Nine sources of noise that will damage your house’s value. Emmie Martin, Business Insider, writes about a recent study by Realtor.com that “calculated the price difference between homes within a certain radius of nine major noise factors — including airports, highways, and emergency rooms — and the median price of homes in the rest of that ZIP code.” Click the link to see how noise effects house prices. There isn’t much prose, but the slider makes it clear that noise matters when you are buying or selling your home.
In “Why I hate my fellow commuters in the quiet carriage.” Brian Yatman, The Sidney Morning Herald, writes about commuting by train and how the quiet car is abused by the rude and ignorant. We’ve been there, although unlike Mr. Yatman we may have asked someone to keep it down once (or three times). In any event, his suggestion for maintaining quiet car decorum is spot on:
What we need is some kind of official presence authorised to apply the shushing finger of the law. These marshals would glide about in comfy shoes, separating chatty couples, handing out Reader’s Digests, keeping the peace. They would issue warnings in the form of aphorisms. “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods,” they would intone, invoking the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Repeat offenders would be escorted off the train.
Or offenders could be thrown off, literally, to save time (and quickly escape the sound of their screams). Do not violate the sanctity of the quiet car.
this Fast Company review of Nuheara’s IQbuds. Sean Captain reviews Nuheara’s IQbuds, another player in the personal sound control market. Captain states that he has good hearing, but finds stepping into a loud bar or restaurant disconcerting. Says Captain, “[n]ot only does the noise frazzle my nerves, I get exhausted trying to discern voices from background clatter.” Oh, we understand.
Enter Nuheara’s IQbuds, a new class of smart Bluetooth wireless earbuds priced at $299 a pair, that allows users to control their immediate soundscape. So, how do the IQbuds work? Captain writes:
Equipped with built-in microphones, the IQbuds process ambient audio in real time before feeding it to your ears. That allows you to customize how you hear, such as muting background noise, boosting the voices of people you’re talking to, or layering streaming music with ambient sounds so that both come through clearly.
While Captain notes that the sound quality isn’t quite there yet, his test run of the IQbuds in a loud restaurant convinces him of their value. Captain writes that “[n]o matter what Cannington (Nuheara’s co-founder) sounds like through the IQbuds, it’s so much better than straining to hear him without them.”
Click this link to read Captain’s review of Doppler Lab’s HERE One, a competing earbud manufactured by Nuheara’s “well-funded rival.” Reading both reviews, it’s clear that there is room for improvement, but with each iteration HERE One and IQbuds have and should continue to get better, more intuitive, and easier to use. It’s an exciting product for people who find it increasingly difficult to navigate noisy environments, and may offer some reasonable self-help to people with hearing loss who can’t afford hearing aids.
“I wear earplugs everywhere because Britain is too loud.” Katie Morley, The Telegraph, reports that the UK’s “most famous choirmaster, Gareth Malone, has revealed that he wears earplugs everywhere he goes because Britain has become too noisy.” Malone wears earplugs all the time because “ears are the tools of my trade and I don’t want to do anything to endanger them.” Morley writes that despite Malone’s belief that he is “‘geeky’ for protecting his ears from loud sounds, Mr Malone may well be in common with an emerging breed of people who class themselves as intolerant to so-called ‘noise pollution.'”
She almost had us until her use of the unnecessary “so-called.” Interestingly, while relying on that weasel word to modify the term “noise pollution,” the rest of the piece highlights the many ways in which noise has overwhelmed the UK and damaged the quality of life of a majority of Brits. Sounds a bit melodramatic, but Morley writes that “two thirds of UK homeowners say their lives are being blighted by noisy activities of their next door neighbours.”
Trees. Dean Fosdick, Associated Press, writes that “landscape designers in cities are creating quieter living spaces by using trees to mute loud noises like sirens and air brakes.” The practice is called “‘soundscaping,’ and it aims to restore peaceful, natural sounds like wind whispering through leaves, birds chirping or rain dripping from branches.” Click the link to learn more.
Study says loud music played during classes may contribute to hearing loss.Jamie Ducharme, Boston Magazine, reports on a Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary study that found that “the speaker-shaking beats at your local studio may contribute to hearing loss over time.” According to Duchame, researchers using a smartphone app called SoundMeter Pro found that “[t]he average noise exposure in a single 45-minute cycling class…was more than eight times higher than the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) recommendations for an entire eight-hour work day.” Duchame notes with alarm “past hypotheses that exercise compounds noise-induced hearing damage,” adding that “[i]nstructors and repeat class attendees, logically, are at highest risk.”
In “The Alarming Truth,”Ilana E. Strauss, The Atlantic, looks at the confusing ubiquity of car alarms. “Car alarms don’t deter criminals, and they’re a public nuisance,” she notes, so “[w]hy are they still so common? Why indeed.
Car alarms “do very little of what they’re intended to do,” says Strauss, adding that ,”[i]f two analyses done in the 1990s still hold, 95 to 99 percent of all car-alarm triggerings are literally false alarms.” And then there are the very real costs. Strauss writes:
Worse, car alarms may be affecting the health of the people around them when they go off. A report from Transportation Alternatives, a bicycle-advocacy organization, estimated that New York’s car alarms lead to about $400 to $500 million per year in “public-health costs, lost productivity, decreased property value, and diminished quality of life.” An estimate from an organization whose stated goal is “to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile” should be taken with a grain of salt, but the point still stands that car-alarm sounds are stress-inducing and sleep-interrupting.
As anyone awoken at 4:00 a.m. by a yowling alarm that will not stop knows, once the alarm is finally stopped–usually after a minute that feels like much more–returning to sleep is near impossible. And for what? According the Strauss, the answer is “nothing.” The good news? Very few news cars come with alarms, but some owners still buy them in the after market. Click the link above to read the whole thing.
TechRepublic writes about the “new study from Oxford Economics [that] claims that open office floor plans can hurt employee productivity” in a piece titled, “Here’s how to design the best office for your employees.” And once again we are compelled to respond as follows: When will this assault on employee productivity and morale end? Why can’t *they* bring back private work spaces?
It seems clear that nothing will be done until the bean counters can quantify the enormous costs of open plan offices. No doubt part of the problem is that it’s hard to put a dollar figure on employee distraction, frustration, and decreased morale. But one thing is clear, the absolute raft of articles on how much employees hate open plan offices indicates that they are a problem that needs to be solved or redesigned or otherwise dealt with. One day some newly minted management genius will rediscover pre-open plan office design, repackage it slightly, and give it a new name, and after the applause dies down, *they* will follow.