Reporter’s Digital How-to

By: Charles Bowen


Timely Information For the Chronologically Challenged

To get started, visit the site at

You may have thought after last New Year’s Eve faux-millennium madness
that you would never want to talk about time again. However, in the
sober light of the new year’s dawning, you probably have reconciled
yourself with the calendar and the clock. In fact, you and your
newsroom can’t make it through a single cycle without repeatedly
consulting both time-honored instruments – even if you do have to make
minor adjustments by counting on your fingers and toes.

For instance:

? The city council passes an ordinance that is retroactive 60 days.
Let’s see, that date would be … 30 plus 31 is 61, minus … uh …

? An incident reported on the wire occurred at 6 p.m. in Jakarta,
Indonesia, which locally would be … How many time zones away is that,

? The trial testimony says the murder occurred on Oct. 23, 1995, but
what day of the week was that?

? The local adventurers tell your reporter they were hiking the
Himalayas from April 22 to Sept. 6. And that would be how many days?

For these and hundreds of other little time- and date-related
questions, an Internet site created by a young Norwegian named Steffen
Thorsen needs to be in your digital toolbelt. is a simple, no-frills collection of fast, efficient
utilities that let you get your answers in a hurry, then get back to
your writing and editing. To use it, visit the site at, where the introductory screen lists its
tools with hyperlinks.

Need to know what time it is currently anywhere in the world? Click the
‘World Clock’ option at the top of the ‘Time’ column. The site then
displays a table of major cities around the world with the current
time. Click any highlighted city to see details, including information
on the sunrise and sunset there and whether the city recognizes

saving time.

In too much of a hurry to scan a list? Then search instead. Click the
‘Search for City’ link on the introductory screen, and you’ll be
prompted to enter the name of a city, state, or continent. You can link
multiple locations with a comma (as in ‘U.S., Mexico’).

But what if, instead of the current time, you need to compute the time
difference for a set hour? Remember the story that reported something
happening at 6 p.m. in Jakarta? What time was that in New York? For
these problems, you need Thorsen’s ‘fixed time’ tool. Reach it by
clicking the ‘and more’ link at the bottom of the ‘Time’ column on the
introductory screen and select the ‘Fixed Time World Clock’ from the
subsequent display.

For questions related to dates rather than hours and minutes, click the
introductory screen’s ‘Calendar’ link at the head of the ‘Date’ column.
You then will be shown the 12 months for the current year, along with
moon phases and holidays for each. Scroll to the bottom of the display
where you can enter a new year (and country).

Need to see when the full moon in January was in 1949? This is your

Other considerations in using for your work:

1. To answer questions such as how many days our hardy trekkers were
climbing around the Himalayas, click the introductory screen’s link to
‘Duration between two dates.’ (It is 137 days from April 22 to Sept. 6,
incidentally.) The feature will even let you calculate the duration
down to minutes and seconds, assuming you require that kind of

2. If you need a quick fix on what the date will be after a certain
number of days, click Thorsen’s introductory page link labeled ‘What
date is in 500 days?’ On the resulting screen, you can indicate a
starting date (or leave it blank if you are calculating from today),
then ask to add (or subtract) a designated number of days. The site
then displays what day that will be (or was, if you’re subtracting.)
The same calculator can compute minutes and seconds.

3. Finally, in the area of totally nonsensical (but nonetheless
captivating) information, Thorsen has given us a calculator to
determine when a person’s age reaches an interesting round number. Want
to know when you can celebrate your 20,000th day? This feature
( date/birthday.html) can actually tell you.
It prompts you for a birthday (complete with hour and minute, if you
have it). Click the ‘Calculate Useless Facts!’ button … and, well,
maybe one of your columnists could use this …


Bowen writes columns, articles and books from West
Virginia, and is host of the daily Internet News syndicated
radio show (

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

Follow by Email
Visit Us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *