I can’t believe how much I love FuzzyClock. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a simple app that puts the current time into natural language. So instead of 2:53 it will say “ten til three.” At first I thought the lack of accuracy could be a problem, but I’ve got lots of meetings and have never been late (just wait until it says “shortly before eleven” and you’ll be on time for it). Here is what it looks like on my current menu bar (also running: audioscrobbler, slimbattery, and instiki).
On the surface, it simply saves you a half-second of converting the numbers 3:41 into “about twenty to four” in your head, but in practice it removes a small mental tax you put yourself through dozens-to-over-a-hundred times per day. After months of running this app in place of the standard clock (I disabled it in my OS prefs and run fuzzyclock on startup), I feel liberated in a small way. I’ve spent my life surrounded by clocks and never realized how much easier it is to read “half past twelve” than reading numbers.
Last week, I noticed Flickr does timestamps on comments this way, which is a great idea and something I should really do at metafilter. Someone’s already written a function for it in PHP, I’m sure it’ll be a MT plugin soon, if it isn’t already.