Weekly Head Voices #75: Nature White Noise.

This post is going to be really short, so I’m giving you this 80s theme song to compensate:


In week 25, I finally got around to writing that level sets blog post I’ve been warning everyone about. If you’re into that type of thing, the level set method is an interesting alternative way to represent N-dimensional surfaces evolving through space. Read all about it in Level sets: The practical 10 minute introduction.

Tina Wen, an engineer at Dropbox, wrote up her how I work blog post at lifehacker. I’m a sucker for those types of posts, but what stuck with me this time, was her description of how she keeps out ambient noise at work:

I use earplugs, with headphones over them playing white noise, to tune out the commotion of the office. … Always the same album—Sounds of Nature White Noise for Mindfulness Meditation and Relaxation. It’s just the sound of a mountain stream, and it helps me tune out distractions when I’m trying to get stuff done.

Crazy engineer! Listening to the same album over and over…

Well, the album she mentions can be found on YouTube, and now I’ve been listening to it over and over. I have to report that it works surprisingly well at helping to zone out ambient noise and zone into programming work.

This stuff is relatively mild. It turns out there’s a whole industry built on the pseudo-science of brainwave entrapment, using terms like binaural beats and isochronic tones, all claiming to be able to reprogram your brainwaves!

Whatever the case may be, it’s fun going through some of the tracks, with titles like the intriguing “Increase Concentration With Study Focus Pulsating Synth (Isochronic Tones)”, and the especially dangerous-sounding “WARNING! Extremely Powerful Brainwave Binaural – Mind Control Power – Alpha”. You might want to avoid the comments (just in case some of that stuff is contagious), instead reading this blog post debunking the current state of affairs.

Pipe up in the comments if you’ve played with white noise and other types of audio to zone out your environment and into your work!

After a more than sufficient amount of white noise and extreme programming during the week, we spent the shortest and most wintery day of the year (winter solstice, yeah!) in the Helderberg Nature Reserve, more or less in my backyard. It looked like this: