New Ringtone

I changed the ringtone on my iPhone, it was driving me crazy. I used the “Old Phone” ringtone, it is the loudest sound that comes with the iPhone. But it is muffled sometimes when I keep the phone in my pocket, it sounds distant, I can’t quite tell where the sound is coming from.

But what really drove me crazy is that the Old Phone sound is the exact sound effect used in TV and movies. What drove me over the edge was when I watched an episode of Law and Order, they used the sound repeatedly, with several phones ringing at once. So I searched around and the loudest ringtone I found was CTU-ringtone (download is in iPhone format and ready to install).

Apparently this is the phone sound from the TV show “24,” I don’t watch it so I wouldn’t know. It reminds me of the sound of the old AT&T Merlin phones, we had a fancy Merlin rig at an office where I worked.

Fortunately, the new IPhone 1.1.3 upgrade makes custom ringtones easy. I tried importing sounds into GarageBand but it crashed every time I tried to export to the phone. And this is supposed to be the new feature that made it easy.

I discovered I could just import a sound file into iTunes, then re-encode it to AAC. Once the file is encoded, you can change the extension from .m4a to .m4r. New in the 1.1.3 software, you can manually manage files on your iPhone, enable that feature on your iPhone settings. Then dock your iPhone and in iTunes drag your .m4r file to the iPhone’s Ringtones directory. Your ringtone is installed and ready to use.

Once I changed to a new ringtone that did not sound like Old Phone, I felt much better, I wasn’t listening for that ringtone anymore, the new tone is different enough that it grabs my attention. But I still keep imagining I hear the Old Phone. Some people call this the “Edison Effect.” Thomas Edison thought he heard voices in the static of Marconi’s newfangled Radio. But it is an illusion, the brain always tries to impose some sort of order on randomness. For example, many people have thought they heard the phone ring when in the shower, the brain tries to pick out sounds from the random white noise of splashing water droplets.

And now I’ve got a similar phenomenon. My furnace is really loud when it’s running, sometimes it makes a faint ringing sound when it runs, just enough to make me wonder if I’m hearing Old Phone.

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