Snipped-Headphone Mute - bandaid for soft volume controls...

Called a "MacGyver Tip" on LifeHacker, the idea here is to use the snipped-off jack from some cheapo or free headphones to silence a laptop's startup sound effects. Sure, it'll do the trick; but this is one of the more blatant bandaids I've seen in a while - workarounds and fixes to compensate for inexcusably bad design.

I've always been a proponent of hardware sound controls (see the Treo hardware sound switch love letter); the presence and volume of sound that your devices make are visceral, fundamental interactions with the outside world, and deserve the most responsive and trustworthy controls. This case is an excellent example of this need not being met by software controls.

Here's the deal: you're in a quiet place, want to boot up your laptop, but your startup sound is poised to disrupt the silence. You can't hit the mute button until the system is almost completely booted, because it's a "soft" function handled by the operating system itself. So, hopefully you have a sliver of time between the button activating and the bootup sound playing - can you hit it in time?? Sounds like more of a scene from a thriller movie (albeit a bad one) than a product well designed for real use.

So, laptop makers, give us a hard mute button and maybe even a physical volume slider or knob. Then MacGyver can move on to more pressing problems.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't know about other brands, but Toshiba laptops actually have a solid volume slider on the unit. I don't care about startup noises, so I never use it, but it is helpful and I never realized that other laptops didn't have one.