Monday, February 28, 2005

On Considering the Future as Present

I have spent (=wasted) rather a lot of time since getting my Treo on trying to find a replacement for the T|E (and T3, T5, Z72) 'Agenda View'. One of the nice features of the Agenda View was that it keeps track of not only which day it is, but also of what time it is, so it displays a sun or a moon as appropriate to day or night, and by the end of the day it cheerily displays 'No appointments today'.

What the Agenda View does not do is allow you to look into the future, it does not allow you to look at the appointments and tasks of some future date. All the third-party versions do allow this (but what they gain here they lose in the inability to adapt dynamically how far into the future they show). And here I discovered an interesting phenomenon. I always set these apps to displayed overdue to-dos, since I want to catch up today on what I did not manage yesterday. So what happens when we look into the future? Suppose I have a task due today and I look (a very long way ;-) into the future at my 40th birthday. Does the task show up on that day as massively overdue or not? Compare these two views, from DateBk5 and 2Day respectively:

It seems that when considering a future date, 2Day weirdly considers it as if it were the present, so today's tasks are 802 days overdue! [But not consistently: that '8:54 hours' indicates how long until my next appointment today.] Whereas DateBk5 treats the future as future. And surely, when planning one's life, one needs to think of future times as lying ahead, as times by which certain things need to be achieved, not as if one had already reached that time. But then again, 2Day allows me to use the Mac OS X Aqua background Showing no appointments this time):