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UK Commissioner Seeks To Ban Ultrasonic Anti-Teen Device 552

Posted by Soulskill
from the makes-my-brain-hurt dept.
mikesd81 points out a Times Online article that discusses the legality of the Mosquito sound device, which is used to annoy and drive off younger people with sounds that are too high-pitched for most adults to hear. We discussed how annoying this device can be a couple years ago. From Times Online: "Sir Albert Aynsley-Green, the Children's Commissioner for England appointed to represent the views of the country's 11 million children, has set up a campaign — called Buzz Off — that is calling for the Mosquito to be banned on grounds that it infringes the rights of young people. 'These devices are indiscriminate and target all children and young people, including babies, regardless of whether they are behaving or misbehaving,' Sir Al told the BBC. 'The use of measures such as these are simply demonizing children and young people, creating a dangerous and widening divide between the young and the old.'"
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UK Commissioner Seeks To Ban Ultrasonic Anti-Teen Device

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  • by MsGeek (162936)
    Followed the link to TFA. I listened to the tone that I, as a 44-year-old, was not supposed to be able to hear. Sure enough, I heard it. It's faint, I had to use DJ-style headphones to isolate it enough, but it was audible.

    I couldn't be the only person who can hear a 25,000Hz tone at my age. I could see how this device could backfire big time. I certainly wouldn't stick around a store where my ears were so assaulted. I hope this never catches on in the US.
    • Re:Heh. (Score:5, Informative)

      by AP2k (991160) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:26AM (#22431396)
      Two problems:

      1: The tone is compressed with mp3. 25kHz isnt supposed to be even representable with that format. MP3 drops frequencies at 16kHz and above, right?
      2: You cant properly represent a 25kHz tone with 44.1kHz sampling without distrotion. For all we know the real tone may sound like Mozart.
      • by MsGeek (162936)
        Yes, but I tried the same thing with Audacity's tone generator after remembering that small fact about mp3. No crunching there. Guess what? I still heard the tone. I guess I just have damn good ears, or all the loud amplified music I listened to in my youth didn't kill the high end of my hearing. It probably rolled off a bit of my midrange, but my ultra-high-end is still present and accounted for.
        • L-U-C-K-Y! (Score:5, Funny)

          by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:35AM (#22431478) Journal
          Miss, I don't think you were listing to the right music. After all the loud amplified music I listened to in my youth, a high frequency ringing is just about all I hear.
        • Re:Heh. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MrKaos (858439) on Friday February 15, 2008 @04:51AM (#22431868) Journal

          Yes, but I tried the same thing with Audacity's tone generator after remembering that small fact about mp3. No crunching there. Guess what? I still heard the tone.
          From memory the highest frequency your sound card can generate is half the clock rate of the oscillator on your sound card, if you have a 96Khz rate card then you can probably generate frequencies up to about 48khz, if the oscillator is 44.1Khz then max of about 22.5khz. Of course that's the advertised rate, could be higher or lower slightly.

          I guess I just have damn good ears, or all the loud amplified music I listened to in my youth didn't kill the high end of my hearing.
          I found the same thing, though tintinitis can still affect you even if your hearing is good, well that's the way it seems with me sometimes, just be careful I love loud music too but that ringing sucks big time when it kicks in. I had a hearing check and my sensitivity was really good after many loud concerts, jams with bands, night clubs etc - I feel very lucky - I use hearing protection ALL the time now.

          And one thing I did find useful, generating a high-pitched noise above human hearing (I've got a delta-1010lt connected to a PA system, it's oscillator is 50Khz) was to get my neighbors dog's to STFU. I certainly wasn't keen on disturbing the rest of my neighbors by yelling at the dogs at 1,2,3,5,6,7am. Worked a treat - even for the dogs in the next street along - and no-one was the wiser - thus avoiding unnecessary confrontation. It's amazing what can be done with a few heavy duty tweeters, an amp, and a distorting high-frequency signal source (ardour and ladspa in this case).

          Beside I know heeps of kids that have high frequency ring tones so that their teachers cannot hear their mobiles ringing in class, cheeky little brats. Might be agood idea under some circumstances IF used with restraint and wisdom - not just to be obnoxious. I only used enough high frequency noise on the dogs so they would learn to keep quiet.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by gmack (197796)
            And one thing I did find useful, generating a high-pitched noise above human hearing (I've got a delta-1010lt connected to a PA system, it's oscillator is 50Khz) was to get my neighbors dog's to STFU. I certainly wasn't keen on disturbing the rest of my neighbors by yelling at the dogs at 1,2,3,5,6,7am. Worked a treat - even for the dogs in the next street along - and no-one was the wiser - thus avoiding unnecessary confrontation. It's amazing what can be done with a few heavy duty tweeters, an amp, and a d
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by amirulbahr (1216502)
          What you might have been hearing is just an aliased [wikipedia.org] (lower-frequency) version of the tone.
      • Most of your speakers are not going to reproduce much above maybe 16kHz, even if the electronic circuitry does. And even if the audio format allowed it. (Why didn't they use .WAV? The files would still have been small enough for a short beep.)

        You would have to play this back through some pretty high-fidelity speakers. (And NOT those $9.95 earbud things that claim a 20kHz response. Yeah right. Do you really know what a decibel is?)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by marcosdumay (620877)

        "For all we know the real tone may sound like Mozart."

        Oh, ok. Now I see how that could put people away :)

    • Old fogeys can hear it perfectly.

      It doesn't work as advertised.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      It's 15,000Hz (the demo is at least) actually, not 25,000Hz. Rare is the human that can hear a tone higher than 20,000Hz, nor is your sound equipment likely to produce it.

      However 15kHz isn't that hard. While people do suffer from hearing loss as they age, it isn't as severe as some seem to think, or as universal. I'm over 25 and I can easily hear the tone just out of my speakers. In fact I can hear higher than that. Last time I self tested, it was about 18.5kHz where it cut off (or at least dropped sharply)
      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Rare is the human that can hear a tone higher than 20,000Hz...

        That's not really true. The ear doesn't just stop hearing at a particular frequency. It falls off in responsiveness. At sufficient volumes, everyone should be able to hear 25 kHz. You just don't want to be in the room with something chirping at that volume. :-D

        P.S. I'm 31 and I can hear 22 kHz just fine. My speakers can't reliably reproduce much higher than that, so I couldn't do much testing, but I'd wager these things would make me g

        • P.S. I'm 31 and I can hear 22 kHz just fine. My speakers can't reliably reproduce much higher than that,

          You may be able to hear this but I'd be very surprised. It's almost certain that you're hearing harmonics that are being generated, probably by resonances in the speaker.

          http://saunderslog.com/2006/06/12/the-mosquito-ring-tone-this-adult-can-hear-it/ [saunderslog.com]

          I'm 37 and I can easily hear 16kHz. 17kHz I can just hear when using headphones and the volume cranked right up but I wouldn't notice it unless I'm listening
    • As a 21 year old not being able to hear it.... balls. I could trick myself into picking something faint out, so maybe it's a function of my speakers, but I don't know. I DO know that I got a headache when playing those mp3s, despite not really hearing anything.

      Honestly, though, I'm not against this. It's a weapon that targets young people. So? Racial profiling may suck but it works so we do it. Setting up a device to deter teens may suck but let's be honest - they a large group that tends to do stupid
      • You can easily have computer equipment that can't reproduce frequencies that high. While 15kHz isn't especially high, and the general range of audio is considered to be "20-20,000Hz," there's plenty of cheap gear that rolls off before that. Unless you are sure your gear does a good job reproducing sounds in a given range, I wouldn't count on it as an accurate hearing test.
    • Re:Heh. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Raul654 (453029) on Friday February 15, 2008 @05:01AM (#22431926) Homepage
      No human - even children with perfect hearing - can hear 25,000 hz. (I've read that some people believe a tiny proportion of children with exceptionally wide-spectrum hearing can hear up to 29,000 hz, but this is more of an urban legend, I think) Neither your speakers nor your sound card are capable of (intentionally) producing 25,000 hz.

      Just to give a baseline - I happened to visit the science museum in Balboa Park, CA, in 2002. I was 20 years old at the time, and I had excellent hearing (both then and now). They had a booth set up (with specially-purpose equipment) for testing the range of your hearing. I could hear up to about 16,500 hz, and I was able to perceive sounds up to about 17,500 hz. (Note: TV flyback, the high-pitched whine your TV gives off, is about 14,000 hz) This is probably about the upper limit for someone post-adolescence.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wumpus188 (657540)
        the high-pitched whine your TV gives off, is about 14,000 hz

        Actually, the whine is from horizontal output stage flyback transformer - 15,734Hz for NTSC.
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)
      It's easy to generate a 25kHz tone. At 34, I can *clearly* hear 25kHz (well, I can't at the moment because I'm bunged up with the cold). I can hear these devices, and they're loud enough to annoy me. So, basically, I can complain to the people who use them, who then say "oh that's rubbish only teenagers can hear it".

      However, at 34 I'm also old enough to have a decent job with a reasonable disposable income, so I can drop a few hundred quid on an idle whim without it really being a problem. I'm also old
  • "This is a technological device, and you can't outlaw it !", right ? It's a "hack", and cool. Only it affects many people who read this site, as opposed to (mostly) rich people, like authors.

    But I fear we will get a shameful demonstration of human nature, making "noble" excuses to force whatever suits the individual making the excuse.
    • by Niten (201835)

      "This is a technological device, and you can't outlaw it !", right ?

      I don't know when you imagine Slashdot to have demonstrated an outright opposition to legal bans on technological devices, in general, on account of them being "technological". A nuclear bomb is a "technological device," but I have yet to see an impassioned argument on this site that they should be available for sale in every corner hardware shop.

      If you are actually trying to equate banning the use of this particular device in order to actively discriminate against a particular group of people, to plac

  • Typical. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:26AM (#22431394) Homepage
    Notice how he carefully avoids saying anything about how people might need this device? England is becoming more like the nightmare dystopia of Clockwork Orange every day. But let's not say anything about how why a business might want to protect itself from children, instead let's attack those who have the temerity to try and defend themselves.

    • Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Child criminals are entitled to what they smash. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.
    • The poor are victims. Criminals are victims. And only victims are virtuous. Therefore only the poor and criminals are virtuous. (Rich people can borrow some virtue by identifying with poor people and criminals.)
    • For a virtuous person, defending oneself is never justified. It is always better to be a victim than to take proactive measures. An ASBO is more than enough, in any case.
    • Re:Typical. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fabs64 (657132) <beaufabry+slashdot,org&gmail,com> on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:29AM (#22431422)
      You might find this piece interesting:

      http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/britons-will-keep-on-fearing-the-worst/2008/01/13/1200159274543.html [theage.com.au]

      Crime keeps decreasing in real terms, and we keep thinking it's getting worse and coming up with extreme measures to counter it.
      • They have been trying this in the U.S., too, with somewhat less success. Fearmongering, that is. Yet it has still been nastily effective. We should aim our animosity against those who use such techniques, rather than against those they would turn us against.
      • Re:Typical. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by clickclickdrone (964164) on Friday February 15, 2008 @05:59AM (#22432186)
        >Crime keeps decreasing in real terms
        That statement is usually based on police records, here in the UK and those are generally very low compared to reality. The reason? people just don't bother reporting most crimes because they know they'll either get no response or someone will turn up a couple of days later to take a statement. I know people who have dialled 999 when someone is being threatened with a knife and no-one has turned up. Indeed, I had a guy come at me with an axe a while back. I dialled 999 whilst backing off (fairly rapidly). They turned up 30mins later because a second caller had reported seeing the attacker drive off so they figured I was probably OK. Well, yes, sort of but by then, most witnesses had long since gone.
        Last year a report came out in the UK based on interviewing people in the street to ask when was the last time they were attacked, mugged, robbed, threatened etc and the numbers that came out were 2-3 times those bandied about by the government.
        That said, things are improving. In my village we have been taking part in a police/community task force and vanadalism has dropped by 70% in 6 months. We are also giving members of the public access to a police speed gun to help curb the boy racers screaming along at high speed in a narrow high street.
        The sad thing is that the swarms of chav/pikey kids that hang around until all hours playing loud music, vandalising, swearing, taking drink/drugs (and these are typically kids between 12 and 16) know they are untouchable. They all know their rights and care not for their responsabilities. When the police do pick some up and take them home, the parents tell the police to f-off for interfering and turf their ferel kids back out on the streets for round 2 to keep them out their hair.
        That said, it *is* a minority of kids - there are maybe 10-20 trouble makers out of perhaps 1000 kids but anything that breaks up this troublesome clump gets my vote although they then usually just find somewhere else to cause problems.
        In my opinion, the biggest problem here is the (European) Human Rights Act being abused. Kids can do whatever they want with no real danger of any punishment. Even repeat offenders get away with it time after time. I know someone who had their car smashed by the neighbours 15yo kid but they have no hope of financial recompense and the kid has no itention of coughing up and knows he doesn't have to. His parents aren't legally obliged to and don't have the money anyway. They also say he is out of control and have no way to make him do a job to raise the money. Parents aren't allowed to lock them in their rooms or do anything other than give them a talking to and in many cases the parents just don't care.
        • Re:Typical. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Bogtha (906264) on Friday February 15, 2008 @07:01AM (#22432470)

          That statement is usually based on police records, here in the UK and those are generally very low compared to reality. The reason? people just don't bother reporting most crimes

          No, that simply isn't true. There is something known as the British Crime Survey [homeoffice.gov.uk] which consists of tens of thousands of interviews with the public annually. These results are factored into crime statistics all the time specifically to avoid the reporting biases you complain about. Straight from the source:

          The BCS measures the amount of crime in England and Wales by asking people about crimes they have experienced in the last year. The BCS includes crimes which are not reported to the police, so it is an important alternative to police records. Victims do not report crime for various reasons. Without the BCS the government would have no information on these unreported crimes.

        • Indeed, I had a guy come at me with an axe a while back. I dialled 999 whilst backing off (fairly rapidly).

          With credit to Massad Ayoob for his insightfulness -

          You made a mistake by not helping this guy. You needed to communicate with him. You needed to ask him a deep, existential question that would cause him to question and reassess his actions, attitudes, and core beliefs in light of the impact he is having on the world and of the impact the world can have on him. You needed to ask him a question

    • by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:49AM (#22431560) Journal
      Man, I will start taking you serious the moment my mind gets around the thought of a one-year-old Criminal.

      This isn't stopping theft, it is torturing babies. The worst part? If the parents are too old to hear the sound, they. have. no. clue. what. you. are. doing. to. their. kid.

      I'm assuming you don't have little ones of your own. Strike that, I'm hoping you don't have little ones of your own.


      Also, on a side note, this seems very stupid from a business sense. Kids grow up to be consumers, and many companies spend massive amounts to burn brand loyalties into their young impressionable minds. How quick will that noise make a massive headache a Pavlovian response to anything related to your brand.

      Seems more like they're shooting themselves in the foot, not protecting themselves.
      • by dintech (998802)
        If you think the kinds of people we're supposed to be detering can be called 'little ones' in any kind of cute and cuddly way, you are sorely misguided.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Gordonjcp (186804)
          You're kind of missing the point here. It's not *only* teenagers that can hear this. You don't somehow miraculously become able to hear 25kHz tones between the ages of 13 and 18. Babies can hear it just as clearly. Ever wondered why you go somewhere and every single baby is screaming?
    • Re:Typical. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Runefox (905204) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:52AM (#22431574) Homepage
      Who needs this device? Why protect from children, specifically? Are all children criminals? Are all Arabs terrorists? You're treading on dangerous ground.

      No, it's not as simple as you put it, nor is it as simple as I'll put it. The problem is that parents don't really seem to care or be able to stop this sort of thing, and schooling isn't doing the trick, either. I'm not personally familiar with the education system in the UK, but I do know that things are diminishing in North America (the US at a faster pace, as I'm told) as the trend to completely spoil children and leave them to their own devices continues to rise.

      The point of any crime prevention is to keep the crime from happening to begin with (hence the name). Since the easiest, most simple and fool-proof solution to that is to keep people from actually wanting to do whatever it is they're going to do, it's best to do it that way. Beating them back with a stick, putting buzzers that operate at a certain frequency on the side of the building, or any other method is a stopgap, short-term solution to a more vast problem, and considering that it targets innocent youths as well as children and infants, along with a certain percentage of adults, I find the concept to be atrocious. If you're of the belief that all people under a certain age are irresponsible ruffians, then you're no different than the ones you're trying to "defend" yourself against. Not to mention that any youth can go out and buy earplugs, or listen to an MP3 player, and be blissfully unaware of the noise here; Plus, if what you're saying is true, then why can't they just take the time to go smash the place up and grab what they can, anyway? These things don't actively repel kids, they annoy them gradually. Like one person said, it's like getting up and going in the basement while your alarm clock is still buzzing away. Perhaps instead of treating youths with immediate distrust and apprehension (especially with something so pathetically worthless), shop owners could, I don't know, actually mind their shops like they're supposed to. That is how they make their living, right? Or do they get paid per child flogged?

      Do these businesses actively practice throwing people out of their shops, too? This sounds a lot like they're trying to alienate future customers for the sake of removing a threat posed by a portion of an entire group of people... Remember, too, that you were once a youth; How virtuous were you? If you were, then how would you like being treated this way for the actions of your peers?

      You need to back off and take a good look at the situation. Directly attacking an age group is insane .
    • The whole reason that there is an outcry against this is because it isn't targeted at criminals but at young people. As for going from that to your other assertions - seems to me dodgy at best. I don't want to live in a police state, but that doesn't mean I don't support the rule of law and personal responsibility. Who are these people defending themselves from - young people? This kind of attitude is as indicative of a "nightmare dystopia" as anything.

      Finally, this is noise-pollution, nothing more. Imag
      • INTELLIGENTLY PRESENTED UNTRUTHS NEED REBUTTAL. Stupid generalizations require that people ignore them.

        Stupid generalizations are not dangerous. Intelligent untruths are.

        I was very, very tempted to ignore you.
        • by wall0159 (881759)
          "I was very, very tempted to ignore you." Are you implying that my post contains "intelligent untruths"? If so, please clarify your position.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      England is becoming more like the nightmare dystopia of Clockwork Orange every day

      No it's not. Either you don't live here or you read the Daily Mail/Slashdot so much you don't get a chance to pull your head out of your arse and actually look around. Every stat for the less ten years has told us that crime is falling but FEAR of crime is rising. "Oh No! Teenagers! Together! and they have Hoods! They MUST be criminals..."

      I'm 32 and I can hear these things. My baby isn't causing any crime yet she can hear them and can't even tell me what's wrong. It's fuckwits like you that mean we have

      • Re:Typical. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by malkavian (9512) on Friday February 15, 2008 @08:51AM (#22433040) Homepage
        Depends where you are. Where I am (Bristol), there's a lot of this about. And I don't read the news papers much (I check world news though).
        I note you mention statistics. And I'd politely like to remind you that usage of statistics can point to say whatever you want. Much like the stats used to justify Speed Cameras.
        I'm 38, and can hear the Mosquito. It's irritating, yes, but not moreso than I find the thumping beats in some shops that I now refuse to shop in.
        By being active in the communities in the area I live in, and around, I have noticed a lot more violent behaviour in the younger demographic. Significantly more so.
        The real solution to this would be to chuck the area of the 'human rights' laws that say "ooo.. Child. Can't touch.. Naughty.. No!" when they throw abuse at you (and threaten to knife you), and let people give them a solid clip round the ear, as used to happen a few decades back.
        That is nicely targetted, thank you very much. It would deal with the indiscriminate nature of the Mosquito.
        However, every law we have says that if you target someone who's threatening you, you are extremely likely to be picked on legally (a granny in court of swatting a kid who was vandalising a war memorial; she's on charges of assault. People who hit back to stop assaults/burglaries etc. end up in court for assault charges. A woman was assaulted in broad daylight on a street (not empty), and nobody stopped, as almost everyone is afraid of getting either stabbed, or up on charges in court).
        If you think it's only stories, about five years ago, a mate of mine was stabbed and killed for intervening in a group of kids that were trying to steal a mobile from a young gal.
        Friends of mine in the police force locally are really beginning to feel the crunch of it. No matter what the statistics say, hearing them talk of how the job's changed over the last few decades is scary.
        I'm with the GP poster on this.
    • The problem with your argument is that the device attacks innocent and guilty alike. Can you not see that there is something wrong with attacking everyone below a certain age?

      Defending yourself is not the same as attacking every possible attacker.

      You sneer at the idea that just blaming the children is wrong. I suppose you think that kids now are naturally evil, not like when you were a kid when they were all naturally good.

      To suggest England is dystopian is ludicrous. Violent crime rates are very low. Compa
    • by batkiwi (137781)
      Would it be legal, or illegal, if I broadcast a 100+db 400hz sound 24/7 around my house or place of business? Would it be "people won't come by" or "public nuisance" ?

      Damages hearing? WHO CARES!!! Just crank it louder.

      I'm 29, have no criminal record (nor should I), and I can hear them (they bring me to my knees after about 30 seconds).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981)

      Notice how he carefully avoids saying anything about how people might need this device?

      Yes and no. It is true that there is something deeply wrong with UK teenagers. They are broken. It's obvious to anyone. It is an uniquely British problem. They are (in my subjective experience) certainly more violent, ignorant, uncultured, selfish, obese, and downright dangerous than any of their European contemporaries. The only positive note is that they are so fat and unhealthy that most of them won't live long enoug

  • Music (Score:5, Funny)

    by Detritus (11846) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:28AM (#22431412) Homepage
    You can often get the same effect by playing "uncool" music.

    As to the original device, maybe the little bastards will understand how I feel every time they drive by in their car or park outside, playing the latest example of what passes for music these days, with the bass level set at "stun small mammals".

    • by MsGeek (162936)
      You can often get the same effect by playing "uncool" music.

      I seem to remember some stores piping in the local classical music station to cut down on teen loitering. If I remember correctly, it worked just fine. Cheaper too.
    • As to the original device, maybe the little bastards will understand how I feel every time they drive by in their car or park outside, playing the latest example of what passes for music these days, with the bass level set at "stun small mammals".

      Only they play shitty dance-pop and hip-hop specifically for their own enjoyment rather than to make you uncomfortable, this device can't even be heard by those it's supposed to work in favour of. This is a completely invalid comparison.

      You can often get the s

    • by wall0159 (881759)
      So please explain to me how you would attempt to claim the moral high-ground when you are deliberately providing your own noise-pollution.

      Personally, I would feel like vandalising any such system that existed in my neighbourhood (and I'm a law-abiding citizen). I'd certainly be lodging formal complaints with the local council, and writing letters to the owner.
  • The cost (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:28AM (#22431416) Homepage Journal
    It lists at 500 pounds. That is over 1000 US dollars. Why is it so expensive? It's just a waveform generator, an amp, and a speaker, right?
  • Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Smordnys s'regrepsA (1160895) on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:32AM (#22431446) Journal
    A way to make you darn kids get off my lawn!

  • It's irrelevant to the rights part of the discussion, but there's a segment of the adult population that can hear these sounds. We tested this out during a family party at my house last year: all the kids (oldest there was 14) could hear it, but only two adults could. (We blind-tested with someone clicking on either desktop or "play" while listener backs were turned.) I was one of them, at 36, and can also hear when a TV is turned on but not tuned to anything, and I've learned most folks can't.

    Worst sup

    • by jmv (93421)
      Same here. I'm 31 and can hear up to somewhere between 18 and 18.5 kHz (TV is slightly below 16 kHz). Wonder what frequency that device uses.
    • by EdIII (1114411) *
      Ditto. Some people thought I was crazy, but I can hear quite a bit of devices. Drives me batshit some days. My father's ProScan TV was the worst. I could hear that sucker in the kitchen.

      I'm actually half-deaf too. Born that way. I have always wondered if my other ear gained its sensitivity in response to the missing ear.

      In any case, a device like that I would probably smash to bits with my fists just to get my sanity back.
  • The file is bad (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@noSPaM.hotmail.com> on Friday February 15, 2008 @03:35AM (#22431476) Homepage
    If you tried the mosquito samples [freemosquitoringtone.org] and simply couldn't hear the last, highest frequency one -- the problem is not your hearing. I opened it with an audio editor to be sure, and the waveform is a flat line. There is NO SOUND in that file.
    • Better test: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MsGeek (162936)
      Use Audacity [sourceforge.net], a free/open source program. Available for Mac OS X, Windows, and the platform it originated on, Linux. Ask it to generate a 25,000Hz sine-wave tone for 10 seconds. Then take a listen to the results. Can you hear the tone? I can.
      • You need to set the sample rate to not less than 50kHz since the sample rate has to be twice, or more, the frequency you wish to play. As a practical matter for consumer gear this means you need to have a soundcard that can do 88.2kHz or 96kHz output, you need to have it set to do so, and you need to generate the tone at that sample rate. If you tell it to generate a 25,000Hz tone in its default 44.1kHz mode, you get a somewhat irregular wave at 20,000Hz.
    • You are correct, it's digital silence. This is not that surprising though. They clearly don't know what the fuck they are doing. They claim it's a 22.4kHz tone. Ok... except that it is sampled at 44.1kHz. The Nyquist Theorem tells us that you can't represent a sound over half the sample rate. So at 44.1kHz the best you are going to get is 22.05kHz (and then only if it is a pure tone).

      They are also kidding themselves on the age thing. I'm nearly 30 and I can hear the 17.7kHz tone fine. It's a little quiet an
      • by Zironic (1112127)
        I couldn't hear it from their MP3's but when I went into audacity I could hear up to 19k, I don't think my headphones liked that very much though since I hear it making strange sounds at the same time.
      • by Gordonjcp (186804)
        So at 44.1kHz the best you are going to get is 22.05kHz (and then only if it is a pure tone).

        Actually at 22.05kHz you'll get a triangle wave, because you're throwing the output from rail-to-rail with no intermediate steps. You'll almost certainly find that the output of the card approximates a sine wave though, because the cutoff frequency of the reconstruction filter is around 14kHz. This means that the first harmonic of a 22.05kHz triangle wave (at 44.1kHz) will be well out of the passband.
    • by jez9999 (618189) on Friday February 15, 2008 @09:50AM (#22433578) Homepage Journal
      That's no mistake. Really young kids' hearing is SO good they can actually hear silence. It drives them nuts!!
  • I thought this sounded familiar, but with classical [bbc.co.uk] music [komotv.com] and light that makes your acne look worse [dailymail.co.uk]. It's still socially acceptable to stereotype, mock, fear, hate and discriminate against young people.
  • by Surt (22457)
    kids are monsters. If there's a device to drive them off that's fantastic. Is there a similar device for lawyers?
  • I JUST turned 28 yesterday, so I clicked on the listen file to see if I could hear it.

    I turned my speakers up just a bit (from an almost muted level) before hitting play, and I actually shouted in pain when it started. I'm REALLY glad I wasn't wearing my headphones.

    So if you're curious like I was... start with the volume OFF, and bring it up SLOW.

    If I walked by one of these things, a metal protective grating wouldn't stop me from trying to smash the $@!& out of it.

    I think I found a better solution: an a
  • kids, just go out at night and smash the things. the adults won't notice that they aren't working!

    I remember hearing once that kids were using these ultrasonic sounds as ring tones, so they could text each other exam questions, and their teachers would have no idea this was going on. if this isn't true, then kids should start doing this!
      this can easily go both ways.

    kids can hear what adults cant.
    use this to take advantage of old people.
    its only fair!
  • Much simpler (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rastoboy29 (807168) *
    It's much simpler and more humane to simply play classical music kinda loud.

    Also, I'm 36 and I can hear all kinds of ultra high pitched stuff.  So they're driving me and my money away, too.
  • Suddenly, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by robo_mojo (997193)
    earplugs.
  • by PhotoBoy (684898) on Friday February 15, 2008 @04:54AM (#22431896)
    We have real problems in the UK of violent teenage gangs and feral youths who hang around in packs causing problems. I should know I see these gangs every day. Many people won't leave their homes because of these "children". Years of namby pamby liberal Labour government and lax parenting skills in a rapidly breeding underclass has led to all these young thugs. I fully support placing as many of these devices around as possible. While it's true that it's unfair to people who are not causing trouble they are already the minority.
  • by ciw42 (820892) on Friday February 15, 2008 @07:07AM (#22432498)
    These devices are only used to disperse gangs which have already accumulated and who are causing trouble.

    They are not emitting this sound on a constant basis, and are just fired for very short periods of time as required.

    As many others have said, the UK has a very serious problem with gangs of youths causing trouble, and we're not just talking a little petty crime, there have been a number of recent cases where individuals, often adults, have actually being kicked to death or stabbed by such groups. In some areas, entire communities will not leave their homes at night, because the streets aren't safe. We're not just talking about the stereotypical elderly couple here, we're talking about regular families, it really is that bad.

    It's a similar situation in shopping centres and other retail areas, where these groups of what are essentially just kids, are either actively or just by their presence stopping people from entering shops, and it is these shops who are investing in the devices. If it weren't such a major problem (and it is) and they weren't generally very effective (which they) then you could guarantee that people wouldn't be spending money on them to protect their property and business, which is actually all they are doing here. The devices are fixed in position, and people aren't just wandering around finding groups to disperse.

    Many of the recordings people are listening to on the web have been processed to make them audiable to pretty much everyone. The intention is to give people an idea what it sounds like to kids, I doubt any of the the people commenting on the sound itself have every actually heard it "live" as it were. There is plenty of evidence that in the vast majority of people, by the age of around 25 their hearing has deteriorated to the extent that they cannot hear this, or if they can, it's more of a background noise that a serious annoyance. Not everyone's hearing deteriorates at the same rate, but 25 is apparently the average age for people to no longer find it annoying, but of course some 20 years olds won't be able to hear it properly, and there will be people in their 30s for whom it will be irritating.

    Granted, the long term causes of these issues need to be addressed, but the fact remains that these gangs of "young people" are causing criminal damage and are at best a serious concern and in some cases a genuine threat to the safety and liberties of regular members of the public. When people talk about the rights of children, they always think of the relatively innocent ones, the ones who are probably more like we were when we were young (and this is an image that those who are anti-Mosquito are trying to foster) but the truth of the matter is that the kids this device is being used on, have little in common with the British kids of the 80s. They are the sort who have no regard for other people's property or civil rights. They are the sort for whom a night out involves underage binge drinking and for whom violent behaviour is part of the fun, so forget about being idealistic, and taking the moral high ground here. You'll notice that those people who have posted who actually live in the UK are supporting the use of this device. There's a reason for this.

    I should also point out that in response to this campaign, the British Government said a couple of days ago that they will not be banning the use of the Mosquito. There is overwhelming public support for the devices, because there is a genuine need for them. I suspect a good percentage of the people who are adding their voice to the supposed "public outcry" about their use (and in truth it's a very, very small number of people relative to the population) are not fully aware of the manner and situations in which these devices are actually used. From some of the nonsense I've seen written (and I don't particularly mean here on Slashdot) that certainly seems to be the case.
    • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:11AM (#22433838)

      These devices are only used to disperse gangs which have already accumulated and who are causing trouble.
      that's complete rubbish, these devices are used indiscriminately, i have to put up with 1 near my town hall where, the kids do not cause trouble.

      They are not emitting this sound on a constant basis, and are just fired for very short periods of time as required.
      they do emit for short periods of time but not as required they emit for about 20mins whenever somebody moves, then thiers a 5-10 minute wait before it kicks in again, this is not as required.

      As many others have said, the UK has a very serious problem with gangs of youths causing trouble, and we're not just talking a little petty crime, there have been a number of recent cases where individuals, often adults, have actually being kicked to death or stabbed by such groups.
      The deaths are not in public places and out side shops where these are being used so that is completly of topic. In fact if the gang had been outside a shop instead of the mans home, people would have seen the attack. Your argment is based on the fact that we have a problem with some youths (its not at all serious compaired to US), so we should punish them all. And about half a dozen times isnt often!

      When people talk about the rights of children, they always think of the relatively innocent ones, the ones who are probably more like we were when we were young (and this is an image that those who are anti-Mosquito are trying to foster) but the truth of the matter is that the kids this device is being used on, have little in common with the British kids of the 80s.
      Defending an idea because some people deserve it is like saying because some adults are terrorists we should all be watched, it is in fact you that's attacking the liberties of the innocent! the kids of the 80s, wernt the kids of the 80s the punks that would hang around in gangs and start fights, just because you didnt go round causing trouble doesn't mean your generation is innocent!

      I think the problem ultimately lies in society itself, as the rich/poor divide gets wider kids on the lower end have less and less hope. While hope cant be forced on people, something has to be done about hope! Attacking them with devices like this and stop and search just reinforces the divide. The lib-dem candidate for london mayor said "we need effective policing" (he was a police oficer for 31 years so waether or not hed be a good mayor he does know exactly what hes talking about (btw he was policing the brixton riots in 81)) not blanket police suppression, thats failed in the past and is going to fail now too.

      btw im 20 and live in hoxton london, which isnt a 'safe' area but these things couldnt be further from the solution.
  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Friday February 15, 2008 @10:05AM (#22433760) Journal
    I have a friend who is 30 and he still can hear these high pitched noises. He's a teacher and has busted tons of students who used those high pitched ringtones to know when an incoming text message was received. I'm sure there's a big number of adults who are trying to conduct business who would be affected by this as well.
  • ban a note? (Score:3, Funny)

    by sgt scrub (869860) <saintium&yahoo,com> on Friday February 15, 2008 @02:15PM (#22436910)
    If your going to ban a note ban C#

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