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PGTS High and Mighty Blog

Thread: General/Opinion

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Open the pod bay doors, please HAL

Timezone chaos in Australasia.


Chronogical Blog Entries:



Date: Mon, 30 Mar 2008 19:04:16 +1100

While away in NZ, I noticed that daylight savings had been scheduled for the first week in April, rather than the last week in March. I wondered whether this would cause problems with my arrival time back in Melbourne, because it was on the last Sunday in March.

I was pleased to discover that the airline seemed to have the times ok. Well one, would expect an airline to get it right.

The timezone would take effect on the 1st of April for eastern Australia. Apparently it is being done to synchronise timezones on the Eastern seaboard.

But not all of eastern Australia. Queensland are sticking to the old convention. Also the Northern Territory will be keeping the old convention. Thus putting them out of sync with South Australia, with which it shares the same timezone.

Many journalists based in the southern states of Australia, have reported this in a rather disparaging tone, often accusing these states (QLD and NT) of "refusing" to comply with the new standards or of being "out of step". As some one who has lived in northern and southern latitudes, I can assure these ill-informed journalists that latitude is just as important as longitude when it comes to timezones.

And it seems that the change has caused many problems with computers in Australia and New Zealand.

The problems arose because of the various computer systems that people use. Computer systems had to have their internal tables updated to allow for the new changes. And if they were a Microsoft shop, they most likely had a separate server for each service, and worse still some applications actually need to be restarted before the updates to the clock take effect. Then there are the many mobile devices (increasingly becoming important). Of course it was a mess. Many hospitals in Victoria, incorrectly recorded times for their staff. Many business had problems with their Microsoft LANs, Exchange servers and workstations. The problem seems to be extensive in Australia. Less so in NZ because they have only one timezone.

The one consolation is that having gone through this chaos once, the next time it occurs should be a lot smoother ... Provided, of course, that the states don't change the timezone conventions yet again.

Ubuntu seems to have coped with the change. Also my Mac workstation seems to have got it right, I am not entirely sure if this is due to Apple's good management or to the fact that I run ntpdate every 4th day in the /etc/rc.local script. For the time being I will give Apple the benefit of the doubt. On a Unix system you can verify this with these two commands:

	date
	date -u

Alternatively you can use the single command:

	date +%H:%M:%z

If you are running Ubuntu, you will be happy to know that it is just another reason, why you have so few problems with managing software and software updates.


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Copyright     2008, Gerry Patterson. All Rights Reserved.