Mobility

Trek tech: Let your PalmPilot track the time in Nepal, or anywhere else, with BigClock

When TechRepublic editor Mike Jackman prepared for his Himalayan techxpedition, he realized he needed a way to track multiple time zones. If you have a PalmPilot and find yourself in the same dilemma, here's an ingenious (and free) solution.


The difference between the time where I live in Louisville, KY, and Kathmandu, Nepal, is nine hours and 45 minutes. So to help me navigate the time changes during my expedition to the Himalayas, I wanted a simple application that would work on my PalmPilot. (If nothing else, when I’m restless in my freezing, wind-buffeted tent, I want to be able to picture what my cozier friends and loved ones are up to at that moment.)

So whether you’re a mountain climber or a busy executive, if you’re a frequent traveler and you own a PalmPilot, you’ll want to install this application, too. It’s called BigClock, it’s excellent, and, best of all, it’s free!
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Download a copy of BigClock
You can download BigClock from any Web site that catalogs Palm applications. PalmGear H.Q . is one place to start, or you can get a copy from developer Jens Rupp’s Website . The current version is 2.5. Install the .prc file just like any other Pilot application, using the Install tool. Click on the icon in your application launcher, and you’re ready to keep track of time in up to five far-flung places.

BigClock’s big screen
Jens Rupp didn’t name his application BigClock for nothing. It makes good use of all the available space on the Pilot screen. Figure A shows the layout of the main screen. Travel-weary eyes will not be strained looking at this large display.

BigClock’s main screen


Selecting World brings up two more locations, and selecting the box marked 2 at the top of the screen shows four simultaneous times in a smaller display (Figure B).

BigClock shows up to four locations on one screen.


Track up to five locations
Setting the time in BigClock is easy and ingenious. The program takes its local time from your Pilot’s setup, but you can also change the base time from the menu. Just choose Menu | Set Time. Or, with any time displayed on screen, tap the top of a number to increase its value; tap the bottom of a number to decrease its value. As an alternative, you can go to the main menu and select World, which lets you enter an offset from the base time. That’s what I chose for Nepal (see Figure C), because I was tired of doing addition in my head.

You can set the time using the menu.


Each box numbered from 1 through 4, on top of the screen, represents another time you can set in addition to your base time.

Use the Web to find the time
By the way, if you need a little help figuring out just what time it is in all those places you want to track, try linking to The World Clock . The folks there tell the time at 135 cities around the world in one convenient table (517 cities’ times are listed in the full version). You’ll also find a World Clock Meeting Planner and a Personal World Clock applet that lets you choose the cities you want to track.

More than just a big clock
BigClock is a big help in other ways besides time telling. You can set up to four alarms for each time tracked, and you can choose any of four sounds for your alarms. (You can even customize all four sounds if you feel like playing with the settings.) And for those times you want to make sure your meetings don’t run over or you want to cook the perfect soft-boiled egg, the program even includes timers which count down or up.

If you find yourself scurrying across many different time zones (I hope for pleasure as much as for business), or trying to avoid telephoning a far-flung office when everyone’s still in bed, then you’ll want to do yourself a big favor and get BigClock.

Mike Jackman is a TechRepublic editor who also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. Together with another TechRepublic editor, David Bard, he is currently traveling to Nepal to report on high-altitude technology and to climb 20,285-foot Imja Tse. In his spare time (when he can find some), Mike’s an avid devourer and writer of science fiction, parent to two perpetually adolescent cats, and a hiking enthusiast.

Is there another application that helps you when traveling through multiple time zones? Post a comment below, or send us an e-mail.

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