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Although I keep my system time & date in check using, I can't "Set time zone automatically using current location". I get the error message, "Unable to determine current location at this time" every time I try this.


Does anyone know why this is happening?


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up vote 3 down vote accepted

Apple uses one or more databases (I don't know how many) to map your ISP internet connection to a location in the world.

If you use the network utility to traceroute to that time server, you will see all the routers between you and that apple server. This software does the same thing and reports the hops - if Apple knows where any of the routers close to your mac are located, it will update the location. What it's telling you is it can't pin down where you are based on this information only.

If you can try connecting to a different network or a public network it might be more likely to know where you are. Many business internet connections pool the public internet access and the database is told to ignore that since the traffic isn't coming to apple close to your physical location.

Are you on a home network? Can you call your ISP to see if they allow or prevent location of their customers? It's a problem with the people supplying you with internet and not anything on your computer, so you can't do anything directly to correct it other than change your ISP or figure out how to get it mapped.

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+1 - Very clear explanation bmike. Much appreciated. Yes, it is a home network. A rather weird heirachy here too. Total chaos in fact. When I get the mind to do it, I'll take the MacBook to a public network to see if it can do a better job. – boehj Jun 24 '11 at 14:31
By connecting your mac closer to the ISP (directly to a cable or satellite modem rather than through one or more routers) may help things. I don't know how many hops up the routing the software considers, but it's worth a shot. – bmike Jun 24 '11 at 14:36
For sure. There's far more NATing going on here than is healthy. I'll check it out tomorrow. – boehj Jun 24 '11 at 14:48

Judging by the screenshot this appears to merely be a cosmetic issue. There is a location pin, a time zone and also a closest city.

Unless you are not at that location, of course.

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I'd argue that it's more than cosmetics at play here. There's a function that's purported to be automated, that isn't (for me). I wonder if it works for everyone else? – boehj Jun 24 '11 at 13:50
That's not exactly what I meant. If you look at the screenshot, there is a location marked, so the feature itself appears to be working. – jjungnickel Jun 24 '11 at 14:48
Sorry I wasn't very cleat. I put that location in and the OS claimed the credit! – boehj Jun 24 '11 at 15:02
Boo! Bad, OS! No! - In that case, disregard my non-answer. – jjungnickel Jun 24 '11 at 16:51
Indeed. – boehj Jun 24 '11 at 17:04

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