Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Day's Most Expensive* (and Least Operable) Radio Receiver

* Not really, it's hyperbole; there are giant, much more expensive, antennas used for various other things (such as looking for alien life, radio telescopes, etc.). By "least operable", I mean that there are no direct or supplied modes of attenuating the receiver to different "channels" of those mainstream "stations". By "receiver" I mean signals broadcast by mainstream public stations. Of why I'm being a pedant about explaining this: because there are so many pedantic (and loud) people online. So what am I talking about?

My laptop. Perhaps it's the magnesium innards, or maybe it's the metal cylinders into which headphones and mics jack-in at the side; maybe it's both; either way, there is a reliably constant output of low-intensity (in volume) sound that happens to match the content of radio broadcasters: it droves me nuts for several years that there was a strange, vague sound (that in the right conditions, a quiet environment) coming from my computer that would continue even AFTER I killed the sound subsystem of my Linux OS. Several months ago, however, I was near a  radio (turned off) that has built-in speakers with my laptop and realized that as I moved the device towards that radio the sound became amplified and played-back to me: I could hear a radio jockey's voice and then songs! At the very least I know it's not a problem with the machine or its OS, phew.

Today I had the lappy hooked into a sound system in our living room to play some youtube vids through the speakers and, as I connected a jack into the speaker port, heard a broadcast again; thankfully, once the sound subsystem serves content to the speaker jack, the broadcast (whichever it is, I don't remember the "station" now, though I might check again in order to obtain what frequency exactly is being picked-up by my machine) gets overriden: the higher intensity is my guess. I was then inspired that, perhaps, some one else out in the ether has a similar issue, or perhaps they would just find this sort of thing interesting: nerds do; or perhaps boring, "well duh, happens all the time", who knows.

I don't have the time to spare today if I'm going to be productive, but I really am curious about the frequency I'm getting and think I'll try to figure that out later: having that should tell something more about the material receiving it, and with some reference to some standard tables it should be feasible to figure this out. Er...I may want to avoid it a while and remain focused on being productive in more important things...

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