Some morbid ColdFusion Birthday fun

So, many, many, many years ago I built a little web app called the Death Clock. I wrote it in Perl (which is what I began my web dev career in) and dropped it on my free university web space and promptly got kicked off in a week when it “spiked” at about 1000 hits per day. (This was back when web counters were big. I can’t describe the excitement I got from reloading my page and seeing the little graphical counter - also a Perl script - incrementing by 5-10 hits.) I rewrote the code in pure JavaScript and then - a few years later - rewrote the site in ColdFusion. I sold that web site close to 6 or 7 years ago, but the code behind it is simple - and fun - so I thought I’d share a quick example today.

First off - some background. The idea behind the Death Clock was simple. Based on your birthday, and your gender, you can make a rough guess (and trust me, a lot of people simply didn't get that it was for fun) at when you would die. That by itself isn't that interesting. But I used a bit of code to convert into seconds and then count down from there. Here is a quick example of what I mean.

<cfset bday = createDate(1973,4,8)> <cfset lifeSpan = 72> <cfset deathDay = dateAdd("yyyy",lifeSpan,bday)> <cfoutput> Your day of death is #dateFormat(deathDay, "full")#. <p/> </cfoutput> <cfset timeLeft = dateDiff("s",now(),deathDay)> <cfoutput> You have #numberFormat(timeLeft)# seconds left to live. </cfoutput>

So given a birthday of - today (yep, that's me :) and a lifespan of 72 years (for men, and that's probably not accurate now), we can calculate a "death day" by simply using date add. For me that is Saturday, April 8, 2045, which means I'll be able to get a full week of work in at least before I kick the bucket.

The next part simply calculates the difference in time - by seconds - between now and then. What's interesting is that back when I first wrote the Death Clock in ColdFusion, the dateDiff function had a small integer maximum. I kept getting the wrong results until I realized it was actually "flipping" over. I switched to getting days and then just multiplied out.

Of course, I couldn't just leave it at that without adding a bit of jQuery. In this example I've put up two examples, and added some jQuery to grab the values and decrement them. The addCommas function is courtesy of this blog entry.

<script type="text/javascript" src="http://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/1/jquery.min.js"></script> <script> $(document).ready(function() { var foundDoms = $(".numberCounter") if(foundDoms.length > 0) setInterval("updateNumbers()", 1000) }) function updateNumbers() { $(".numberCounter").each(function() { var currentVal = $(this).text() //remove commas from the # currentVal = currentVal.replace(/,/g,"") if(currentVal > 0) currentVal-- currentVal = addCommas(currentVal) $(this).text(currentVal) }) } function addCommas(nStr) { nStr += ''; x = nStr.split('.'); x1 = x[0]; x2 = x.length > 1 ? '.' + x[1] : ''; var rgx = /(\d+)(\d{3})/; while (rgx.test(x1)) { x1 = x1.replace(rgx, '$1' + ',' + '$2'); } return x1 + x2; } </script> <cfset bday = createDate(1973,4,8)> <cfset lifeSpan = 72> <cfset deathDay = dateAdd("yyyy",lifeSpan,bday)> <cfoutput> Your day of death is #dateFormat(deathDay, "full")#. <p/> </cfoutput> <cfset timeLeft = dateDiff("s",now(),deathDay)> <cfoutput> You have <span class="numberCounter">#numberFormat(timeLeft)#</span> seconds left to live. </cfoutput> <hr/> <cfset bday = createDate(2010,4,8)> <cfset lifeSpan = 72> <cfset deathDay = dateAdd("yyyy",lifeSpan,bday)> <cfoutput> Your day of death is #dateFormat(deathDay, "full")#. <p/> </cfoutput> <cfset timeLeft = dateDiff("s",now(),deathDay)> <cfoutput> You have <span class="numberCounter">#numberFormat(timeLeft)#</span> seconds left to live. </cfoutput>

Completely pointless, I know, but if you want to try it yourself, visit here:

http://www.coldfusionjedi.com/demos/apr82010/test4b.cfm?date=4/8/1973 Tweak the URL to enter your own date (and I spent 2 seconds adding validation so I'm sure it can break pretty easily) and sit back. Time is fleeting. ;)

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About Raymond Camden

Raymond is a developer advocate looking for his next gig. He focuses on JavaScript, serverless and enterprise cat demos. If you like this article, please consider visiting my Amazon Wishlist or donating via PayPal to show your support.

Lafayette, LA https://www.raymondcamden.com

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