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.