Tag Archives: software development

Please Don’t Play Games With My Date and Time Data

An Open Letter to All Software Developers,

I don’t like changing, shifting, cutsie, idiotic date formats, and I don’t like rounding off much either.

Many systems that provide information on date and time make unwrarented and embarrassingly stupid assumptions about what you want to know. In Movable Type, the system designers assume that if a post is set up for the future by a few days, that I don’t care what time of day it is scheduled for. WTF is that all about??? A scheduled post for two hours from now is listed with the date/time “2 hours from now” but a post scheduled for 48 hours from now is listed as “2 days from now.” Do they not think that I care what time a post on my blog is made public?

Even worse, and for Moveable type, I’d call this a bug because it is just plain wrong, is this: If Post A is coming out in two days, and Post B in three days, and the current time is two days before the midpoint in time between Post A plus Post B, then Moveable Type might say “2 days” for both posts. This looks like both of these posts are coming out on the same day. Fer’instance, if it is now Tuesday, I think (silly me) that “two days from now” is Thursday. If you tell me something is going to happen in two days from now, I think “OK, Thursday.” Then, if you tell me right away that a different thing is also going to happen two days from now, I still think “OK, Thursday.” I can do that all day. See what I’m saying?

With blog posts, I am very interested to know what hour something happens, no matter how far into the future. The older version of Moveable Type had a “batch editor” that allowed me to see and edit a spreadsheet-like form with day and time for each recent or scheduled post all on one page. The new version (4.x) of Movable type does not appear to have this. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. But if I’m not wrong, this is clear evidence that some software designers are just not getting what at least some of us are using this “date and time” variable for. We are not playing around here. We want our data.

I see a similar thing in Evolution, the email client. when I go backwards in time, the date format changes from a time and nothing else, to “Yesterday [time]” to the day of the week and the time, to a calendar date. Why does Evolution think that I have different concepts of scale as time shifts? Why not just have one format, which I can adjust to my liking, and stick with that one format!?!? I mean, seriously, I MIGHT have difference concepts of time as scale shifts. That is how life MIGHT work under some circumstances, but not always for all people under all circumstances. The user should be empowered to make that decision, not some kid in Peoria with a c compiler.

Technorarti is even worse. Technorati uses designators like “A while ago” or “some time in the past.” Morons.

There needs to be a law that all date and time data are taken seriously and not sillified with these odd monikers.