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The Lost continent of

You've found a bug on my site!

Now is a good time to put your work on a firm theoretical foundation

Sam Morgan

SoundBreak

A sound way to better health

OOS, RSI, CTS... These acronyms not only hurt, but can kill your career.

Repetitive strain injury, Occupational overuse syndrome, and Carpal tunnel syndrome are all faces of the same malaise. In laymans terms, if you use something too much, you'll damage it. For those on the coal face of the IT industry, it's endemic, and can mean losing a career when typing becomes too painful to sustain...

Contents
What can I do?
What does the program do?
Download
Instructions
What's New?
Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do?

A good typing technique makes a huge difference. Touch typing is recommended, and you should use two hands to use a shift or control key combo. I switched to the Dvorak keyboard a while back, both to reduce finger movement, and force myself to touch type.

It is a big help to take frequent 'microbreaks' every 5-15 minutes from what you are doing, move around, stretch, and give blood a chance to flow around the place. You should move your arms away from the keyboard and mouse, focus your eyes to some distant point, and relax.

I wrote this program because I always get too involved in what I am working on to remember to take regular breaks (hours can pass before I remember that I should eat, or go to the toilet...). However, I found every reminder program I tried to be too frustrating and/or intrusive to use for long.

What does the program do?

Every 10 minutes (or whatever you set it to) the program will play a sound to remind you to have a stretch. I use a large archive of sound bites from movies and TV that I found on the web - the program picks one at random as the reminder each time to keep it interesting.

The important thing is that this is not intrusive, it does not slow me down, and it works. I resent those programs that measure how much you have moved your mouse, or used your keyboard. All that expends resources that my PC and I could better use elsewhere. SoundBreak just sleeps until it is needed.

Download

There is only a Windows version avaliable for now. I'm toying with the idea of writing a new version using some cross-platform toolkit so that it can be used on Linux and Mac OS X machines. Is there any interest out there for this?

Install SoundBreak v1.1 (843kB)

Get Source Code v1.1 (99kB)

Instructions for use

The program plays a random sound from a list every few minutes. It's quite straight forward really, but in the interests of public education, here is a walk-through of SoundBreak.

Main Screen

Main SoundBreak screen

You can see the list of sound files in the bottom there, along with buttons along the right hand side to add and remove sound files from that list. The Add Folder... button will search the folder you choose, as well as any subfolders within that folder for sound files (it's the only way to add 3451 .wav files to your list)

Popup Menu

Main screen with Popup Menu displayed

The little menu you can see on the main screen above is accessible in three ways, and it is the main means of controlling the program.

  1. By clicking the Menu button above
  2. By Right-clicking the mouse anywhere on the program itself, and
  3. By right-clicking the icon in the system tray (see below)

The System Tray

System Tray

The System Tray is that little area, usually in the button right hand corner of your screen where your Windows' clock lives. You can see what my System Tray looks like at the moment by looking at the picture above.

That coffee cup is the icon for SoundBreak. When you can see that icon, you know that the program is running. To 'unhide' the program you can double-click that icon, or, by right-clicking it, you get that Popup menu you saw earlier, with which you can control most of SoundBreak's operations.

Configuration

Configuration Screen

Again, all pretty much self explanatory really. The program remembers your settings between uses, as long as you log in as yourself.

What's New?

Soundbreak 1.1

  • New, fancy pop-up menus, thanks to Aaron Hochwimmer, who also provided a number of bug fixes.
  • Fixed system tray menu not going away sometimes
  • Fixed some problems when deleting sounds at end of play list.

Soundbreak 1.0

  • A couple of bug fixes regarding saving sound lists

Soundbreak 1 beta 1

  • Initial public release

FAQ

What if I don't got me no sounds?
I've included a few sound files with the application to get you started. If you don't have any sounds selected the program will just beep at you.

What sort of sounds does SoundBreak play?
SoundBreak will play any wave file (*.wav). Riff, .mp3, .au and other compressed formats are not supported for two reasons. Firstly, it's easier, but mainly it's faster to play uncompressed files. The whole point of the program is to be unobtrusive, and it is possible to play .wav files very efficiently on the Windows platform.