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WTIME.EXE (Version 1.0)

Copyright (c) 1992 John Deurbrouck

First Published in PC Magazine October 27, 1992 (Utilities)


WTIME uses your modem to synchronize the clock in your PC with that of the Automatic Computer Time Service (ACTS), which is maintained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This program can be run under Windows 3.x or OS/2's Windows implementation. With a click of the mouse, a call taking less than 1 minute will ensure that your date/time stamp is accurate. If you wish, you can even have WTIME make the call automatically each time you bring up Windows.

To recompile the C source code, you'll need Microsoft Quick C for Windows, Version 1.0; Microsoft C++, Version, 7.0; Borland C++, Version 3.0; or Borland's Turbo C++ for Windows, Version 1.0.


In order to install WTIME, you will need to copy two files--WTIME.EXE and WTIME.HLP--into a directory where Windows can find them. You can run WTIME with Windows' File Run command in the Program Manager, or you can add WTIME to a Program Manager group by using File New. Note that if you later decide that you want to run the program every time you load Windows, you simply need to change the WTIME on the command line to WTIME automatic.

When started, WTIME displays a conventional window with three submenus: File, Modem, and Help. The first time you use the program you must begin by selecting Modem Setup, which allows you to configure WTIME. (The Modem Call and Modem Hangup options are initially grayed out.) I'll discuss the configuration process below, but since it takes longer to describe than to do, let me start with how WTIME works once your modem is ready to use it.

Setting the time could hardly be simpler: When you select Modem Call, WTIME does the rest. If you have an external modem, you can monitor the program's progress by watching your modem's lights. In any case, you'll see the succession of messages that WTIME puts up in its window (``sending escape sequence,'' ``looking for data,'' and so on). And if you keep Windows' CLOCK visible at the same time, you'll shortly see it jump to the correct time at the instant WTIME sets it. WTIME will then automatically send an escape sequence in order to terminate the call.

While a call is in progress, you can cancel it at any time by selecting Modem Hang Up. Selecting File Exit (the only option under the File menu heading) or double-clicking the system menu will shut down the program; if a call is in progress, WTIME will not exit until the modem is properly reset.

When using WTIME, you may notice one minor bug in Windows 3.1's CLOCK. If the digital clock display is active and the time shifts from an hour that has two digits (for example, 10:02) to one with one digit (such as 9:59), CLOCK does not always erase the leading digit. Thus, in this case, the display may end up reading 19:59! Just resize the window slightly to force a redraw and the superfluous digit will disappear.


The Modem Setup dialog box, lets you configure WTIME for your time zone, daylight saving time preference, dial string, and COM port.

WTIME's time zone setting, including (when applicable) an X in the Daylight Savings Time box, reflects the difference between your local time and the Greenwich mean time (GMT), which the ACTS reports. The menu choices--eastern, central, mountain, and Pacific--cover most readers' locales. Saving your choice changes the TimeOffset entry in the [WTime] section that WTIME creates in your WIN.INI file. The TimeOffset entry simply expresses the number of minutes by which your time zone differs from that of the GMT.

If you don't live in one of the preprogrammed time zones, you can still use WTIME by changing the TimeOffset number in WIN.INI with a text editor. Newfoundland, for example, is 90 minutes in advance of eastern time. Since the EST TimeOffset is -300, setting TimeOffset to -210 configures WTIME for Newfoundland. Similarly, Alaska's TimeOffset is -540 (60 minutes behind Pacific time's ÿ2D480), and Hawaii's is -660 (3 hours, or 180 minutes, behind Pacific time). With manual editing you can also intentionally set your clock a bit slow or fast. The central time zone's normal TimeOffset, for example, is -360. If you wanted to set the clock on your PC to run 5 minutes fast, all you would have to do is set TimeOffset to -355.

Valid values for TimeOffset range from -1439 (23 hours 59 minutes before the GMT) to 1439 (23 hours 59 minutes after the GMT). Since several states and locations outside the United States do not observe daylight saving time, the WTIME utility provides a Use Daylight Savings Time check box.

The Modem Dial String control allows you to change the string your modem uses to dial the ACTS. WTIME allows a dial string of up to 79 characters.

The default string


should work for most Hayes-compatible modems when you don't need to go through a PBX. The AT signals the modem that a command is about to follow. The DT specifies Touch-tone dialing, and 13034944774 is the phone number of the atomic clock you want to reach (303-494-4774). You can insert the hyphens in the actual dial string if you wish; the modem will ignore them. You can change the dial string. For older, pulse-dialing systems, you'll need to change the DT to DP, for example. To dial 9 and pause for 2 seconds before actually dialing the phone number, change the dial string to


You might also want to add an M (for Mute) before the DT, to produce silent operation. Thus your dial string might look like this:


One beta-tester even charged WTIME calls to his credit card. This involved several long sequences of digits separated by series of commas. If you do this, however, don't forget that anyone looking at your WIN.INI will see your phone credit card number!

The strings shown above will work for most modems. You may need to check your modem's manual for the proper dialing sequence if the default and modified strings don't work for you.

The last item you need to configure is the COM port. You may choose COM1, COM2, COM3, or COM4 as the port to which your modem is attached. The modem itself must be capable of operating at 1,200 bits per second (the fastest speed the ACTS currently supports), and Windows must be configured correctly to handle the port. If the TERMINAL program that comes with Windows works on your system, WTIME should handle your modem without a problem.

At any time, you can choose Reset Defaults, Save Configuration, or Cancel. Reset Defaults restores the original modem dial string, sets the time zone to Eastern, turns on the Daylight Savings Time option, and sets the COM port to COM1. Save Configuration writes your selected values to WIN.INI, and Cancel closes the Setup Modem dialog box without affecting your existing setup. You can uninstall WTIME by using NOTEPAD or SYSEDIT to delete the [WTime] section from WIN.INI. Then you just delete WTIME.EXE and WTIME.HLP. You'll also want to delete WTIME's icon in the Program Manager if you've set it up there. This process has been documented in WTIME's on-line help, and it cleanly eliminates WTIME from your system.

- John Deurbrouck is a C and 80x86 assembly programmer who works on PC platforms.


/ Time Software