[tz] Ambiguous abbreviations for Australian timezones when daylight savings is in affect

John Hawkinson jhawk at mit.edu
Tue Apr 2 18:25:16 UTC 2013

Russ Allbery <rra at stanford.edu> wrote on Tue,  2 Apr 2013
at 11:19:47 -0700 in <87obdwokvw.fsf at windlord.stanford.edu>:

> But my point is that the specific abbreviations that are put into tzname
> are worthless for this purpose because they change based on whether it's
> currently daylight saving time, which is exactly what you don't want for

They are worthless programatically. But they are handy for humans to look
at. Two simple cases:

(1) I look at the Date: header and I want to know, without thinking too
hard, where the originator is. 

(2) I can't remember if we are in daylight time or standard time so
I type "date" and look at the abbreviation.

The current Australian abbrevs do a poor job of both of those cases.

Given that they are worthless programatically, any argument that they
are based on a dead API, or that programattic consistency is required,
etc., etc. is not compelling. If they are worthless to software, let's
make them useful to humans, please.

> As kre says, the time offset abbreviations in tzname, et al., are a bad
> solution to the wrong problem.

Sure, but not relevant. We don't have the power to make them go away,
and even if we didn't it wouldn't be relevant to our choice of abbrevs.

--jhawk at mit.edu
  John Hawkinson

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