On Time

image I have several friends who don’t wear wrist watches.  At least one does so as a sign that he is not a slave to time, something he also proves by being late for meetings.   Back before the days of mobile devices, it used to bug me slightly when he’d ask me what time it was.  If you want to know what time it is, wear a freaking watch, I’d think, never saying it, of course, because that’s how you lose friends.  And future business partners.  Of course, in these days where the time, date and your exact location are available on your smartphone, boycotting wrist watches is a much less meaningful symbol that time doesn’t matter.   Being late still works, however.  The subject of time reminds me of an old Chicago song I loved back in my semi-hippie days, when I was a long-haired, mod-suit and watch wearing defense industry engineer with a peace sign in my rear window.

Me?   I almost always wear a watch although I don’t regard myself as a slave to time.  I like to be on time but as I get older, I seem to be more easily distracted by shiny objects so I am sometimes late.  If I need to be on time, I set an alarm on my smartphone calendar, which works really well if I don’t misplace my phone or turn off the sound.   Of course, an advantage of being a senior is people tend to cut me a little slack when I’m tardy.

So why this ramble on the importance of time?  As part of the work we are doing for the government, I need to sign on to a certain website every 45 days or we can lose our account, which is required by our customer.  A few years ago, we forgot to sign on and our account was dropped.  Believe me, reopening it is not a pain in the ass that I don’t care to repeat.  In my rush to sign on before we left for Arizona for Thanksgiving, I somehow screwed up (highly technical term) my desktop computer so it wouldn’t start. Being the way I am, during our week in AZ, I’d find myself thinking about what could be wrong or Googling starfishDell Inspiron won’t start past logo screen at odd moments.   And when we arrived at home on Monday, I was on the problem like a starfish on a clam. To make a long (computer-geeky) story short, one of the things I tried is removing the CMOS battery which maintains certain basic information the computer needs to start. That at least got me to a start up screen where I could run Windows Start-up Repair, which did its job and fixed everything. I thought. Until I tried to use our company’s online time tracking utility and it wouldn’t work. And certain websites began coming up as text only, like I used to see back in the AOL dial-up days. And Windows kept asking me to update the operating system, then telling me it was unable to update. It turns out that removing the CMOS battery reset the computer’s system time to November 11, 2009. Computers, as you might expect, are very much a slave to time and misbehave badly when event recorded in their software appear to be five years in the future. When I corrected the system time, all was OK.

The lesson, I suppose, is that for now, I’m smarter than my computer.
And I wear a watch, so I know it’s not 2009. Of course, now that I’ve changed the setting in the control panel so that the system time is automatically reset from the internet, it’s gaining on me and with Artificial Intelligence being incorporated in more computing devices, sooner or later, I’ll have a computer that will fix itself.  wpid-stephen-hawking-1.jpg I’m not worried about feeling useless, though, because according to British physicist, Stephen Hawkings, The development of Artificial Intelligence could spell the end of the human race.  Isn’t that a relief?

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