Category: Uncategorized

Noise Generators

I was very happy to see Profhacker’s post on online Noise Generators because it calls attention to how a very simple tool can greatly affect creativity and productivity. I first came across White Noise by TMSoft (hideous homepage design btw) while browsing through Google’s Play store after purchasing my first smartphone, the Motorola Droid (there are now versions for iOS, Windows, and Mac). At the time, my apartment had a window air conditioning unit that sounded like a 747 landing every time the compressor kicked in. Yes, my IPod worked well to minimize the noise, but I found myself trying to stay awake because I was enjoying the music too much. So the concept of a steady background noise generator sounded ideal. White Noise quickly became (and still is) one of my most used apps–for both sleep and work.

For sleeping purposes, it has a sleep function where I can set the length of time before the playing noise fades and exits the program. I find this better than leaving it playing all night. I generally set it to two to three hours. They also have a large selection of sounds–I prefer softer, lower toned noises for falling asleep. In the last year or so, they have added the ability to add more sounds created by users who upload them to their site. My thanks to those people. I’ve used many–Rain on a Tent is one of my favorites (again, I prefer a dimmed “thud” to a shrilly hairdryer). Although I don’t use the other features, you can create playlists as well as blended versions of the different noises. A number of the user created sounds use blending–say, the wind, with rain, and thunder. It also has a desk clock night mode that looks beautiful, but again, I don’t use it.

In terms of work, I use it as a way to smooth out background noises in places like coffee shops or at the library. It may seem counter-intuitive to use a Coffee Shop generated noise while working at an actual coffee shop, but with poor  piped-in music, or the rise of popularity of ice-drinks and their corresponding ice-crushing racket, the up and downness and intermittent jarring sounds can really ruin the atmosphere–and my ability to focus on my writing. With White Noise, all that fades away for me and becomes almost meditative.

 

 

edX

I noticed this post sitting in my Draft box since May of last year… Although it’s outdated, I think it’s still worth calling attention to given the Gold Rush to Online education climate we’re currently experiencing… If anyone knows how how well it’s been working since Last year or has personally taken one of their courses, please post about your experience within the comments.

I don’t know whether to feel excited by this announcement from Harvard and MIT’s new online education program, or sigh out a ho-hum–the way they talk, it’s as if no one has ever thought about online education before.(“Hey, there’s this new thing that’s going to revolutionize the world–it’s called “electronic mail!”).

Rather than the self-praise about innovation, I think what’s important to the rest of us is that two gorillas of education have made such a publicly formal declaration supporting online education. What they haven’t talked about however, is how what they are going to be doing is any different from anyone else–I’ve listened to a number of courses via Open Universities, YouTube in general, Udacity.com, Great Courses, as well as how my own university is approaching online education (asynchronously). What I would like to see is more discussion on different types of courses based on different subject matter (a physics course is/should work differently than a literature course online or in class). I would also like to see more discussion on costs–not only for the classes but also for the universities. In addition, I would like more discussion also on who “owns” the course content (or how it is determined).

One of the things this announcement kept focusing on was the numbers–they keep referencing thousands and millions. I can see their website now: “Over 1 billion served.”

NEH 2012 Jefferson Lecture: Wendell Barry

Kudos to the NEH for making inspiring lectures like this available online (it also streamed this live)

(I would have embedded the video, but I’m having a devil of a time disabling the autostart. Their embed code has no autostart variable, but I tried adding one and setting it to not play (play=”false”) along with other variations but none of my attempts have worked…)

Wendell Barry is one of those rare individuals who tries to walk his talk, inspiring the rest of us to also try. A write-up of the lecture appears here.