Monday, 15 July 2002
Won't you please give me a wake-up call at 6:00? I have to get up early to go to a conference. Antoinette asks me over the phone. Yes, sure. Thanks to the time difference between the Netherlands and the USA I don't have to rise early to comply with her request, great.

I make a note on a sticky pad 12:00wake-up call Antoinette. Now what? Where do I stick the note? My head is chaotic and absent-minded, that's why I write it down. So far so good.

But time-initiated actions remain a hassle for me. My life is not controlled by office hours. How do I trigger myself to take action at 12 o'clock? How does one normalise this real life example of a time-initiated action?

Where do I put the sticky pad?

  • In my diary? No, I hardly look at it.
  • On my keyboard? No, then I still won't know when it is 12:00.
  • On the clock? Yes! Today I'll have to watch the clock on a regular basis.
Every time I get up to get a coffee of go for a contemplative stroll, I watch the clock. What a wonderful combination of event- and time-driven events! The analysis, design, construction and implementation of this system is a success.

It works fine, for a couple of hours. The clock circles slowly towards 12 o'clock.

But, too bad, Murphy's law strikes here too. The system crashes. The battery of the clock has chosen today of all days to go flat. Amazed I see, in my role of system controller, that time stands still.

  • What do I do with wrong information?
  • Will I, with my chaotic brain, be able to remember that the clock has ceased ticking?
I think to myself: Better no information than wrong information and take drastic action: I remove the clock's hands.

The sticky pad moves to another clock, one that don't use much. Panic! The backup system is not good enough. But wait, I must have some spare batteries somewhere. I do not need a whole backup system, I just have to replace a faulty module! And yes indeed, soon the hands are circling towards 12 o'clock again.

And yes, Antoinette was on time for her conference, thanks to creativity, unlimited effort, innovative design, technical ingenuity, a modular approach, sufficient resources, active system control, error recovery, sufficient backup facilities and international communicationlines.

Well... how about simply setting an alarm clock next time?

Till next week,

Congratulations to Christine Mandracchia with her successful presentation at NJ DAMA:
Experiences of a data modeller on an OO project.