All the Buzz


The Mosquito, a sonic teenager repellent aimed at shopkeepers who want to get rid of those damned kids loitering in front of their stores without disturbing older customers whose higher-register hearing is less acute, has been repurposed as a cell phone ring tone that students can hear but teachers and administrators cannot (except when they can).

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  1. Anyone know where I can find this noise, so I can tell if my old ears can hear it?

  2. Never mind, found it here.

    And my 34 year-old ears hear it just fine.

  3. My 41 year old ears can hear it too, well, one of them can….

  4. Sorry to get a little off topic, but I was on about this whole selective hearing and high-pitched sound thing last week when I bought a dog whistle to begin reprogramming the obnoxious yappy dog next door. I turns out that the dog was undeterred by the whistle, but it gave me a nasty headache. Anyone had any different luck in this regard?

  5. I hear it too. It would keep this 35 year-old off your lawn.

  6. Thanks JF. That mosquito sound did the same thing. I feel an effin’ headache coming on.

  7. Budgie,
    The .45 calibre whistles work pretty well on miscreant canines.

  8. This is surely a godsend to both of those kids who can’t figure out how to set their phone to Vibrate mode.

  9. “This is surely a godsend to both of those kids who can’t figure out how to set their phone to Vibrate mode.”

    Some models of phone still don’t come with vibrate settings, for some reason.

  10. My 38 year old ears not only heard it I now have an ear ache and a head ache.

  11. My 37-year-old ears don’t hear a thing.

  12. There?s an exhibit in the Museum of Natural History in New York which emits a similar high pitched tone (perhaps the gemstone exhibit?). I always wondered why, but maybe the older workers in the museum do not realize they are driving children and dogs insane?

  13. My 41 year old ears hear it fine, althougth they are now ringing.

  14. My 40-year-old ears can’t hear it.

    Regarding some cell phones that can’t be set to vibrate, I doubt those outdated models would be able to handle downloaded ringtones.

  15. 42 and heard it just fine. Annoyingly fine. Deafeningly fine. It would certainly send me scampering from any place that used it as a detererent.

  16. i think i heard about this on the radio before. in that story, there was a gas station owner who had the same luck at driving away loitering kids by playing classical music.

  17. 38 here, and no problem hearing it. No ill aftereffects, either. 🙂

  18. I heard it fine, too. And I’ve got a good deal of hearing loss for a 31-year-old (though mostly lower ranges, I think.)

  19. 42 and I couldn’t hear a thing. I doubt I would have heard anything at 32 either. My hearing took a beating during my time in the Navy.

  20. This is better than vibrate because in a regular size classroom that is silent, you can hear a vibrating phone with no problem, especially if it is in a pocket with loose change, pen or pencil, or other solid object. Vibrate is good for lecture halls and large meetings.

  21. They used to pipe in the Easy Listening station to keep us from loitering in the parking lot. You know, Steve n’ Edie and all that. Pretty effective. Do they still have easy listening stations? I’d probably like it now.

  22. 47 and could not hear a thing, although I hear whiny tones that make me antsy in department stores. Or maybe i just used to.

  23. I can here the tone in that link fine; but when I first heard this story a month a go, there was a link to the actual ringtone as well, which I can barely hear over minor background noise. I know it’s there, but I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t been told (and I’m only 19).

  24. One month from turning 52 and I could hear it fine. Besides the mosquito like whine, it feels like I am getting accupuncture with a very tiny needle in my ear drum. It has been several minutes since I listened and my ears are left with a hard to describe pain. My temples are feeling a bit pre-migrainish.

    The pain is subsiding now after about 5 minute.
    Woe to my children if they try pulling this trick.
    I’ll be hard pressed not to destroy the offending device.

  25. 51 years old – and didn’t hear a thing. Are you sure there’s a sound playing? (I even cranked up the volume, but nada. Guess that means that I really am getting “old”!)

  26. My 31 year old (shudder) ears can’t hear it at all. Of course, I play drums, have been to more hard rock shows than I can count, and used to fire cannons for a living, so it’s a surprise I can hear anything at all.

  27. Unfortunately for devious cellphone-addicted students, every classroom has at least one kid who happily chooses to sit in the front row, reminds the teacher about the quiz that they were supposed to have today, and cheers homework assignments.

    And you can bet your last buck that he can hear that ringtone…

  28. Conversely, will shopkeepers desirous of keeping pesky old-timers away employ low-frequency, repetitive thuds accompanied by primitive chanting?

  29. The question is: can pesky teens hear the air whistling around the bronze eagle head of my walking stick as it arcs towards their backwards cap-wearing skulls?

    I’d best head to the mall and find out.

  30. Fascinating. I can’t hear a thing on that second link. There’s sound playing (according to my player’s readouts), but I hear absolutely not a thing.

  31. Huh. Might help if I turned on my headphones. Boy am I embarrassed now. 🙂

    Was the ringtone a sort of a “wiz-wiz-wiz” sound in the background there, or am I still not hearing it?

  32. DAMN IT! I couldn’t hear anything. Then I asked one of our 24-year-old employees if she could hear anything. She said it was pretty high-pitched, but she could hear it, and it was pretty annoying.


    If it counts, by ears seem to be hurting me now, unless I’m imagining it. But I can’t hear anything.

    Maybe I can blame it on the moderate amount of loud live music I used to listen to.

    DAMN IT.

    FYI — I am a (in most other respects, extraordinarily youthful) 45 Y.O.

  33. Did anyone else get a laugh out of the last line of the story?

    “Well, probably it is,” said David, who added after a moment’s thought, “And if not, I guess the school will just have to hire a lot of young teachers.”

    Of course David would say that!

  34. #6,

    where did you fire cannons??

  35. Heard both links, they hurt my head a lot, and now I hate Jews and RFK.

  36. Obi- I was based out of Camp LeJeune, but I’ve fired Cannons on 3 continents. I was with 10th Marines from 97-01.

  37. 38, heard that shit just fine.
    Goddamnit it, my ears are ringing. I feel the need to bark, run around in circles and lick my balls.
    Of course, I was like that all weekend, so …

  38. I have 33 year old ears that went to a Ministry concert at a shopping mall in Joliet, IL that left them ringing for a week, in addition to all the punk rock, hard rock, hip hop, alt rock, heavy metal, country, blues, jazz, r&b, etc. concerts over the years (2nd loudest? Lucinda Williams at the Vic!) and I’ll be damned if that noise isn’t the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard!

  39. Linguist:
    “I heard it fine, too. And I’ve got a good deal of hearing loss for a 31-year-old (though mostly lower ranges, I think.)”

    Low frequency hearing loss is unusual. You should get it checked out by an audiologist. It may have a simple solution or be the result of something serious.

    A nice primer

  40. My 17 month-old HATES this noise.

  41. This old teacher’s ears couldn’t hear a blamed thing. Now if I could just train them to talk at that frequency! Oh well, only four more years to go.

  42. I heard it. My 43 year old wife heard it. And the dogs went crazy. They need to go up quite a bit to cloak that noise from adults.

  43. driving away loitering kids by playing classical music

    I remember there was a teacher at some school a few years back who would play Sinatra records when it was his turn to host after-school detention. Drove the kids completely nuts, and most of them said they were going to do whatever it took to not have to repeat the experience.

  44. I’ll be damned if that noise isn’t the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard!

    I’d bet a hundred dollars I’d find Lucinda Williams more annoying than that Mosquito thing. Man do I despise her singing.

    If I ever heard a duet with her and Iris Dement I’d probably go insane a kill 20 people while driving the wrong on the freeway at 150 mph.

  45. Heard them both; 33yrs.

    Off topic. Around half of the folks I work with are straight from China. Does anyone else work with Chinese, and further noticed that they see nothing wrong with leaving their ringers on during meetings? It never fails; a new Chinese colleague will need at least two or three terse and eventually rude reminders to turn their phone off in meetings and presentations. Unbelievably, they just let them ring and ring.

  46. Douglas: I don’t get that. I can understand, I suppose, not being terribly entertained by classical music or Sinatra, if you don’t have enough experience with that kind of music to really appreciate it. But it’s not aggressively unpleasant or anything, as far as I can tell.

    Unless the teacher was playing Schoenberg, in which case someone should sue the hell out of him for emotional injury.

  47. My 37-year-old ears don’t hear a thing.

    I couldn’t hear it at work, but I hear it just fine at home. And now my head hurts.

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