Naturally, the solution revolved around open source tools. A small Perl CGI script was written to run on a Web server back at headquarters. In it was a hash containing each unique IP subnet assigned to each remote office and a time zone designation for those subnets. The list was easy to compile, given the finite number of subnets, and the fact that the network had been built so that offices in the same time zone fit into logical CIDR blocks. The rest of the script simply determined the IP of a requesting client and responded with a number corresponding to the proper time zone.
The gold image was then updated with two utilities: a Windows port of the curl HTTP client and a small freeware command-line utility called settz that did one thing -- set the time zone of the system. A small addition was made to the autoexec.bat on the client, simply to run curl to access the Perl CGI script, then feed the output to the settz utility, thereby properly setting the time zone of each client every time it booted.
A later addition would even allow for clients to exist outside the internal WAN by using IP geolocation to determine the physical location of the client IP address and make the proper adjustment. In all, it was a simple, elegant solution that freed IT to pursue daredevilry elsewhere as needed.
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This article, "Jackass IT: Stunts, idiocy, and hero hacks," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in business technology news and get a digest of the key stories each day in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter.