Frequently Asked Questions

Known Problems


 

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Where can I find more Microsoft® Agent characters?

Microsoft® supplies four characters (Merlin the wizard, Genie, Peedy the parrot, and Robbie the robot).  You can download them from the Microsoft® Agent web site.

There are a number of web sites that provide free Agent characters.  The Microsoft® Agent Web Ring is a good place to start.  It provides a list of free characters for download and many links to other Agent sites.


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My alarms show up correctly, but they don't speak.  What's wrong?

The "talking" part of Talking Alarm Clock is a feature of Microsoft® Agent.  You need to do two things to ensure that it works:

  1. Verify that a Microsoft® Agent speech engine is installed.
    • You can download and install a speech engine from the Microsoft® Agent web site.  If you're using Windows® XP, you should also download and install the SAPI 4.0 runtime support from the same site.
  2. Verify that audible speech is enabled.
    • In the alarm clock, choose Microsoft® Agent Status from the View menu.
    • On the status window, choose Set the character options... and you will see MS Agent's Advanced Character Options window.
    • Make sure that Play spoken audio is checked.
  3. If you are using a non-English version of Windows®, you might be out of luck.  The speech engine installed for Microsoft® Agent must have the same language as the agent character.  You can verify the character's language as follows:
    • Run the Alarm Clock Support program from the Start menu.
    • Open the Diagnostics window from the View menu.
    • Activate the Microsoft® Agent diagnostics page.
    • Expand the character in the character list.
    • If the character's language is not the same as the installed speech engine, then the character will not speak.

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How do I uninstall the Alarm Clock?

Open Add or Remove Programs in the Control Panel and find the entry for Talking Alarm Clock.  Use the Remove option to uninstall it.

With version 1.5 or later, if for some reason you can't find Talking Alarm Clock in Add or Remove Programs , you should find a copy of the installation package in the Setup folder where Talking Alarm Clock was installed (for example, Program Files\Alarm Clock\Setup\AlarmClock.msi).  Just open the installation package and use the Remove option.


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I'm trying to uninstall an older version of Alarm Clock and the installer can't find the original installation package.  What do I do?

A strange "feature" of the Windows® Installer is that it requires the original installation package during an uninstall.

  • You can download the Alarm Clock 1.1 installation from here.  Download it to wherever the Windows® Installer is trying to find it (and rename it from AlarmClock1104 to AlarmClock).
  • You can download the Alarm Clock 1.2 installation from here.  Download it to wherever the Windows® Installer is trying to find it (and rename it from AlarmClock12 to AlarmClock).
  • You can download the Alarm Clock 1.3 installation from here.  Download it to wherever the Windows® Installer is trying to find it (and rename it from AlarmClock13 to AlarmClock).
  • You can download the Alarm Clock 1.4 installation from here.  Download it to wherever the Windows® Installer is trying to find it (and rename it from AlarmClock14 to AlarmClock).

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I'm trying to install the Alarm Clock, but when the installer get to "Starting Services" it fails.

On Windows® 2000, Windows® XP, Windows® Vista, Windows® 7, Windows® 8, and Windows® 10, Talking Alarm Clock uses a service to monitor the currently logged on user.  This is required for alarms that are shown to "Whoever is logged on".

  1. The Alarm User Monitor service depends on Windows®' Secondary Logon service.
    • Check your services to ensure that Secondary Logon is enabled.
  2. You may not be authorized to install a service on your computer.
    • During the installation, choose Custom installation instead of Complete installation.
    • Do not install the Alarm User Monitor.
    • You won't be able to set alarms for "Whoever is logged on", but everything else will work.

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I'm replacing my computer.  How to I transfer my alarms to the new machine?

  1. On the old machine:
    • open the alarm clock
    • in the View menu, turn off the Only alarms I added and Only alarms for me options to ensure that every alarm will be visible
    • choose Backup and Restore from the File menu
    • backup all of your alarms to a location that can be accessed on the new machine (for example a removable disk, memory card, or network location)
  2. On the new machine:
    • install Talking Alarm Clock
    • open the alarm clock
    • choose Backup and Restore from the File menu
    • restore all of the alarms you backed up from the old machine

Once you've transferred all of the alarms, you need to ensure that they're assigned to the appropriate user.  If your new computer has different user names than the old one, you'll need to open each alarm in turn and verify Show the alarm to user on the Options page.


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I want to use Talking Alarm Clock to remind me of eBay auctions.  What are the recommended settings?

Normally, Talking Alarm Clock is set up to ensure that you never miss an alarm. However, if you miss an eBay auction reminder you probably don't want to see it later.  This is how to reconfigure Talking Alarm Clock:

  1. Run the Alarm Clock Support program from the Start menu.
  2. Open the Settings window from the View menu.
  3. On the Alarm Defaults page:
    • Turn off "If the alarm is missed, show it at logon (or standby resume)"
    • Turn off "Wake the computer to show the alarm"
    • Turn on "Delete the alarm after its last ring"
  4. On the Advanced Options page:
    • Turn on "If an alarm is set to be deleted after its last ring, and its last ring is missed, delete it anyway"

Now, when you add an alarm, it will be set to ring only if you're logged on and your computer isn't on standby. If it's missed, it will simply be deleted and won't clutter up the alarm clock.


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Can I make an alarm with the date and time of an event, and have it shown before the event?

Talking Alarm Clock version 1.5 includes a new "Say When" feature just for this purpose.  For example, to remind you of a birthday, use a "Say When" schedule for the actual date...

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and a ring schedule to remind you of the date.

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Known Problems

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The Alarm Clock icon in the system tray has disappeared and I can't get it back.

On Windows® Vista and Windows® 7, if the Windows® desktop process is run "As Administrator" the tray icon cannot be shown.  This is intentional, for security purposes.  The desktop process should not be run with elevated privileges, but it can happen.

The same applies on all Windows® versions if the desktop process is run under the "SYSTEM" user account.  This is also never supposed to occur, but it is possible.

 

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When I add an alarm, I get this error:  "The data area passed to a system call is too small".

This is a known problem with Windows® 2000 and Windows® XP when the Task Scheduler is being heavily used.  Please refer to Microsoft® Knowledge Base Article 264522.

 

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When I add an alarm, I get this error:  "Unable to establish existence of the account specified".

This is a known problem with Windows® XP after a user name is changed.  Please refer to Microsoft® Knowledge Base Article 303014.

 

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I've installed Spy Sweeper and my alarms now disappear as soon as I create them.

  • Symptom
    Any alarms created in Talking Alarm Clock gets deleted immediately by Spy Sweeper 5.2.  Spy Sweeper shows an alert saying that the alarm is an invalid Spy Sweeper schedule.
  • Problem
    Spy Sweeper version 5.2 appears to think that the alarm tasks created by Talking Alarm Clock are actually its own scheduled scans.
  • Solution
    Spy Sweeper version 5.2 is incompatible with Talking Alarm Clock.  Install Spy Sweeper 5.3.2 or later.