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ChatterBlocker — Block Distracting Speech at Work

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the can-you-hear-what-my-mouth-is-saying dept.

204

An anonymous reader writes "ChatterBlocker is a PC program that uses digital audio technology to neutralize the sound of speech and other distractions so you can stay focused at work or elsewhere." Personally I just crank the tunes. Anyone know if this actually works or if it's a scam? Or is it just a white noise generator?

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204 comments

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Free Speech? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536126)

I dunno. Sounds like it would have a chilling effect on free speech [slashdot.org] to me.

Re:Free Speech? (4, Insightful)

CdXiminez (807199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536278)

No, it supports the freedom to choose what to listen to.
One does not have an obligation to listen to everybody's use of free speech.

Re:Free Speech? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536362)

Hear that "whooshing" sound? That's the joke/subtle jab going right over your head.

Re:Free Speech? (3, Funny)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536734)

Oh, phew! I thought it was the sound of my latest deadline whizzing by!

Re:Free Speech? (0, Offtopic)

CdXiminez (807199) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537438)

Trust me, I caught it.
Just had to vent my little frustration over people producing intellectual noise and saying they're exercising their right to free speech.

obvious (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536130)

Nothing to hear here, move along.

Can you hear what my mouth is saying? (5, Funny)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536284)

I just keep a bowl of crunchy cereal at my desk AT ALL TIMES.

Re:obvious (-1, Redundant)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536822)

Nothing to hear here, don't listen along...

Could be... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536146)

Could be sound-cancelling software, ie. you get a microphone and then reverse the phase of what's coming in, then pump that out...

RTFA (4, Informative)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537140)


Does ChatterBlocker use noise cancellation?

        No. Noise cancellation would not be effective over speakers, and noise cancelling headphones have limited effectiveness in silencing voice.

        Good quality noise cancelling headphones are great for reducing low-frequency sounds, such as airplane engine rumble, but they are not as effective in the 2 to 8 kHz consonant range that conveys much of the speech intelligibility.



        How does ChatterBlocker work?

                ChatterBlocker masks unwanted office chatter using a soothing blend of nature sounds, music and anti-chatter voices.

                It also offers mindfulness meditation tracks intended to increase concentration, reduce distractibility and minimize the stress response to office noise.


So i guess the way it works is by making sounds that blend with other background noises, but aren't as annoying (in theory).

Earplugs (4, Funny)

owlman17 (871857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536154)

This http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earplugs [wikipedia.org] ought to work just as well, if not better.

Cheaper too I'd suppose.

Re:Earplugs (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536304)

In his first novel World of Ptaavs (now part of the Three Books of Known Space [amazon.com] omnibus) Larry Niven suggested that over the next couple of centuries people would evolve to be able to more powerfully focus on relevant conversation and filter out noise. The growing population, he suggested, would result in all public spaces being much more full of chatter than now. People would be driven mad if they didn't adapt.

It seems a better solution than earplugs, which would block out everything, even useful sound. But the idea is fanciful, for instead of biological or psychological progress, it seems that these sort of technological advances as described in the article will serve to keep the world around us quiet.

Re:Earplugs (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536630)

Using different densities & materials, earplugs can (to a degree) be tailored to block certain frequencies.

Also earplugs are generally better at blocking high frequency sounds, while earmuffs are better for the low freq noises (or vice versa, but I think I have it right). And you should wear both if things are going to be really loud.

Re:Earplugs and leet skillz! (3, Interesting)

cloricus (691063) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537382)

I'm interested in these results Larry suggested. My friends and I for the last year have been working on a skill, one that we wondered if it was possible while bored in a lecture one day, where as usual you filter all noise that is irrelevant (the venues in our cases include lecture theaters and filled refectories) and touch type on an assignment or other wise engaging task with the added difficulty of holding a detailed conversation on another topic with some one else. In the beginning it was rather impossible though surprisingly enough it is rather doable as we have found with only a little practice and then a lot of usage to get the words per minute ratio up.

Laptops allow you to be anywhere and we know we can filter noise and information a lot better than is currently done (and with less effort than at least I expected) plus the human brain is perfect for multitasking. I wonder if this sort of thing is indeed the future of at least geekdom, maybe of office space in general?

Re:Earplugs (4, Insightful)

ahertz (68721) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536480)

Actually, as someone who works with a bunch of chatty people, I've found that earplugs do a pretty lousy job at blocking out conversations. The problem is that the best earplugs you can buy at your local drug store only attenuate noise by ~32 decibels. But a typical conversation, at close range, is ~60 decibels. You wind up just blocking out all the low-level background noise (computer fans, air conditioning, ...), leaving the voices even more distinct.

I've found the best solution for me is a pair of headphones that seal pretty well, combined with music. The sealed headphones drop everything, so the music can be much quieter and still drown them out.

I'm actually thinking of picking up a pair of Shure E2C [amazon.com] earbuds for just this purpose. Has anyone got any experience with them? Will they do what I want?

Re:Earplugs (3, Interesting)

parc (25467) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536668)

I have the prior generation of these earplug/headphones. A couple things I've learned:

1) You have to stick them WAY inside your ears to get the full effect. It feals like you're poking your brain stem.
2) They work incredibly well.
3) You'll suddenly discover how crappy your home and car speakers are, and how REALLY crappy normal headphones are.

If you're really serious, get a good set of musician ear-moldings. They'll fit the E2C earphones, IIRC, and they're much more comfortable from what I'm told.

Re:Earplugs (5, Informative)

Desult (592617) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536760)

I've got the E3c earphones, and I've had them for about a year and a half. I bought them for plane trips, and they're quite good at reducing the overall noise. It's not total silence when you put them in but it is definitely a significant reduction, especially in background noise/talking. As an example, I have to take them out to hear the flight attendant, or someone sitting beside me, but I can typically hear loud noises (e.g. the "ding" for the PA). With music or movies playing you can miss even louder sounds.

As a general recommendation, I've found them to be OK sound quality and good build quality - the cable and connections are still in quite good condition even with regular use over the past 18 months. The E3c model came with a bunch of different "plugs". I find the gray soft rubber ones the most comfortable and best sound reduction, but the harder clear ones the easier to use (i.e. stay in your ears and keep clean). I don't know if the E2cs come with different plugs, I seem to recall that was one of the selling points for the E3cs. The E4cs were recommended to me as a better bass response, which at the time I didn't think was that big of a deal. I still think it might be better for my hearing to skip the louder bass, but that is one area where the E3cs are slightly lacking. The bass response is OK but never stands out (does not compare to even a low end set of good headphones imo).

Just as an aside, I've found that they are somewhat inappropriate for office use. With music playing they will basically silence anyone who might be talking to you directly, potentially even your phone ringing if it's not loud enough. I have a cheap set of normal over-the-ear headphones that do NOT cut out direct noise that I use when I'm in an office environment, that's always been good enough for me.

Re: EarPhones (2, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536930)

I second this approach. *Under the correct conditions*, I use an inexpensive pair of *very large* phones, and play the music.

The problem is, "the distracting noise" consists of your Boss telling you to do stuff completely different from the "high priority" he gave you an hour ago.

Re:Earplugs (3, Informative)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537410)

I also have the E2Cs, and I didn't have the problem of feeling like i was sticking things too far into my ear- of course, I've been shooting rifles since I was six which means that I've been using ear plugs since i was six, and am quite accustomed to them. In my work environment, there's a fair bit of background noise (about twelve computers, a large refrigerator, a fossilized air conditioner compressor, three centrifuges going on and off) and at the time i bought the phones, two coworkers whose constant, shrill, incredibly loud laughter reminded me of hyenas. The Shures saved my bloody sanity until i got the promotion and PHB said I had to "be available to answer employee questions at all times." Fortunately one hyena-woman had left by then... They worked really well for my needs, a mix of constant background hum and sharp high-frequency outbursts, though the high pitch stuff still came through enough to detect.

My problem with the E2C actually was that in combination with my Rio Carbon I could not turn the music volume down _low_ enough to be 100% comfortable all the time. I couldn't listen to rock music with them, for example, because I found it painfully loud. This is not a problem for most people, I'm told :)

I always travel with earplugs (2, Informative)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537412)

Since my days working in Asia where noise is a constant I have always had earplugs. I like the good ones that printers use in the pressroom. They are great on trains and planes. The only bad thing is that sometimes you don't have them when you need them. Recently I just bought a big assortment of earplugs from http://www.earplugstore.com/ [earplugstore.com] I seeded them into my carry-on and my shaving kit. Even gave some to my wife for her handbag. A lot cheaper to buy them in bulk. And as for those expensive kind they sell in airports? Well they did not work well for me. The soft compressable foam plugs work great. The assortment I bought has a variety of shapes and sizes that have different DB ratings.

I have never tried it but I think plugs under noise cancelling headphones (good ones) would be blissfully silent. However the plugs alone are great. They really reduce the irritation of a flight or a sleeper on a train. Never used them in an office.

As for this software? Looks dicey to my eyes. Just a mask. And if somebody was playing New Age frog songs in a cubicle next to mine I would probably have to epoxy their CD/ROM drive closed...or worse.

Er,,, (0)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536160)

You mean like noise cancelling headphones [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Er,,, (2, Informative)

koafc (718334) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536408)

Except, noise cancellin headphones work best for loud background noise like fans, airplane engine noise, etc rather than staccato office voices like my nearby co-worker. (I have the Bose Quietcomfort pair.) From personal experience with the Bose headphones and this chatty co-worker, the headphones cut a bit of her voice but in some ways you can hear her even clearly since all the office white noise is removed. To completely get rid of her voice, I need to combine the noise canceling with music in the background. Then she disappears!

Re:Er,,, (4, Informative)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536424)

You're an idiot and so is the mod who called you "Insightful". Read your own link:

They work well for sounds that are continuous, such as the hum of a refrigerator, but are rather ineffective against speech or other rapidly changing audio signals.

Noise cancellation requires hardware. Headphones use microphones to pick up the sounds which are then cancelled by phase-inversion [headwize.com] . It gets vastly more complex when dealing with open spaces. This is nothing that software alone has a solution for.

useless (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536162)

I downloaded the demo, turned on all the options, set the reverb to high, and now I can't concentrate on anything at all. This thing is totally useless.

screenshot for all those who don't download demo (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536588)

Screenshot of window here [imageshack.us] . You'll see it simply generates "soothing sounds" to wash over office chatter. Basically, the only way to get rid of chatter with this is by cranking up the speakers and letting rip the sound of waterfall.

Re:screenshot for all those who don't download dem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16537078)

WARNING: ImageShack == Zango

Worst. Article. Ever. (5, Insightful)

Snover (469130) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536172)

From the FAQ:


How does ChatterBlocker work?

        ChatterBlocker masks unwanted office chatter using a soothing blend of nature sounds, music and anti-chatter voices.


WOW. MINDBLOWING.

Re:Worst. Article. Ever. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536448)

Say what?

Re:Worst. Article. Ever. (1)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537332)

I would find that more annoying than office chatter. Nature sounds in an office would be waaaaaaaay more distracting.

Re:Worst. Article. Ever. (4, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537388)

So basically they charge 35 dollars for a bunch of wave files and some marketing on drool proof paper.

You have to admit it's quite ingenious.

Noise cacellation? (0)

bcmm (768152) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536190)

The way this is done in noise cancelling headphones is by recording background sound and right away outputting a signal such that the output destructively interferes with the background noise.

IMHO if this is just software, it's a scam. You need hardware for this, because you want the microphones to be close to the ears (i.e. on the outside of the headphones).

Re:Noise cacellation? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536224)

It's NOT noise cancellation. From the FAQ:

Does ChatterBlocker use noise cancellation?

No. Noise cancellation would not be effective over speakers, and noise cancelling headphones have limited effectiveness in silencing voice.

Good quality noise cancelling headphones are great for reducing low-frequency sounds, such as airplane engine rumble, but they are not as effective in the 2 to 8 kHz consonant range that conveys much of the speech intelligibility.

Re:Noise cacellation? (2, Informative)

richg74 (650636) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536666)

Good quality noise cancelling headphones are great for reducing low-frequency sounds, such as airplane engine rumble, but they are not as effective in the 2 to 8 kHz consonant range that conveys much of the speech intelligibility.

In a previous life, I had to travel a lot, and used a set of noise-cancelling headphones. They do work pretty well, as the FAQ says. When they don't work too well, the issue isn't really frequency per se; in principle, they could perfectly cancel a constant-amplitude 10 kHz sine wave, for example. The problem with speech is that the consonants (which, as they say, make speech intelligible) are high-amplitude, effectively high frequency transients. For similar reasons, noise cancellation wouldn't do much to mask the sound of a gunshot.

Re:Noise cacellation? (2, Informative)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536242)

Even with headphones, you need a real-time operating system because the response must be generated within a few dozen microseconds. Off the shelf Linux or, -gasps-, MS Windows, cannot deliver this, no matter how fancy the software. In practice, you use a small computer or microcontroller built into the headphones.

Re:Noise cacellation? (3, Funny)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536286)

Hey, that's simple enough. If the boss is screaming from the other end of the corridor, you just put the microphone there. If the corridor is long enough, that gives you a plenty of time for the OS to get the sound at the signal propagation speed, while it reaches your ears from air. Then, you'll just need to tune the system to model the time-frequency response distortions through mic, corridor sound reflections and the pecularities of your amplifiers and speakers.

Re:Noise cacellation? (2, Funny)

baadger (764884) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536366)

That does sound simple I would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

Re:Noise cacellation? (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536370)

Well, I think the normal solution is to have dedicated (probably analog) electronics in the headset itself. These [wikipedia.org] spring to mind. It's stupid to use a general-purpose digital computer for simple realtime audio processing.

Re:Noise cacellation? (2, Informative)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536850)

I second this. Phase inversion is ridiculously simple if you know anything about op-amps [wikipedia.org] . It's simple even in software, but then the main problem comes from hardware and OS latency, so there's not much point. Funny how so many Slashdotters have the 'software hammer' syndrome.

Re:Noise cacellation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16537442)

You two are idiots.

Two tones at the same time will require different delays to achieve 180 degree phase inversion.

Trying to do this with analog electronics is stupid.

I love analog electronics but you have to know its limits.

Re:Noise cacellation? (2, Interesting)

omeomi (675045) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536572)

Even with headphones, you need a real-time operating system because the response must be generated within a few dozen microseconds. Off the shelf Linux or, -gasps-, MS Windows, cannot deliver this, no matter how fancy the software.

I work in pro audio. My audio interface is set to a latency of 10ms, and can be set even lower. Extremely low latency is necessary for professional work with audio. Given the relatively simple phase-inversion necessary to create a noise-cancellation effect, there's absolutely no reason Windows, OSX, or Linux couldn't do the job just as well as an $80 set of headphones. However, with Windows, the standard-issue Soundblaster or onboard sound chip would probably have to be replaced with something that supports ASIO drivers. You would also need to place the microphone right up next to your head, which could be awkward.

Re:Noise cacellation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536750)

The "ms" in "10ms" stands for milliseconds, as in one thousandth of a second. The person you're replying to claims that you need responses within a few microseconds, as in millionths of a second. In other words, if he's right, your latency is about one thousand times too high.

To put this in perspective, sound travels at roughly one foot per millisecond in normal air. So at 10ms of latency, the sound will travel ten feet before your computer is able to react. To have perfect cancellation, you would need a ring of microphones ten feet in radius around you, and no noise generators (e.g. talking people) could be allowed to get closer than that.

I imagine it may be possible to have extremely fancy software that analyzes the sound and cancels continuing sounds after the initial 10ms pulse, but you'll still get those pulses coming through, and I don't even know if this ability is within the current state of the art.

Re:Noise cacellation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536754)

Of course this is all pure speculation, but I don't think it would be possible with any general purpose sundcard, as you propose. If you want to cancel out a 1khz sound, then you need to be able to precisely time the output down to under 1ms, under 0.2ms with a 5khz sound. I just don't think that's possible with any general purpose soundcards, you're going to lose more than those 0.2ms somewhere.

Re:Noise cacellation? (1)

drxenos (573895) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536954)

Ignoring the fact that you are quoting a time scale much less intense than the OP, his point is that you have a hard dead-line, thus the need for a real-time OS. Windows, et. al., cannot guarantee that you will meet this dead-line each and everytime.

Re:Noise cacellation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16537136)

If you work in pro audio, then as the other posters have already shown, you aren't much of a pro. You would think if you were a pro, you'd know something really really really basic aspects of it. Like the speed of sound.

At sea level sound moves at 340.29 m / s [google.com] . That's 1,116 feet.

In 10 ms, sound travels 11.16 feet.
In the 10 micro-seconds the grandparent correctly posted about, it would only move 0.1116 feet.

As others noted, unless you are wearing headphones so rediculouosly large they keep people 12 feet away from you, your 10ms response time won't work at all.

You're version of 'extremely low latency' is off by a few orders of magnitude from what this situation calls for. If you were a pro, you should know that.

As for "You would also need to place the microphone right up next to your head, which could be awkward.", Bose [bose.com] seems to have worked that out quite well already. But being a pro and all, I'm sure you arleady knew it wasn't awkward...

If you are really crappy in your field, shut up about it and don't try to brag.

Re:Noise cacellation? (1)

Spo22a (891401) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536672)

It does not use noise cancellation.

From the FAQ.

Does ChatterBlocker use noise cancellation?

        No. Noise cancellation would not be effective over speakers, and noise cancelling headphones have limited effectiveness in silencing voice.

        Good quality noise cancelling headphones are great for reducing low-frequency sounds, such as airplane engine rumble, but they are not as effective in the 2 to 8 kHz consonant range that conveys much of the speech intelligibility.

Re:Noise cacellation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16537050)

yes. what's more, noise cancelling earphones and headsets can only filter out homogenous/repetitive sounds like the hum of aircraft engines, traffic noise, etc. they don't work against speech effectively; this can be seen as a feature. and you can hardly do even that in software on a standard PC. the placement of the microphone isn't all that critical if the source of the noise is a few metres away, but the latency is just too high, especially on a desktop OS that doesn't meet strict real-time criteria.

so, don't buy this software, just get cheap in-ear earphones and listen to instrumental music. idm, ambient, or minimal anything work great if you want to concentrate on your work.

perfect (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536192)

After playing with it for a few minutes, I think I've found the perfect setting to keep people away from my desk--turn everything off except for Cypress Goats.

pure snakeoil (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536200)

snakeoil ...

Quote:
"ChatterBlocker includes bell sound loops that can be used as periodic reminders to breathe"

now, come on ... people buying this may be stupid. But reminding them to breathe ?

Re:pure snakeoil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536870)

Bell sounds are used in buddism as a way to bring your mind back to the "real world", take a few breaths and focus on them.

Re:pure snakeoil (1)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536902)

Good doggy. Have a Scooby snack.

KFG

Re:pure snakeoil (1, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537084)

ChatterBlocker includes bell sound loops that can be used as periodic reminders to breathe

Pretty cool right? In version 2.0 upcoming:

- reminder to eat
- reminder to drink
- reminder to pee
- reminder to blink ...

the possibilies are endless

Re:pure snakeoil (2, Funny)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537168)

- reminder to pee
Don't forget the reminder to relocate yourself to the bathroom.

From the site: (1)

Man of E (531031) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536218)

ChatterBlocker masks unwanted chatter using a soothing blend of nature sounds, music and "anti-chatter" voices. It also offers mindfulness meditation tracks intended to increase concentration, reduce distractibility and minimize the stress response to office noise.

Right, I want to block out chattering voices with anti-chatter-voices! Brilliant!

Re:From the site: (2, Insightful)

raduf (307723) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536326)

Except it works :) Won't buy it, I work from home, but it looks like it works well enough. I think it's because distraction in noise comes mostly from our brain trying to understand what's beeing said/what the sound is. Once the chatter covers all inteligible speech, the brain just registers that people are speaking and doesn't try to understant what.

Re:From the site: (3, Funny)

ectal (949842) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536548)

Do you have any idea what kind of energy is released when chatter voices come into contact with anti-chatter voices?

Re:From the site: (1)

EZLeeAmused (869996) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536700)

Being slightly attention deficit, I can tell you that this does work. If I have a background of unintelligible noise, or even something relatively constant like music, I can concentrate. But if there is no constant background and I can occasionally pick up a piece of conversation, I get distracted as my mind tries to focus on that conversation, even if it is none of my business and/or not of any interest to me.

Music has a few drawbacks like when a really good tune comes on. White noise or "environmental soundscape" are good for covering occasional minor sounds in a quiet area, but this is probably better because it specifically obfuscates the distracting conversations.

You are most likely correct in stating that for those people who perform better in mostly quiet conditions, this would only detract from the silence between conversations.

Re:From the site: (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536910)

I want to block out my co-workers by using a soothing, rich, acoustmatic blend of Buddhist chants, tuvan throat singing, Aborigine chants, and the sound of Scotty's engines under heavy strain... (Stream in some Dorje Ling, Varuna Ghat, and "Three Variations on Plum Blossom"...)

Maybe that could be a new KDE start-up sound? Quick, KDE! Get it before it shows up in vista!

http://www.google.com/search?q=tuvan+throat+singin g&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 [google.com]
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe =UTF-8&q=tuvan+throat+signing+origin&btnG=Search [google.com]

Something else (1, Insightful)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536220)

Personally I just crank the tunes. Anyone know if this actually works or if it's a scam? Or is it just a white noise generator?
Or maybe it's simply employer stupidity?
People use to talk each other as an expession of being human for social relationshinps and for knowledge transfers.
But those employers could be more interested in bodies rather than in minds.
In this latter case, the software is very useful.

Try the Demo! (4, Insightful)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536222)

Personally I just crank the tunes. Anyone know if this actually works or if it's a scam? Or is it just a white noise generator?


Why did'nt you try the demo? I did, and this stupid program does nothing more than generate sound. This way you have even more noise around you.

Really, worst article ever.

Article? (2, Interesting)

rbochan (827946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536348)

No.
hmmm... only item on 'news' page: "10/20/06 ChatterBlocker 1.0 was finally released!"
Slashvert?
Yes.

Re:Try the Demo! Well, not drown out profits (0)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536964)

BUt, this thing could be a security risk. Since it records bacground sounds, who's to say the streams aren't separated before being blended? The streams, even if blended, could be a few packets at a time "sent back home" to a place unknown. And, who knows who could be behind this. Simple entrepreneurs? "Petty scammers"?, or...

Employers would be better off buying desk-top waterfalls and soothing Asian or Indian meditative devices and write them off as ergonomics and workplace stress-reduction devices.

Speech Recognition (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536226)

Finally, speech recognition comes of age. This artificial intelligence recognizes 99.9% of incoming speech, and generates appropriate responses.

Re:Speech Recognition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536716)

Unfortunately this AI will quickly learn that screaming "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!" out of the speakers works wonders.

But then how will I hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536232)

Milton's radio?

Uber-Parent Is Part of the Problem (2, Insightful)

MSTCrow5429 (642744) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536250)

Personally I just crank the tunes.

Good job, you boorish oaf. Now you've contributed to the problem, and your co-workers probably hate you. Or you're using headphones, and going deaf.

Re:Uber-Parent Is Part of the Problem (1)

smkndrkn (3654) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537052)

My co-workers really hate me...I listen to either death metal or Chronix Radio [chronixradio.com] . I've had people close my office door and/or turn my music down while I was away at the bathroom. But since I can't stand most of them...I really don't care.

It sure beats listening to the other members of my department talk about stupid shit while I'm trying to code or write documentation. Plus I think lighting those stinky candles and the smell of one of my co-workers who doesn't bathe is far more egregious than my music.

Re:Uber-Parent Is Part of the Problem (1)

wkitchen (581276) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537088)

Simple and inexpensive solution:
Get a set of old-fashioned, fully enclosed, around-the-ear headphones. It blocks a lot of the outside noise, so you don't have to crank it as loud. And it keeps most of your own noise from escaping.

It used to be that anything short of the the hundred dollar + ones sounded awful. But there are now a few inexpensive ones [jr.com] that sound remarkably good.

You might be thinking, "Why not use a more modern and lighter weight noise cancelling headphone?". Two reasons: 1) more expensive, and 2) only blocks noise one way. Still a good solution, just 2nd best unless you need the lighter weight for portable use like riding your bike or the train to work. But for sitting at your desk, a well-chosen enclosed headphone is unbeatable.

Re:Uber-Parent Is Part of the Problem (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537094)

Good job, you boorish oaf. Now you've contributed to the problem, and your co-workers probably hate you. Or you're using headphones, and going deaf.

If you can get away with cranking up tunes on anything by headphones at your job, the rest of us can't. So your assumption is incorrect.

And how is going deaf contributing to the problem? I'd say it solves the problem pretty well, not to mention he didn't say he puts it so high as to go deaf... but anyway

if you wanna rant you can always find what to rant for.

Re:Uber-Parent Is Part of the Problem (1)

n3k5 (606163) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537396)

Now you've contributed to the problem, and your co-workers probably hate you. Or you're using headphones, and going deaf.
Or maybe he uses earphones at a sensible volume setting, thus neither disturbing anyone, nor going deaf? You just assumed he's an idiot, then you scold him for being an idiot, then you get modded insightful. Congratulations, you can now collect your merit badge for sphisticated trolling.

w00t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536260)

In on first page!!

Re:w00t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16537310)

+1, Awesome

Re:w00t (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16537444)

I know this is off topic but do you guys know any good ways to waste mod points?

Another useful feature (1, Redundant)

zero-one (79216) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536300)

From the web site: "ChatterBlocker includes bell sound loops that can be used as periodic reminders to breathe"!

My Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536310)

Seriously Speaking,

Noise cancelling headphones don't really seem to screen out voices... they seem to screen out low frequency noise like airplane engines (I have them).

So what I do, is put earplugs in my ears, put the noise cancelling headphones on, THEN crank up the tunes. This way I can turn the volume up high enough to drown out the office noise without damaging my hearing.

Re:My Solution (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536470)

You might want to try a pair of good in-ear plugs, like Etymotic [etymotic.com] .

Hardware version (5, Funny)

ConversantShogun (227587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536314)

My computer came with a hardware version. It sits near the back and blows air out a vent to create speech-canceling noise.

Taco Taco Taco (4, Insightful)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536334)

If anyone has ever wondered if Taco and the other editors even bother clicking on the links in the summaries, here's your answer: "Anyone know if this actually works or if it's a scam? Or is it just a white noise generator?"

Anyone who's taken even 15 seconds to look into this will instantly know the answer.

Re:Taco Taco Taco (1)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536378)

If people here don't ever RTFAs, why should the editors bother? Obviously it's a slow Sunday [mozilla.org] .

Re:Taco Taco Taco (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536834)

If people here don't ever RTFAs, why should the editors bother?

      Not reading the article is a public service here. Can you imagine how devastating the slashdot effect would be if EVERYONE read the articles???

Re:Taco Taco Taco (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536396)

Anyone who's taken even 15 seconds to look into this will instantly know the answer.

So what it it?

Re:Taco Taco Taco (1)

darkjohnson (640563) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536418)

It's a sound loop player. "lets you block distracting conversation and noise by simultaneously playing multiple voices, music, and sound effects files."

What it's missing is a "We're experiencing technical difficulties, please stand by" loop. It seems harmless and the demo is fun to goof with.

Another good loop would be John Lennon saying "Number 9"

Re:Taco Taco Taco (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536452)

Feel free to add whatever sounds you want. The thing is simply a basic ogg player/mixer. You can access/add more ogg files in the application directory.

Fwap sound blocker? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536406)

The basement walls are thin, I'm scared my mom can hear it.

But does it.... (1)

WoLpH (699064) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536414)

run on linux?

easier solution to keep people away from your cube (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16536420)

stop bathing

Free advertizing? (2, Insightful)

mh101 (620659) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536468)

I don't suppose this 'Anonymous Reader' who submitted this is an employee of the ChatterBlocker company looking or free ad space on Slashdot...?

I call bullshit.Slashdot article -very- misleading (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536514)

The article describes this software in all respects to be a Noise-canceling program, which it is most definitely not. I downloaded Chatter Blocker demo, and was greeted with this window [imageshack.us] . This program may be for some people, but the article labels it as a completely different animal. And yes, it is a white noise (and other noise) generator

Just read the "background papers"... (1)

T.Louis (1015101) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536578)

... and honestly I would predict that it is just easier getting a good set of Koss headphones and some classical or random music that is instrumental.

Studies have show (I don't have a link atm) that classical music even raises your productivite, that means more World of Warcraft time for me!

Not a scam, but.... (4, Interesting)

3seas (184403) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536610)

...when I'm irratated at work, even silence can be distracting.

And there are those who have just the right irratating, cutting thru anything (even head phones blasting) voice sound, change in volume, starts to say something five different ways before they stumble it out, etc..that you just have to know ain't nobody going to custom create sounds to drown these unique voices out.

But this is not a scam as I'm sure it is capable of smoothing over common chatter. I think what helps me to believe this is that I saw some short clip on TV about movie sound effects. Ever notice that background murmer of people talking in a scene where there are lots of people but you really only hear the actors in focus? This is only one example, but there is at least one company that does nothing but deal with teh talent that is hired for these background effects.

My reasoning is that if you can create such chatter that is not so distracting, you probably have a good idea as to what is distracting and that should make for a good start at address the problem,

Now if you check out the site, you'll see they are far from being new to the sound industry.

It may not work as well as you like against those uniquly distracting voices but for alot of offices it probably would help.

As to mind focusing sounds, this is also been researched. I myself sometimes listed to Yani to help life my mental state and I read something where during the playing of some mathmatically/logically correct classical piece (bach or batoveen sp?) it is difficult to lie.

I suppose the trick is to take the distracting noice and add such pleasing noise to the mmix that blends the distraction into the acceptable.

I've noticed some music works better than other at drowning out specific office noise.

Someone saw me with head phones on and ask: Rocking Out? I said: No! Drowning out....

Re:Not a scam, but.... (1)

Orp (6583) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537114)

...when I'm irratated at work, even silence can be distracting.

But it's never truly silent, is it? In my office right now it's three things: Outdoor construction noises, the ventilation system, and my AMD machine plus G5 mac. As far as what bothers me the most: I have sent back hard drives that put out a high pitched whine (10K RPM ones seem to be the worst) even though they were not defective. With those drives I can slowly feel my high frequency hearing melting away. I've gravitated towards the Seagate Barracudas, which are quiet, and quiet power supplies and CPU coolers. The G5 roars like a tornado when it needs to cool off but it's only occasionally, which does not bother me.

The worst for me is the ventilation system. A low level, low frequency rumble that never stops. I only really notice it when the rumble causes the false ceiling, cat5e cabling and whatever other random junk is up there to vibrate and give off high frequency tick-tick-tick type noises. I have been known to bring a chair out in the hallway and bash on the ceiling structure until the ticking noise goes away - it bothers me that much.

Music only works when I'm in the mood for it, and I usually can't concentrate on my work if there are vocals, so it's usually minimalist classical at low levels when I want music and work to happen at the same time.

what a joke! (1)

Dralithi (983409) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536686)

"soothing nature sounds" I think not...

Ribbit...ribbit....chirp....chirp... (1)

bdwoolman (561635) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537222)

Splat!

Now, Where's that Stones CD?

Crank the tunes: no good (2, Interesting)

slim (1652) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536934)

With music playing, I can't concentrate fully on anything else (I wish I'd realised this *before* graduating from university!)

What I'd need to improve my concentration in a chattery environment, I guess is a constant background noise which is ignorable yet chatter blends into.

But then, since I choose not to work from home because the chatter is condusive to productivity, I don't need it.

Noise Cancelling headphones (1)

gukin (14148) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536952)

For whatever reason, either inside my office or right outside is a favorite spot for "heated discussion". Whenever I need to concentrate, I put on my pair of these:

http://www.epinions.com/content_178219683460 [epinions.com]

set my music low and I can get some work done. Yeah, these aren't the fancy Bose $300 headphones but Wal Mart (used?) sells them for less than $30 and the DO work. They're light, (the noise cancelling stuff is mid-cord, not in the phones themselves), well padded, comfortable to wear for hours and if you're stuck in the server room, essential.

I've tried the JVC version of the same thing, with all the cancelling stuff in the phones themselves but they lacked padding and didn't seal as well. For around $30, they're hard to beat; oh yeah and they're a lot more effective than "Computer Cooling Fan" sounds.

Perfect for anybody taking tech support calls... (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | more than 7 years ago | (#16536978)

This is wonderful, never hear those complaining people again. Make sure the entire technical call center has these.

In the old days... (2, Funny)

rannala (876724) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537030)

... we simply used walls for that.

Developer's reply (5, Informative)

evickers (1016662) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537204)

ChatterBlocker uses nature sounds, music and background "anti-chatter" voices (or "walla") to mask the intelligibility of unwanted conversations. It does not use noise cancellation (which, as has been pointed out, would not work using speakers and has limited effectiveness at voice frequencies).

It's obvious from your feedback that we did not make this clear enough. We discuss this in detail on our FAQ page, in the "More Info" page and in our white papers, but we have now added additional clarification to our home page. I thought I was doing a good thing by taking off my engineering hat and putting on my marketing hat, focusing on the benefits not the technology, but obviously this has derailed the discussion toward the topic of noise cancellation.

Our testers felt the program was useful for masking unwanted conversations, and less distracting than listening to pop music. If you're interested, give the demo a try. We welcome your feedback.

Earl Vickers
The Sound Guy, Inc.
http://chatterblocker.com

Re:Developer's reply (2, Informative)

saridder (103936) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537408)

I tried the demo at home just now. I used my TV as the 'office chatter' I wanted to block and then ran Chatter Blocker. I then browsed the web to try and read an article. I played with different volumes and I felt that the sounds were just as distracting as the TV and didn't make a difference. I just substituted one noise with another.

Re:Developer's reply (1)

turtledawn (149719) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537488)

No, I'm pretty sure we all got it- the grumbling is at the editors and the off-precise-topic discussion of noise cancelling is just what Slashdotters _do_. :)

beowulf cluster. . . (0, Redundant)

Krimsen (26685) | more than 7 years ago | (#16537384)

"Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of these. . ."
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