What time zone am I in?

Arrived at the Bozeman airport on time, turned on my iPhone, and was surprised to discover that it was after midnight. We had left Salt Lake City a little before 10 p.m.; it was supposed to be an hour-long flight; I didn't think we had crossed a time zone boundary.

But I figured we must have. I got my rental car, and was surprised to see that the car's clock showed that it was only 11:30 (my iPhone said 12:30). But the car has Idaho plates, so who knows what time zone it's in. And anyway, people neglect to set car clocks for Daylight Saving all the time.

But now I'm in my hotel room, and the room clock says it's midnight, and the Internet tells me that the current time here in Bozeman is midnight. And just to be certain, I asked the front desk clerk, and he said it's midnight.

So I've come to the conclusion that my phone is an hour off.

Which is weird, because it's getting its time from AT&T.

I tried turning various settings off and on again, and I tried rebooting the phone, but nothing seems to work. I did some Googling, but no dice. I called 1-800-MY-IPHONE (the official iPhone tech support line), and their automated system made me pick a topic before it would tell me that (unsurprisingly) nobody was available to take my call.

So I'm chalking it up to technofailure. If it's still wrong tomorrow, I'll either get in touch with tech support or just set the phone's clock manually.

The main reason I'm writing this entry is that it's just a little surreal to have my trusty iPhone lying to me about what time it is. I often have a hard time keeping track of what time zone I'm in when I'm traveling, and my body clock of course lags behind the changes, and iCal's handling of time zones is kind of confusing so I often make mistakes when I try to put things from other time zones into my calendar. And I often forget to reset my blog's time zone, so the time of postings is often an hour or three off during and after my travels. But through it all, the iPhone has always reliably been able to tell me what the local time was. Until now.

3 Responses to “What time zone am I in?”

  1. Wayman

    AT&T Wireless, as of June 2008, didn’t serve Montana. I believe they still don’t, but it’s possible that changed in the past year and I just can’t find any reference to it. The only GSM cellular provider then (and I think still) was/is Chinook, and until sometime in spring of ’08 when AT&T made a deal with Chinook you couldn’t even use an iPhone on Chinook’s network–there was no roaming agreement, so it was just a brick in the entire state of Montana.

    So perhaps for some quirky semi-compatibility reason the iPhone doesn’t like getting the time off of Chinook, so your iPhone hasn’t gotten a new time from a cellular network since you left the Pacific time zone.

  2. Jed

    Huh. Thanks for the info; I didn’t know any of that.

    It’s certainly possible that the iPhone doesn’t like getting the time from Chinook, but:

    * A friend (here from Oregon) with a 1st-gen iPhone doesn’t seem to be having this problem. Though he drove through the intervening states instead of flying.

    * I got the correct time in Salt Lake City, which is in the same time zone as Bozeman, on the way here.

    * The time I’m getting in Bozeman is an hour later than it should be, as if I’m getting my time signal from someplace east of here.

    * I did briefly have the correct time in Bozeman this morning, but then it went away again.

    * I called iPhone support (800-MY-IPHONE), and the guy there told me I had already done most of the things on his script. I did tell him I was in Montana, but he didn’t comment on that. He told me to try resetting the Network settings to factory default, which I did, but no dice. He told me to try wiping the whole iPhone and resetting it to factory default, which I’m not willing to do while I’m on the road, and I’m pretty sure the problem will go away when I go home tomorrow anyway.

    So I skipped that step and went straight to setting the time manually, which seems to work fine.

    I am, of course, experiencing a bunch of other weird technofailures—like, this morning the Ethernet connection to the Net from my hotel room suddenly stopped working, and nothing seems to bring it back. This trip is so brief, though, that I’m just working around all the problems, figuring that the amount of time I would spend with tech support trying to get them fixed is just not worth it.

  3. SSteve

    I’m having the same problem. We’ve been in Gardiner, MT and Yellowstone the past few days. Haven’t been using the iPhone since there’s no data coverage or Wi-Fi where we’ve been. This morning my wife’s and my iPhones (3GS running 3.0.1) were both an hour ahead. They think we’re in Central time zone instead of Mountain. Today we drove to Missoula (where we have Wi-Fi at my sister-in-law’s) and now my phone sees the correct time zone but hers is still in Central time. Rebooted both phones and no change. Weird.


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