Time geekery

Photo by Clem Rutter

Whether we like to admit it or not, all of us as lawyers keep track of our time (or at least we should—even those who do contingent fee cases ought to track time in case there’s ever a question about whether a fee is reasonable). We use a variety of tools for this purpose. Some of us use old fashioned pencil and paper, some of us plug the information into a simple spreadsheet, others use desktop or mobile apps to tie into our time and billing software. Time affects all lawyers, even as we move forward through it.

But what is time, really? A simple definition (as noted by Wikipedia) is that time is what clocks measure. But how did we end up with clocks measuring time? What did people use before clocks? What about days? How did we end up with 24 hours in a day? Sixty minutes in an hour? Sixty seconds in a minute?

The point of the preceding paragraphs is not to embark on some philosophical discussion of time or explore the history of it. Rather, the introduction is designed to see if you are at all fascinated by time and its measurement. If so, read on. (If not, read on anyway in case you know someone who might be interested in the apps I’m about to introduce to you.)

A couple of gents who are fascinated by time have created Emerald Sequoia, LLC. They have released some fascinating iPhone and iPad apps that will appeal to the time geek in all of us.

For the iPad, one of the most beautiful apps you will encounter is Emerald Observatory. Even though this app doesn’t have a lot to do with the practice of law, it’s one of my favorites. It’s eye candy for the most part, but it provides a ton information as well. For $.99, it’s hard to imagine a better way to spend your dollar. At it’s simplest, Emerald Observatory is a clock.

Click to knock your eyes out.

It is also a source of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC, which some call Greenwich Mean Time), sidereal time, solar time, moon phases, when planets rise and set, and more. It even has an eclipse simulator you can play with, not to mention showing the parts of the earth that are in darkness and light with the earth’s revolutions and sunlight. Photographers will love the fact that this app also tells you when the “golden hours” are in a given day. Want to know when the sun hits its highest point on its path through the sky? This app will tell you. It can also tell you where to find the moon in the sky, using good old fashioned altitude and azimuth. The app’s web page could be used as a basic primer on time, the motion of the sun, moon, and planets, and more.

If there’s one app guaranteed to be running just so I don’t have to look at a black screen when using my iPad, it’s Emerald Observatory. It looks great when I have my iPad sitting in my stand on my desk. Get Emerald Observatory in the iTunes App Store. (Only for the iPad. I’ll bet it looks stunning on the Retina display!)

Another fabulous app from Emerald Sequoia is Emerald Chronometer. This app comes in both HD (for the iPad) and regular (for the iPhone and iPod touch) versions. I know this app looks great on the Retina display on my iPhone, so I’m sure it looks great on the iPad’s Retina display as well. The images below come from the HD version of the app. But I digress…

If you love wristwatches, Emerald Chronometer is for you. Rather than wearing just one watch, you can have sixteen beautiful watches in your pocket. The watches all have a variety of functions, and a number of them feature front and reverse faces that serve different purposes. The Olympia watch, for example, has a front face that looks similar to high end watches, and a reverse face that features a stop watch. (Click either picture to enlarge.)

If you’re traveling through various time zones, the Terra watch will appeal to you. (Click either picture to embiggenate.)

These are only two of the sixteen different watches, but you get the idea. These are beautiful in design, useful in function, and cheaper than the Rolex or Tag Heuer you’ve been eyeing. The HD version for your iPad is $4.99, while the regular one for your iPhone or iPod touch is $1.99. For a mere $.99, you can buy the single-watch Geneva version for your iPhone or iPod touch, but trust me: go ahead and spend the extra buck to get all of them.

Emerald Sequoia also makes a couple of utilities that may not be gorgeous like Observatory or Chronometer, but definitely have function. If you’ve ever wondered whether the clock in your iPad or iPhone is accurate, Emerald Time will tell you. This app goes out to pull the time from a handful of Internet time servers, averages them, and compares the result to your device’s internal clock. It can’t reset the internal clock for you, but you’ll at least know whether it’s off. (I believe that iPads with the cellular data option can connect to the cellular network—even without a data plan in place—and set the clock accordingly.) Emerald Time is free in the App Store.

Emerald Timestamp is a tool for…well…stamping time. Launch the app, hit the stamp button when a particular event occurs, and fill in the details. Voila, you have a log of events. (Love the Billy Joel reference in this photo, don’t you?) It’s sold for $.99 in the App Store.

As you can see, these are some great apps for anyone who has any interest at all in time, clocks, or related topics. The apps all work well, and I don’t think I’ve ever had one of them crash on me. If I have one complaint, it’s that the guys at Emerald Sequoia don’t put out cool apps like these more often. I can understand their plight, however. Both of them appear to have real day jobs, so coding these apps is more of a hobby for them. It would be nice if they could update their blog more regularly (but I’m hardly one to criticize on that point).

Do you have these apps already? What do you like about them? Leave a comment and let us know.

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