Jon Aquino's Mental Garden

Engineering beautiful software jon aquino labs | personal blog

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Audio break-timer; 300 High-quality wav files; and Firefox DownThemAll extension

Break timers don't really work for me. Even the intelligent ones like RSIGuard, which try not to interrupt you when popping up break reminders, still manage to pop up while I am in the middle of some train of thought. "Argh! Close!"

So I'm trying out the free audio-based break reminder called SoundBreak. It plays a random wav file at the interval you specify (I'm going with 1 hour intervals). Because it plays a sound rather than pops up a window, it's less intrusive. That's the hope anyway.

SoundBreak comes with ten sounds to start you off, but it recommends (rightly) that you find more wavs "to prevent things from getting repetitive". After scouring the web a bit, I found a site with hundreds of good wav samples and loops: PlatinumLoops. Bill de hÓra says that Drum 'n Bass puts him in the programming zone - for people like him (and me) there are eight good drum 'n bass loops. Or imagine that you're working away on the computer, and you're notified that it's time to segue into a rest break by some nifty Seinfeld-segue-like slap-bass riffs. These sounds are super. I downloaded 303 of them.

Heh - it just happened to me right now. Out of the blue I started hearing ethereal ambient noises. Is that in one of my Firefox tabs? Did I click one of the wavs? Nope, it was the audio break-reminder, playing one of the random wavs. As you can see, it draws you out, ever gently out of whatever you are working on and back into the world, in which you can take your break. (Those particular wavs came from Milco Montagna's Loops Collection Vol. 1, released under a Creative Commons license.)

Downloading 303 wav files also gave me an opportunity to use the dtaOneClick feature of the Firefox DownThemAll extension. I had set it up to queue up downloads for all wavs on whatever page I dtaOneClick'd, so it made it easy to retrieve the wavs I wanted.


  • Hey Jon,
    I've been enjoying your blog for a while now... I'm a CS major and it's refreshing ot see people thinking about computers... I don't know, humanely? Anyhow, I saw this and thought you might be interested:
    Haven't tried it myself (I'm on Ubuntu and have something close to it)
    Keep on truckin'

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/10/2007 9:06 PM  

  • Hi Daniel - Checked out the enso launcher - neat stuff! btw, I'm guessing you've read Raskin's book, "The Humane Interface"?

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/10/2007 9:31 PM  

  • Haven't read all of it, I should probably get on that if I'm going to use the word, eh? ;)
    Sorry for the double post...

    By Anonymous Daniel, at 3/12/2007 12:16 AM  

  • hehe - it's alright - I'd give it 3/5 stars. I prefer Cooper's "About Face" and Tufte's books.

    By Blogger Jonathan, at 3/12/2007 12:43 AM  

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    By Blogger Omar Cruz, at 3/12/2007 4:05 PM  

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