October 18, 2006

Inspector Francis and the Case of the Occasionally Beepy Thing

For months now, Rose and I have been beset with a strange beeping noise that comes without warning in the night. One or the other of us would be sitting on the couch reading, say, and then, suddenly -- blurble-de-BOOP! And then as quickly as it came...it would be gone. [Sound of wind whistling.] We could never quite tell where it was coming from, since it happened so quickly. And because (we assumed) of the vagaries of acoustics, sometimes it would sound like it was coming from over by the DVD player, and other times it would sound like it was coming from the hallway, and so forth. And many nights, there wouldn't be any noise at all.

But we did notice one thing. When there was beeping, it always seemed to happen at the same time: midnight. For all the good that knowing this fact did us.

It seemed like we were doomed to be forever mystified by this blippy manifestation. But then, one night, it happened again, and I instantly realized what had been going on. What was different this time, that helped me have the insight? Well, mostly it was that I wasn't at home. I was in Philadelphia, at a bed and breakfast. Apparently I had brought the noise with me.

The culprit? My iPod mini! Somehow the alarm had gotten set (probably from the iPod getting jostled around in my bag after I neglected to lock the controls one day); since I hadn't intended to set the alarm, it had stayed on the default time of 12:00 am. And thus the trap was set. Some nights my bag would be in the hall, other nights in the living room. And some nights the iPod would have run out of power, and the alarm wouldn't go off. Mystery solved.

(Mind you, I don't know why the designers of the iPod thought that a single second-long electronic chirp was sufficient for your average person's waking needs. Some mornings, I've managed to sleep through at least 10 minutes of clock radio.)

Posted by Francis at 01:34 AM

Ah! Maybe something similar explains the mysterious beeps I was hearing over the weekend, from the general direction of my iPod . . . and the subsequent chargelessness of its battery the next time I picked it up. Thanks, Inspector Francis!

Posted by: I. at October 18, 2006 07:58 AM

A quick little beep is my ideal alarm: It would wake me up if I was already primed to get up at a certain time (in fact, I have a good enough internal alarm that I don't really need alarms, but I like to set them because then I sleep more soundly not worrying, "What if I oversleep?") but it wouldn't penetrate if it accidentally got set for some time when I wanted to be sleeping. I wonder, though, if there are settings on the alarm to adjust what it does, because, really, for most people, that won't cut it.

Posted by: CC at October 18, 2006 08:38 AM

I hadn't thought to check for alternate settings. I see that one can also set the alarm to play any song that's loaded onto the iPod, but as for built-in noises, it's just the single tweedly-dee beep. I guess if someone preferred a traditional nonmusical alarm, they could put an MP3 of it onto their iPod.

Posted by: Francis at October 18, 2006 11:40 AM

Is the tweedly-dee beep sampled from "Rockin' Robin"?

Posted by: ACW at October 27, 2006 03:07 PM

Brilliant! We've been followed halfway around the world by this most intermittent but distinctive beeping. Thing is, the iPod in question has a very tired battery - so we'd only hear it very occasionally - and it went 10 months and about 8 countries without its clock being synced - so the alarm happened at all hours of the day!

My girlfriend's most annoyed with the fact that I googled 'What is making that beeping noise' and worked it out too! Cheers!

Posted by: Beejamin at November 17, 2008 07:14 PM
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