Radio Clocks and Daylight Savings Time

Ah, daylight savings time. What was the point of it again? Oh yeah … it doesn’t work, but Congress look concerned and attentive. This isn’t easy for them, so they’ll clutch at any straw.

Anyway, I have a lot of “atomic clocks,” which are really radio-synchronized clocks that get their signal from the super-low-frequency transmitter at WWVB in Fort Collins, Colorado. I like these because you can forget about your timepieces except when you need to replace the batteries five years later. They set themselves to the radio signal.

The bad news is that the radio signal doesn’t actually get through all the time. Mostly it doesn’t matter, since once a week is plenty, but it’s a pain around the daylight savings time transition. Half my clocks have updated themselves and the others haven’t. Worse, these “zero-config” clocks are very inconvenient to set manually, maybe impossible. And because resetting these clocks is something you do twice a year at most, it’s hard to remember the steps.

Once again, a promising technology gets messed up by sloppy implementation. Where’s the button to push that says, “don’t try to synch up just once per night, keep trying continuously, damn it!” Where’s the “synch over WiFi” feature? Failing that, where are the set of, “never mind, I’ll set it myself” buttons?

People talk as if timekeeping was a mature market, but clocks and watches are designed by idiots. There’s probably good money out there waiting for a designer with half a brain, provided he isn’t saddled instantly with a pointy-haired boss who prevents all progress.

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

2 thoughts on “Radio Clocks and Daylight Savings Time”

  1. I’m looking for a wind up alarm clock that isn’t cheap crap but not $2000 either. Winding once a day and no need for a battery is a great trade off for me. Don’t need atomic precision, in fact I would like to just have an hour hand- no minutes. Seems like this analog technology just isn’t around any longer…

  2. I also work in the tech sector, and this is one of those things that drive me crazy about technology. As it gets more advanced, it often gets more troublesome to use. People watch movies from the 80s and laugh at those huge brick phones. “Think what progress we’ve made!” they say.

    I still remember the analog phone I had in 1996. To call someone not on speed-dial it was click, scroll down, click. On my phone today, it’s click, down, click, click, scroll down, click. How is that progress? What’s more, the easiest button to hit (right in the middle) opens a browser to access features I’m never going to use, and you can’t change the default. 15 cents a month of my bill is from accidentally hitting this stupid button.

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