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Timezone Maintainer Retiring

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the sunset-clause-means-it's-noon-all-over dept.

The Internet 198

linuxwrangler writes "It's used in Java. It's used in nearly every flavor of UNIX/Linux. In PostgreSQL, Oracle and other databases. Several RFCs refer to it. But where does the timezone database come from? I never gave it much thought but would have assumed that it was under the purview of some standards body somewhere. It's not. Since the inception of the database Arthur David Olson has maintained the database, coordinated the mailing list and volunteers and provided a release platform and now he is retiring. IANA is developing a transition strategy. Jon Udell has an interesting literary appreciation of the timezone database."

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where are the comments? (3, Funny)

joeme1 (959209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374086)

I keep refreshing, but there are no comments. How am I supposed to learn anything about this subject if there are not comments?

Re:where are the comments? (2)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374114)

Well, in the tradition of something as old school as the timezone database, why don't you RTFA?

Re:where are the comments? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375494)

, why don't you RTFA?

why? what did it say?

Re:where are the comments? (2)

chill (34294) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375846)

I don't know. I was hoping you'd read it and tell me. :-)

Re:where are the comments? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374302)

How am I supposed to learn anything about this subject if there are not comments?

Try asking a pertinent question!

Re:where are the comments? (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374714)

We'd leave comments, but it's midnight here. Or at least, that's what my computer clock is telling me all of a sudden.

Re:where are the comments? (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375960)

That's what my VCR says too! Oh wait, nevermind.

Wait, yes it is!

Re:where are the comments? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374756)

It's a shame a first post that is at least funny is modded down.

Definition of awesome (5, Insightful)

BeShaMo (996745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374088)

You know you're awesome when IANA have to develop a transitioning strategy when you retire.

Re:Definition of awesome (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374176)

It's posts like this that make me lament only being able to spend one mod point at a time!

Re:Definition of awesome (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374646)

Current slashdot tags:

Recent Tags

        * windows
        * os
        * upgrades
        * technology
        * microsoft
        * software
        * social

I'm tired of corporate propaganda!

Re:Definition of awesome (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374778)

But the other scary part is any random bus could have run over this guy any time in the past, and
nobody seems to have been prepared for that.

One wonders how many other situations like this exist, where critical system tools are basically handled by one person, or a tiny group. This is the second time in the last few years where I've been made aware of such a thing. When Reiser went to prison an entire file system essentially died on the vine (yes I still use it on some machines). So apparently it happens more often than we expect.

The worrisome bit is that we probably don't have any good database of critical component maintainers and their backup maintainers. The guy who maintained that database probably DID get hit by a bus.

Definition of open expertise. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375810)

When Reiser went to prison an entire file system essentially died on the vine (yes I still use it on some machines). So apparently it happens more often than we expect.

But...but...it's OPEN SOURCE! That can't happen.

Re:Definition of awesome (1)

subk (551165) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375818)

Who says ReiserFS is dead? I've never stopped using it from the minute it was merged into Linux. I have some large, 4+ year old ReiserFS SAN volumes that are loaded with files, healthy, fast, and have never left production. I use it exclusively on my desktops despite Gentoo's warnings about "little maintenance" going on. Who cares? If it works, it works. I'm sure there are plenty of others who feel the same.

Re:Definition of awesome (2)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375910)

Yes, yes, yest, this is well known, and careful reading would have revealed I still use it as well.

I'm not sure the posturing is helpful here.

Make no mistake, its dying on the vine. It will not get any fixes, it does not handle some multiprocessor environments (or was it NSF, I forget the details), and it has no formal maintainers. (Opensuse project used to do this, but its largely frozen reiserfs where it is). You use it at the state it was in at the last release and it works well, but don't expect it to even appear in vary many future kernel releases.

You can get the source and maintain it yourself. And in truth it needs little maintainable as long as you use it where it excells. It need never die. But don't expect any enhancements [ewdisonthen.com] . There are many reports of existing reiser partitions being totally unusable after upgrading to some Opensuse 11 versions.

Re:Definition of awesome (3, Interesting)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375896)

One wonders how many other situations like this exist, where critical system tools are basically handled by one person, or a tiny group.

When Unix was on its way to becoming a document processing system the programmer who wrote the formatter was killed in an auto accident. The team that took up the task of completing the program found his code so impenetrable that they abandoned it and started over. The original formatter was named roff, short for run off. The replacement was named nroff, new run off. IIRC this made Unix late for its premier as a document processing system. Eventually this was rewritten to be open-source, and named groff, which is still used to format man pages. Definitely deserving the title of useful software, but is there anyone out there who really understands how it works? All those traps and triggers?

Re:Definition of awesome (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375984)

It doesn't seem like that big an emergency, clock applications where having the correct local time set don't have to look up that setting from a database to be able to get it right.

Of course, if someone made some software that only allowed selecting a timezone from the database, that would create a problem.

Re:Definition of awesome (2)

iris-n (1276146) | more than 3 years ago | (#35376122)

When Reiser went to prison an entire file system essentially died on the vine (yes I still use it on some machines). So apparently it happens more often than we expect.

Perhaps that can be used as a measure of importance: Important projects can survive the death of their founder.

Re:Definition of awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35376204)

"When Reiser went to prison an entire file system essentially died on the vine"

Uh!? I thought that was his wife!

'bout time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374110)

someone finally told him that time is an allusion.

Re:'bout time (4, Funny)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374146)

An allusion to what?

Re:'bout time (1)

burnit999 (1845596) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374204)

exactly...

Re:'bout time (2)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374288)

Lunch time.

Re:'bout time (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374328)

Doubly so.

Re:'bout time (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374846)

A grand illusion where one assumes 1000ms = 1 sec -- more or less.

fuck timezones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374134)

now is the time to replace timezones with a countdown...

Re:fuck timezones (3, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374274)

now is the time to replace timezones with a countdown...

Yes...the Final Countdown!

Re:fuck timezones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374738)

We're headed for Venus.

Re:fuck timezones (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374282)

Does the countdown end in 2012?

Re:2012 (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374422)

It's looking like a better guess than time ending in 2012.

Figure the confluence of Wikileaks/Successors, Anonymous/Successors, Facebook gets hacked/sells their entire database of real people's names and info, everyone into hypertracking, and on.

We're only at March 2011 and the Day is somewhere in December 2012... 20 months to go at this pace?

How does the fridge lamp work, really? (4, Funny)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374138)

...assumed that it was under the purview of some standards body somewhere. It's not.

So it was magical server elves all along!

Re:How does the fridge lamp work, really? (4, Funny)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374296)

So it was magical server elves all along!

No, this was a server wizard. I can only imagine the beard that comes along with this guy.

Kudos to the wise ones who have kept everything going.

Re:How does the fridge lamp work, really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374406)

Look up W1zzard pictures.

Calconnect.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374168)

If you're concerned and/or interested about this, you need to get with calconnect.org. They have a technical committee devoted to this.

So long... (5, Funny)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374180)

....and thanks for all the zones.

Outstanding (4, Insightful)

SPrintF (95561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374184)

The "literary appreciation" article is really first rate.

bored legislators (4, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374236)

The database itself is updated approximately twenty times per year, depending on the year, based on information these experts provide to the maintainer.
 
Governments of the world have too much time on their hands if they average fiddling with local time zones 20 times per year.

Re:bored legislators (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374318)

Given how fast regime changes are happening these days, it's not that surprising.

Re:bored legislators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374392)

Given how fast regime changes are happening these days, it's not that surprising.

Some countries does change them too slow.
Homework: name a few such countries.

Re:bored legislators (2)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374498)

Governments of the world have too much time on their hands if they average fiddling with local time zones 20 times per year.

Better than trying to get stuff done - ever notice that when government is busy fighting amongst themselves your life improves because they're not coming up with new ways to screw it up?

Of course, the real reason for the frequent updates is simply aggregating all the updates from the various governments. Daylight Saving Time being one of the worst since many (most?) countries don't have any sort of standardized start and stop dates - they just get planned and announced, and they change yearly.

It's a surprise the C library that uses these files can manage to keep all the time accounting straight...

Re:bored legislators (5, Informative)

nthwaver (1019400) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375120)

It's a surprise the C library that uses these files can manage to keep all the time accounting straight...

It's not that complicated. They all translate into offsets in seconds. To the computer, I don't live in America/Los_Angeles on 3:47pm Thu March 3, 2011. The computer sees:

1299196020 (unix time in UTC)
- 28800 (my zone offset in seconds, using the tz database)
+ 0 (no DST in my zone right now)
= 1299167220 (local time)

So the really impressive work has just been in conceptualizing and organizing the database so that a program just needs to lookup two questions: which of the zones am I in, and what is the current offset for that zone?

Re:bored legislators (5, Interesting)

vossman77 (300689) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374558)

Governments of the world have too much time on their hands if they average fiddling with local time zones 20 times per year.

You are certainly right about the most recent update, "Mercer County, North Dakota, changed from the mountain time zone to the central time zone." But the changes are not always recent changes. Recent ChangeLog from Fedora 14 Updates:

* Wed Feb 9 2011 Petr Machata - 2011b-1
- Upstream 2011b:
    - America/North_Dakota/Beulah: Mercer County, North Dakota, changed
        from the mountain time zone to the central time zone
* Mon Jan 24 2011 Petr Machata - 2011a-1
- Upstream 2011a:
    - Updates of historical stamps for Hawaii
* Tue Nov 9 2010 Petr Machata - 2010o-1
- Upstream 2010o:
    - Fiji will end DST on March 6, 2011, not March 27, 2011
* Wed Oct 27 2010 Petr Machata - 2010n-1
- Upstream 2010m:
    - Hong Kong didn't observe DST in 1977
    - In zone.tab, remove obsolete association of Vostok Station with
        South Magnetic Pole; add association with Lake Vostok
- Upstream 2010n:
    - Change end of DST in Samoa in 2011 from 2011-04-03 0:00 to
        2011-04-03 1:00
* Mon Aug 16 2010 Petr Machata - 2010l-2
- Upstream 2010l:
    - Change Cairo's 2010 reversion to DST from the midnight between
        September 8 and 9 to the midnight between September 9 and 10.
    - Change Gaza's 2010 return to standard time to the midnight between
        August 10 and 11.
    - Bahia de Banderas (Mexican state of Nayarit) changed time zone
        UTC-7 to new time zone UTC-6 on April 4, 2010

Re:bored legislators (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375026)

The database itself is updated approximately twenty times per year, depending on the year, based on information these experts provide to the maintainer.

Governments of the world have too much time on their hands if they average fiddling with local time zones 20 times per year.

Agreed, but with around two hundred countries, that's not a big percentage. Also, many time zones are determined by localities as well: how many states/provinces are there on top of those 200 countries? I believe there was a recent update where a county in the US changed from Eastern to Central (vice versa?). There are lots of layers of government among the 7+ billion people on the planet.

Personally I think a lot of these problems would be solved if we just got rid of DST. There seems to be a lot of churn there IMHO.

baby's; outlive our captors, resist censorship (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374424)

good intentions are not stoppable? see you at the million baby play-dates being scheduled world wide. be there, or be scared?

our intentions for US/you;

1. DEWEAPONIZATION (not a real word, but they like it) almost nothing else good happens until some progress here, 'they' say.

2. ALL BABYS CREATED/TO BE TREATED, EQUALLY. (a rough interpretation (probably cost us. seems like a no-brainer but they expressed that we fail on that one too(:)->) 'we do not need any 300$ 'strollers', or even to ride in your smelly cars/planes etc..., until such time as ALL of the creators' innocents have at least food, shelter, & some loving folks nearby.' again, this is a dealbreaker, so pay attention.

3. THOU SHALT NOT VACCINATE IRRESPONSIBLY. this appears to be a stop-gap intention.

the genuine feelings expressed included; in addition to the lack of acknowledgment of the advances/evolution of our tiny bodies/dna, almost nobody knows anymore what's in those things (vaccines) (or they'd tell us), & there's rumor much of it is less than good (possibly fatal) for ANY of us. if it were good for us we'd be gravitating towards it, instead of it being shoved in our little veins, wrecking them, & adversely affecting our improving immune systems/development? at rite-aid, they give the mommies 100$ if they let them stick their babys with whoknowswhat? i can see why they're (the little ones) extremely suspicious? many, oddly? have strong inclinations to want to grow up to be reporters of nefarious life threatening processes/conspiracies, as they sincerely believe that's 'stuff that REALLY matters', but they KNOW that things are going to be out in the open soon, so they intend to put their acute/astute senses/information gathering abilities to the care & feeding of their fellow humans. no secrets to cover up with that goal.

again, some 'alternatives' already arbitrarily in force by the 'grownups';

The Georgia Guidestones, a massive granite edifice planted in the Georgia countryside, contains a list of ten new commandments for Earthâ€s citizens. The first commandment, and the one which concerns this article, simply states; Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.â€

Robert Walker, former chair of PepsiCo and Proctor & Gamble on water:

Water is a gift of nature. Its delivery is not. It must be priced to

Re:baby's; outlive our captors, resist censorship (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375376)

Nigger babies are called pickaninnies.

One thing for certain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374430)

His replacement won't be a Negro.

Whoa time zit bro? CPT: Colored People Time.

Re:One thing for certain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374524)

That's a little racist don't you think?

Other potential hosts/sponsors (4, Informative)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374454)

I would expect US NIST Time & Frequency division [nist.gov] or US Naval Observatory Time department [navy.mil] would be more than willing and able to host the zoneinfo database. Otherwise the time-nuts [leapsecond.com] would likely step in and offer their support. A number of them being long time Unix folk, they wouldn't be total strangers to IANA or various national time authorities.

Re:Other potential hosts/sponsors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375722)

Or even better, this guy .... http://www.timecube.com/ !

Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (4, Insightful)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374462)

No disrespect to the man and the effort that must have gone in to creating this, but from a rational perspective we shouldn't need more than one more update ever. Unfortunately as a population we seem to be far too dumb to handle the idea of moving away from something we've done for a long time to something that makes more sense.

Here's all we need for a logical, permanent time solution:

  • Eliminate useless crap like Daylight Savings Time. Legal noon and solar noon should have the same offset every day of the year. If you believe that shifting schedules with the seasons has a useful impact, changing your alarm is just as easy as changing your clock. 12 hour clocks should be phased out officially as well, they serve no purpose but confusion.
  • Define a set of purely geographical time zones, equally sized to some chosen chunk of time (likely one hour in keeping with current general practice). Names should be simple and non-political, personally I favor just the standard UTC+/-x:xx format.
  • Geographical time zones should then be assigned to countries based purely on physical location. Where a country crosses a geographical time zone line, it should keep its normal time zone unless it goes significantly in to the next one.
  • Where two or more time zones are in use by a country, they should be assigned over as large of political subdivisions as reasonable. Using the US as an example, I'd mainly ride the state lines unless a state had significant ground in multiple geographical zones, then go to county by county if a state needed to be split.

I'm sure there are a few odd cases where exceptions to these guidelines would make sense, and I'm not against it in those cases, but the way we handle time zones now is completely irrational.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (3, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374552)

Why not just eliminate timezones and switch over to GMT/UTC time? Does 12:00 absolutely have to be when the sun is at it's peak?

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374576)

This.
While we are at it, time and date will now be represented in the form YYYYMMDDHHmmss and so on. This would bring it into conformance with all other numbers we use.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374636)

Hell I'm all for both of these, I just figure baby steps and such. Fortunately while many don't write it that way, I haven't met a person who didn't understand YYYYMMDD HHmmss format for date/time. It's those early days in the month with Europeans using DD-MM-YYYY format that screw me up, being used to MM-DD-YYYY. I'm sure the same is true the other way around too.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375968)

Starting in 1999, all my comments are dated in YYYY-MM-DD format, and I set that as the date format on my computers and use 24hr time. It's so much easier to sort, search, etc. The only alternative format I use is DD-Mon-YY (or YYYY) which works well in international usage. The only time I use the US standard MM-DD-YY(yy) is on forms that require that format.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374624)

Swatch Internet Time [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (5, Insightful)

Pingmaster (1049548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374958)

Let's say you live your life in New York, where the sun is at it's peak at 7am (UTC -5 hours, 12:00pm-5 = 7:00am). You are used to waking up at 2am, having lunch at 7am and going to bed at 6pm. You then travel overseas, where the sun peaks at 1:00pm (UTC +1 hour). Now, instead of setting your watch and waiting for jet lag to run it's course, you now have to re-wire your brain to continuously remember to eat lunch at 1pm, not supper and that bedtime is somewhere around midnight.

At least with time zones (as fucked up as the current system is), you can travel anywhere, set your clock to the local time and have a general estimation of the day. Wake up at 6-7am, eat lunch at noon, supper at 5 or 6, go to bed around 11. Makes things much easier on our dumb little brains.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375116)

maybe i'm just a decadent libertine, but i generally eat when i'm hungry, and sleep when i'm tired

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375450)

maybe i'm just a decadent libertine, but i generally eat when i'm hungry, and sleep when i'm tired

If I ever want to get to work on time I have to go to bed way before I'm tired and the cafeteria is only open from 11 to 13, which also leaves breakfast boxed in between sleep and work and dinner postponed to after work - usually long after I'm hungry. So for the most part I'd say I don't...

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (3, Interesting)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375134)

You just brought a smile to a private pilot. Can't tell you how big a pain it is to fly across zones and file flight plans. Every pilot would dream of one zone. Everybody else can't imagine the chaos that would cause. Forget Y2K, that would freak'n cause the world to shut down and cry.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375300)

I just keep my watch on zulu time all the time. All you need to do then is remember what your offset is for your current location and DST status, and do some simple math.

Better yet (4, Funny)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375150)

Wait! How about just moving to UNIX time stamps. " I'll meet you at 1299198176 at the coffee shop...give or take a few thousand."

Re:Better yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35376158)

But that will only work until 2038. Then we all rollover in our grave.

Re:Better yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35376296)

$ python -c 'import time; print time.ctime(1<<55)'
Sun Jun 13 01:26:08 1141709097

64 bit OSes don't have a problem.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374612)

I agree entirely! Maybe after we set up time zones like this on the moon and/or Mars, people on Earth will realize how much simpler it is...

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374644)

Why hang on to all of the old vestiges of traditional time to complicate matters? Scrap time zones. Everybody in the world is on the same clock. Decimal time. Why should we divide 356/24/60/60? Keeping the concept of day makes sense for biological reasons, as humans pretty much need to sleep once per day.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#35376182)

swatch internet time? 1000 ticks pr day, centered on CET.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374762)

And true to the forum - there's a technological solution to a people problem :)

(not that I don't agree with it...)

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374826)

Wow, you're a genius! Clearly you've thought of every single factor and are the one human being on this entire planet to see the obvious, simple solution!

Or maybe, just maybe, none of this has ever happened because it's never that frickin' simple.

It's all very well saying "I favor", "I'd mainly", and "I'm not against", etc, but it's not about I, it's about a whole planet of stupid squabbling meatbags, and the only reason we've got our existing kludge of a system is because it makes screwing each other marginally more convenient.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (4, Insightful)

nthwaver (1019400) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374898)

The tz database is meant to keep track of present and historical changes. Your proposed changes would not simplify anything - they'd only make the tz database bigger.

Re:Daylight Savings Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374926)

Eliminate useless crap like Daylight Savings Time.

Yes, what is this daylight savings times thing anyway? I do know what daylight saving time is though

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374944)

I'm not a fan of Daylight Savings but there's ample evidence of its economic advantages further away from the equator.

12 is a useful number. It's highly composite, having divisors of 2, 3, 4, 6, making it easier for people to partition in their heads.

Timezones by county in Indiana already causes difficultly in the US. It's very difficult to get reliable timezone information for Indiana, even at the granuality of ZIP code (there are some ZIP codes that span towns and counties boundaries in the US).

Timezones that are not tied directly to geopolitical designations add a layer of abstraction. The smaller the geopolitical region, the more difficult is to abstract and maintain.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374972)

Geographic orientation as earth rotates on its axis is what we use to determine timezones. Stupid humans? Not sure if I agree with you there. I agree there are some dumb timezones out there that should not exist because some state felt it needed to not conform. Daylight savings time. Well if the boss wants me at work until 5pm it doesn't matter much most of the winter because its dark before 5 anyways. I am not convinced that it saves us anything but it would be nice if everyone was forced to conform or not.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375142)

And your way is even stupider and more irrational than the present way. Good job, retard.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (2)

Coppit (2441) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375282)

I totally agree! Now that we've settled that, let's fix tension in the middle east.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Jstlook (1193309) | more than 3 years ago | (#35376004)

Oh, don't worry about the tension - the springs will give a bit with wear.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

dakameleon (1126377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375336)

Eliminate useless crap like Daylight Savings Time. Legal noon and solar noon should have the same offset every day of the year. If you believe that shifting schedules with the seasons has a useful impact, changing your alarm is just as easy as changing your clock.

Changing your own alarm might be easy enough, but changing everyone's schedule is the tough bit. The reason time shifts in daylight savings is to try to extend the evening hours of daylight, reducing energy use. If we don't change the clock and work schedules continue as per the winter, you lose that extra hour of benefit. Either change your clock, or get everyone to agree to opening and closing an hour earlier between April and October.

Note that this is only relevant for locations from around 30 degrees of latitude and beyond, which can cause issues. Closer latitudes don't see nearly as much benefit.

12 hour clocks should be phased out officially as well, they serve no purpose but confusion.

12 hour digital clocks serve no other purpose than historical consistency. 12 hour analogue clocks also do the same, but until 24 hour analogue clocks become commonplace I wouldn't expect it to switch - and a lot of people feel passionate that analogue is "the" way to represent time.

Define a set of purely geographical time zones, equally sized to some chosen chunk of time (likely one hour in keeping with current general practice). Names should be simple and non-political, personally I favor just the standard UTC+/-x:xx format... Geographical time zones should then be assigned to countries based purely on physical location. Where a country crosses a geographical time zone line, it should keep its normal time zone unless it goes significantly in to the next one.

Generally speaking, this is true already, with the exception of certain politically motivated locations where the geographical time is overridden. I estimate you can get global political agreement on timezone consistency shortly after global peace imposed through evidence of porcine aviation.

Where two or more time zones are in use by a country, they should be assigned over as large of political subdivisions as reasonable. Using the US as an example, I'd mainly ride the state lines unless a state had significant ground in multiple geographical zones, then go to county by county if a state needed to be split.

So wait... what's happening now that's any different? At least as far as I can see in the US and Australia where I live, that's roughly the idea. We do have one timezone here that is a half hour, but that is because the political divisions (i.e. states) are straddling two nominal timezones. And given we have "counties" that are larger than American states, it's a little hard to say we'll split on those lines.

China and India are two examples of countries where a single timezone is applied even though it spans multiple timezones - both are cases of administrative convenience, and good luck persuading them to adjust.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (2)

initialE (758110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375362)

Look at it from another perspective - would it be easier to coordinate the changing of working and operating hours twice a year, every year, or easier to change the definition of time altogether, and force compliance from everyone?

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Platinumrat (1166135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375478)

This wouldn't work. The issue wasn't just to do with gov changing the dates that day-light-saving kicks in and out. There's this little thing about the earth's rotation not being constant. Hence leap seconds have to be added (subtracted) as necessary.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

bzzfzz (1542813) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375634)

We just need obeisance to a single world government run by you then it will all work great. We can switch Spain to the same time zone as England to follow your rules and make a few other adjustments.

But that aside, it's not as easy as you make it. For example, there are a few large metropolitan areas that would be split by a time zone if the world did it your way, at great inconvenience to many. Political boundaries shift. I believe there are still a few half-hour time zones in island nations to place the whole nation in one zone.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375980)

No, dump the standard time. I like the daylight savings! I like the bright hours at later times.

Re:Stupid humans, why do we still need this crap? (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 3 years ago | (#35376254)

Much of the time zone database involves historical rules too. And that historical knowledge gets updated over time as more is learned. Plus bugs (of course) need fixing. If the entire planet discarded DST overnight and we used UTC everywhere there would still need to be updates to the database after that point. Ie, someone may want to know what the local time was in Samoa on 12:00AM June 3rd 1944 UTC.

Of course, the vast majority of us don't have a need to know this stuff. We use the TZ info to determine today's local time mostly. If some older files have slightly inaccurate time stamps we don't worry too much and might never even know that they're inaccurate. But the TZ database intends to do more than just translate today's time.

LOL. Vague alarming headline on Slashdot? Oh noes! (1)

rakslice (90330) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374514)

I think they have some time to deal with it. The only thing I can find that substantiates this is an old post:

http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.comp.time.tz/2822 [gmane.org]

I think I can speak for all software developers in expressing a certain amount of disappointment that we were practically one guy-hit-by-a-bus away from switching everyone to UTC once and for all and we missed our chance. =)

time time time (1)

swell (195815) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374548)

...
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

  - E. A. Poe
http://quotations.about.com/cs/poemlyrics/a/The_Bells.htm [about.com]

Reminds me of Jon Postel (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35374616)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Postel
He managed the DNS Root Zone until the US government stole it from him.

Happy Retirement (3)

Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374788)

Have a happy retirement "Father Time". I wish Arthur David Olson well and a good time off.
Thank you Arthur David Olson for keeping all of the timezones in the world for this many years which is thankless and somewhat of a painful job which has to navigate through all of those governments in the world.
Again thank you Arthur David Olson/

Can't he wait just a little longer to retire? (1)

mswhippingboy (754599) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374806)

We only need it until 12/21/2012!

Jon Postel (4, Interesting)

ivoras (455934) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374814)

I believe something similar happened when Jon Postel signed off (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Postel [wikipedia.org] ). For a while, he *was* the IANA.

You know your technology has stopped being a frontier when pioneers like these get replaced by commitees. Globally, it's not necessarily a bad thing, just a sign of times.

You know it's an old Sun workstation... (5, Interesting)

PinchDuck (199974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374824)

under his desk, with a note taped to it that says "DO NOT TURN OFF".

That time in 1994 when some clod spilled coke on his desk almost brought it down, but TZ Guy was able to dive under his desk with his shirt off to soak up the spill before it started screwing things up...

C# - DateTimeOffset (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374924)

I have seen countless examples of bad Business Programming for time, all while knowing that Windows had some elegant rules handling it at the Win32 API level. (So to speak.)

When DateTimeOffset came out, I heard it was supposed to eliminate all the problems. The problem was, I couldn't figure out how to use it.

Well finally between TimeZoneInfo.GetUtcOffset(DateTimeoffset) and TimeZoneInfo.ToOffset(DateTime, TimeSpan), I have a half-sane wrapper that gives me the accurate times. I put in 3/13/2011 2:00 AM -05:00, and it nicely gives me 3/13/2011 3:00 -04:00 as the "real time." There's even a helper called IsInvalidTime that tells me that 3/13/2011 2:00 AM isn't really a real time. I'm still trying to learn how to use IsAmbiguousTime.

The problem is I now am beholden Microsoft to do all this for me, and thus I don't REALLY understand how to do it. I guess I'll have to use Reflector to peek at the implementation.

I feel better today than I did yesterday. Bugged me for years.

Re:C# - DateTimeOffset (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35374940)

Oh I forgot it easily handles the 3 hour window when the east is in EDT and the west is still in PST. At 3/13/2011 1:59 AM -05:00, it's 3/12/2011 10:59 PM -08:00. But one minute later at 3/13/2011 3:00 AM -04:00, it's 3/13/2011 11:00 PM -08:00!

Re:C# - DateTimeOffset (1)

Noodlenoggin (1295699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375418)

I think the problem is that you're time sequence is trying to use thirteen months when there are only twelve months in the year. Try switching the 3/13/2011 around to read 13/3/2011 and it should be a valid time. :)

Gold watch? Grandfather clock? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375086)

And for which time zone would it be set?

"Talmudic scholarship" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375220)

What is that supposed to mean?

Re:"Talmudic scholarship" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35375514)

Sarcastically comparing the density of the text and/or the seriousness of the analysis to that of the Jewish religious work?

Take a look at the source for this thing (4, Interesting)

massysett (910130) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375440)

I remember looking at the source for this package when I was in New York City to run the marathon. It was held the morning the clocks went back to standard time, and I was wondering if my computer was up to date. I looked at the source of the timezone data package and it was filled with all sorts of gems. For instance

# From Paul Eggert (2001-03-06):
# Daylight Saving Time was first suggested as a joke by Benjamin Franklin
# in his whimsical essay ``An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost
# of Light'' published in the Journal de Paris (1784-04-26).
# Not everyone is happy with the results:

The comments are very instructive and the rules are all in plain text so I could easily discern that, yes, my system was up to date so that it would switch back to standard time on the first Sunday in November. (I gave up though when I realized that I wasn't sure what my cron daemon would do!)

On Debian just do apt-get source tzdata.

Oh, another good place to look for the oddities that are buried in your Unix system is to go to "info date" and follow the "Date input formats" node.

Our units of temporal measurement, from seconds on up to months,
are so complicated, asymmetrical and disjunctive so as to make
coherent mental reckoning in time all but impossible. Indeed, had
some tyrannical god contrived to enslave our minds to time, to
make it all but impossible for us to escape subjection to sodden
routines and unpleasant surprises, he could hardly have done
better than handing down our present system.

Great easter eggs in Unix.

He missed some (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 3 years ago | (#35375900)

Like 98SE and ME

Meet the new Timelord... (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#35376170)

Meet the new Timelord, same as the old Timelord?

In our new era of collaborative social networks such as wikis and issure-trackers it may seem logical to some to think that Arthur David Olson's post might be replaced by an automated process.

Rest assured, the faithful group of volunteers that have helped the good Doctor all these many years are in no danger of being replaced by daleks.

We wish you a fond farewell Mr. Olson.
(Perhaps now you'll have time now to fix the Tardis' broken "chameleon circuit" and get it off that bloody conspicuous police box disguise.)

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