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Digital clocks

The first video player that I used had such an accurate clock that the whole family adopted it as the universally agreed reference time. Kind of a clock.apple.com but a bit more homely.

Of course, there were little accidents like when the lights went off if there had been a strong storm, and we had to re-enter the time (it was so complicated to program the date that nobody even bothered to do that) manually, since it didn’t have a backup battery for these cases.

Apart from that, it was reliable and served us well for almost ten years, which is clearly a lot compared with the lifespan of today’s domestic appliances.

The next one was easier to configure and could be done with the remote, instead of having to press little buttons underneath an almost hidden cover in the device itself. We could even program the date and it was very simple! But at the same time that we got that new video recorder, we also got a big TV which came with the impressive teletext technology. And that prevented us from trusting the new video as our reference clock: teletext’s clock became the one and only.

More or less by that time we decided to buy a digital alarm-clock. It even had radio! Woooo! But it soon was unanimously christened as the Infernal Machine. It had a funny tendency to slightly get detuned, so when waking up with the radio function you were welcomed with a cruel mix of top-40 hits modulated with some static noise and interferences. Not pleasant at all.

And it still had more to offer: some months later, it decided by itself that 60 seconds minutes were an irresponsible waste of time and that it should be corrected immediately. So it began to produce its own minutes, and woke us up at 5 or 6am instead of at 7am.

I even chronometered it – its minutes were of 57 seconds only. We felt betrayed: after having put all of our hopes in that little white and graciously curved appliance so that it would help us start the days with a sunrise, it just made us jump in disgust in the middle of the night, specially the first day that happened, when we hadn’t noticed and we really thought it was 7am.

We relegated it to a corner and instead began to use an analogic clock to wake up. It was archaic and didn’t have radio but we could switch a nearby CD player on after stopping the snooze.

That incident had almost disappeared from my mind until I noticed that the microwave’s clock and the oven’s clock were desynchronized. Not only that, but both are late. In this case, they are being far too generous with their seconds, and they always appear earlier than it in fact is.

All these observations allow me to express a very personal opinion: that’s why they wanted to have Java running on every domestic appliance, to be able to connect every day to a clock service and make sure that the device is on time.

Luckily I don’t depend on the microwave’s clock to awake…

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