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Jun 27, 2008

Wall-E poster

Go see this. Right now. Go.

Why are you still reading this? GO!

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Jun 17, 2008

The Home Theater Blog presents an intriguing suggestion: home theater meets!

In a lot of ways, these meets are very similar to get-togethers held by groups like the Boston Audio Society and the Connecticut Audio Society, but meets on a smaller scale could be fun.

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I’ve written before about the safety concerns over quiet hybrid cars. A couple of Stanford doctoral students have started a company to provide a solution.

On another note, it looks like the concern is being taken seriously by the Feds - the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is holding a public meeting next week in Washington D.C. to discuss the issue and solicit input from the public.

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Jun 05, 2008

The Soundscape of Modernity Preview

NPR’s On The Media ran a short segment this past weekend that featured Emily Thompson (author of The Soundscape of Modernity ) talking about the history of sound and soundscapes in work and leisure environments, and how our perceptions of these spaces have changed over the years.

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The San Francisco Chronicle continues to report on the negative aspects of noisy restaurants in its latest piece “The din of dining.” The piece gives two perspectives:

“Loud restaurants make you feel like you’re at a party, even if you weren’t invited,” he says, adding that favorites include the Balboa Cafe, A16, Betelnut and the Slanted Door, some of the city’s noisiest. “When I want to socialize, the food doesn’t have to be amazing as long as the restaurant is loud.”

“I won’t go to noisy restaurants no matter how good the food is,” says Malcolm Carden, 61, of Piedmont. “After a day’s work, I just want to sit, eat, relax and talk. I do like to have a conversation in a normal voice.”

It’s not that Carden is a fuddy duddy. “I grew up in England in the ’60s and went to many a live rock concert,” he says. “But it’s irritating not being able to hear the person next to me.”

I find it interesting that the patron in the first quotes likes to “socialize” in loud restaurants - I think it would be difficult to get the digits when you can’t hear what the eligible bachelor/bachelorette is saying.

But maybe I’m just old.

Previous Chronicle coverage here and here.

[Thanks Lance]

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Jun 02, 2008

I’ve been a regular reader of Joel Spolsky’s Joel on Software blog for almost 10 years now. Joel is a software entrepreneur and his blog covers mostly software and tech firm issues. While the subjects he covers have little to do with acoustics, I find his discussions on the “right way” to run a business to be intriguing (particularly his ideal compensation policy), and I find the insider perspective to be entertaining.

His latest blog entry points to an Inc. Magazine column where Joel talks about finding new office space for his growing firm. Joel has the admirable goal of wanting to provide “nice” office space for his employees and he’s willing to pay to accomplish that. He dismisses the typical office accoutrements of “[d]rywall, low acoustic tile ceilings, ugly fluorescent light fixtures, frightening industrial carpet” and lists some of the features of the new space:

There will be a reception area with a dry creek of stones and pebbles and plants that will make a great first impression on our guests. There will be a big lunchroom, because we all eat together, as well as a coffee bar, a lounge, a 180-gallon saltwater aquarium, the aforementioned shower, a library with reclining chairs for naps, two private meeting rooms, 20 private offices for programmers, 23 adjustable-height workstations for everyone else, Wi-Fi, a big screen for movies and video games, and enough glass to build the world’s largest ant farm.

Hmm, glass, dry creek, granite and marble (for the shower) - my first thought was “that sounds really nice.” My second thought was “this has the makings for an acoustical nightmare.” If you read Joel’s blog, you’ll find that he values privacy and the ability for his workers to be free from distraction, which is part of the reason why he advocates private offices for his staff. Still, the goal is going to be more difficult if all those classy hard surfaces increase reverberation inside the office. The private offices may not be of much use if the duct work in the ventilation system channels noise from the common areas into the offices.

Still, he has an architect; if the architect knows what he’s doing these problems aren’t insurmountable - STC 45-50 walls, wall/ceiling absorptive panels, appropriate duct design, etc. The only problem: does the architect know what he’s doing? If not, it’s going to cost Joel more money down the line.

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