November 7, 2010

Let Me Tell Ye: Daylight Savings

I call this: phones,tech — Posted by KP @ 9:58 am

Phoenix this morning at 6:38 (or 5:38 depending on who you ask)

Today is daylight savings “fall back” day in the US. Except in Arizona (except in the Navajo Nation part of Arizona, which follows the rest of the country).

Now I think daylight savings is stupid, because I’m not a farmer, and I can afford electricity, so I was very glad to find myself in Arizona for the time change, so I could avoid all the drama associated with it. I sent an email to my cast last night reminding them — don’t touch your clocks! Don’t let your mother, your Facebook friends or anyone else remind you to “fall back” tonight. You simply don’t have to do anything, and you will be telling the correct time. How difficult could that be, right?

Well let me tell ye.

There has been some kerfluffle in the press about the iPhone’s daylight savings bug. Basically the clock updates correctly but somehow the alarms get messed up. It only happens if you use a recurring alarm, and since I usually have to be at work at a different time every day, I don’t use recurring alarms, so I thought I was in the clear.

So I went to bed last night and set my iPhone alarm for 6AM so I could do some laundry in the morning. I set my hotel alarm clock for 6:38, as I generally like to have an alarm that will catch me should I fall back to sleep.

Well the next thing I know the hotel alarm is going off, and it’s 6:38. And I’m like, WTF? So I look at my phone, and it says 5:38. And I look at the stupid digital alarm clock on the table that has like 3 buttons, and it’s 6:38. So I’m like, “clearly it’s 6:38.” My phone has fallen back.

Now it should be noted that this is not the alarm bug. I have no doubt that the alarm would have gone off had the phone’s clock ever reached 6:00. The problem is that at some point in the night (2AM, I imagine), the phone’s actual clock fell back when it wasn’t supposed to.

It’s set to get the time automatically, which as I understand cellular phones, means that the network pushes the correct time to the phones. Whatever tower(s) you’re connected to (obviously somewhere in the middle of Phoenix) should tell your phone the local time. So why did it fall back? I have several theories:

a) AT&T’s towers don’t know what time it is, or where they are located. I don’t find this hard to believe.

b) The iPhone overrides the signal from the towers and triggers a time change without checking where the phone is located. I could also imagine this.

But I’m going to lay the blame squarely on this messed up daylight savings system in general, that even in places where it doesn’t exist, somehow manages to screw everything up.

Let me tell ye my general opinion of time. There is one time, the time we are living in. If I call someone in Australia, I can assure you we are talking to each other at the same time, despite the fact that technically I am talking to him yesterday. I think it would simplify things greatly if people around the world thought of things in terms of “what time is it right now?” rather than “what time is it here?” This association of the time with the position of the sun in the sky is so last millennium. I’m sure there are people in rural areas and less developed countries who do use the sun, but I would venture to guess that they don’t actually need to know if it’s 4:38 or 5:42, and if they do, they own a watch or maybe even a cell phone.

If there was simply one time, then areas could decide for themselves when it’s convenient to work based on the local daytime. Someone might work 9-to-5 in New York and 6-to-2 in LA, and both experience the same amount of daylight. A child could start school at 8AM in London and 2AM in Miami and both have the sun up when they’re waiting for the bus. These decisions about when to work are already rather arbitrary. Schools all have their own schedules, businesses may work 9-to-5 or 10-to-6, etc. What difference does it make what we call it? At least we would know that when everyone in the world says something is happening at 8:00, we would be talking about the same moment in time for everyone.

Let me tell ye, if I ever become President of the World, first we are building a rain bubble over Manhattan, and then we will all start using the same time and never change it.

1 Comment »

  1. I don’t think daylight savings time is because of the farmers. I seem to recall reading something about cows and chickens not having watches.

    Under your one time theory, instead of keeping track of “what time is there”, you would now need to keep track of “What time do they work over there?”. Still have to know different bits of information for the different time zones, or perhaps “working hour zones”?. Kinda like how we have to keep track of how different people in our industry work different hours. We start in the theaters and shops at 8, but the GMs and PMs don’t show up at the office until 10. Imagine that for international operations – “It’s 8am everywhere, and the london guys are working 3am to Noon, except the London office is working 5am to 2pm” Yikes.


    Comment by Brian Munroe — November 12, 2010 @ 6:36 am

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