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The Computer Corner

The Computer Corner

By Charles Miller

A lot of expatriates living in Mexico are baffled by the way in which Mexicans regard time. Mañana can mean tomorrow, or it could mean another day much later than tomorrow. Equally perplexing is the misconception some people having that Mexicans are unpunctual, but do not let that fool you into thinking they are not aware of time. If anything, Mexicans are much better than gringos when it comes to being cognizant of the passing of time. Just try saying buenos dias 30 seconds after 12 noon and you will often get a smile and a polite reply “buenas tardes.”

Computers can be equally inscrutable when it comes to time. It is truly incredible the number of things that go wrong or stop working when the date and time on your computer are set incorrectly. This is something my friend Joan learned after an electrical outage caused her computer’s clock to go awry.

When a computer or any other device is connected to the internet, this connection is not forever. Your router issues permission for your device to connect in the form of a “DHCP Lease,” which is good for a certain period of time that might be an hour or a day, or longer up to several days. If the clock in the computer is set to the wrong date this can result in your computer trying to use a “DHCP Lease” that is already expired, and this results in no internet connection.

If you do manage to get on the internet anyway your problems still may not be over. Most email providers are setup to reject emails for which the date is wrong. Sometimes you will receive a warning message, but sometimes the email you thought you sent just goes off into cyberspace to never be seen again by anyone.

The problem is more obvious when connecting to secure web sites. If your computer’s clock is wrong by several years it is likely you will be unable to connect to a secure site and will receive an error message to the effect that there is a problem with a Security Certificate being invalid or out of date.

A lot of security-aware web sites such as banking and financial sites are even touchier to not only the date but the time. If your computer clock is off by a few hours it could make it appear as if you are in the time zone of Nigeria or Ukraine. And guess what, if you appear to be connecting from a time zone other than the one you live in, some banks will be suspicious of that and might not let you into your account until your phone the bank to prove to its satisfaction that you are not an imposter.

For the most part, these clock problems are rare because today almost all internet-connected devices automatically synchronize their clocks with the internet. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a problem if your computer or other device is unable to do this automatically because it cannot connect to the internet, and it cannot connect to the internet because its clock is wrong.

 

Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.

 

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