formal systems will, sooner or later, produce meaningful statements whose truth can be proven only outside the system itself. This limitation does not confine us to a world with any less meaning. It proves, on the contrary, that we live in a world where higher meaning exists.

Turing's Cathedral, George Dyson

3 Game Programming Books I Will Never Use

I so wanted these books as a teenager. Unfortunately, my parent's computer wouldn't have run either Java or DirectX to the requirements, but I guess I figured if I had them, I could figure out a way. Still they filled my head with the games I would've created had, which were mainly slight variations on other popular games, ideas I had no materials for whatsoever (such as the popular CD-ROM games of the time), or things that were the video game equivalent of a screenplay about "two friends go on a road trip", usually RPGs in some dystopia (thanks Final Fantasy VII) or something that the computer wouldn't have the memory for.

Either way, it was worth the $4.00 total to purchase for the memories. Also, gotta love those covers.

Two Microwaves

I have two microwaves in my life that have design features I cannot understand.

The first, pictured above, is at my house. For some reason, you have to press "Time Cook" to get it to run through a timer. I understand the manufacturers were trying to create a distinction between timed and auto cook, but honestly, shouldn't time cook be the default? And then, whatever else can just be a special button. 

The second is at my office, and it beeps its full cycle of end beeps regardless of whether you've opened the door. What is the point of that? Yes, I get that it's an extra check for the manufacturer to test if the door is open. But pissing off your users is probably not the best alternative feature.

Also, I want to know what possessed the person above to post that video. 

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