back to article Proprietary neural tech you had surgically implanted? Parts shortage

My laptop has just spoken to me. It said: "Ba-ding!" It hasn't said that before and I don't know what it means. Whatever does it want? It's my own fault for leaving the audio-out unmuted between remote calls. If I leave it on, every pissy little background app on my system tings and hoots relentlessly throughout the day to …

  1. KittenHuffer Silver badge


    Toc! Hop!

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: Ba-ding!

      Hey mate .... you've got Turrents!

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        Re: Ba-ding!

        And you Toc can't bleeding Hop spell .... Ba-ding!

    2. ShadowSystems

      Re: Ba-ding!

      Your post title made me think of the CrazyFrog Axel F video...

      *Sticks my head in a keg of MindBleach*

    3. herman Silver badge

      Tak == OK in Polish

      Since all Poles moved to Western Europe (they knew they had to make room for the Ukrainians, but kept quiet about it), the Polish "tak" has now crept into the Western languages.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Tak == OK in Polish

        Tak == "thank you" in basically every Norse language, which seems just as likely a derivation.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    An old favorite! Poor guy can't even handle a few stairs.

    And I'm sure we could find someone who could remake the sound bada-bing!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I actually have a T800 chip.

    Anonymous, because....

    1. molletts
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Secret

      Does it say Inmos on the top?


      Oh crap! Er, I mean, "Whup whup whup whup!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Secret

        Yes, it does say Inmos on top.

        Actually, it's a whole card with RAM. For an 8 bit AT slot.

  4. jake Silver badge

    Late 70s cultural awareness?

    How could it be cultural when one is having adventures in a Yorkshire landscape?

    1. Surreal Estate

      Re: Late 70s cultural awareness?

      Must say I prefer the original "Electric" version ( more frenetic, less ponderous.

      "Pretty soon every repair shop engineer will be sucking their teeth, shaking their heads and saying such disparaging things such as "Oh dear oh dear oh dear", "You can't get the parts" and "Toc"."

      Reminds me of my dear mother who yet has a cochlear implant in her head, now rendered defunct because the producer stopped supporting the hardware and repair options are unavailable. Only solution is to rip it out and start over. Not to her liking as she nears her 90's...

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "unnecessary computer sounds"

    When Windows 95 came out, it was all the rage. I got the Vader "but you are not a Jedi yet" wav and set I don't remember what Windows sound to it.

    I am still a rabid Star Wars fan, but that wav lasted all of two days before I banned all Windows sounds from all my computers forever more.

    I just can't stand useless noise, and a computer's only right to make noise is when I'm playing a game.

    1. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

      Setup script for new PCs back then,

      1. Boot

      2. Disable Sounds

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

        And now. But also:

        3. Disable visual effects.

        1. Paul Kinsler

          Re: But also "3. Disable visual effects."

          And how's that Braille interface working out for you? :-)

          1. Irony Deficient

            And how’s that Braille interface working out for you? :-)


            Apparently El Reg’s regular expression for letters doesn’t recognize Braille letters as being letters, so I’ve added these extra letters that it recognizes as being letters.

      2. Nugry Horace

        Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

        I remember when someone in our office discovered the Windows 95 'Robotz' theme. It sounded like the computer had a terrible case of indigestion.

        Then a few years later we all became terribly familiar with the Windows XP setup music, because when it was being installed on a laptop the volume keys couldn't be used to mute it.

        (Relevant Dilbert: )

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

          Our secretaries all discovered 'Undersea Theme' en masse. Then they discovered how to customise it.

          I don't think I ever completely worked out which part of the starfish or jellyfish you were supposed to point with. Nor the finer points of the various gurgles and hisses.

        2. Montreal Sean

          Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

          Windows 10 completely ignores the fact I have plugged headphones in during setup (trying to stop Cortana from yelling at me) and instead blasts sounds out the speakers.

          I hate Microsoft.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

            Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

            My standard response to Cortana when it starts to utter is to reply back "F&%$ Off Cortana" - all these unnecessary voice and visual effects just drive up my blood pressure

            1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

              Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

              I was driving I'm heavy traffic the other day with Google Maps on for directions. Some berk cut me up, almost causing a collision, so I cursed him out big time - only to be told off for using foul language by the satnav.

              1. herman Silver badge

                Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

                Well, maybe your Satnav is hooked to the Mechanical Turk service and you Fscked Off a real poor snowflake somewhere.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

                  A few years when wanting to find a new way of cooking a traditional British meat "delicacy" I said to my phone "Ok Google, recipes containing faggots" .... the voice translation software had a fit of the vapours at the abusive language and passed onto Google search the request "recipes containing f*" ... and google search promptly gave me a list of recipes which include references to temperatures in farenheit

          2. Alistair Dabbs

            Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

            >> Windows 10 completely ignores...

            Macs do this too. On a Mac, though, each audio output remembers its own volume setting. So I keep default/internal speaker volume at 0% and it starts up silently regardless. I don’t have speakers on my PC (I can’t really justify the cost of good ones, and cheap speakers are shit, so better to have none and use my headphones) so I don’t know if this is the same on Windows.

    2. Sam not the Viking

      Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

      Computer sounds ignite the irritation gene. There's something about the precise tone/whine/beep/blip/burrr that makes the blood boil. I also find them difficult to direction-locate. Electronic sounds seem to reverberate from every direction.

      I'm old enough to remember when fire-engines, ambulances and police-cars had bells; you could identify their direction immediately and respond accordingly. The modern (ha!) wee-wah/whoop-whoop noises aren't so discernible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The modern (ha!) wee-wah/whoop-whoop noises aren't so discernible.

        This a known problem, and why some more modern sirens have harsh noise bursts in them, so you can also tell the direction.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: The modern (ha!) wee-wah/whoop-whoop noises aren't so discernible.

          It took far too long for what was obvious to become known.

        2. Man inna barrel

          Re: The modern (ha!) wee-wah/whoop-whoop noises aren't so discernible.

          I have noticed that reversing alarms on trucks and the like now tend to use a tish-tish noise, which is much easier to locate than beeps. At least we might have got rid of the recorded voice saying "Warning! This vehicle is reversing!", in a permanent tone of surprise, which gets pretty tiresome after a few repetitions. They could vary the message a bit, such as "Kindly look where you are going" or "Move yourself, you decrepit old git".

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: The modern (ha!) wee-wah/whoop-whoop noises aren't so discernible.

            Back in the day when I had a CB in just about all the vehicles (through roughly the mid '70s), I usually had a PA speaker hooked up. Flip the switch, key the mic and provide whatever commentary necessary ... It was technically illegal to do when the vehicle was moving, but I only used to to keep other people from hurting themselves. The one cop who called me on it let me go with a warning.

      2. Andy Non Silver badge

        Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

        A while back I was waiting at traffic lights on a motorbike at a very busy major junction in a city and I heard a siren going. I waited even after the lights turned green, looking in every direction expecting an emergency vehicle to nip across the front of me at any moment. Nothing. Eventually I moved forwards slowly and discovered it was a police car two vehicles behind me. The sound had no apparent point of origin and it's flashing lights were obscured by the vehicle immediately behind me, so instead of the siren expediting the police car's urgent need to go, it actually delayed it.

      3. M.V. Lipvig Silver badge

        Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

        Yes, but they had to do something to counter people who think the actual purpose of their car is to provide noise for the mile diameter circle their car is the center of. Never mind that every other person inside that mile thinks their music is crap.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

          people who think the actual purpose of their car is to provide noise for the mile diameter circle their car is the center of

          If I could work out how to switch to it instantly I'd have the climax of The Great Gate of Kiev (orch Ravel) on the car sound system to deal with such occasions.

          And to demonstrate that just loud isn't necessarily impressive.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

            Some of us like quiet solitude. Inflicting your version of uplifting sound on us is just plain rude.

            When my Daughter was about six years old, she took to yelling "loser!" at automobiles driving by with their tunes set to 11. She had a point. Out of the mouths of babes ...

            These days, if I can be arsed (rare), I generally counter with the Winters brothers Frankenstein. Gets the point across immediately, without pissing off all that many folks :-)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

          "Never mind that every other person inside that mile thinks their music is crap."

          And it always is.

          What makes me laugh - and I point it out to any passenger I have when we stop next to one (invariably a BMW or Audi) - is how you can hear 'thump-thump-da-thump' for a few seconds, and then it will change to 'thumpity-da-thump-da-thumpity' a few seconds later, and then something else a few seconds after. Because they're trying as hard as possible to broadcast themselves. They just sit there jumping tracks to get the biggest bass beat. Even when they're on their own.

      4. Man inna barrel

        Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

        The problem with not being able to locate computery beeps is related to the fact that they are very often pure sine waves at a constant frequency. Natural sounds, produced by banging and blowing stuff, have a range of overtones. If you look at how sound waves propagate in an enclosed space, there are massive peaks and troughs in the frequency response, and you end up with the reflected sounds swamping the direct signal. However, this effect varies greatly with frequency, and I believe that is why we can locate "normal" sounds in a reverberant environment, by a sort of majority vote of the overtones.

        I remember years ago there was some forgotten piece of battery powered kit in a drawer in the lab, that emitted a short beep every few minutes, to indicate low battery. This sound was seemingly designed to drive people potty, because it was so short and infrequent that you had no chance of locating it. It really did seem to dart about the room as you moved about. I think I may have hit the blasted thing with a hammer when I finally found it, resulting in a satisfying spread of overtones, with a crunchy tone.

    3. Franco

      Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

      It always amused me that shutting down Windows 95 merited a "ta da" sound, although by the time Windows ME came around getting it to shut down cleanly enough to merit a sound was an achievement. The click sound for "start navigation" in Windows XP was one that really irrationally annoyed me for some reason.

      In around 2006 I worked for a company that did both PC and Mac support, and the Mac guy got (what I think was but not a Mac guy myself) one of the early Intel powered Macs and could run boot camp on it. It also was one of the first computers that I encountered with an accelerometer and it could be configured to make siren noises if it was picked up too quickly or lightsaber swishes and various other things. I think he set this up on the Tueday and by the Thursday lunchtime he was told in no uncertain terms to turn all of them off and never turn them on again.

      1. Mooseman Silver badge

        Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

        My colleague and I used to modify new IT staff's autoexec files with helpful pings and dings, and little spoken snippets. The idea was to make them irritated enough they would have to work out how to edit the autoexec.bat themselves. An educational process. This worked fairly well until we had one shiny new team member who loved the noises and never removed them. After a week of blooping, bleeping and "get to the chopper" we asked if they wanted help removing them. "Oh no, I like them" was the response....

        1. Anonymous Custard

          Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

          I remember back in the uni days (decades ago now) when working on the uni student newspaper (using Mac's and QuarkXpress) when we discovered that all the sounds were customisable and that you could actually record your own.

          Me and the then editor were playing around with it and he recorded "Don't do that!" in his most ominous and scary voice as the error "ping".

          Then just left it for all the other writers etc to type their articles into the machines, and the looks on some of their faces when they triggered the warning sound was priceless.

          All good fun, and said editor went on to be an MP and junior cabinet minister at one point, which may explain a lot (hi Jez!).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

            ""Don't do that!" in his most ominous and scary voice"

            of Joyce Grenfell.

            1. Alistair Dabbs

              Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

              This reminded me: changing the default error beep to Homer Simpson saying “Doh!” is, and will always be, funny.

    4. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

      I just can't stand useless noise, and a computer's only right to make noise is when I'm playing a game.

      I would add "error reporting before the display comes up" to that.

    5. Flightmode

      Re: "unnecessary computer sounds"

      I once set a colleague's Windows up to play the Bananas in Pyjamas theme song as the opening sound. That version of Windows (must have been 95?) froze up until the sound had finished playing as well. Happy days.

  6. MJI Silver badge

    I have to have work PC muted

    I am sure 10 stretches the noise when compiling to near a minute, enever noticed before, but current PC is horrid for noises.

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

    I once had a contractor moved into my office who said "click" every time he pressed his mouse button. This was so annoying, I managed to reach lunchtime before "having a word" about it with him as I departed for some grub, and he was apologetic and promised to stop doing it.

    On returning, I settled down and started work again, and discovered what his idea of stopping doing it sounded like.

    "OK. Cancel. File. New. Document" he chirped to himself, and the rest of the room.

    1. Stoneshop

      Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

      "OK. Cancel. File. New. Document" he chirped to himself, and the rest of the room.

      "Zip" "Voicebox" "Delete" "Empty Wastebasket" "Brrgrrgrrgrrchchchch. Ping"

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

        We had a contractor once who was fired because "they typed too loudly" - at least that was the reason their team lead gave

        1. Anonymous Custard

          Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

          One of my regional engineers was bought a rubber keyboard (one of the portable roll-up jobs) for that very reason.

          She used to have very long nails, and that combined with her mechanical keyboard drove everyone else in the office nuts. Personally I couldn't comment as I worked in another timezone, but she took it in good grace and the squishboard is still in the office today (although the lady herself has long since departed to one of our customers).

          1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

            Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

            You sold her? Crikey! Business is rough where you live.

          2. the spectacularly refined chap

            Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

            One of my regional engineers was bought a rubber keyboard (one of the portable roll-up jobs) for that very reason.

            She used to have very long nails, and that combined with her mechanical keyboard drove everyone else in the office nuts.

            Obligatory Petticoat 5 reference.

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

      I remember when voice recognition was the next big thing.

      There were packages that would allow you to control your PC by voice. I had visions of entire office areas, all with people using voice commands on their PCs. Nightmares, actually.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

        And then there would be the git that would walk by telling someone about how he had this problem with his computer when he said DELETE FILE, only solved by the command FORMAT C.

    3. Man inna barrel

      Re: the presenter squealed "Tac!" every time he clicked on something

      My habit, when running DOS and then GNU/Linux was to utter "Boff!" when I hit the return key, after composing a particularly fine command line, then executing it. This was occasionally followed by "Oh bugger!". They say you learn by your mistakes. On that basis, I am the wisest man on earth. Boff!

  8. David Roberts

    You've got mail

    Reminds me of the olden days when a new email could herald something new and exciting that you really wanted to read about.

    Not the current firehouse of SPAM that seems to take up most email bandwidth.

    1. Warm Braw

      Re: You've got mail

      With Eudora, it was literally something to crow over and you even got an audible cue when there was NO mail...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You've got mail

      I used to have the "Oh No" lemming voice whenever email arrived on my works PC - I'd generally be working on my development PC on a isolated network, so it was mainly to let me know email had arrived and there wasn't much spam as we weren't on internet at all.

  9. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Mia Culpa

    At some point in the 90s I was working with a kid in a local primary school who was particularly annoying. Clearly so was I. Because I recorded his voice saying a chirpy "Hello miss" and set it as a start-up sound on his class' computer. (I was only there once or twice a week. His teacher, of course------every morning....).

    However,fate got its own back on me a bit. My previous car- Honda Jazz- had warning dings when speed limits changed and so forth. But ours would often ding at apparently random intervals, without any indication on the screen display as to why.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Re: Mia Culpa

      Ah - I know this one....Your Navigation system is alerting you to traffic information on a nearby road (change of delay or some such).

      If you are not on the Nav screen all you get is an anonymous Ping

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Mia Culpa

        At some point your navigation system becomes parallel realities-aware. I know mine is.

        As long as the Great Old Ones don't use it as a gateway to invade our reality, I can live with that. *shrug*

        1. Mooseman Silver badge

          Re: Mia Culpa

          "As long as the Great Old Ones don't use it as a gateway to invade our reality, I can live with that. *shrug*"

          CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is here :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mia Culpa

        We had a Honda Jazz and that used to ping as well. No nav system though!

        1. mechgru2

          Re: Mia Culpa

          We had a grey import Honda CR-X for evaluation at work, many years ago. In Japan by law all cars have to emit a warning noise when the speed limit of 100 km/h is exceeded. We spent most of the time seeing who could keep the 'bong' going the longest.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Mia Culpa

            Around here, if you're on a limited access highway that sound starts if you slow down below 100kph (62mph) ... but it's not a bong from under the dash, it's honking from the irritated folks behind you who you are slowing down.

  10. AndrueC Silver badge

    Funnily enough an hour ago I kicked off a Visual Studio build and half way through the compilation my computer went 'Bong'. Apparently I was being notified of something.

    But no dialog appeared, nothing flashed on the taskbar and the build completed without errors.

    On the customisation front I did once apply a patch to Doom that replaced the stock sounds. My favourite was 'coo-eee' which the fire spitting demons used :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "My favourite was 'coo-eee' [...]

      For some reason my mind read that in the voice of Kenneth Williams. Possibly "Round the Horne"?

    2. Mooseman Silver badge

      "On the customisation front I did once apply a patch to Doom that replaced the stock sounds. My favourite was 'coo-eee' which the fire spitting demons used :)"

      I used to have a wav patch for Doom that had the classic valley girl "oh my gaaahd" for some demons, and the Python "message for you sir" for the fireball chucking ones.

  11. Kubla Cant

    Just as I was reading this, Windows Defender popped up a notification with a sound. It's telling me that it didn't find any threats. Nice to know, but not something that needs a sound. And why tell me for the first time in the two years this Windows has been running?

    Worst thing is being woken at 4am by a notification from a phone on the bedside table. It's always something you wouldn't want to know about at any time of day.

    Long ago I recall Novell startup scripts that included the command


    Never found out what this had to do with networking.

    1. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      It's telling me that it didn't find any threats. Nice to know, but not something that needs a sound. And why tell me for the first time in the two years this Windows has been running?

      Are you the only person in the country who hasn't seen the emergency alert for the new ransomware? The one which can't stop Windows Defender from noticing it but which replaces the notification message (stored in the filesystem) with a benign message instead?

      Sorry - it was just too tempting...

    2. jake Silver badge

      "Never found out what this had to do with networking."

      FIRE simply played a sound file, ostensibly to alert the user about something.

      As for "Why?", here's Novell's take on the subject.

      In my experience it was mostly used by children for amusement purposes ... in other words, to annoy adults.

    3. AndrueC Silver badge

      Worst thing is being woken at 4am by a notification from a phone on the bedside table. It's always something you wouldn't want to know about at any time of day.

      Not had one at 4am yet but every couple of weeks I get the 'you have mail' notification sound and it turns out to be a Samsung notification reminding me that they have changed their T&Cs and I should tap to accept. Now I don't use any of their services so I don't give a fig about changes to their T&Cs but in the spirit of fairplay I have tapped it on a few occasions.

      All that has ever happened is that a web browser launches, shows a blank page then immediately closes. Couple of weeks later the same notification appears. This has been going on for over a year now.

      This is why I'm unlikely to ever buy another Samsung smart phone.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Interestingly when I got another notification yesterday I gave it another try and this time the browser actually took me to a meaningful page where I was able to accept the changes. Maybe Samsung have finally fixed the problem (it wasn't working last time I tried in December).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Worst thing is being woken at 4am by a notification from a phone on the bedside table."

      25-ish years ago I spent a few years working in California with our house in the UK rented out with an estate agency managing this. Back in that time they'd send a monthly statement to confirm rent had come in along their fees and any other costs by fax .... we had to explain to them that sending this at 5pm UK time was not appreciated due to the 8 hour time difference causing our phone to ring at 1am !

      1. jake Silver badge

        Except 5PM in the UK is 9AM here in California.

        1AM in California would be 9AM in the UK ... perhaps your estate agency was really on the ball and sending you the info first thing in the morning on the day it was available?

  12. Mark #255


    Having "I'll be back!" as my shut-down tone struck me as hilarious back then.

    Back in the pre-smartphone days, when the usual means of adding a custom ringtone was via premium-rate scam-line, I was rather pleased when I managed to upload a clip of Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone" onto my wife's mobile phone.

    1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

      Re: Noises

      Many years ago, work provided me with a WAP enabled Nokia that would accept some MIDI files as ringtones. I downloaded several from a film-and-tv-themes website and, after having to discard many good tunes because they weren't coded "just right", had several on my phone to entertain and annoy co-workers.

      One day, I had to take a team on a site visit to an unused factory unit. We'd just got through the gates when my boss rang me. Cue much laughter as we drove into an empty yard with the theme from "The Sweeney" blasting out...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Noises

      Mid 80s I was working with a group developing text-to-speech hardware, and I had a prototype hooked up to the office VAX. This was in Belfast, and one morning a colossal CRACK shook us all up - a car bomb at the end of the street. Everyone was pretty shocked and quiet, until someone commented "I'll bet the VAX has just said 'what the Fuck was that?'". The tension was broken as we all dissolved into near-hysterical giggles.

  13. dajames

    Share and Enjoy!

    Once, back in the day (or maybe the day before) one of the co-workers with whom I shared an open-plan office had stubbornly NOT disabled the Windows 3 startup sound on his PC, and so us all to the ghastly Microsoft jingle several times a day.

    One day I got to his PC before he had arrived in the morning, and configured it to play a .wav file of the company anthem of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation Complaints Department when Windows started. This was long enough ago that the sound came from the PC speaker, driven in software by a Windows component that cunningly hogged the entire CPU while it played the sound ... for about 45 seconds.

    We expected him to be horrified, to see the error of his ways, and to disable the startup sound at once ... but he liked it! We were treated to 45 seconds of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's finest output every morning, and again after every time Windows crashed (which was not infrequently).

    Eventually we pleaded with him, explained the nature of our torment, bought him beer, and were rewarded with peace and quiet, I think it was the beer that did it.

    1. Evil Scot

      Re: Share and Enjoy!

      Or He was a marketing exec for Sirius Cybernetics Corporation

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Share and Enjoy!

        That would have been tea ..or something not entirely unlike same.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Share and Enjoy!

      A pair of wire cutters would have worked just as well. Just where the wire is soldered to the speaker so that could be blamed on a dodgy soldering rather than sabotage......

  14. Code For Broke Bronze badge

    As a youth, in the 90s, I was gifted an AT&T computer from the 80s. It wasn't a computer that had come from AT&T. It was (nominally) made by AT&T. Between the cacophonous seeking and syncing of the ESDI 10MB disk drive, and a keyboard that really did intentionally bleep a bit with each stroke, the thing was a marvelous musical instrument. It was positively useless as a PC since it likely ran some archaic branch of Unix in the age of MSDOS and Windows ascendancy, but I turned it on and just played with it, often, just because of how beautiful it sounded.

    1. Hero Protagonist

      The original AT&T PCs were manufactured by Olivetti as I recall (I bought one with an employee discount); there was a Unix variant at one point. Unless you’ve talking about the 3B2 computer which was a very different beast made by Western Electric which was not an IBM-compatible and only ever ran Unix (System V probably).

      1. jake Silver badge

        Olivetti made a few computers marketed by AT&T and running UNIX in the British market. I do not remember the details (Gathercole might, having been there).

        The 3B2 was a 32-bit mini that could handle 16 or 32 users (??) and could run UNIX. I have a motherboard from one that indicates it was actually manufactured by AT&T.

        My PC 7300 (hacked into a 3B1) runs the SvR2-based AT&T UNIX v3.51, and was initially developed by Convergent Technologies ... this machine is NOT really a part of the 3B lineup, being intended to be a single user machine (mine has a couple extra terminals hung off it).

        N.B. I just eyeballed Wiki out of curiosity ... it has a fairly decent overview of the 3B linup, and a pretty good blurb on the so-called "AT&T UNIX PC" ... including one comment that Olivetti did, in fact, release a thing called "the Olivetti AT&T 3B1 Computer" on your side of the pond. I have absolutely no idea what this thing looked like.

    2. Down not across

      Probably PC7300 especially given the 10MB HDD. It had MC68010 running at 10MHz and ran System V Release 2. Later 3B1 had drives up to 60-70MB or something along those lines. Sadly I never acquired one, as I quite liked it.

  15. ibmalone

    "Nor is this a mere fantasy scenario from sci-fi. Last year, financial challenges forced neural tech specialist Second Sight to abandon its Argus II artificial vision product line – regrettably but inevitably leaving a number of its customers with delicate surgical eye-to-brain implants that can no longer be maintained, repaired or (possibly) even removed. Like all kit, it will eventually stop working but there will be no more fixes, upgrades, spare parts, or even anybody with the proprietary Argus II tech skills to know how to fix them anyway."

    There needs to be some kind of escrow that the rights and proprietary information for this kind of thing can be placed in for this eventuality, it's only going to get worse. We inexplicably put up with patenting plants, but the line absolutely has to be drawn here. "We can't replace the battery in the device that is letting you see/keeping you alive because the company folded and now the rights are owned by some asset-striping firm, sorry about that," is full on black-mirror dystoptianism.

  16. Fading

    The joys of modifying windows sounds...

    For awhile (back in XP days) I did have my personal laptop play various lines from 2001: A Space Odyssey - the critical stop being "I'm sorry Dave I'm afraid I can't do that". It would have been better had my name been Dave. IIRC "My mind is going. I can feel it" was the windows shutdown sound....

    1. Throgmorton Horatio III

      Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

      This was the comment I came here specifically to make. And the 'my mind is going' on shutdown.

      I miss the glory days of computers, when the world was young and stupid stuff like this was still new and fun. Now I agree with Dabbsy that "Today, I prefer my devices to hold their tongue.". How dull we have become.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

      I configured an SE/30 to say "I am completely operational and all my circuits are functioning perfeectly" on startup.

      1. DoctorPaul

        Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

        Where I was freelancing I set my Mac startup sound to the Laurel and Hardy theme music - partly because I loved L&H but mainly as a comment on the working of the company.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

          Also choosing Muppet names for PC names as well....

      2. Norman Nescio Silver badge

        Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

        You are me AICMFP.

        I played around with sound files on my home machines, not work, having been on the wrong end of just how irritating 'personalised' system sounds can be for other people.

        My two main sources of entertainment were 2001 and TOS, with an exception for a snatch of dialogue from a generic American 'comedy' movie, where the driver of a car says to the other occupants "Everyone remember where we parked"* for my hard-disk shutdown alert (there was a time that hard disk heads had to be explicitly parked in an area away from the data tracks before disk power-off).

        In the time after everyone though digital watches were cool, flip-phones that resembled the TOS communicators became cool in their turn, and I spent some time trying to get my Motorola flip-phone to make the distinctive chirping when flipped open.

        Customising system sounds and mobile phone noises lost its charm after a few days.

        I remain impressed with Apple's attention to detail on sounds - if I remember correctly, sounds are triggered by events, but played by a separate server/thread so they do not block execution and can play to completion; and multiple sounds can play simultaneously so that fade-out of an original sound does not get abruptly cut off by a new sound being triggered. Trivial, maybe, but a detail many applications do not get right.

        I still enjoy the (memory of the) soundscape of the 'Lunatic Fringe' game add-in module for the After Dark screensaver for the original Macs. Lost to bit-rot, I fear.

        *Way, way before Kirk said it in one of the Star Trek films, or Homer Simpson, for that matter.

    3. Down not across

      Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

      Reminds me of few occasions of catting some suitable .au files to cow-orkers' /dev/audio.

      Ah the days of innocence and less concern for security.

    4. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

      I had Thing from "The Addams Family" announcing "Whoop! Whoop! Mail's in!", when a new mail hit my inbox.

      I was young and foolish, but at least I had the sense to keep the volume down. Now, my volume is muted unless I want to play something.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

      We had a business analyst who was prone to using annoying sounds for stuff like email. His colleagues persuaded me to replace it with a sarcastic message and then I renamed the CPL file so he couldn't change it.

      Seemed like a good idea at the time. In retrospect, less so

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

        The last expansion here :


    6. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

      Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

      Ah, the memories!

      Once upon a time on Win 98... StarCraft: Broodwar soundbites: Corsair's "It is a good day to die!" for startup. Marine's death cry for critical error. Infested Kerrigan's "Now WHAT?!" for messages... although for the life of me, I can't remember what was the shut down sound...

  17. BenDwire Silver badge

    Smart wearables

    It's not like it's welded to your bleeding neurons

    I suspect that Dabbsy posted this article before the news that Fitbits were indeed welding themselves to people's arms.

    I never realised that Fitbits were powered by LR44s ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart wearables

      Makes sense. When you sell someone a device designed to track their location, no sense making it removable.

  18. Dr_N

    The Ukrainian Drone strike video...

    Featuring a Windows desktop notification sound was doubly disturbing to me.

  19. Hero Protagonist

    Back in the day, I had just sat down to use my Mac Quadra 700 when suddenly it emitted a loud screeching sound. Nearly gave me a heart attack, thinking it was the swan song of a dying hard disk or something equally dire. Turned out that my daughter and a couple of her friends had replaced the general system beep with a recording of themselves screaming at the top of their pre-pubescent lungs.

  20. A. Coatsworth Silver badge

    I'm just old enough to remember when a long, agonizing beeeeeeeeep or a series of short, tortured beep-beep-beeps on startup, meant that something had Gone Terribly Wrong with the PC you had gutted in your desk.

    These unexpected "I'm dead" sounds caused a deep phobia of any noise coming from a computer, and not only to me, judging by the comments!

    1. Down not across

      It didn't take very long to memorize the most common ones either. What didn't help was that the codes were dependent on the BIOS and usually not same at all across different vendors.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        The last time I had to diagnose one of these (it was something like two long beeps, followed by six short beeps), they weren't in the MOBO's manual (I always keep these!), and googling the manufacturer (rhymes with "Bigger Kite") turned up various different beep combos with different meanings, in broken Chinglish, but not the one in question.

        I think it turned out to be a DIMM that wasn't properly seated or something like that, only diagnosed via trial-and-error.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          In my (rather limited I admit) experience those beeps usually meant the BIOS can't find any memory or a CPU, so the standard thing to do was to re-insert everything, and if the problem persists, try alternate parts.

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      >> These unexpected "I'm dead" sounds

      On a Mac, it is a horrible discordant set of synthed tones that induces nausea... partly because it foretold that you’d spend at least half the day trying to salvage your data, opening the box to reseat everything and swap out DIMMs etc, and reformat disks.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. ibmalone

        I also have a bird box camera which, when you want to connect it to network, (apparently) gives a varying series of beeps

        Chirps surely?

      2. jake Silver badge

        "I also have a bird box camera"

        No, no, no ... That's Le Phoebus, not Le Phoenix.

        Well, how many box cameras can you think of named after a bird?

      3. jake Silver badge

        "Damned rock music in my youth (until the present day) has a lot to answer for!"

        Strangely enough, my hearing doesn't seem to have suffered from decades of similar abuse. Mike Flugennock said the same thing, and speculated it was because the live music we listened to (and/or participated in) was mixed by people who knew what they were doing, and our home equipment was better than average. According to his theory, the cleaner sound might be less abusive.

        Dunno for sure, but it kind of makes sense.

  21. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "Fun" audio clips

    > merrily rejigging System 6 with ResEdit to make my Mac SE/30 blurt out audio snippets

    I made my IIsi play the entire intro from The Prisoner on bootup (the audio file took up a sizable proportion of the 80Mb hard drive - I'd recorded it off the telly). The error sound was Ren Höek saying "You eeeee-diot!" (actually taken from the resource fork of the game Maelstrom - still a great version of Asteroids, incidentally).

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Re: The error sound ...

      I recall changing the error messages on my beeb from the defaults, so that instead they insulted me every time I triggered one.

      However, it was only fun-like for a really quite surprisingly short amount of time :-)

  22. Jimbo94

    I once drove the missus mad by playing Ca Plane Pour Moi on a loop while editing a vid of the Tour de France

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      A Belgian song for the Tour de France.

      1. jake Silver badge

        What does "Jet Boy, Jet Girl" have to do with the Tour de France?

      2. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

        At one point in time (late 80s to early 90s) the official TdF signature tune was "tour de France" by Kraftwerk. Yup, German band doing French icon.

        @Jake - saw Wild Willy Barrett and the French Connection a few years ago. Their encore is Ca Plan... - I sang JBJG and enjoyed every second of it...

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    HAL shut down with "Daisy, Daisy,,," - reflecting the common practice at the time for a large mainframe to have such a party piece to entertain prospective buyers - especially government ministers.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      DAISY (A bicycle built for two) was one of the first piece of computer music ever generated, and was reported in scientific and technical journals at the time. As HAL's hardware was disconnected, it regressed both physically and mentally to a more primitive computer, doing more primitive tasks. 'Early computer development tasks'., not 'sales demonstration' tasks,

      Dramatically, this was also a regression to a more 'child like' state, because 'Daisy' was, at the time of filming, a children's song.

      1. jake Silver badge

        I was at the meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in 1977ish when Steve Dompier demonstrated his music making skills with an Altair 8800. It took him about 30 minutes of toggling switches to get it to play "Fool on the Hill" or "Bicycle Built for Two" in RF picked up on an AM radio. Someone watching (Roger Melen? There were several CROMEMCO folks there that day, if I remember correctly ... ) was overheard to say that it was the most useful thing he'd ever seen a personal computer do. At that stage of the game he may have been right!

        I'm fairly certain that everyone witnessing this thought it was a computing first ... We found out later that the Ferranti Mark 1 had a function that would allow variable pitch operator feedback, and someone had programmed it to generate music in the very early 1950s[0]. A couple decades later I found out that the Australians had beaten us all to the punch, having programmed their CSIRAC to make music in 1949 or 1950[1].

        [0] "God Save The King", of course (among others).

        [1] "Colonel Bogey".

        1. Andy A

          The ICL 1900 engineers' tapes were full of such, along with various examples of "ASCII Art".

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      My desktop shows shimmering pixels on the screen if I pull RAM sticks while it's on, then some kind of deadman switch reboots it. It's not as touching.

    3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      in all its glory...Daisy on fhe IBM 7094

  24. Blackjack Silver badge

    This was hilarious but also horrifying if you think about it.

  25. TheProf


    How on earth did you manage to get one of those damp fart squib cells to explode?

    1. herman Silver badge

      Re: LR44

      Blowing up tantalum capacitors can be a lot of fun - just connect it the wrong way around to a power supply and switch on - PAFF!!!

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: LR44

        Tantrum capacitors?

  26. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Reading the Runes Between the Lines

    That was a very entertaining allegorical tale advises us all of present GCHQ and UKGBNI Secret Security Service shortcomings and very needy redundancies/project abandonments, Dabbsy.

    Do you know if they have any noble novel AI programs to try, to save their sorry asses from being worthy of acute targeted professional derision?

  27. Dr Scrum Master

    Just one occasion

    There's just one occasion when it might possibly be useful for a computer to make a noise to get my attention: when I'm not looking at it and when it's something that I should do there and then. The only thing that I need to do there and then is join a meeting because there are other humans.

    At all other times, a pop-up is the absolute limit of attention-grabbing that's required.

  28. ConsumedByFire

    20 Seconds to Comply

    Hey Dabbsy - loved the Robocop riff. Classic 80s.

    Surprised you didn't work in a link to this very very memorable 20 seconds to comply scene of malfunctioning tech:

    And for music you could have gone with the rather poor which somehow I remember existed from the mists of time.

    Anyway - hope you're having a nice Sunday.

  29. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Movies sounds

    In movies, computers always bleep, and star ships run and explode with loud noises in space.

    I guess spectators would become anxious if there was no sound.

  30. Kane

    This must be disappointing for sci-fi authors but there it is.

    I think I've found a new opening!

  31. Electronics'R'Us


    Some years ago (not that long really) I was using public transport for my (total of 3.5 hours per day) commute.

    On occasion there would be someone, where even at the other end of the bus / train carriage, I could hear the loud tinny noises from their earpieces.

    Having an excellent relationship with some electronics vendors, I got a set of free samples for 2.5GHz transmitters and a small FPGA board.

    The end result was a battery powered transmitter controlled by a simple button, that generated white noise across a several hundred kHz bandwidth into a directional antenna (so I could minimise power usage).

    To those who may not know, all that is necessary to demodulate such a signal is a non-linear circuit with an antenna; behold, the audio is on wires and is attached to an amplifier. An antenna with a non-linear circuit!

    I have very fond memories of pushing the button and seeing the miscreant with their very loud antisocial 'music' rip the earplugs out and look at their device with disbelief at which point I would release the button to stop transmitting. As soon as they reinserted the earplugs and fired up their 'music' at levels to rival a military aircraft engine, I would press the button again.

    Such fun; rather gives 'messing with their head' new meaning.

  32. Bongo Jazz

    An ED-209 NFT you say?

    I'd buy that for a dollar!

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