Updated Australian time zone names/strings

Robert Elz kre at munnari.OZ.AU
Sat Apr 7 07:07:36 UTC 2001

    Date:        Fri, 6 Apr 2001 23:38:21 -0700 (PDT)
    From:        Paul Eggert <eggert at twinsun.com>
    Message-ID:  <200104070638.XAA27517 at sic.twinsun.com>

  | A practical example of this can be found in the accident reports
  | published by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Yes, there are cases where absolute precision is required - I think they'd
be better off using numeric offsets than inventing their own abbreviations,
but as long as they're defining what works for them, it probably doesn't

  | My guess is that
  | the officials there dislike abbreviations ending in "DT" as the phrase
  | "Summer Time" is more common, and they don't feel the need for the
  | leading "A" as their reports are only about Australian accidents.

On the leading "A" in general, "A" meaning "Australia" is only ever used
in places where everyone would know it is Australia anyway, A is such a common
letter (AEST could be "American Eastern Standard Time" - since it covers
all of North America, and I think Central America, probably even parts
of South America, though it wouldn't be Eastern there... - it could also
be African Eastern Standard Time, if East Africa ever decided to have a common
name for their timezone.)   "AU" (or AUS) is Australia, not just "A".

Of course, inside Australia, people do sometimes use AEST to mean Aus EST
when used by people who know there is an EST in North America, and who are
trying to be (usually unnecessarily) clear - but take AEST as a string to
someone (not on this list or other like it) in Europe, or anywhere in the
Americas, and ask them to guess what it represents, and the chances of many of 
them guessing "A" for Australia is pretty small.

  | That's an interesting theory, but I think it more plausible that it
  | was simply an accident.

That could be too, of course.

  | I chalk up most of these problems to inadequate time zone software
  | more than to inadequate mail software.  For example, a few people are
  | still stuck with POSIX time zones and must set TZ='NZST-12...'.  It is
  | easy to go wrong and set TZ='NZST+12' instead.

People get the things wrong for all kinds of reasons - a month or so I
sent some mail out that identified itself as coming from 1993 - I had
run the battery on the laptop I was using completely dry, and that apparently
caused its clock to lose all idea of the date when I rebooted with a
changed battery (or AC, I no longer remember).   I didn't notice, and didn't
think to reset the clock...

Then there's easily confused syntax (as in the + / - zone offset stuff).

Then there are broken mailers that don't do the right thing even when the
user is really trying to get it all right, and is prepared to do all the work.

Then there are the users who simply don't care - they don't care in the
slightest if the time on their computer, or its timezone, are anything
like correct (sometimes deliberately even setting the time backwards so
limited use evaluation licences keep on working...) and have the attitude
that if the time is OK to them, no-one else should be concerned about it
(I get mail sometimes that contains "I know the time is wrong, I might fix
it one day" from correspondents that know I complain in replies if the date
field is ludicrous).


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