Dumb Joke, Half-assed Execution

What time is it in UNIX?

UNIX-time

Well, makes me chuckle.

But my main thinking is about the execution of the joke. Black and white circles and texts gets the point across, but that’s it. Maybe it’d be better to go all skeuomorphic; add glow to the UNIX numbers like they were LEDs, put glare on the clocks, make the labels look they are inlaid on fake wood plaques, give everything some depth.

Actually, forget the vector images because photorealism would be better. Get a photo of those kinds of clocks, then photoshop1 one out and insert a digital display. Make it look seamless. Or better still, don’t just use a picture of clocks — insert it into a scene. Grab a still of Marry Tyler Moore and Ted Knight in the news room and insert it in the background.

But if photorealism is the goal then I should take a photo, which means I need the clocks. So, step one, research the materials and designs of the clocks, plaques, metal cages, wall paint, and the cinderblock walls to which they were always attached. What I have in mind is very mid-70’s, which fits with the UNIX time, so find popular manufacturers from that era. Figure out what can be bought online and what should be built. Make a small wall and age the paint. Find a place to order REAL fake wood plaques for the city names (with era-accurate fonts, of course). Assemble and mount the clocks. I’m sure I could find those metal grates to go over the clocks, but it’d probably be cheaper to make them myself, so that’s an excuse to learn to weld. For the UNIX time, I’d probably have to build it. LED’s are too modern, so maybe the old-time, dynamic signs where panels flip around to change letters and numbers. More research! What are they called? I think they still have one of those displaying train information at 30th Street Station in Philly. Old Hitchcock films? Maybe they have those in “North By Northwest” in one scene at the airport. Don’t know, but I’ll need to 3d-print the frame, laser etch the numbers, rig it all together with some motors and a microcontroller. OK, put ALL of this together, make all the clocks consistent with some time in 1974, light it with some cheap fluorescent bulbs, and take a picture.

But as long as I’ve built it, the joke would be best if I just hung up the clocks and used them. Set all the clocks to the correct time, then have a damn good laugh when UNIX time overflows.

Or, perhaps, I’ve already spent more than enough time on this.

  1. You know, obviously I’d use GIMP, but it’s hard not to use “photoshop” as a verb.