iCal timezones are wrong 2008/01/29
A bit ranty, proceed.
The designers of iCal did it wrong. I applaud them for including timezone support at all because of the can-of-worms I envision it being. Dates are scary in the parsing sense. For the uninitiated, here's about how iCal works now:
You can enable timezone support (rightfully off by default as it adds clutter that 90% will never click) in Preferences and then have an editable timezone option for every event on your calendar. This part will be strange in text but I'll try: changing the timezone on a single event will cause that event's block of time (in week view or day view) to shift up or down by the offset between your home timezone and the event timezone. Easy-to-follow example: an event in St. Louis (Central Time) at 10:00 am appears at 8:00 am on my calendar because I'm in Pacific Time.
The right way is to allow setting entire days to a certain timezone. Perhaps this setting would be inferred from a multi-day event on your calendar or (bonus! a feed imported from Dopplr? Tying a timezone to a multi-day event would be sweet as it could be expanded to start and stop at certain times of day, thereby satisfying even the craziest of travellers. Assuming this default would eliminate my need to micromanage my calendar.
Benefits? I could say (to my computer, with mouse clicks), "I will be in the Central timezone from February 1st until February 9th, please show those day's events accordingly." If an event is scheduled on a day that I'm slated to be in the Central timezone, it should always be shown as if it is in the Central timezone. Displaying everything in the current timezone just makes me do extra math.
The tradeoff in design here is day-to-day consistency versus the rate at which I can consume information from my calendar. I can understand why Apple's designers made the decision they did but respectfully disagree. It is much easier to casually remember where I'll be at any given time (in the macro sense) but much more difficult to remember that I must constantly do timezone math when looking ahead on my calendar.