Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tech is Driving Me Crazy

Man, if I end up where I'm supposed to be when I'm supposed to be there, it'll be a freakin' miracle.

When I last travelled, I discovered something kind of annoying about Google Calendars -- it wants to be really helpful in a not very good way.  Basically, it adjusts for time zone changes based on where you happen to be.

This is all kinds of stupid.  If I'm going to be in England, and I'm seeing a play at 7:00, I'd like to just put the damn thing in my calendar for 7:00 on the day I'm going to be there.  I'll know I'm on GMT when I'm there, so no real adjustments are necessary.

I didn't realize how helpful Google calendar was, though.  So, I'd put the play in there for 7:00 and by the time I was in England, the Google calendar app on my phone figured, "hey, she put this in there for 7:00 when she was in L.A., so that was 7:00 Pacific Time -- since she's in England now, we've got to shift it 8 hours.  7:00 p.m. Pacific Time is 3:00 a.m. the next morning GMT, so I'll tell her that's when the play is."  Imagine my surprise when I show up in England and have to mentally kick everything back 8 hours to the time I originally set it.

So, this time, I decided to outsmart it.  I discovered that there's a little time zone button I can use when setting events.  So, when I'm typing in my plays for England, I tell Google Calendar that they start at 7:00 p.m. GMT.  They now show up in my calender at 11:00 a.m. -- because I'm in the Pacific zone now -- so I'm pretty darned sure the event will self-correct to 7:00 p.m. when I'm actually in GMT.

Here's the problem:  Daylight Savings kicks in when I'm in England.  Well, no.  American daylight savings kicks in when I'm in England; British Daylight Savings won't kick in for another couple of weeks.  Things seem ok for events happening before this switch occurs, but after ...  what Google Calendar is doing is sorta making my brain explode.

I'm seeing a play at 7:00 p.m. British time post-American switch to GMT.  Like a good little girl, I type that in at 7:00 p.m. GMT.  And it pops up on my screen as noon Pacific.  I open up the event details, and the event details say I have set it for 8:00 GMT.  I edit event details and say, "No, I said 7:00 GMT."  It accepts the change, but when I open the event, it comes up as 8:00 GMT again.

Now, in Google Calendar's convoluted brain, this may be correct.  Because on that day, Pacific Time and GMT will only be 7 hours apart, rather than 8.  So my calendar puts it at noon Pacific, and I guess I just have to hope that when its little brain hits the DST changeover, it'll take care of this.

(It's weird because the DST changeover is automatic for everything in the U.S.  If I'm doing something in California at 4:00 in a couple weeks, it correctly keeps it at 4:00.  It doesn't think, "oh, 4:00 then is 3:00 now, so I should put it at 3:00."  It only makes this adjustment when events are in time zones without DST.)

So, basically, to get it to tell me that I'm seeing something at 7:00 in England, I have to tell it I'm seeing it at 7:00 -- it "corrects" it to 8:00, and I have to hope it will adjust it back.

Theoretically, this should work.  But I have such little faith in its ability to handle this correctly, I'm printing everything out so I'll have actual hard copy evidence of the times in question.

Really.  This would have been so much easier if I could just type in "7:00 dammit, I'll know where I am."

1 comment:

Wil said...

I think we have a winner, folks. Forward this blog entry to Google's developers. It really wouldn't be hard to set an "absolute local time" as a set-up option. They should be made aware of this as many of their customers are international travelers.