Friday, April 18, 2008

Cadex, Twelve Alarms, and Parkinson:

Parkinson's best known “law” is that work expands to fill all of the available time. This law has many corollaries.

Recently my digital watch broke. The backlight got stuck in the “on” position and drained the battery. And that was a watch with an expensive battery that is difficult to replace. I had owned two digital watches with the same firmware. The watch logic had a serious bug, and the user interface caused a number of problems. So I went to the web to find some distinctively different watch.

Long ago, the watch to hunt for was one with a data bank, a watch that could remember, say. a hundred phone numbers. I owned a Seiko watch like that in the 1980's. You programmed it by running a PC program, and then holding the watch up to the screen so the PC could download to it. But my PDA is much more handy at remembering data. In fact, a PDA renders pointless, much of what a digital watch might do. This time, I considered buying a watch that alerts you whenever you are in a wireless hotspot. I could really use that capability. But that particular watch had no alarms. I know from experience that I really need watch alarms, I use them all the time. My last watch had five alarms.

So this is what I bought: A 12-alarm watch. This cool baby is aimed at a specific niche market: people with serious medical problems and a lot of daily medication. I'm not in their niche, but I know a great watch when I see one! In addition to the 12 daily alarms, it also stores emergency info such as your doctor's name, medical alert data, allergies, and even (I wouldn't touch this!) your social security number. This watch is thoughtfully designed. The main display uses large fonts for ease of reading. There's an easy way to turn all active alarms on and off at once. The user interface to program the watch is a snap to use. And the watch character set contains only the most useful punctuation marks, so that it's less cumbersome to cycle through the whole character set to select the next letter.

But here's the interesting part. Now that I have twelve daily alarms instead of five: I need them. I'm trying to keep two alarm slots free for temporary needs, but it is easy, so easy, to set up the remaining ten. I need wake-up alarms, a vitamin pill reminder, another medical reminder, a daily exercise reminder, a daily blogging reminder ... you get the idea. Daily stuff -- that I used to try to remember the hard way -- now needs its own alarm.

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