Times Change: Spotlight on a new kind of Digital Clock
Rewind the clock back into ancient civilization and watch as man took his crack at making a better timepiece than the last chump. We've been looking for better and more efficient ways to count and display time for over five thousand years, with shiny bronze sundials, elegant but fragile sand clocks and hourglasses, intricately crafted watches, clocks and timepieces of all shapes and sizes, and even that impressive mysterious behemoth: Stonehenge
Today we're going to explore two handy Treo clock apps, Binary Clock, and 1TouchTimer, which offer some flexibility over traditional timepieces, not to mention the new look that we often crave.
Elegance is Digital: Binary Clock
Everyone has some way to tell that annoying guy sitting next to you in the subway car that it's 11'O'Clock, but how cool would it be to have a clock with an ultra-modern look & feel?
Maybe you're sitting in a staff meeting for hours on end listening to Professor Farnsworth drone on and on in front of a chart and you wonder just how long it is until you can finally escape. Your eyes boring holes into your wristwatch is a sure tell-tale that you're trying to get away, so it's hard to pull off around all the other people who want to go home just as badly as you do.
With Binary Clock, [44k], which its developer Tomoggemon
calls "the watch for smart people", you can stare away and most of the people around you would take no notice, and though reading the time may be a bit cumbersome at first, eventually it becomes second nature. Reading the included manual helps too.
Binary Clock displays time via flashing columns of blocks or dots composing a pattern from which the clever can easily extrapolate regular numbers, sort of like using an abacus. "Binary", of course, refers to binary math, the stuff that all computers use to run their code, which you tabulate using exponential doublings of ones or zeroes..
Thus, on a screen like the one below the time is 14:03, which you resolve by adding up the bricks in order from bottom to top, each doubling in value. A vacant space always equals zero, the lowest brick is one, and each next brick is worth double the one below it.
In this example, we get 14:03 by looking at each column separately. The first column has one brick on the bottom, meaning 1; the second has two spaces (each zero) and then a block meaning four; then an entirely blank column, which is zero; and finally two bricks right on top of each other, which is three (1 2). Get it? I know, it doesn't make sense at first since this timepiece is radically different than clocks with hands or digits, but let it soak in for a while. The clock uses 24-hour time, but you can set the text overlay to use AM/PM, and/or add the date or blow your nose for you in one of a bazillion styles.
There are columns for hours, minutes and seconds, the usual stuff, and optionally a floating bar that displays the time as easily human readable text, which can be set in different fonts which you can add with FontBucket (included in the downloadable ZIP file) using standard TrueType fonts plus your choice of colors and styles. It can run from a card, and you can find a trial version here, which expires after 14 days unless you register.
There's also an alarm clock mode which will play the sound of your choice, as many times as you want in intervals that you decree until you turn it off or smash your Treo with a mallet. So, if you want your Treo to sound like one of those annoying meowing cat alarm clocks, this is your ticket to success, but please don't set mine that way, I want my Treo to stay in one piece.
You can customize the Binary clock's appearance too, including setting color preferences, roundness of the "blocks", spacing between columns, or color of the display; and once you get used to its techie way of telling time, it becomes second nature. No, really. Well it did for me.
Timing Your Routine: 1TouchTimer
Whether you're timing a turkey in the oven, a morning jog, or a meal in the microwave, nothing beats the versatility and ease of use that 1TouchTimer, a tiny 4K program offers with an easily maneuverable no-nonsense interface that's remarkably well done for a
What beats all is that it is capable of riding along purely on an SD card, taking up no internal memory at all, but if you want to install it internally, go right ahead! It's so tiny you'd never know the difference anyway.
Setting up a timer is a breeze, sliding the bars with your stylus or fingertip until you reach the desired countdown time, or pressing one of the two "Add" buttons to up the timer by one minute or hour per press. Once you have it ready to go, 1Touch will run in the background even while you are on the phone or using Blazer until it reaches zero. The helpful "Clear" button resets the timer to zero automatically, in case you set it, and well, forget it.
An audible ding chimes when time's up, and it repeats every few seconds until you click the OK button to dismiss it. It's not loud enough to be used as an alarm clock to wake you up from your daily nap, but it'll do just dandy for your next No-Limit Hold'em game, or to time that pesky "exactly one minute" of gargling with your favorite morning mouthwash.
So there you go: a clock totally unlike the kind you've looked at since you were a child, and a VERY handy timer with hundreds of uses.