Millennium Clock Dashboard Widget

When the turn of last century arrived, I was very concerned by the manner in which the media were using—or should I say, misusing—the event to increase sales. The airwaves were replete with ads referencing the “new millennium.” As with most Madison Avenue initiatives, the assault seemed never-ending.

The problem was, they were off by one year. All of the aforementioned ads were preparing us for the beginning of the year 2000, which was not the new millennium. Millennia begin on the first day of the “01” year; in other words, our current millennium began on January 1, 2001. (If you’d like more information on why this is the case, see the Appendix, below.)

At the time, I had created a web page explaining the misinformation and included a little JavaScript countdown clock to the actual turn of the millennium. After the event, the clock became useless and was removed. Eventually, the page was also taken down.

Thanks to Apple, Inc. and their new little software gem—”Dashcode”—the millennium countdown clock lives on in a new and improved form: the Millennium Clock Dashboard Widget. This is my preemptive move against future misuse of the millennium shift by unscrupulous hucksters hoping to make some quick cash in a dishonest manner: the fine little device keeps precise count of how much longer we have until 12:00 AM on January 1, 3001. Yes, it really works; I am running it within Dashboard right now.

The Millennium Clock Dashboard Widget is released as shareware. If your descendants find it useful, have them send my descendants $10. Thank you.

Downloading and Installing

Click one of the links below to download the clock. Installation is a breeze; Apple says so:

“Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger is required. If you’re using Safari, click the download link. When the widget download is complete, show Dashboard, click the Plus sign to display the Widget Bar and click the widget’s icon in the Widget Bar to open it. If you’re using a browser other than Safari, click the download link. When the widget download is complete, unarchive it and place it in /Library/Widgets/ in your home folder. Show Dashboard, click the Plus sign to display the Widget Bar and click the widget’s icon in the Widget Bar to open it.”

Personally, I think it’s a lot easier to just double-click the downloaded Widget and let Mac OS X install it for you automagically, but that’s just me.

Download the clock as a .zip file or a .dmg file.


Misunderstanding the manner in which centuries, millennia, and other long time spans are named is common. The trick comes in the subtle differences between measurement and counting.

Measurement begins with zero and is (typically) used when determining and describing volume or the distance along a continuum. For example:

Counting begins with the number one and is (typically) used when determining and describing a discrete and known set of objects. For example:

This only gets tricky because we can both measure and count units of time—e.g., seconds, hours, weeks, millennia.

When we are discussing our own age, for instance, we use measurement, because we are describing our position along the life-cycle continuum that begins with birth and ends with death. When one says, “I am eighteen years old,” she is stating that at least 18 years of time have passed since her birth. She is not counting. If she were, it would be her nineteenth year, because year one was the year that passed between birth and the first anniversary of her birth. We don’t usually refer to infants using years for this very reason. It would seem strange to hear someone say, “This is my son’s first year alive.”

However, at other times, we are counting the standard units of time as they pass. For example, imagine you have been working at a new job for three months. When you bump into an acquaintance you’ve not seen in some time and tell her that you’ve discovered a new career, she excitedly asks, “How many years have you been doing that?” Your response would never be, “This is my zeroeth year on the job.” Instead, your response would be, “This is my first year on the job.” True, you have not yet worked there for an entire year—not even close—but in this example, we are counting years, not measuring time.

When we are discussing spans of times like centuries and millennia, we count because we are referring to a discrete and known set of years. A century contains exactly one hundred years. When we label these, we use a counting vocabulary: “This is the first year, or year number one. […] This is the hundredth year, or final year of the century.” We would never use the number zero alone, because we are counting. As a result, the first year of our modern dating system was 1 AD, not 0 AD.

When viewed this way, it’s easy to see that the last year of the first century was 100 AD. Because millennia are counted in precisely the same way, it should now be clear that the last year of the first millennia was 1000 AD. Likewise, the final year of the second millennia was 2000 AD, not 1999. The current millennium—the third millennium—will end on December 31, 3000. The fourth millennium will begin the next day.

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J.I'm an educator, technophile, artistic adventurer, and jack of all trades living and working in the heart of America. A brief biography is available for those interested. Please explore the site, or track me down elsewhere: