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The taskbar clock in Windows . . .

I'd like to make a small rant about the taskbar clock / calendar on windows. Since Windows 95, users have been able to click on this clock to open up a calendar. This is probably the worst calendar program in history.

If you change the month or year and then click OK instead of Cancel, then you've just set the clock on your computer to the incorrect time. I once set the clock on my computer ahead by 3 months and didn't realize it for several days. All the emails I sent to other people looked like they came from the future, and I wonder if they were annoyed or amused by my stupidity.

If you are on NT/2000/XP, you can't use the clock to bring up a calendar unless you have administrative rights. Obviously this is to keep normal users from changing the time. But it seems like Windows is rather rude by not letting me look at a simple calendar! I wasn't trying to hack the computer; I just want to see on what day of the week my dental appointment falls. Everyone says normal users shouldn't run as administrator, so it seems wrong that this simple thing is disabled. I wonder how many people run as an administrator just so they can use this dinky calendar.

Ok, so maybe I'm not being totally fair. The fact that you can use the time setting application as a weak calendar is an accident, and I should use a real calendar program. But it's so convenient, and I really wish they'd fix it so it was more useful.
Shannon
Friday, May 27, 2005
 
 
Bookmark this: http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/. Maybe if you really want ti similar put the bookmark shortcut in the quick launch toolbar next to the clock.
--Josh Send private email
Friday, May 27, 2005
 
 
==>If you change the month or year and then click OK instead of Cancel, then you've just set the clock on your computer to the incorrect time.

<boggle>

What do you expect to happen when you click OK instead of Cancel? As I make this post, I see an OK and a Cancel button at the bottom of the page. I expect that if I click OK instead of Cancel, I expect this message to be posted. If I click Cancel, I expect it wont.

What alternative would you suggest? OK mean "yeah, do it" whereas Cancel means "fugetaboudit". What could be more obvious?

If I hit the gas instead of the brake, I'm going to slam into the car in front of me. If I hit the power button instead of the channel button, I'm going to turn the TV off. You really can't guard against that kind of user error.

What alternative do you suggest?
Sgt.Sausage Send private email
Friday, May 27, 2005
 
 
It's hard for me to articulate why this window confuses me. If I'm the only person who has accidentally changed the time on their computer with this window, then I'll gladly hang my head in shame.

I mainly use this window to look up dates in the future, NOT to set my clock. I bet this is by far the most common usage. If I look up a date and then click "OK", I expect that no changes will be made to my system's time becuase I didn't request any changes. But it's impossible to look up a date in the future without changing the current date, so you have to click Cancel to abort the change. I think that's the key problem.

I hadn't really thought about alternatives. I was just annoyed with the way it currently works. Here's a few ideas.

Changing the month or year should not select a new date. The old one should remain selected, even though you can't see it. To change the date, you have to click in the little calendar box on a new date to highlight it. If you don't, then clicking OK does nothing because you haven't changed anything. This way, you can flip around to different months or years and nothing changes until you click on a date in the calendar.

You could change the tabs in the window to "Calendar", "Set Time", and "Time Zone". The first tab only allows you to look up dates, not change them.

Another idea would be to make the user go to control panel to change the time and date. Or bring up a calendar when you click on the clock, and have a "Change Time" button on the calendar page that opens a new window. Or maybe confirm changes before you make them permanent. You could also have the user right-click on the clock and choose an option there to set the time.

So there are lots of alternatives to the way it works now. I don't know which is best, and maybe Windows does it in the best way now. Or maybe I'm too easily confused :-)
Shannon
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
The feature is designed for adjusting the date and time of the system clock, that's why it says "Adjust Date/Time" on the menu item.
John Topley Send private email
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
I have a little card calendar on my desk if I want to look up dates in the past or future. It's faster than using the computer.

I also have a year planner on the wall in my office, so I can see it easily at all times.

And I have all my meetings entered into Outlook as well, so I have automated reminders.

It amuses me when people try to get the computer to do absolutely everything, even when it's less efficient.

Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
Shannon... don't try to fix it. It isn't broken. In fact, it should be hidden in the control panel so that people are not tempted to use it like a normal calendar (like you and I both do). Instead, it should be replaced with a standard calendar that can't be used to change the system date/time. Why this has been missing for so long is a complete mystery to me. I expect Microsoft to remedy this in Longhorn with their little docking bar on the side of the screen.

Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
I purchased 1st Clock as a replacement. It has many great features.

http://www.1stclock.com/
Roger Jack Send private email
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
Shannon, I think the same exact thing. You are right on the money on this one. Test group be damned, MSFT owes you a decent calendar for less than the purchase of Microsoft Office* (CAD$300+ on Dell.ca).

* Which bundles Outlook, the only calendar they really want you to use anyway.
Li-fan Send private email
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
Short answer:  The change date/time applet is not a calendar.

http://blogs.msdn.com/larryosterman/archive/2004/09/22/232938.aspx
brian's smart ass Send private email
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
Switch to Linux/KDE!

*ducks*
Ben Atkin Send private email
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
Shannon,

TClockEx is what you need.  It's the first thing I put on any PC I use.
Kyralessa Send private email
Saturday, May 28, 2005
 
 
"If I'm the only person who has accidentally changed the time on their computer with this window, then I'll gladly hang my head in shame."

Nope.  It happens less often now, but I've had other people change the date on my computer because they use that calendar as a way to flip through dates.  It's amazingly common.  I think because this such a massive operation that it should at least have a confirmation dialog.
Almost H. Anonymous Send private email
Sunday, May 29, 2005
 
 
I've done it plenty of times too. The only thing that warns me I've changed the time is a backup program that tells me about it's behaviour when the files fall out of sync with the system clock.

OK  Cancel  Apply

something like Set and Exit would be much easier to understand, but I guess Microsoft things consistency is key.

Also, the tooltip that tells me the date doesn't always work, and there's no way to change what's displayed. Monitors are getting larger & larger and screen real estate isn't as precious as it once was, but this feature remains exactly as it was in 1995.

But, Windows can sync to an external source. If that feature is set, it will go back to normal eventually.
MarkTAW Send private email
Sunday, May 29, 2005
 
 
From what I see of the complaints, the confusion comes from the fact that just tring to look at the dates in future months actually changes the currently set month.  You do not expect the actual date to be changed just because you are *looking*.  You expect the date to be changed when you actively select a date.  This matches expectations because other things (like selected text and cursor position) do not change when you scroll down in a window, i.e. you are just looking.  You have to actively select text, place a cursor, etc., etc., so why should changing the date be any different?

Given this, I agree that the usability is bad.  The mismatch probably comes because the designers thought of it primarily as a way of changing the current date, so every action was designed to do exactly that.  In principle, though, it should probably do like you described.
Haertchen
Sunday, May 29, 2005
 
 
s/possibility/possibly/
Li-fan Send private email
Sunday, May 29, 2005
 
 
"The mismatch probably comes because the designers thought of it primarily as a way of changing the current date..."

Which, of course, you only ever do once when you setup your computer.  It's good that's in a convenient location but I can say for sure that %99.9 of the time I use that applet to look for dates not change them.
Almost H. Anonymous Send private email
Monday, May 30, 2005
 
 
Once more:

http://www.rcis.co.za/dale/tclockex/

You can use it to browse dates, as well as keep track of how much system memory is available, and other such stuff.
Kyralessa Send private email
Monday, May 30, 2005
 
 
"This is probably the worst calendar program in history"

You haven't seen the one I wrote in high school. It's much worse than the Windows one.
Travelling Steve Send private email
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
 
 
I'm with you all the way,  Almost H. Anonymous.  That was exactly my point.  It's broken because of bad assumptions that don't agree with actual usage.
Haertchen
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
 
 
If only Joel had actually gone forward with www.whattimeisit.com we would have these problems.
John Haren Send private email
Thursday, June 02, 2005
 
 
Shannon: "I once set the clock on my computer ahead by 3 months and didn't realize it for several days. All the emails I sent to other people looked like they came from the future, and I wonder if they were annoyed or amused by my stupidity."

Sgt.Sausage: "What alternative would you suggest? OK mean "yeah, do it" whereas Cancel means "fugetaboudit". What could be more obvious?

If I hit the gas instead of the brake, I'm going to slam into the car in front of me. If I hit the power button instead of the channel button, I'm going to turn the TV off. You really can't guard against that kind of user error."

LOL!
LOL
Friday, June 03, 2005
 
 
"Since Windows 95, users have been able to click on this clock to open up a calendar."

You have also been able to restrict this right since windows 95.
bw
Friday, June 03, 2005
 
 

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