Announcing: My Timezone Is…
Your timezone managed globally
I’ve been a remote work since the summer of 2000. Yes that’s over 18 years. While a lot has changed, and being a remote worker is much easier than it used to be, one thing remains a constant problem … timezones.
Although I don’t travel a lot any more, I work frequently with people who do. All the recent nomad worker trend has made the problem even larger.
Once you know someones timezone there are many tools that make scheduling meetings less painful, but keeping up with people as they work and travel on the road has become a big problem.
As I was brainstorming idea for Product Hunt’s Makers Festival I naturally drifted towards the Remote Worker category. I started thinking about the problem of timezones and how that problem could be solved.
I wondered if the approach that Gravatar had taken to solve the problem of identifying people thru their avatar could be applied to timezones.
What if a user could manage their timezone in one place, and that place provided an easy way to share to access that information globally. By doing so, updating your timezone in one place might see it updated globally.
I started thinking about names, and gravitated towards the idea of “my timezone is”, something that users of the platform would be sharing. The other reason that I drifted towards this name was because I own the domain name mytimezoneis.com, since 2008. Clearly this was a problem I wanted to solve for a very long time!
Since I was building my solution as part of the Makers Festival, I didn’t have a lot of time to build things, what exactly could I get done to submit before the deadline.
I wanted to model My Timezone Is on the Gravatar solution.
Email addresses would be the unique identifier, since most services require an email address to create an account this seems reasonable. With that email address anyone should be able to discover the timezone for a user. The email address should not be publicly shared. We want to protect users from spam if we can.
Rather than wait for people to integrate My Timezone Is into their applications, I wanted to provide something users could use immediately after signing up.
As part of the registration process we guess the users timezone based on their browser settings. Once signed up the user can set their timezone directly from the official list of timezones, but by typing the name of the city they are in. This was made possible with integrations with Algolia Places and GeoNames.
I implemented a simple REST API for accessing a users timezone and documented it here.
I have lots of ideas for future enhancements: A chrome extension or desktop application to track the timezones of your friends; image badges to make sharing your timezone even easier and universal; an OAuth based publish API to allow external applications to set a users timezone to name just a few.
For now I’ll submit My Timezone Is to the ProductHunt Makers Festival and see what everyone things of the idea so far!