Lab Notes: WorldBench Clock Problem? Not Any More

Edtior's Note: Lab Notes is a weekly GeekTech feature written by Patrick Waters, a member of the PCWorld Labs crew, where he'll take you through some of the goings-on from the Lab, and some of the weird glitches they encounter. Do you have any questions for Patrick? Leave a comment!

This week, I sat down and reminisced with our in-house developer James Motch about his brainchild WorldBench 6, and an error that gave us a headache for 3 solid weeks.

We had received an Acer desktop on January 29th of this year, and our usual preparation methods went off without a hitch. After installing and starting WorldBench, the first sets of tests ran smoothly for a short while, but were halted by an unusual--and rare--error.

“The date 2/14/10 is invalid, and WorldBench cannot continue”

February 14th? It was February 1st when we ran into this error, and I was not in love with the situation. We began troubleshooting by changing the date through Windows and the BIOS, but neither fixed the problem. After throwing away 2 hours on the machine, I asked our developer James what he thought. The look plastered across his face was of astounding bewilderment, and remained that way for about half an hour.

After determining that this error had no effect on the testing results--and that this was the first time this error had occurred--we then spent two and half weeks trying figure out what was happening and why. We restored the computer’s factory settings thrice, we crawled through the WorldBench setup process several times and then we took turns brooding and trawling the internet for an answer. Three weeks later, James found the solution.

James had discovered two other PC users--one from New Zealand and one from the UK--each who had come across the same error, but in different programs. It would seem that we all forgot that not all English-speaking nations read the time and date the same. These two users had installed programs that used the default American time/date formatting (MM/DD/YYYY), and their Windows installation (which was geographically localized) failed to understand that, for example, 3/2/2010 equaled March 2nd (US standard), and not February 3rd (UK standard) .

Seems simple right? Just change the date/time format in the Windows clock and run WorldBench, right?

Nope.

James discovered that, in order for WorldBench to properly register the time and date from Windows, he needed to change the regional setting to literally any other locale, click Apply, then OK to dismiss the Windows Date and Time control panel, open it up again and then finally set it to the American formatting.

We think that this whole procedure completely flushed the registry strings that store the settings regarding how Windows sees the time/date format; without selecting another locale and applying/ok'ing it first, Windows will hang onto the registry strings and WorldBench will pick up on those.

After sending the news of this fix to New Zealand and the UK, we subsequently received no news on their behalf. James swears by the adage of “no news is good news” and he is pleased with his findings. Coincidently, a laptop passed through with the same error, and the same fix corrected it, no problem. -P

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