MR Tech ClockAlign

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Visit our homepage!! Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)- Last update: 09/05/01


  • What is ClockAlign and why do I need it?
  • Having a straightforward utility with which to correct the clock on ones PC to an extremely accurate time source seems to be the main reason for ClockAlign. As such, this program should serve you well no matter what corner of the Internet you reside in.

  • What do I need to run ClockAlign?
    • Windows 95 or NT 4.0 at a minimum, configured for Internet use.
    • A default Web browser associated with .htm files with which to browse ClockAlign's home/help pages..
    • Your Control Panel's Date/Time applet must be set up correctly for your timezone and Daylight Savings Time settings.
  • How do I install/uninstall ClockAlign?
    Simply copy the ClockAlign.exe file into a directory of your choice.

    To remove ClockAlign from your system, just delete the ClockAlign.exe from the directory you placed them in. Optionally, remove the ClockAlign registry key that's documented on the  ClockAlign Home Page.

  • I've installed ClockAlign. What now?
  • Nothing could be simpler! Just run the program by whatever method you prefer such as File Explorer, etc. If you've created a desktop shortcut to ClockAlign, ensure the Working Directory on the shortcut is the same as where all the ClockAlign files reside.

    ClockAlign will then present you with a screen similar to this, except that the bottom status line will be blank. Click the button labeled 'Query Current Timebase' to query the current time from the default timebase which is a machine called tick.usno.navy.mil at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, USA.

    As shown, the timebase will respond with an exact time value. ClockAlign will compare the difference between your local clock and the value returned from the timebase, displaying the difference (or Delta) on the status bar.

    At this point, simply click the second button on the ClockAlign screen labeled 'Correct System Clock' to get a fresh sample and use it to reset your local system clock.

  • When I query the timebase, I get a Delta of thousands of seconds and an error dialogue that looks like this:


 

    This error is common for new users of ClockAlign and indicates that your Win95 or NT timezone settings are not set up correctly. Specifically,
    • By design, ClockAlign performs no timezone calculations, instead relying on the operating system to report the current system clock in GMT adjusted format. This means you must ensure your Control Panel's Date/Time applet accurately reflects both your timezone and your Daylight Savings Time settings. If you haven't done this step at some time in the past, it's likely you're running with Pacific Standard Time as your timezone (Microsoft's Headquarters is in PST).
    *** Important ***
    Make sure you reboot your machine after changing the TimeZone in Control Panel
      There seems to be a bug in NT which occasionally continues to report an unadjusted local time value even after changing the timezone via Control Panel's Date/Time applet. Rebooting helps ensure all bits of NT are aware of the timezone change.
    • Another way timezones can become hosed is with a TZ variable in either your AUTOEXEC.BAT file, or your NT Environment Settings (User or System). If you have a TZ variable, it will look something like this: SET TZ=MST7MDT which, for me here in Calgary means: "Set TimeZone as Mountain Standard Time, 7 hours behind GMT, except during Mountain Daylight Time, when it becomes 6 hours behind". In essence, unless you have a clear need to have this TZ variable, either ensure it is defined accurately or remove it outright. TZ variables always override the Control Panel Date/Time applet settings, by the way.
    • Lastly, the Maximum Delta Warning dialogue could appear simply because your system clock is more than 30 minutes off. Using ClockAlign to correct your clock should permanently remove this message from appearing, although I've seen systems whose clocks are so jive that they lose or gain more than 30 minutes a day regularly.
  • How do I use ClockAlign behind a firewall?
  • ClockAlign uses TCP/IP port 37 (for RFC868 Time Protocol) or port 123 (for RFC2030 Simple Network Time Protocol - SNTP) so have your firewall manager map these ports to your preferred timebase if possible. ClockAlign has successfully operated with WinGate 2.0 in this mode, for example. I'm investigating SOCKS5 support, so drop a line if you need to have this capability.

  • Will ClockAlign work within an Intranet?
  • If your network manager is operating a Time Protocol or NTP time server on a computer within your Intranet, then just define that computer's IP address or DNS name into ClockAlign via the Alternate Timebase menu option. Also, as most large Cisco routers are capable of supplying an NTP chime to their subnets, this may well be an option on your Intranet.

  • Can ClockAlign go into my Startup Folder?
  • To have ClockAlign simply run, correct the clock and exit, just put some text on the command line. Anything at all will do. I have a shortcut in my Startup folder which has, on the Target field, the text:    c:\Program Files\ClockAlign.exe /Run_Once

  • Why don't the Navy timebases (tick & tock) work anymore?
  • Recently, the U.S. Naval Observatory timebases (tick.usno.navy.mil and tock.usno.navy.mil) have stopped supporting the older Time/TCP and Time/UDP protocols. They now only support the much more accurate SNTP protocol. ClockAlign default to tick.usno.navy.mil when first installed, so be sure only SNTP protocol is selected when using tick and/or tock.

    P.S. Check out http://www.eecis.udel.edu/~mills/ntp/servers.html for a current list of NTP Servers, worldwide. It will help keep your use of ClockAlign local to your geography, and therefore more reliable. Remember to use a Stratum 2 (Secondary) timebase whenever possible.