Has anyone hacked the time zone problem with the cloud?

Mar 31, 2015
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world_time_zonesWhew, I made it through another month of March without embarrassingly shirking any business meetings. March is always the most challenging month for me to uphold the standard I set (and expect of others) of arriving on time for meetings.

The difficulty stems from a combination of two primary factors: traveling across time zones, and the onset of daylight savings time in some geographies.

To make matters worse, a few years back the Americans in their infinite wisdom decided to shift the daylight savings threshold date out of kilter with the other ‘developed’ countries in the world that practice this heretical religion. [Note: I’m fundamentally opposed to the concept of daylight savings time. Not only is it unnatural and unhealthy, but why battle Mother Nature?]

time_zone_hackMost, though not all, of my devices and software automatically update for daylight savings time. However, when traveling across time zones, my devices’ behaviors are inconsistent: some automatically adjust to the new time zone (e.g. mobile phones), whereas my laptop and tablet do not adjust.

Regardless, the time zone adjustment sucks, because then my Google calendar shifts all my meeting times. For example, if I schedule an 8am breakfast meeting in San Francisco next week while sitting at my desk in Paris today, once I land at SFO my Android calendar will show my breakfast meeting at 5pm.

The discrepancy here is so flagrant that I can’t help but notice. In contrast, when traveling from say, Paris to London, it’s not hard to be tardy by an hour for every meeting. Fill up a diary with a handful of appointments and a business trip thrown in, and the whole system becomes unwieldy.

I thought I was so clever…

I’ve circumvented this problem by deactivating any automatic time zone adjustments and simply manually set the clock on all my devices when I land in a new time zone. So as far as my laptop is concerned, I’m permanently on Paris/CET time. This hack has worked well for me for years. Even the synchronization with my Palm Desktop calendar used to function just fine via CompanionLink (until CompanionLink became a piece of junk).

Wanted: a time zone hack

However, there is one major flaw to my workaround. Two-factor authentification systems that generate a security token on the device, like those for online trading or banking, do not work. Apparently the algorithm in these secure token generators uses the time zone as an input.

Surely there must be solution to this… is there? If anyone has cracked this nut, I’d love to hear from them!

The world is flat. Communication is instantaneous. Air travel is inexpensive and accessible. Yet we’ll always have our time zones.