Not long ago, I asked you for your picks of the worst sounds that technology has cursed us with. You answered with the shrill, shreiking screams of text across the internet. And here are a few of the standouts from our collective list of the most unappealing blips and bloops.
Old dial-up modems. Like fingernails on a blackboard.
You got my top 2. Dot matrix printers and dial-up modems.
But I think everyone has forgotten the suite of sound effects that came with Windows '98. Like the sound of a door closing every time you closed a window. It was the first thing everyone turned off.
Ringtones of all kinds
But specifically Samsung:
samsung whistle ringtone:
I had a cubicle neighbor that had this for his SMS notification. And it went off several times an hour. Douche would never switch his phone to vibrate.
This! It seems every time I ride a subway, half of the passengers has a Samsung phone. And they all leave it on the default sound.
Every fucking person having a Samsung have this as a default notification. For fucks sake.
And Apple as well:
The ducking marimba ringtone.
As well as a dark-horse or two:
Obnoxious ring tone:
But just pretty much anything audible:
Easy — your coworker's ringtone. Nothing is worse.
(Of course, he probably feels the same...)
I will never understand why people who sit at a desk staring at a screen all day have their ringtones/phone noises on at all. Just position the phone in your periphery and TURN THAT SHIT TO SILENT. Vibrate AT MOST.
Ringtones on portable devices are the new bad breath.
The dying screams of a hard drive
Hard drive buzzing....a.k.a. the sound of your wallet crying.
Back in the old days, the first hard disc drives I knew of were these monstrosities about the size of a mini-fridge, and there was a stack of rust-covered platters in there, with heads in-between. They weighed a ton, and they might have a capacity of 256 megabytes or so. Real beasts. If the bearings were to wear out, or a wobble started, or the read head got wedged in-between platters, the noise was a deafening screech with grinding overtones. There might be smoke and sometimes the hum of an overheated motor. Absolutely awful to hear. It was like lots of little, tortured data gnomes all screaming in agony. Here's a clip of a small hard drive that's crashed. Imagine this sound scaled up by about 100 times. It's chilling to the soul at any scale. (Jump t0 1:20)
First I would have to go with the sound of a hard drive's read heads digging into one or more of the platters.
A close second would be the pop of a power supply as it suddenly (and forcefully) gives up on life and makes it's way to the great scrapyard in the sky. That blue puff of smoke that emerges from the back of the computer might as well be in the shape of a dollar sign as you know you are going to be replacing just about everything within that case...
If you mean "horrible" as in strikes fear in the heart, rather than "irritates the heck out of me and turns me into a potential axe murderer of tech objects", I nominate loud clicking or grinding sounds coming from the hard disk. Actually, any sound coming from the hard disk makes my blood run cold.
The sound of a hard drive failing, as the sound of the head that keeps seeking and seeking and never quites.
The living screams of a floppy drive
Floppy drives doing their thing. Fortunately, very much a thing of the past now.
They used to sound alright - a muted whirring and clicking, it was almost reassuring - but I dunno, I guess in the later years floppy drives were made so incredibly cheaply that quality went right out the window. The whirring turned to an ugly grinding, and the clicking always made me sure that something was getting smashed to bits in there.
On the other hand, I actually like modem sounds? I guess it must be a nostalgia thing. For me, that sound means the start of super happy fun (if painfully slow) internet times.
I realize that I'm dating myself but the sound a floppy disk drive made when it can no longer read the disk on which you have the only copy of your research paper.
Tests of the emergency broadcast system
Anyone watch cartoons in the 90s? Anyone watch cartoons in the 90s only to be interrupted by the freakiest tone and voice possible? Oh yes. This is the Emergency Broadcast System.
Those still get used, and I find it more grating than the old modem sound because it just comes up unexpectedly and also interrupts whatever you're watching.
I used to work at a public radio station, where we'd have to do EAS (Emergency Alert System) tests once a week. Most of the time they were automated, but we also had to do periodic verbal delivery tests.
So we'd push a button on a black box under the table, those screeching tones went out, and then we would have to say, in the most serious but un-alarming voice possible:
"THIS IS A TEST OF THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM. THIS IS ONLY A TEST. IN THE EVENT OF AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY, THIS SYSTEM WILL BRING YOU IMPORTANT INFORMATION. THIS TEST IS NOW CONCLUDED".
[all of our scripts in radio are printed in all-caps]
There was a red binder of other things to say too, in the case of an ACTUAL national emergency, which we never used. These would be things like a nuclear strike or massive civil unrest. They were all generic messages, saying things like:
"WE INTERRUPT OUR PROGRAMMING, THIS IS A NATIONAL EMERGENCY"
"THIS IS AN EMERGENCY ACTION NOTIFICATION. ALL BROADCAST SYSTEMS SHALL TRANSMIT THIS MESSAGE. ALL EAS PARTICIPANTS SHOULD FOLLOW ACTIVATION PROCEDURES"
"THIS IS AN EMERGENCY ACTION NOTIFICATION REQUESTED BY THE WHITE HOUSE. THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, OR HIS REPRESENTATIVE, WILL SHORTLY DELIVER A MESSAGE OVER THE EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM"
During breaks I would read through the handbook and imagine the scenarios in which I'd have to break it out. I was often the only one in the studio, especially in the evenings or weekends, and it was mildly terrifying.
Someone else's hammer-typing
Someday somebody will make a silencer for keyboards. Somehow this guy thinks it's actually relaxing
I don't notice the sound of my own, but other people's do get annoying. I have a friend whose typing is violent.
Every alarm sound ever
That horrible, generic, digital alarm clock buzzing beep. After having to wake up for a summer job at 5:30 every morning I refuse to ever have an alarm clock that makes this sound in my home ever again.
The part I hate is when they play that sound on a commercial, I get all tense and angry that they hit me with that trigger. I still have my clock, after long ago switching to cell phone alarms, just for the extreme wakeup factor. So when I need to get up at 4 for work or to catch an airplane, I'll use it.
Not as terribad as my alarm clock from childhood:
So many school days started with Teela yelling at me...
I submit this alarm sound.
By a long shot.
Got to disagree, definitely Old Car Horn. The ultimate "SHIT WHAT YES I AM AWAKE GOOD MORNING" alarm I have ever found.
Because really, every alarm is garbage.
Anything you use as an alarm sound over and over and over again will eventually make want to tear your ears off. The only thing I have found works is to mix alarm sounds up. One morning this... Other morning that... And so on.
Or just never wake up at all.