I had a small nerdgasm recently when I discovered that Google Calendar has finally added the ability to specify the time zone in which an event will happen. This is great for entering events organised by people in other time zones – you can simply enter the time and the time zone together (there’s a little link for setting the time zone next to the time input), and it will automatically be displayed at the correct time in your calendar. So, you no longer have to worry about relative times – if an event is happening now in your calendar, it’s happening now in everyone else’s too.
Even better than that, the Calendar lets you enter separate time zones for the beginning and end of the event:
This means you can enter flight details and view them in a way that makes some kind of sense. For example, I’ll soon be flying from Aberdeen, UK to Bergen, Norway. On the outbound journey the plane leaves at 09:50 (UK) and lands at 11:55 (Norway) – a journey of 1 hour 5 minutes. On the way home, I depart at 12:00 (Norway) and arrive at 12:35 (UK). Entering these times using a single time zone results in the well-known issue of weird-looking events in my calendar – a 2 hour 5 minute flight out, and a 5 minute return flight. The dual time zone feature fixes this completely:
Looking at my calendar now, in the UK timezone, I see the flight times as they affect me on my local piece of Planet Earth. Once I’m in Norway, I can change my time zone in Google Calendar, and the events automatically update accordingly.
As I understand it, there has been demand for Google to add time zone support to calendar events for over a year. While they may be a little slow to respond, boy do they get it right when they get around to it.