dates and their representation

Matthew Skala mskala at
Sat Sep 26 20:55:49 CEST 1998

IMHO, the Right Thing to do with dates is:

- store and transmit dates in UTC (although if you're storing "seconds
since epoch", you don't even store a time zone at all)
- display ALL dates according to the user's locale settings

It's a bad idea to store the time zone where a key was generated or
signature made, because that reveals what part of the world the key or
signature originates from, and that could very well be something the user
would want to conceal.  It's bad even to store the time zone optionally,
because it becomes a sort of subliminal channel.

It's a good idea to display dates according to the user's locale settings,
because that's what other programs do, and that's what the locale settings
are *for*.  If the user wants to see dates in GMT, let them set their time
zone to GMT (although you could make that an option if you really had to).

Note that email transmits zone information and user agents (pine at least) 
display it unchanged; news also transmits zone information but user agents
usually translate it to the reader's zone.  DOS filesystems store local
time without storing the time zone (unless NT has changed this).  Unix
filesystems store standardized time (seconds since epoch) without time
zone, and Unix programs always display filesystem times according to
locale settings. 

"Let me lose so beautifully     
 Let me lick the dew from the money tree           Matthew Skala
 Have the moms of the world all care about me        Ansuz BBS
 At suppertime"                        - Odds     (250) 472-3169

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