Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

And so asks the Chicago Transit Authority in their 1969 self-titled double-platinum debut album. And, weirdly enough, that question is still relevant today, with Daylight Savings Times moving up three weeks earlier than normal, cell phones that get their time from the mother ship and wall clocks that are susceptible to power outages (which are rare, but are guaranteed to occur when you most need an accurate alarm clock). What’s a time-conscious (or time-unconscious) person to do?

Well, I’ve recently embraced my cell phone as an accurate time source and a convenient alarm. Don’t want to be late for that appointment? Set your cell phone alarm. Conference call scheduled at 10:00AM? Set your cell phone to 9:55AM so you’re ready. I have been known to get so absorbed in whatever I’m working on, that I not only work through lunch, but I forget to pick up my kids at school (that was a long time ago—they’re on their own now—and they’ve hopefully forgiven me).

This January in London, I needed to get up at 7:00AM. The hotel’s front desk was closed, so I couldn’t request a wakeup call. I didn’t have my digital watch, but I did have my not-in-service cell phone. However, it still faithfully kept time. But not London time; it was fixed at its last known time source, New York City, where in-between flights I turned on the phone. Since I wanted to get up at 7:00AM London time, I set my alarm to 2:00AM Eastern time. I did test it first to make sure my cell phone alarm would work and went to bed. Brilliant—just like clock work!

Last weekend at the Sunday change to Daylight Savings Time, I wasn’t quite as confident. I thought that Verizon would accurately update my cell phone’s time, but still, one heard grumblings about mini Y2K-type snafus. In defense of the unknown and not quite sure (and unable to test), I set my cell phone for 7:00AM and my mostly-trusty wall clock for 7:00AM. Of course, I adjusted my wall clock before going to bed on Saturday night and left my cell phone for its master to refresh.

What do you think happened? Before I answer, let me say that a user-friendly device is one that, in spite of its being complex, offers an intuitive interface and allows us users to do most tasks easily. Any other behavior is either a bug or a usability issue.

On Sunday morning, my wall clock went off at 7:00AM, as it should. My cell phone did not. Just as I was about to leave the house, my cell phone went off at 8:00AM. So, not only did the mother ship advance the clock an hour, but it also advanced my alarm setting! I’ve been trying to figure out why someone would want that behavior. I’ve concluded that it’s a bug. Verizon, are you listening?


Zach W. said...

What kinda of cellphone is it?

Gail said...

Motorola, don't know the model number.
S/W Version R9-1_x_05.28.09P