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petdance (2468)

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I'm Andy Lester, and I like to test stuff. I also write for the Perl Journal, and do tech edits on books. Sometimes I write code, too.

Journal of petdance (2468)

Friday September 13, 2002
09:32 AM

Dual interfaces

[ #7725 ]
I took my daughter to Children's Memorial Hospital yesterday to to have some neuromuscular tests done. One of the tests involved poking a conductive needle into her muscle and watching the electric impulses as dancing lines on a PC screen. The cool thing was that it was also sent out thru the PC speakers. To me, it sounded like static, but the doctor said it sounded normal. "I could do this test blindfolded," he said after I commented on the audio output. "The kids that do have problems, the sounds are totally different."

As developers, it's good for us to think of interfaces in more than one way to increase the knowledge transfer to the user, and reduce the chance of errors. Stoplights are based on both color and position, and street signs use color and shape. Why don't we do this more?

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  • Makes me wonder if anyone has every turned log files into sound. We have a 24/7 operation that basically involves checking everything is running a-ok. If it were sounds instead of log files and graphs, it might be a little easier to notice anomalies...

    Just a thought. I wonder if anyone has ever done this before.
    • Not exactly log files, but...

      I belong to a list about generative music [] and this thread reminded me of a posting on there by someone who generated a MIDI representation of a mailing list archive...with Perl! Check it out [] .

    • I can analyze logfiles like that by sight, sometimes. No, not by reading the log file, but by tailing it and watching for changes in the patterns of text, the gaps, the "color". Even having the tail output on a separate screen in my peripheral vision is usually sufficient to notice significant changes.
    • Not exactly log files, but there is Peep: The Network Auralizer []. You run various clients that send notifications when certain events happen to a central server that plays whatever sound is assigned to that event. In theory if you get it configured right you can hear when something's abnormal about your network. (Disclaimer, I've never actually gotten around to really using it so I can't say how useful it is; but hey it's got Perl client libs.)