What’s wrong with this picture? A tale of timezones, daylight savings time transitions and alarm clocks.

I need to give you some background. The first thing that you need to know is that I use my Windows Mobile device (i-mate JasJar) to wake me up each morning. I have three alarms set to ensure that I get out of bed and make it to the bus stop. The alarms go off at 6:00am, 6:15am and 6:25am – sometimes I change the times depending on what I have planned for the day but these times had been locked in for pretty much a week.

The second thing you need to know is that I recently returned from Seattle which was going through a daylight savings time transition and I had to do all manner of things to stop my phone from telling me it was an hour earlier or later (can’t remember which).

Today started out like any other, I was woken by the alarm built into my JasJar. I remember feeling a little bit more tired than normal so I hit the dismiss button and waited for the next alarm to come along in fifteen minutes.

When the alarm rang again I managed to pull myself out of bed (still feeling a little bit dazed), have a quick shower and stumble into some work clobber. Next thing I knew I was out the front door taking the ten minute walk to the bus stop.

I noted with some interest that it was a little darker than usual (lately it has been darker than usual anyway) in that I could still see some of the night stars in the sky. Not thinking clearly I figured this must be the effect of the daylight savings transition that the east coast of Australia just went through on Saturday evening.

Eventually I get to the bus stop and I sit down and wait patiently. It was then that I observed a few more things:

  • The birds in the tree thirty feet away were silent, they are normally making all kinds of racket (I don’t believe the people in the house next to the tree actually get a chance to sleep in).
  • The usual stream of early morning walkers weren’t walking past.
  • I couldn’t see the beginnings of a sunrise coming up from the east behind me.
  • There was still quite a bit of frost in the air landing on the face, and I was really REALLY cold.

At this point I pulled out my JasJar and looked at the clock. It read 6:45am – then in a flash it set back to 5:45am – WTF!!! I decided that since I had some time (it was now 5:38am and my bus doesn’t arrive until 6:47am) I would walk back home and grab a jumper and vest then walk back and brave the cold.

I got back home and noted that the microwave actually said it was 5:00am. Being a dumb microwave processor I figured it wouldn’t account for daylight savings time – although Nic may have changed the time yesterday.

Not wanting to miss the bus I grabbed the jumper and best and walked back to the bus stop, feeling significantly warmer. By the time I got back it was only a short wait until my bus *should* have arrived – it didn’t.

Thats OK I thought – the bus driver probably is having the same kind of alarm problems I am and is probably running late. It got around to 7:10, no bus, 7:30 still no bus! It was at this point I was borderline furious at ACTION buses that THREE buses would miss their schedule.

Of course – being a programming I have a tendency to apply logic to most situations and I started to wonder whether three buses were late (three seperate but identical stuff ups) or whether, it was more likely that I was the one that had stuffed up. I called home for the time check.

The time is 6:47am. Urgggh! My alarm hadn’t woken me u at 5:00am, it had woken me up at 4:00am!!!

So, let’s recap my morning timeline (real time this time):

  • 4:00am: Alarm goes off.
  • 4:12am: Alarm goes off and I wake up this time.
  • 4:30am: Out the door walking to the bus stop.
  • 4:45am: I realise something is wrong.
  • 5:00am: Back home grabbing some warmer clothes.
  • 5:30am: Back at the bus stop waiting for the bus.
  • 6:30am: Really up set that the “6:47am” bus isn’t here yet.
  • 6:47am: Realised the stuff up, boarding the bus giving the bus driver a smile and seeing the usual suspects on the bus.

I’m pretty much over timezones, daylight savings time and the whole timezone conversion problem that goes with it. I am convinced that I have stumbled across a glitch in the software somewhere that only happens once a year to some poor sap (and this year it was me).


16 thoughts on “What’s wrong with this picture? A tale of timezones, daylight savings time transitions and alarm clocks.

  1. Andrew Parsons

    Well Mitch, I rolled over in bed to see if I had some time to sleep in and saw the dreaded flashing 12:00.

    So instead of sleeping in on my official day off, I was up at 7am, resetting power to the house, getting the computers back up and making sure all is well (which apparently it isn’t on one of my drives which has my main machine spinning through a mega disk check).

    So now I’m done (except for that drive). Do I go back to bed for a few hours or do I just stay up? *sigh*

  2. Justin King

    ๐Ÿ™‚ I was going to suggest the same thing, wristwatch.

    But the other suggestion would be car or motorbike and lose the bus altogether, there has to be some sort of parking in Canberra right?

  3. Blair

    I was thinking that it was good to have a transition from Daylight saving without the headache that the issues caused by the Commonwealth Games last year. Looks like I will have to plan my overseas trips to not coincide with other daylight saving zones.

    Hope you used the time productively?

  4. David Gardiner

    Hi Mitch,

    I’m glad to see I’m not alone. My iPAQ 6828 dutifully woke me up this morning as it is programmed to do at 6.30am. Only trouble was it was 5.30am.

    What I’m guessing is that the Alarms/Alerts in Windows Mobile is set using UTC time, rather than local time.

    I disabled the alert, then re-enabled it, then at 6.30am my alarm went off again, and this time i got out of bed.

    So I think it’s a bug in Windows Mobile.


    ps. I used to have a digital watch, but after ~20 years of reliable service it stopped working. I replaced it with an analogue one as i thought it looked nice, but only later realised that one feature missing was an alarm!

  5. Mitch Denny Post author

    Andrew – I would not have felt guilty about going back to bed. But I would have felt guilty about rubbing it in about your day off to your co-workers.

  6. Josh

    “David – I donโ€™t use wristwatches because they make it hard to type on a laptop.”

    Hahaha. The most profound definition of a “First World Problem” I’ve ever heard. I bow to you sir!

  7. Jason

    When you’re not sure, just whip out your phone and dial 1194…

    “On the third stroke, it will be seven twenty six and forty seconds… beep, beep, beep”

  8. Pingback: PaulStovell.NET » Roundup 20070328

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