Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

It’s Later Than You Think…

Via Organizations and Markets: David Seah has a new solution for those who are perpetually running late – a clock that sets itself to be randomly fast:

I got to thinking about why the “set your clock ahead” trick works. I think it presumes the following:

  • You have a terrible sense of time, or are obsessed by last-minute details, either of which cause you to be late.
  • You actually do care being on time, but your friends have started keeping a separate timetable just for you thanks to your legendary unreliability.
  • Enough awful things have happened to you because of lateness that you’ve resorted to pre-emptively tricking yourself by advancing the time on all your watches and clocks.

Now, the problem is that you know that I know you know you’ve already set your clock ahead, so you cleverly take this into account and end up being even later. It’s a vicious circle. What we need is a way to channel fear and anxiety positively, while keeping you from getting too comfortable with your clock.

Enter the Procrastinator’s Clock. It’s guaranteed to be up to 15 minutes fast. However, it also speeds up and slows down in an unpredictable manner so you can’t be sure how fast it really is….

Technically, the clock maintains a “time buffer” of “fastness” measured in milliseconds. This buffer is modified every second by a certain amount, either adding or subtracting a number of milliseconds. Every once in a while, the delta value changes and the rate of change may increase or decrease. The time buffer is added to the actual time before the display calculations are made. The whole point of all this is to keep ya guessing as to what the real time is. The clock should be, on average, about 7 minutes fast, but betting on the law of averages in the short term is a good way to screw yourself. So just assume the clock might be on time, but accept it’s probably fast. Since you don’t know if it’s fast by just a few seconds or several minutes, it’s safer to assume the clock really is telling the right time, which is just what you should be thinking…

Unfortunately, my problem lately has been quite the opposite: rather than sneaking in a bit of extra sleep by hitting the snooze button once too often, I seem to be deciding, when I roll over in the middle of the night and see that my official waking time is a mere two or three hours away, that I might as well get up anyway… Any neat technical solutions for this problem would be much appreciated… ;-P

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