Working on a automatic iCalendar timezone generator after I found that there are serious flaws
in its timezone database (e.g. for Iran, it doesn't even know about the daylight saving time that was introduced in 1991 and has been in tzdata for ages). It seems that Evolution's timezone database
has not been updated for about three years, and even then a very limited MS Outlook 2000 compatible scheme was chosen. This has actually made me miss a CLDR
phone meeting (which was scheduled on Los Angeles time), that I wrongly blamed on Lotus Notes (the software used by the organizer).
The problem with timezones also has made me arrive one hour early in a meeting in Tehran, but this time it wasn't Evolution's fault, it was MS Windows/Outlook's fault (used by the meeting organizer), which assumed Iran's daylight saving time starts on early March instead of late March. It has never been so. Microsoft was simply misinformed, and never fixed it because of the long release cycle and the lack of customers in Iran. (I have reported this to Microsoft a few times since about 2001 through several of their "globalization" experts, also providing a timezone switch log to them until 2037.)
I seriously believe this is the fault of the iCalendar standard (RFC 2445) in how it treats timezones. In the minds of the software, I and the organizer lived in two different timezones, both happily labeled "Tehran". This may be really due to its non-recognition of the Olson database, calling it "an informal, public-domain collection of time zone information, which is currently being maintained by volunteer Internet participants" in the meanwhile. That's very possibly because of the politics of Microsoft being involved.
GUADEC: It seems that Lufthansa (the supposedly official airline for GUADEC) staff in Tehran are refusing to acknowledge the special GUADEC fare, telling that "they have not been notified"! Fortunately, Sara, one of the FarsiWeb interns who is also planning to come to Stuttgart, is the daughter of the head of our travel agency. She's supposed to go to the Lufhansa office in person tomorrow and talk to the highest authority she could talk to. If we can't make Lufthansa acknowledge the fare, we'll probably travel with Austrian Airlines (which has good fares but only three weekly flights to Tehran) or Iran Air (generally not recommended unless it's the only way, you're out of money, and an Iranian at the same time, recommended only if you wish to avoid alcohol for a few hours before arriving in Tehran and get your stomatch prepared for the all-kebab offerings of Iranian restaurants), both of which make the schedule a little unbending.
The preparation for the visa goes smoothly. The next obstacle is getting the ownership documents for all real estate one or his/her spouse may own. Elnaz, who is now my lovely wife since late August, has an apartment in her name in Kish where her parents live (in her name only for tax purposes, I assume), which is both fortunate in the way it helps getting the visa (providing more reasons for the visa officer that we would return to Iran after the conference), and unfortunate in the way that it is very hard to get the original document, since Kish is basically an island in the Persian Gulf and we don't have a quick and secure postal service in Iran.
Another colleague who's supposed to come with us, Behnam, is working on his exit visa, because he is supposed to do the military service and needs the approval of the university he's studying at (and temporarily depositing a cheque of about EUR 5,000, signed by someone who would remain in Iran, with his university until he returned he returns) to get it. He will probably ask for yet another invitation letter with his university's name on it as the affiliation (instead of Sharif, where he works), to soothe the university officer into approving it.
It would all depend on us getting the money we are due on time, of course.
Cairo (the one in Egypt): The embassy called on Thursday, almost a week after the conference, telling me that the visa is ready. The officer told me I could use the visa "anyway", if I wanted, something I outright refused. Apparently they had never rejected it, they simply refused to accept it on time for the conference.
Misc: Working on Omega and Aleph. Problems with \nextfakemath for fooling TeX into typesetting the next formula in right-to-left mode. Only necessary because the wholly hacky TeX frequently uses the math mode for typesetting text-only tables, and \nextfakemath not working results in Persian text in tables properly shaped but appearing left-to-right.