[LEAPSECS] Multi-timezone meetings

Rob Seaman seaman at noao.edu
Wed Jan 25 16:08:36 EST 2012

Ian Batten wrote:

> You've imposed the additional requirement that you can't have a primary timezone, for political reasons.

Requirements are discovered, not imposed.

> That's not an engineering requirement, or at least, it's a constraint more easily solved by sacking people than dreaming up some baroque solution.

What solution, baroque or otherwise, have I discussed? The whole point has been to suggest that the problem space be characterized first.

Tony Finch wrote:

>> Problems don't stay solved. Ubiquitous videoconferencing has changed the nature of meetings.


> Which implies that you think videoconferencing breaks the TZ database or any similar system for tracking timezone rules.

Actually I said:

>> Problems don't stay solved. Ubiquitous videoconferencing has changed the nature of meetings. Each solution has a context.

I was commenting on the process, not on the estimable Olson database. (A database is not itself a system.) Applications and libraries built on top of the database and its API can indeed be used as part of a solution to a problem, e.g.:


The full context of the solution will include methods for updating the DB, maintenance procedures, operational resources and so forth.

In an earlier message I also said:

> Scheduling software does a pretty good job of supporting the range of timezones and DST rules (presumably layered on Olson), except for educating the users who often forget during changeover that Arizona and Hawaii, in particular for our community, don't observe DST.

A typical exchange from my mailbox:

> Subject: Re: Telecon tomorrow

> Date: November 15, 2011 9:57:54 AM MST


> Yes, 10:00 PST - that's what happens when you just cut-and-paste old messages! -- M.


> On Nov 15, 2011, at 8:47 AM, Rob Seaman wrote:


>> I believe you actually mean Pacific Standard Time, not PDT. See you at 18:00 UTC 15 Nov 2011?


>> On Nov 14, 2011, at 12:46 PM, M. wrote:


>>> We will have our regular telecon tomorrow morning at 10:00 PDT...

Which is to say that this email exchange was part of the solution actually implemented.

Like 80-90% of the world Arizona does not observe DST, so the "regular" time for the telecom changed for me by an hour. A local meeting had to be rescheduled as a result. If such a meeting included South American partners it might have changed by two hours as the North went off DST and the South went on. At issue isn't each meeting alone, but the whole set of standing and one-time meetings that have to be revisited at least twice a year.

Sacking people seems like an overly flamboyant reaction and would just throw the group back into Tuckman's Stormin' Normin' stages :-)


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