When I was much younger, programming on my Amstrad CPC 6128, I found I was sometimes able to “debug” my programs by turning the volume up to maximum.

The sound circuitry wasn’t well isolated from the processor, and the resulting hiss and buzz was a way to monitor what was going on - it was pretty easy to discern a transition from normal processing into an infinite loop or another error state.

Fast forward a few years, and I heard about an effort to provide network monitoring in a similar way - generating an “audible landscape” of background noise, where each sound had a specific meaning. I didn’t keep any notes, however, and it became one of those oft repeated fantastic stories that I couldn’t substantiate.

Today, I stumbled across a ServerFault question White noise as a system monitoring aid? Real or myth?, and found the original report Peep (The Network Auralizer): Monitoring Your Network With Sound from the Lisa00 conference in December 2000.

Very cool reading - and a very powerful technique. Is is just office politics that have prevented this taking off, or is there a fundamental flaw I’m missing?


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July 2009