In an idle moment three elements came together to inspire MAC’s ageing brain: a report that Garmin has released software which enables users to record their own voice commands so the device can direct drivers audibly, a cellphone specifically configured for the Philippines, and memories of The Case of the Wandering Monarch.
True, the Garmin equipment won’t be on your ship, it’s intended to give vehicle drivers a frisson of ownership in where they’re going as they thunder down inappropriate country roads. The thought remained of a customised alarm sound for events that are not necessarily, but may be, critical to navigation.
In The Case of the Wandering Monarch the alarm that signified that the GPS had lost satellite signal was no louder than a wristwatch alarm and was insufficient to get attention.
So it was that MAC was intrigued upon buying a cellphone configured for the Philippines, to find an SMS alert called pssst. It’s a common in the Philippines, the equivalent of a taxi cab hail elsewhere, yet much quieter but with the ability to scythe through extraneous sound like an arrow and stop a passenger jeepney in its tracks. It even cuts through the joint cacophony of MAC’s step-daughter’s pop music and the disjointed, sharp sounds of an Argentinian soap opera being translated by his partner even from a next-door room.
Finding the right sound for an alarm is something of an art and MAC feels the unique qualities of the Filipino psst is worth paying attention to, it might be quiet but it’s just irritating enough to get attention, and given the number of Filipino seafarers out there maybe some equipment manufacturers should take a look at it.