Automatically updating your timezone

I’m back from Seattle and Chicago. I may post about those trips. But I still haven’t posted about Montreal or DC, so it’s quite unlikely.

But I am posting about something relevant to my summer traveling: the nuisance of changing timezones on your devices as you cross them. For me I had to change my Mac system timezone and my Google Calendar timezone. I even had to change it on my Blackberry, which was particularly annoying because it knows from the network what timezone it’s in, but that’s separate from the issue here. My Blackberry also has GPS and it’s able to tell Fire Eagle where it is. If Fire Eagle could just let other systems know what timezone that location is, they could update with my new timezone.

So I set out last night to try making that work. The challenges to surmount:

  • Fire Eagle doesn’t output timezone info
  • my Blackberry doesn’t update Fireeagle
  • I don’t know how to write Mac (Cocoa) applications

Fortunately, these walls aren’t high.

I wrote to the Fire Eagle dev list and one of Yahoo’s developers, Seth Fitzsimmons, said he would update the system to output timezone info. Sweet.

I found the J2ME updater app by Simon King and got it to run on my Blackberry. Just downloaded the JAR to my Mac, went to Media on Blackberry and chose Receive by Bluetooth and sent it from the Mac. Then I could navigate to the file and install it. After setting up the OAuth (a little clunky) it’s running and updating Fire Eagle. (more details) And if you’re interested in making it better, it’s an open-source project, fireeagle-updater-midlet on Github. Sweet.

So now my location is updated automatically in Fire Eagle and soon applications can look up my timezone. So what software will read it and update my Mac’s timezone? I don’t know Cocoa or Objective-C to write a Mac native app. Fortunately, the timezone can be updated with a simple Mac system command. A different but equally simple command works on Linux. I do know Java and could write a cross-platform app that runs the appropriate command depending on the OS it’s running in.

I’ll wait until Fire Eagle is actually outputting the timezone info, but I wanted to document the above. Also, is anyone interested in collaborating on this application? I’d like to make it plugin oriented so different devices can be updated, e.g. Google Calendar.

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