Monday, 19 July 2010

A complex clock ~ and fond memories of a paper clip

Advances in technology are supposed to enrich our lives and make things easier, but often have the reverse effect.  My experience with the car clock is one such instance:

Last week, amidst the unusual bustle of domestic activity, I decided it was high time I reset it.  Perhaps a year ago the car battery was replaced and since then the displayed time had been all wrong.  I hadn't been able to work out how to reset it so it remained in limbo.

Then my wristwatch stopped running and the only clock I've had when out has been on my cell phone which I seldom use and is somewhat difficult to read.  To check the time I have to
  • a) have it with me 
  • b) get it out of my bag 
  • c) turn it on, 
  • d) unlock it AND 
  • e) put on my glasses - too many steps.  
I tend to run late and much prefer to know if I need to hurry - or not, so knowing the time has its uses. Surely the car clock couldn't be all that difficult!  Anyway, unless I sorted it out it would stay the way it was forever.

Having thus stiffened my resolve I went out to the car to have another go.  It's part of the car radio, which is situated too far below the dashboard to see easily.  I opened the car door and practically lay on my side so I could get a proper look at it - through my glasses.  Oops, I forgot I needed the key in the ignition to get some power into it.  I had the key.  Fine.  However, when the door is open and the key is in the ignition the dashboard beeps to remind me so, a nuisance my mechanic is unable to remedy.  Since I was lying through the door I couldn't shut it so I did my best to ignore the beeps.  I peered at the small print on the radio.  Even through my glasses it was still too small to read, and I needed better light.

I went inside for my torch and my reading glasses, as well as pen and paper in case I needed to write anything down.  In addition I took my cell phone so I could be sure to set the time correctly.  Prone across the drivers seat once more I peered at the array of buttons carefully.  I tried lots of buttons, and lots of combinations of buttons, all to no avail.  I could make the machine perform all manner of other manoeuvres but not that one.  Too bad!  I would have to see if I could find a manual for it on the Internet.  I wrote down what looked like the particulars of the radio and retreated upstairs to my computer.

The name of the radio turned out to be wrong, but fortunately the internet search corrected me.  I found an extensive booklet in PDF format and attempted to flick through it on-line.  Firefox didn't like it and crashed which required me to re-boot my usually crash-proof machine.  I found it again, downloaded it this time, re-named and filed the manual so it could be found another time and cruised through the pages...  Ah, Setting the Clock!  There was a whole page of illustrated instructions showing me in steps one to four with text and diagrams what I needed to do.  Uh-oh!  My printer was playing up.  With rare synchronicity so was Rewi's.  I carefully took down the page of notes in longhand, copying the diagrams which, being mildly dyslexic, I know I am incapable of remembering.

I trotted back to the car with my keys, my cell phone, my reading glasses, my sheet of instructions and my torch, and lay across the car seat for the third time.  And sorted it out in less than five minutes.  It was easy as pie.  But there was no way I could have figured it out without instructions, and I certainly won't remember how to do it by the time I have to alter it again once we go back to summer time a few months from now.  What a performance! 

In my previous car, a perky little 1985 Subaru Justy, the clock was part of the dashboard, not the radio, and stayed on all the time, key in or out.  Beneath it were two tiny recessed buttons, one for the hours and one for the minutes.  To reset it one simply poked a small sharp object into each hole until the desired numbers flicked round.  I kept a bent paper clip in the car for this express purpose.  Blessed simplicity!

But it's a great car - I love my Nissan! 
And perhaps I'd better buy a new wristwatch.


Grace Dalley said...

Oh, what a saga! :-)
I once had a friend buy me dinner in exchange for resetting the clock on his microwave, because he had tried to work it out but failed. I can't do the clock on my flatmate's stereo, though. The one person who could re-set it has moved out.

Leigh said...

A dinner well earned by the sound of it Grace, and I'm not surprised that the stereo one stumped even you, clever as you are! Where do the people who design these things go to school? Someone needs to haul them out of binary lala land and back into the world of their fellow humanoids! :-)