My automated clock was wrong.
November 15, 2006 10:14 AM   Subscribe

TimeTravelFilter: I involuntarily traveled ahead 1 whole hour. Why did the clock on my phone take me there?

Monday night the clock on my phone read 1:20am when it was actually 12:20am. The phone automatically sets the time and date, and it has always been correct for 2 years now. After I turned the phone off and on it had the correct time. Other people I was with also had Verizon phones and they did not have a problem. I was also under the impression that phone companies kept time via an atomic clock. What could have caused this automation to be wrong?
posted by Sprocket to Technology (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you near the boundary of your time zone? Maybe your phone connected to a transmitter across the line
posted by winston at 10:18 AM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: No, I am in Seattle.
posted by Sprocket at 10:22 AM on November 15, 2006

A number of phones set the time only when they first power up, or when they first get on the network. Has the time been incorrect since Daylight Savings Time?
posted by stovenator at 10:33 AM on November 15, 2006

Agree with stovenator - if you haven't turned your phone off since DST ended, it may never have resynced itself. Most phones don't have this problem anymore, but older ones often do.
posted by chrisamiller at 11:01 AM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: It has been on and off several times since daylight savings time, and has always had the correct time with this instance being the only exception.
posted by Sprocket at 11:26 AM on November 15, 2006

It was probably just a software glitch. If you notice it again, you could put in a call to tech support, but, otherwise, I'd just let it go.
posted by cerebus19 at 11:28 AM on November 15, 2006

Wow...this exact thing happened to my friends cell-phone clock, on Saturday night. In Seattle.
posted by vito90 at 12:53 PM on November 15, 2006

I'm disappointed, I was hoping this was an "help me advance my nanowrimo plot" question. If it was, I would say some thing quite different than the most likely answer in your case, which is "software glitch."
posted by arcticwoman at 1:11 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: Ah, Vito90, the plot thickens.

I would think a computer glitch would affect thousands of people at the same time, not at different intervals.
posted by Sprocket at 1:21 PM on November 15, 2006

The Matrix has you...

What carrier do you use?

I'm on cingular in Seattle and have had no problems at all.

As far as I know, that is.
posted by Chickenjack at 1:38 PM on November 15, 2006

A software glitch local on your phone would only affect you. Phones aren't exactly the most stable and bug-free firmware out there, especially smart phones and newer multimedia phones.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:58 PM on November 15, 2006

Response by poster: The tricky thing that has been discovered here is that (as seen in above comment by Vito90) the exact thing happened to somebody else 2 days before me. Which should rule out phone-specific hardware malfunction.

The world may never know.
posted by Sprocket at 4:28 PM on November 15, 2006

Vito90 and Sprocket, what specific cell phone manufacturers/models are each of your (friend's) phones?

If they are the same model that would be interesting...(vs. someone else who had Verizon but a different model phone)
posted by rlef98 at 4:54 PM on November 15, 2006

I have a Blackberry 8700c from Cingular in Log Angeles and last Saturday it jumped a half hour from 11:50AM to about 12:20PM.

Blackberries have a "update time" option so I was able to get the phone to go "back in time" and display the correct time.
posted by sideshow at 6:30 PM on November 15, 2006

Best answer: Cell phone time is received from the given cell tower that you are currently connected to. Each of those towers has a processing unit in it, which along with routing all of your call traffic from the air to the wires connected to the tower, does menial tasks like keep the time. This is a lot of infrastructure to keep track of, and sometimes when a tower reboots (power failure, scheduled maintenance, whatever), they come up in the wrong time zone, the wrong date, etc, and so any phone which is syncing time off of that tower ends up having the wrong time. Usually it self-corrects as the processing unit re-establishes contact with the upstream time server, but if for some reason it is unable to contact that upstream server, it may be off for a significant amount of time.
(I used to work for Sprint, and knew people who dealt with this stuff every day.)
As an aside, there was a tower here in Kansas City which was off by an hour for a month or so, and for the first week or so, until I figured it out, I managed to panic myself into thinking I was really late for work when I'd drive through downtown on my way to work, which was where the tower was.
posted by jferg at 8:09 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Well, the more you know...

Thanks jferg.
posted by Sprocket at 8:20 AM on November 16, 2006

She has a Motorola phone and Verizon service...
posted by vito90 at 12:20 PM on November 16, 2006

Response by poster: Mine is a Kyocera phone and also Verizon.
posted by Sprocket at 11:07 AM on November 17, 2006

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