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5: Troublesome Time Zones

I guess the programmers at Microsoft aren’t allowed to travel beyond their cubicle farms, as only that rule would explain the Calendar’s inability to easily handle events that cross time zones. If you try to enter your departure and arrival times for a flight from Australia to the United States, for example, ostensibly you’ll be landing in the USA before you leave the land down under, which causes Entourage to balk (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5 Don’t you dare try to cross the date line with Entourage.

Not only is it annoying to have Entourage refuse to accept your perfectly valid start and end times, the dialog box is ambiguous because it doesn’t make clear that the program refuses to allow such events. In fact, it seems to tell you it’s okay. Better to alert the user to the potentially odd timing but allow it if that’s what the user wants. At present, the only workaround to this roadblock is to create separate Calendar events for your departure and arrival.

Lest you think I’m just being picky about a specific uncommon instance (international flights across the date line) where events are impossible to enter, Entourage also has trouble dealing with domestic flights. If you book a cross-country flight, the airline gives you the local times for your departure and arrival, so naturally this is the information you would expect to enter in a single calendar event. But when you travel to your destination and update your time zone in Date " Time preferences, Entourage adjusts the times shown in the Calendar to reflect your new time zone. If you forget that Entourage makes this adjustment, you might find yourself showing up for your return flight hours before (or after!) the correct time. If you don’t want Entourage to make these adjustments, the help file says that you should choose a different time zone from the Options icon, but Entourage applies the same time zone to the entire event, so there’s no way to tell it that you’re departing at 6 PM Eastern time and arriving at 9 PM Pacific time. Again, the only solution is to create separate events for a single flight. By the way, why the time zone is hidden in the Options icon instead of immediately to the right of the start and end text fields is beyond me.

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