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I still haven't found what I'm malloc()ing for: U2 tops poll of music today's devs code to

Megaphone

I wonder what % of developers would like to work in silence but can't because they're in an open plan office with a noisy project manager holding conference calls at the other end. Add in the relatively high incidence of autism spectrum disorders among developers (which can include a tendency to be distracted by things like background noise) and it's not surprising people sometimes want to put some music on.

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Pint

We've had talk of grey-noise trials in our office - there are actually more noise complaints in the allocated desk space than the so-called "agile" area where they just removed 30% of the desks, put a lot of ad-hoc meeting spaces and invited an office-scrum for a desk. All it actually did was get people in earlier in the morning so they could take "their" spot, but I digress...

Back to my point - because the allocated desk area does tend to be quieter, just one rogue PM will disturb a lot of people because it's too easy to tune-in (and I've seen people there working with ear defenders on, my preference is the Bose QC series as their noise cancelling actually works). In the agile area though, there is a lot more background noise but you can't pick out individual conversations: people there are reporting that it's actually easier to concentrate.

Indeed, at university I liked to revise in the student pub (stop scoffing at the back), because it was easier to concentrate with a constant level of background noise, than in the library with a bunch of sociology students quietly discussing "the societal disadvantages of capitalism." Plus once I'd finished, having the bar 10ft away was never a disadvantage...

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Music helps even when you are not in the office

I have found it I need music to concentrate even when I am coding in my own home office and in my loft. I cannot go into proper "Capt'n, I do not know how much she can take. KEEP ON FIRING" mode without a set of huge fully isolating ear-cups and something blasting on them.

You need silence sometimes for debugging. Once again the cups help.

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Unhappy

Distracting office noise: The phone system from hell

"ust one rogue PM will disturb a lot of people because it's too easy to tune-in"

That reminds me of the phone system from hell. The phones were grouped according to team.

If one phone went unanswered for 6 or so rings, all the phones for that team started ringing in unison. If all those phones went unanswered, the call was diverted to a secretary, who was seemingly never at her desk.

At any given time, at least one team was off in a meeting room.

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Generally, I can't listen to music while I'm working, I find it too distracting. Rarely, I will listen to music, but that is very rare - every few years.

I'm lucky, at my current place, I have a 2-man office and there is no music. Many of the other offices have music playing in the background. I find it hard to concentrate there.

I have to be in the right mood for music, when working. When, then heavy rock, like AC/DC or classic music from Beethoven or Strauss.

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Happy

Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

Perhaps if you had silence for coding you wouldn't need silence for debugging?

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"We've had talk of grey-noise trials in our office -"

This is actually a well known Contact Centre technique.

Noise volumes in a "quiet" office soon escalate, as people get distracted by the people talking next to them, so raise their voice a little more in order to zone in on their conversation...then the people around them raise theirs. Rinse and repeat.

By introducing a base level sound, you are less distracted by other peoples conversations, and so so you tend not to raise your own voice.

So ironically, having noise introduced at a set level actually reduces overall noise in the environment.

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I remember at the end of the 80s, beginning of the 90s, there was talk of white-noise walls, which would stop ambient noise from neighbouring areas penetrating barrier, thus eliminating the problem.

I guess it proved too difficult / too expensive.

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Anonymous Coward

"[...] there was talk of white-noise walls, [...]"

Achieved in our open plan office by having the customers' network test bed in the corner running 24/7. Unfortunately the multiple Cisco 1U boxes' fan noise was more like a banshee - and my tinnitus suffered from the over-stimulation.

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The secretary was never at the desk because... advance warning!

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Thanks for the tip on the Bose QC. I might invest. Someone thought it was a good idea to put the air-conditioning only in the Outer Office, but they also put the training/analysis PCs for the 'scope in there. Queue lots of chatter about two feet away round the corner. >>>SCREAM<<<

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Silence is golden...

...and other people's music is hell. That's when I need lots of AC/DC, Nightwish and Creedence.

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Pint

Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

Perhaps if you had silence for coding you wouldn't need silence for debugging?

spot on!

I really cant imagine that having music on whilst coding dosent detract from the standard of work.

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Mushroom

Yes me please. Silence, some natural light as well but not so much as to force me to have the screen on max brightness burning my eyes for 8/9hours, humane temperature, is it so much to ask for?

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Boffin

Unfortunately the multiple Cisco 1U boxes' fan noise was more like a banshee

I built our first test compute cluster in the end of the office out some old boxes. Our scientists' desire for compute was insatiable so I managed to lay my hands on some Pentium D machines which ran hit. Let's just say that you didn't need Ganglia to monitor load, you just worked out home much like a hair dryer it sounded. We moved it pretty quickly to keep our colleagues sane.

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Unhappy

I want to upvote this one meeeeleeeon times :-(

Like many I suffer management that believe that 'communication' is key, so a big noisy open-plan office with a mix of coders and people who are on the phone all day is an excellent idea.

People took the piss when I started first wearing ear defenders but before long more and more sets of headphones etc were appearing around the office.

These days I just about survive with some Bose QC headphones. As mentioned elsewere its the nearby speech that's the real distraction for a lot of people. On their own the QC's make people sound 'further away' is the best way to describe it, they do work very well but can't block out the most determined oxygen thieves.

Last year I discovered mynoise.net - I suggest checking it out and perhaps bunging the developer a few quid in appreciation if you use it (no link to him, just find the site really good). Playing a mix of background noise generators in conjunction with the noise cancelling headphones is usually enough to totally block all the office chatter.

Now don't get me started on the window wars.... (for the record, I vote 'open' ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

"Now don't get me started on the window wars.... (for the record, I vote 'open' ;-)"

Our old office had metal windows that could be opened - which played havoc with the air conditioning in areas away from the windows. Not to mention the draughts blowing loose papers everywhere.

Then they refurbished the building with double glazing that could not be opened. In the move they threw away all the fans we had accumulated as they would no longer be needed. Come the first hot spell and the new air conditioning proved to be irrevocably patchy - and we wished we had squirrelled away some of the big fans.

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Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

> I really cant imagine that having music on whilst coding dosent detract from the standard of work.

Really depends on the type of music.

If it is of fairly uniform volume and tempo (eg. Baroque concertos) then it works very well to block out other distracting noise.

Music full of sudden changes can itself be distracting. As is any of my favourite compositions.

(Silence is best, but along with individual offices, that option has gone.)

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Re: which can include a tendency to be distracted by things

I find the music stops me being so easily distracted by everything else.

But

The voices are very distracting, I'm useless in big social groups since I can't even filter out the other conversation around me and concentrate on what the person I'm talking to is say.

So music, but no singing, so lots of instrumentals. A plumber introduced me to Joe Satriani a number of years ago and increased my productivity no end.

The problem I have with silence is that I then tend to distract myself.

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For some time I worked regularly at my local bar, as it had three things my home at the time did not: a reliable Internet connection, air conditioning, and beer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: mynoise.net

Thanks for the tip. I have a set of "sounds of nature" CDs that I listen to a lot, but that site has so much more variety.

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Law

In the office I need my earphones on... there's nothing playing on them, just to cut out the talking/calls of other people. It also discourages people from talking to me for just "being there" because they'd need me to remove my earphones to acknowledge them.

Occasionally I'll need to play music through them to cope though. I'm lucky in that I can code with music playing or not, but it's the distractions and interruptions from people that slow me down, takes me ages to get back to what I was working on.

I have all my email notifications turned off these days too, I just check it 3 times a day now (morning, post-lunch and before leaving the office.

At home I work without earphones on, but I'll occasionally have music playing in another room just so I've got some noise.

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Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

Middle Of The Road - Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep was made for debugging.

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Re: Music helps even when you are not in the office

Once again the cups help.

And which beverage is in the cups? (Alcoholic or otherwise)..

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DevOps saved me so much time that I had time to write an article about... what, exactly?

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What is this life if, full of care, we have not time to stand and stare...

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I mostly code to..

Bryan Kearney sets so..

I know a lot of devs with very crappy tastes in music so I recognise the data presented.

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Re: I mostly code to..

I do not (aside from U2)...

Abba

ELO

Green Day

Queen

There you go, there's some crappy taste!

(Alphabetised from the server... I have more speaker cable in my SoHo than 'computer' cables...).

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Thumb Up

Re: I mostly code to..

Big thumbs up to the Orchestra! Messrs Lynne, Bevan, Tandy, Groucutt, Kaminski, Gale et al. have probably been responsible for more good in this world, and the next, that they'll ever realise. Shame they fell out with each other so badly. Ho hum. And the rest of your list can hardly be considered shabby.

But if you absolutely need to churn out a lot of good high quality code, then melodic death metal is the fountain of inspiration, and luckily enough for us fans of the genre, there have been some astonishing recent releases from Be'lakor, Insomnium, Dark Tranquility, Omnium Gatherum, A.Toma, Countless Skies, Dark the Suns, Enshine, The Ocean, and many, many more.

Enjoy!

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Re: I mostly code to..

Thomas Tallis, Philip Glass or Arvo Pärt. Sometimes Max Richter, Erik Satie or Ligeti.

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Re: I mostly code to..

I thought I was in 100% agreement, but Ligeti?

To your list I would add Brian Eno (and most of his collaborators), John Adams, Steve Reich and Johan Johansson.

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Re: I mostly code to..

Lotta Tallis, but more Byrd, and plenty of their contemporaries from various other parts of Europe. And, on other days, Ministry, or perhaps Bach, or maybe Sabbath.

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Re: I mostly code to..

I thought I was in 100% agreement, but Ligeti?

Only for when my thoughts are getting stuck in an unproductive rut. Then Ligeti lets me get far enough away from the problem to tackle it another way.

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Re: I mostly code to..

I highly recommend the Rock Family Trees episode covering the Birmingham sounds - everyone from the Moody Blues through ELO and the Traveling Wilburys. The accents are *fantastic*. I live 5000 miles from Brum but it was like an instant teleport back. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mH5FC0i9-Zk

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Re: I mostly code to..

@Baldie

Eno. Oh, how I wish it were time for Half Man Half Biscuit's Eno Collaboration (All across the Nation!). It would be awesome!

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Appropriate, since...

I am the Katy Perry of Developers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Appropriate, since...

So you're thick, have no talent, an awful voice, but are fairly easy on the eye. A brutally honest self-appraisal if I may say so.

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Re: Appropriate, since...

Developers having big tits isn't unusual and isn't limited to the females.

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Re: Appropriate, since...

Well, I'm not fairly easy on the eye, but otherwise - spot on.

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Pirate

when I do coding I listen to...

when I do coding, I listen to...

a) conservative talk radio

b) jazz (bebop and big band if it's playing)

c) Hotmix JPOP (streaming radio)

d) random sampling of 'whatever I have on hand', mostly 80's, JPOP, 'greatest hits' CDs, etc.

e) 'classic rock' station that mostly plays what I used to listen to back in the 80's.

RIAA excretions are generally crap these days anyway. 'new music' is usually overrated. Not always, though. Rare exceptions exist.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: when I do coding I listen to...

a) conservative talk radio

You poor, poor bastard!

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Pirate

Re: when I do coding I listen to...

a) conservative talk radio

You must be in the US. Over here in the UK, it's wall to wall leftie BBC crap.

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Re: when I do coding I listen to...

it's wall to wall leftie BBC crap.

Strange. As a card-carrying leftie, I think the BBC is full of too many once-good interviewers letting too many government fools get away with talking shite unchallenged.

Given the likely influence of confirmation bias in both our views, perhaps the Beeb are actually aiming for balance?

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Trollface

Re: when I do coding I listen to...

Interestingly, lots of upvotes first thing as all the private sector workers got to work. All the Public sector lefties roll up at 9.30am and the downvotes began!

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Re: when I do coding I listen to...

I was in at 8am yesterday and quickly got more upvotes than you.

Life is never so stereotypical as you might think.

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Re: when I do coding I listen to...

"8am" (or 9:30am, or ...) isn't exactly a useful value without an offset.

Regardless, upvotes/downvotes as implemented by ElReg are meaningless.

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Don't do much coding these days

but when I do it is either polyphonic (eg Thomas Tallis , de Morales etc ) or Baroque up to and including Mozart

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't do much coding these days

> polyphonic (...) or Baroque up to and including Mozart

No, music went into decline after 1750 (alright 1759 at a push), with a brief revival between 1968 and 1972.

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Coding tunage at Chez jake:

C and assembler: Mid to late '70s Punk.

Scripting languages: Blues.

Works for me, anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

classics

Bach

Mozart

Robert Johnson

Grateful Dead

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