A Silly Idea About Time

Many of us set our clocks forward so that we are on time. This makes us think that we are going to be late, but end up pleasantly surprised when we get to wherever we are going to on time. Or so it goes until you get used to the fact that your clock is five minutes fast. In the end, you can accurately predict the time.

In order to solve this problem, I came up with a silly idea: what if you couldn’t accurately tell the time? What if you could only have a rough idea of what time is? Eventually, I ended up creating a clock that randomizes the time based on your specifications.The key here is that the clock is semi-accurate. If you were to randomize all the times that could be generated by the clock, the mean would be the current time. The distribution of times is flat between two bounds, meaning that each time within the distribution is equally likely to be chosen. The project is available for your viewing pleasure at: http://www.ericmustee.com/Clock

Below is a random clock running at about 6:18 PM. It is allowed to have a deviation of up 2 minutes from the actual time:

It's a feature not a bug

This clock is NOT broken!

There are a few advantages of thisĀ randomized clock I can think of over a fast regular clock: it forces you to prepare for the worst. This is a clock you simply cannot get used to. Say you have lived with this clock for a month. If you have access to no other clocks, you would have to pretend that the time is always fast, otherwise you could miss out on some opportunity. However, you may occasionally be pleasantly surprised when you find you not only have arrived on time, but you have arrived early! This is what makes a clock like this neat: if you pretend a randomized clock is always fast, you will at worst never be late, and you will sometimes be early. Following this type of clock in this way is a bit of a commitment however.

Here are some additional features I implemented:

Lots of different options for a clock here

An Options Page

You can choose lots of things here:

  • How often the clock randomizes
  • The maximum time between now and the randomly generated time
  • Analog/Digital/Both
  • The movement of the seconds hand can be smooth/granular
    The FPS recorder was limited to 20FPS, so it's even SMOOTHER in real life. You should go view the actual clock at http://www.ericmustee.com/Clock An extremely cinematic experience
  • Any color of your choice!
Colorful Clocks! I really like these colors and shapes!

Different Colors

In order to do this, I took it upon myself to look into the HTML5 canvas and cookies. I’ve been wanting to play with these for a while, and I enjoyed them. I quickly hacked together the clock/settings page in two afternoons, and I am pretty impressed with the simplicity and flexibility behind the canvas element.

There are some small issues with the clock: rendering issues occur if the aspect ratio is set too high, the seconds hand blends in with the background too much if you select red as a color, and some themes do not have a high enough contrast between the clock/text and the background. A lot of this project feels held together with duck tape and paperclips. However these issues are things that I can think of fixes for. If I had unlimited time, I would go about fixing everything, but I have things like topology homework. Again, you can view the clock at http://www.ericmustee.com/Clock

Is this a better solution than just setting your clock faster? Who knows, it might be. If you are strict about following it, it probably is better. For what I gather,this is either a terrible idea or a great idea based on the type of person that uses it. In any case, it’s better than the broken clock this is going to replace in my living room, as this clock is likely to be close to correct more than twice a day.

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