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Displayed Time (Firestorm viewer, maybe applicable to others also?)


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I have long been confused by the way times of events, chats etc are displayed in Second Life, with particular reference to the Firestorm Viewer, which I have used almost exclusively though I have used Radegast to keep an alt logged in sometimes.

I finally decided to find out how it was all done from an authoritative source, so I looked at https://wiki.firestormviewer.org/fs_displayed_time_format  However, after reading this, while I somewhat understand it, I am rather baffled by why the different ways each point of reference for times of events and chats are so variable, and why there cannot be more uniformity and consistency?

The main types of time which are used, and which a user might want in the viewer, include:

  • SL time (which is also PST/PDT)
  • GMT/UTC
  • The user's local time
  • Whether the 12 hour or 24 hour clock is used

And the places where we might find times being recorded include:

  • The top menu bar of the viewer
  • Chat and conversation logs
  • Teleport history
  • Group notices

So...  when you then look at what types of time are used by Firestorm at which points (and probably other viewers too), there seems to be a very random approach to what is used where, and I wondered if there could not be more consistency.  Therefore, my thoughts / questions at the moment include:

  1. Are these various uses of different time stamps specific to Firestorm, and could be modified by Firestorm developers, or are they determined by Linden Lab programming?
  2. Have there been any attempts in the past to bring greater consistency into the way time is referred to in SL / the viewers? (I can't imagine I am the first person to think this is all pretty confusing the way it is).
  3. I presume that the way to have change in this area considered would be via JIRA - so the question is, would it be best to use the Firestorm JIRA or the SL JIRA?  (I guess this really depends on the answers to Q1, or maybe it is both?)

Specific answers to these questions, as well as general discussion, are welcome.

By the way, it's interesting to see that the Radegast viewer manages very well by giving everything in the user's local time.  (Not sure if that was a setting I had to choose at some point, but it was possible and it makes a lot of sense to me!)

 

 

Edited by Sakurako Suki
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In Kokua, all timestamps use SL Time, no options to show them in local time. Including timestamps in chat logs.

I guess because everyone in-world usually refer to schedules using SLT.

(It's my personal wish that one day SL changes over to UTC and be done with all DST nonsense...)

 

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As far as I know, anything that is generated by the servers will be in Second Life's official time; SLT, which is the same as PST or PDT according to the time of year. This will dictate how time is shown in chat, coversations, logs, notices etc, and is not changeable by the user.

In Firestorm, the format of the top bar time display can be set by the user:-

Prefs -> User Interface -> Top Bars tab - Time Format: ("language default" sets your computer's local time)

 

(Time format is a tricky thing to deal with, especially if you have friends from lots of different countries. This gets particularly bad when the changes from winter to summer times alter (or not!) on different dates to other countries. Europe v. USA is a classic example of this. If you use Windows, you can make fruitful use of the ability to add extra clocks to the Task bar's date/time display (right-click the display, "adjust...", then look for an option to add additional clocks).)

Edited by Odaks
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Second Life grid should be cut up into oddly shaped germander style regions and each should be in a different virtual time zone, just to make life there easier.  (No, just kidding.)  And don't forget the partial hour offset zones.  Can't leave those out, must be all-inclusive!  (Seriously, no.

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On 1/24/2023 at 2:06 PM, Odaks said:

As far as I know, anything that is generated by the servers will be in Second Life's official time; SLT, which is the same as PST or PDT according to the time of year.

Well, SL's servers are running Debian Linux. Customarily, Linux servers are setup using UTC timezone, mapping it to localtime when requested.

But all Linux logfiles have UTC timestamp so they don't have to deal with DST nonsense.

On 1/24/2023 at 2:06 PM, Odaks said:

Time format is a tricky thing to deal with, especially if you have friends from lots of different countries. This gets particularly bad when the changes from winter to summer times alter (or not!) on different dates to other countries. Europe v. USA is a classic example of this.

Are you talking about time format or time zone?

For time format, there is only one international standard: ISO-8601, which specifies time as YYYY-mm-ddTHH:MM:SS

As for timezone, it's very easy to find one's timezone offset from UTC. Heck, in fact ALL timezones are officially specified by denoting the timezone's offset from UTC. For instance, my country's timezone is UTC+7. New York timezone in is UTC-5 in Winter, UTC-4 in Summer. And so on.

By changing SL Time to UTC:

  • Troubleshooting will be easier since whatever happens in world will have a second-for-second match with the OS Logfiles
  • No more shifting clock backwards/forwards nonsense as UTC does not have "DST" nonsense
  • Very easy conversion from UTC to one's own timezone
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1 hour ago, primerib1 said:

Are you talking about time format or time zone?

You are technically spot-on with what you say. I was merely reporting on the observed time displays, as specifically mentioned by the OP. Firestorm's Preferences setting actually calls the time (only) display field "Time Format" and presents a number of different options (Preferences -> User Interface -> Top Bars tab).

I couldn't agree more with you about the morass that "daylight savings" times produce. Time Zones cause enough problems without chucking in possible one hour variations. I actually work more or less exclusively in GMT/UCT, when dealing with global variations; it's by far the easiest way to avoid turning up to the dance, only to find that you're too late to vote in the knobliest knees competition...

The necessary conversions are always prone to error though (unless you've reliably automated them). LL's use of PST/PDT is a problem for anyone outside of that time zone. Maybe the daylight savings sorcery will get dropped one day.

Edited by Odaks
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My only reference times while SLing are ”Lunch time”, ”Dinner time” and ”Bed time”... 😜

This said, if you click on the time display in the status bar of the Cool VL Viewer, you will be able to cycle through SLT (i.e. PST/PDT), UTC and your own local time (and other TPVs are welcome to ”borrow” that feature). You may also configure the time format in the Preferences.

Edited by Henri Beauchamp
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How about going back to US railroad time, with each region setting the time as the owner please? Then each teleport would be a new adventure going back or jumping forward in time. It would add to the immersiveness, and add the sense of time travel to the teleports.

Come to think about it, setting date and year per region would be even wilder

Edited by Gavin Hird
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4 hours ago, Gavin Hird said:

How about going back to US railroad time, with each region setting the time as the owner please? Then each teleport would be a new adventure going back or jumping forward in time. It would add to the immersiveness, and add the sense of time travel to the teleports.

Come to think about it, setting date and year per region would be even wilder

We have a little of that in the environment settings now, where we can set the day length and time of day offset.  I set out clocks that are set to the local venue's event time, if they have a need.  I stopped the clock at Midnight for a Halloween party.

Second Life Viewer doesn't display "SLT".  What does?  image.png.73c50a88e1ed6268b50d207603b5e8a2.png

Edited by Ardy Lay
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There is a Jira assigned to me (and has been for a while now) to get around to trying to unify this.

https://jira.firestormviewer.org/browse/FIRE-21534

It's a mess all over the place and sometimes it makes more sense in one zone than another. For me, sitting in the UK, having my teleport history report in SLT would be confusing and be a large chunk of a day out of sync with my own recollection of when I visited places. Likewise, forcing it to UTC, just shifts the problem the other way. Firestorm got to where it is (as it often does) by trying to accommodate a variety of views and the result (I think we all agree) is a bit of a mess.

I'd like to say it is a bug that's high on the list and I'll get to it soon, but that would be a massive lie 🙂

I am not even convinced that 1 timezone representation will be the right answer. Some of us would be happy but I suspect that many people will want the time in SLT (as that is how all the events are published (and those are not necessarily timestamps that the viewer can change) but things like chat and TP history might be preferable in user local. I could probably ask 100 people and get at least 6 different common permutations that they'd want.

Feel free to jump on the Jira with thoughts. I really would like to do something about it one day. Anybody who'd like to have a go at submitting a patch aligned to that Jira is very welcome to and I'd make time to look at that. Reality is that every time I look at it, a far more interesting/urgent/less frustrating squirrel appears for me to chase.

 

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7 hours ago, Beq Janus said:

a far more interesting/urgent/less frustrating squirrel appears

Hee hee, hmmmm...   thank you for your comment and link to the Jira, Beq.  I have now gone joined the Jira for the first time and added my comment there.  For me personally (and I know not for everyone) this is my Number One frustration with Firestorm and grabs my attention every time I look at Radegast where I can tell when stuff happened at a single glance.  But my avatar doesn't look that great in Radegast  *giggle*...  so I keep using Firestorm and taking away / adding 15 or 16 a zillion times a day, depending on the time of year.  (I am in UTC +8 with no local DST...    thank god!)

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