My current alarm clock awoke me with its usual screech
this morning. Whoever was in charge of the sound portion of this device had an unusual sense of cruelty. One suspects that this is not the sort of person you would want to hang out with (unless you wanted to instruct them in the error of their ways by strapping them to a chair and making them listen to the insane warbling of their alarm call for an hour … or three).
Of course, it may be that he (or she) was intending something much more pleasant, in which case they are simply not very good on the engineering front and – once again – not the sort of person you want to hang out with.
Actually, I really dislike just about everything there is to do with my current alarm clock … I really need to replace it with something that doesn’t go out of its way to raise my ire and make me gnash my teeth and rend my garb. In fact, as I pen these words, I realize that I really, REALLY hate this clock!
Consider a top-down view of the clock as shown below. The Alarm On/Off
control (not shown here) is positioned awkwardly on the side … mounted in such a way that it’s hard to locate and manipulate – especially in the dark. Similarly, the black text printed on the controls means you can’t work out which is which in the dark.
Top down view of my current alarm clock
Thinking about it, this is the sort of view of my current clock that I would like to see as it recedes into the distance after being dropped off the top of a very tall building…
Whoever created this beast was obviously trying to cut down on costs by using simple, cheap-and-cheerful push-button switches. The idea is that you use one hand to press-and-hold the Time
or the Alarm
buttons, and then you use the other hand to repeatedly click – or press-and-hold – the Hour
or the Minute
Another problem is that the Hour
buttons only work in the “Forwards” temporal dimension. So if the alarm is currently set to 6:45 a.m. and you wish it to be set to 6:30 a.m., for example, then you have to click it forward by 45 minutes. And yes, the rate does speed up if you hold the button, but somehow it manages to speed up too slowly or too quickly or something … I can’t explain … but whatever it does, it doesn’t do it in the most optimal way. And if you accidentally skim past your intended time, you have to go all the way around again (arrgghhhh).
As another example, when you press the Snooze
button, the alarm re-sounds in 9 minutes time. So if the alarm is originally set to go off at 6:00 a.m. and you press the Snooze
button, the alarm re-triggers at 6:09 a.m. If you press Snooze
again, the alarm comes back at 6:18 a.m., and so forth. Why 9 minutes? What contemptible creature came up with this odious concept?
Working the controls wouldn’t be quite the pain it is if I only had to do so once in a Blue Moon
. It is not uncommon, however, as I finally lay my weary head to rest on my pillow after yet another grueling day, for my wife (Gina the Gorgeous) to say “What time is your alarm set for?”
Then, irrespective of my reply, she will say something like “Well, when you get up, can you re-set it to 7:30 a.m. for me?”
Yes, of course she has her own alarm clock sitting on her bedside table. What do you mean “Why don’t you tell her to set her own $%^& clock?”
If you have to ask, then you obviously aren’t married (grin).
But we digress… it was while I was contemplating the reprogramming of my existing alarm clock (with a mallet) this morning that I recalled a clock I used to own in England at least 30 years ago. I don’t recall the exact details, but I do recall that it was cube-shaped and that the alarm had a pleasant sound that gradually increased until it was “insistent” without being “obnoxious”.
Furthermore, this little beauty had two separate alarms, so you could set one for weekdays and another for weekends, for example. Alternatively, you could set the first alarm for one person and the second alarm for another. Even better, the controls were GREAT, as illustrated in the top-down view below:
Top down view of my old alarm clock
The reason I’ve illustrated the various pieces of text in white – and also the Up/Down
triangles on the controls – is that these were illuminated (there was a knob on the side of the clock that allowed you to vary the intensity of this illumination).
Every aspect of this clock was well thought out. The Up/Down
controls affected both the minutes and hours settings, for example. If you held the control down the rate of change would speed up; and whatever “envelope” they were using to control the rate of increase worked perfectly for me. Also, if you overshot your target, you could easily reverse direction to return to the desired time.
But wait, there's more, because you had the option of keeping the brightness of the main display full-on throughout the night, or allowing it to gradually fall (over a period of say 20 seconds) to a much dimmer – although still visible – level after the room lights had been extinguished.
It was obvious to me then – and much more obvious to me now – that a lot of thought had gone into the creation of this little beauty. The real genius of the design was that everything was so intuitive – even an idiot like yours truly could determine how everything worked by simply looking at it.
I want my old clock …
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