A better desktop clockBy Martin Hansen. Published: 16th Aug 2004, 07:43:08 | Permalink | Printable
Tick, tockReview Whilst there may be less sunshine this summer than many had hoped for, it has still been sufficiently hot to merit a large number of open windows here, at Hansen Towers, in Shrewsbury. This would not be noteworthy but for the fact that I have just come across a lovely piece of free software from Peter Everett, which I downloaded from the Internet a couple of days ago and which has transformed the ambiance of my life and, indeed, via the open windows, that of my neighbours.
Peter's better known claim to RISC OS fame arises from his recent work on KinoAMP, the MPEG1/2 movie player, and Shine, a fast MP3 encoder. However, it is the third offering that he has placed on his website, Tock, that has had me grinning from ear to ear for the last few days.
Tock is a rework of that old classic, the computer clock, but this one is posh. There is no cheap sounding ring or buzzer with this offering but instead some rather refined, melodious chimes and on the hour strikes. If you can avoid thinking Austrian Cuck-coo shop and picture in its place a very expensive and refined jewellers you'll be catching my drift. In the interests of doing some thorough research for Drobe I had Tock running on a StrongARM 3.7 RiscPC and my Iyonix, in a bedroom upstairs, and on a Kinetic RiscPC and also another StrongARM RiscPC running Select 3i3, in the hall. It works great on them all and every fifteen minutes, the house reverberates to a medley of loud, but tuneful, chiming.
It can be a little tricky to get Tock running and it took me over an hour to figure out why the chimes would not, at first, work. So, let me just talk you through it. First, grab the download from Peter's website. I dumped it onto a floppy disc as not all of my test machines are networked. It's been zipped and so you'll need SparkPlug to unpack it onto your hard disc. Load Tock onto the iconbar. If you launch it, you'll get either a lovely Big Ben clock face or a less glamorous, but very clear, Office face.
You can hop from one to the other by clicking the menu mouse button over the face, and moving down and right to the first sub-menu. On the main menu, you will notice that two of the options, Chime and Strike, are greyed out. You need to click menu over Tock on the iconbar and select 'Make chimes'. Click on Start in the Chime Maker and then go and make a cup of tea. When you return, the WAV files needed will have been created. Close the Chime Maker window. Reboot your computer, and this time, when you click Menu over the clock face, all the options are available. The bit that foxed me was that when I moved right to the Chime and Strike sub-menus I could move what was ticked but the sound still did not happen; the hour came and went repeatedly as I used !Alarm to set the clock to just before an hour, but each time as the moment passed: silence.
What I eventually realised was that you have to move down the Tock menu to, say, Chime and then not rush right to the sub-menu, but click select on Chime itself. As soon as a tick appeared to the left of Chime in the Tock Menu, I knew I'd cracked it. Similarly, tick Strike. I've tried to show what you are aiming for clearly in the screenshot above. Basically, you need to tick, tock.
I wholeheartedly recommend you get this lovely piece of software for your machine. Having it running in a corner of your screen, and chiming gently as you work, attracts all who pass. It's a great little advert for RISC OS; tasteful, subtle and of good quality. If you are really keen you can take a photograph of any clock that takes your fancy and use it as a further face in Tock. You are even welcome to investigate how the chime WAV files are built and, perhaps, compose your own. This is a great piece of free, fun software. [Also, the C and assmebler source code is included, if you're interested to see how it works - Ed]
Peter's software - Read the Tock helpfile before you start, especially the part about needing PlayIt.
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