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Ask Slashdot: How Many Time Standards Are There?

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the didn't-suffer-slept-right-through-it dept.

Science 214

jjoelc writes "Being one of those 'suffering' through the time change last night, the optimist in me reminded me that it could be much worse. That's when I started wondering how many different time/date standards there really are. Wikipedia is a good starting point, but is sorely lacking in the various formats used by e.g. Unix, Windows, TRS-80, etc. And that is without even getting into the various calendars that have been in and out of use throughout the ages. So how about it? How many different time/date 'standards' can we come up with? I'm betting there are more than a few horror stories of having to translate between them..."

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stop worrying about time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133321)

There is no time to worry about time.

Re:stop worrying about time (2)

Penguinisto (415985) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133745)

Cute joke, but I recall having a realtime manufacturing BI system that was programmed so all production at two sites would come to a halt if any node computer was more than 30 seconds off-time from the rest.

Took a hell of an NTP architecture, which is what I would answer TFA submitter with: NTP is nearly universal platform/OS-wise, and it saves you from having to worry about whatever standard a given computing device uses.

Even Windows (which has a pretty crap set-up IMHO) can be tweaked to behave time-wise with the right registry settings.

Clearly.... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133373)

Slow news day apparently. Plenty of time to post on /. about the meaningless.

Re:Clearly.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133581)

In that case an interesting meta-question would be, are apparently "meaningless" things important or not.

The question? (1)

DavidClarkeHR (2769805) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133379)

For questions like this, my dad would always say something cheesy, like "Does it matter, son? There's no time like the present, and that's all that matters".

Of course, he didn't think going into the business world as an employee was a good professional choice, either.

Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K problem (5, Informative)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133389)

IMHO, Time Standards would be "standards/standardizations for time keeping", such as say when the railroads crossed the US and decided that local high-noon was not so useful when you translate yourself geographically so swiftly, and thus "time zones" in the US were set up. Some countries (India, and China, maybe others i don't know of...) keep a signle time zone for the entirety of their contiguous expanse for "standardization".
.
Time Formats, again IMHO, would be the "standard" (ha, I heard it [that word] both ways!) used for displaying, communicating, or storing "time data values" on paper, verbally, or in a computerized (or book-keeping) record. One example: "yYYYY-MM-DD-HH-mm-ss.{fractional value of second}" [note I added an extra "y" digit to allow for the Y-10K problem!!!). Floppy disks and TRS-DOS and Apple DOS and MS-DOS and CPM and UNIX and so many others use different formats for this. They also use different "loci" for the "origin point" of time (the "epoch", e.g. time elapsed since point $x$ in time. Gregorian year 1904 for old macs, 1970 for the unix epoch, etc.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (3, Insightful)

eneville (745111) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133417)

Isn't that somewhat close to ISO 8601? I generally find it good and sensihle, helps with sorting and reading.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (2)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133527)

You could've saved some time just saying you use ISO 8601...

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (0)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133619)

I wasn't saying that I use ISO 8601. I was presenting one common standard as an exempli gratia ("e.g."), for the sake of example. I was being [slightly] pedandtic and picayune in pointing out the difference between a "time standard" vs. a "time format" which is used to encode a time+/-date value.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (0)

multimediavt (965608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133587)

IMHO, time standards are all relative. Everything is measured relative to some celestial event: e.g., the sun rising and setting, the Earth going around the Sun, the Moon going around the Earth, the position of constellations in the sky, etc. As long as you know the origin point relative to what standard you're using and know the celestial event method used for the standard, the conversions would not be that nightmarish. Now, the degree of precision would be based on the accuracy of the origin information relative to your converted calendar and the precision of the calculation used for tracking the celestial events as originally used in the old calendar (as modern measurements of these events may introduce additional drift). So, the precision of the conversion would also be relative to the application. For accountants it would be REALLY important. For paleontologists, not so much but a little helpful.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133647)

IMHO, time standards are all relative. Everything is measured relative to some celestial event: e.g., the sun rising and setting, the Earth going around the Sun, the Moon going around the Earth, the position of constellations in the sky, etc. As long as you know the origin point relative to what standard you're using and know the celestial event method used for the standard, the conversions would not be that nightmarish. Now, the degree of precision would be based on the accuracy of the origin information relative to your converted calendar and the precision of the calculation used for tracking the celestial events as originally used in the old calendar (as modern measurements of these events may introduce additional drift). So, the precision of the conversion would also be relative to the application. For accountants it would be REALLY important. For paleontologists, not so much but a little helpful.

ADDENDUM: The second [wikipedia.org] is the only time measurement that I think is completely arbitrary. They have been trying for years to standardize it on some element's radio active property (cesium-133, I believe) to give it credibility, but as far as measurements of time go, the second is probably the most ridiculous. I still think it was invented by the Dutch East India Company (or the like), as it was most likely only useful to ship's navigators before anyone needed a time division less than an hour to do anything, or need be reminded by a bell.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (5, Informative)

OneAhead (1495535) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134517)

Dude, how on earth can you get it all so badly wrong? Is this a subtle postmodernist troll or something? Sorry if it isn't, starting a discussion on a scientific subject with "IMHO" sets off my bullshit alarm.

Historically, a day was defined as 1 earth rotation. An hour was 1/24th of a day, a minute as 1/60th of an hour, and a second as 1/60th of a minute. Hardly very arbitrary, is it? Problem is, turns out that there are constant fluctuations and drift on the length of a celestial day (and year). This is very impractical because there are no known clock mechanisms (bar the solar system itself) that can catch these fluctuations, so humanity needed a more solid definition of time for entirely irrelevant tasks such as performing precise scientific measurements and keeping GPS sattellites in sync. Common off-the-shelf clock mechanisms couldn't be used for this purpose because they also fluctuate too much. Instead, we redefined the lenght of a second based on an immutable physical property: the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom. Cesium was "arbitrarily" chosen because of atomic clock engineering and accuracy considerations, the hyperfine transition was "arbitrarily" chosen because it is not too easy to skew, directly relates to a physical constant and can be measured in a reasonably convenient way, and the number 9,192,631,770 was "arbitrarily" chosen to make the SI second as close as possible to the then-best estimate of the average duration of the celestial second (1/86400 of a day). Then we redefined the SI minute, hour, day,... based on that physically immutable(*) second. Problem is, that didn't stop the earth rotation and solar system from fluctuating. And that's why we have leap seconds now and then; to keep our non-arbitrary SI-based time in sync with the arbitrary vagaries(+) of the solar system.

(*) Well, pretty immutable for the practical applications you're going to care about. There's always room for improvement [wikipedia.org] .
(+) To be precise, orbital mechanics are well-understood so in that sense they're not random.(#) Problem is, it's a chaotic system, so no matter how precise we measure all the boundary conditions, a simulation of the solar system will over time deviate more and more from reality. That's why leap seconds are based om measurements.
(#) If you look even deeper into the subject, there are solar winds and weather-dependent tidal effects contaminating the whole shebang with fluctuations we can't even predict a few weeks in advance because they're complex. So yeah, arbitrary.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (3, Informative)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134369)

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133829)

Disagree. Time formats are human readable. The example you give is a time format. UNIX time (seconds since 1970) is not. It is a time representation. Which is possibly what the article is about.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (1)

girlinatrainingbra (2738457) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133899)

Yes, what I gave is a time format. My entire second paragraph is about time formats, and I gave the example in the 2nd paragraph as an e.g. of a "time format". I was pointing out that the poster of the article seems to be confused about the difference between time standards and time formats and the interconversions and possible errors. Unix time is time readable also. it's just not as useful to most people. It's like giving someone the local temperature in "Kelvin" degrees. If it's a format which they're not used to, then they need to do mental contortions and conversions into a format/representation with which they are conversant and familiar and which has applicability and utility.

Re:Time Standards vs. Time Formats, and Y10K probl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43134253)

Still disagree. Yeah, UNIX time is human readable, but not in any practical sense. There is a real distinction between time formats and representations. Your second paragraph conflates the two.

Really two very broad subjects (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133397)

1. How many different date/time standards has the human race come up with

2. How many different data structures and APIs have tech companies invented in trying to model the present-day Gregorian calendar (with time zones and DST, etc) used by most Western countries?

It's anyone's guess which one would produce a higher number.

Re:Really two very broad subjects (2, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133457)

"1. How many different date/time standards has the human race come up with"

It doesn't matter, 6 months of the year, the clock on your oven will be 1 hour off, no matter where you live.

Re:Really two very broad subjects (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133733)

Not in Phoenix.

Re:Really two very broad subjects (1)

countach (534280) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133813)

Or Moscow

Re:Really two very broad subjects (4, Informative)

M. Baranczak (726671) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133837)

Wrong. Only if you're in a part of the world that observes Daylight Saving. Which puts you in the minority. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Really two very broad subjects (1)

Ksevio (865461) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134065)

So basically if you're living in a first world country...

Re:Really two very broad subjects (1)

qwak23 (1862090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134571)

There are quite a few first world countries that don't observe it (Most of Australia, Japan, S. Korea to name a few). I still find it completely unnecessary. Hell even one of the original proponents of it back in the day was mostly interested in being able to squeeze out a few extra holes of golf in the evening. As much as I enjoy golf, it's not a good reason to muck with our clocks.

I created one for a game (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133399)

It was absolutely awful trying to convert between the game-time and real-time.
I took the easy route and still based everything on seconds, and built it up from there.

The main reason for doing it was because the game was based on real time, so even being away caused events to pass.
And given a typical person, they'd play games more or less at the same time every day for a certain period of time.
This is why I settled on what would effectively be 7 hour days.
Out of sync with a normal day so a typical person would almost certainly come across every time period at some point.
And 7 is short enough to experience in a day, but still long enough to feel "right".
I can't remember how I done minutes or hours again, it was way back in 2005.

That project never got completed due to health reasons.
I might come back to it one day, but it isn't a priority.

At least I never decided to make a language for it as well.

Re:I created one for a game (3, Funny)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133749)

It was absolutely awful trying to convert between the game-time and real-time. I took the easy route and still based everything on seconds, and built it up from there.

The main reason for doing it was because the game was based on real time, so even being away caused events to pass. And given a typical person, they'd play games more or less at the same time every day for a certain period of time. This is why I settled on what would effectively be 7 hour days. Out of sync with a normal day so a typical person would almost certainly come across every time period at some point. And 7 is short enough to experience in a day, but still long enough to feel "right". I can't remember how I done minutes or hours again, it was way back in 2005.

That project never got completed due to health reasons. I might come back to it one day, but it isn't a priority.

At least I never decided to make a language for it as well.

We're sorry about what this did to your sanity. Glad to see you've recovered.

FREE SEX (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133429)

+36 305736940

There's One Standard (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133449)

There's one standard: It's the International Standard ISO 8601

Everything other notation is to time as phrenology is to science.

Critical Dates (5, Informative)

Sebastopol (189276) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133451)

on a side note, i love this website:

http://www.merlyn.demon.co.uk/critdate.htm [demon.co.uk]

it is a huge list of important dates relevant to computer programs, algorithms, and O/Ses.

Total (5, Funny)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133463)

There are in total 863 different time standard, including historical ones. That's the good thing about standards, there are so many to choose from.

Now, please someone post a link to that xkcd comic and we can move on to the next question.

Re:Total (5, Informative)

ericloewe (2129490) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133575)

http://xkcd.com/1179/ [xkcd.com]

ISO 8601

But, since you mention the overabundance of standards...

http://xkcd.com/927/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Total (2)

fph il quozientatore (971015) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133689)

xkcd comics are like standards. You think there's only one that applies, but...

Re:Total (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133701)

We don't need new standards. We just need Americans to follow the most used ones.

Almost everyone except Americans write dates as: day[symbol]month[symbol]year.

Re:Total (3, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134171)

And yet the ISO standard is year-month-day. It is used in China, and probably elsewhere.

Re:Total (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43134417)

It is a filthy contrivance and I'll never use it.

Re:Total (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43134211)

We don't need new standards. We just need Americans to follow the most used ones.

Almost everyone except Americans write dates as: day[symbol]month[symbol]year.

Clearly, everyone else should change to the American way of doing things, because you guys watch everything we do and care so much about how we do things. On the other hand, we don't give a shit how you write the date in your goofy little country.

Re:Total (1)

qwak23 (1862090) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134599)

Actually, that is just common usage in the states. I'm American, I live in the states, and I use YYYYMMDD, YYYY-MM-DD, DDMMMYY, DDMMMYYYY, DD/MM/YY, DD/MM/YYYY, MM/DD/YYYY, MM/DD/YY among others rather often. I mostly prefer YYYYMMDD and its variants as it's easy to sort in chronological order.

*note: I don't just arbitrarily choose a format, if I'm choosing the format I use YYYYMMDD, if someone else chose the format it could be any of the above.

Re:Total (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133595)

See the following post about Excel. Each of your standards will have an Excel-maintaining and Excel-correcting variation.

863 x 2 = 1726.

Re:Total (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133809)

864. I always count time units since the big bang, but I refuse to let anyone know when the big bang was nor what unit of time I use.

Re:Total (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134471)

Surely you use Planck units.

Re:Total (2)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133985)

Actually, we're down to 862. We're deprecating the Mayan method since the world didn't end at the end of their time...

Excel's year 1900 bug (5, Interesting)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133465)

Excel is known for considering year 1900 as a leap year even though it's not, but I don't know if this historical bug (carried over from Lotus 1-2-3 according to wikipedia) is still respected. So consider Excel usable to year 1901 to a date I don't know.
Likewise the Y2K38 problem with Unix is that time, if represented with 32 bits, doesn't go before a certain 20th century date as well as ending abruptingly on a certain date and time in 2038 - causing the end of the world. Both examples mean that you have to pay attention to the usable time range - be it usable length, absolute minimum date, absolute maximum date, with hopefully some time standards offering infinite range (like A.D. / C.E. year numbering?)

Leap seconds is another infuriating problem and relativity in general and I have to wonder if we have to consider Mars's time, Earth's time, Sun's time, Voyager 2's time etc. in any relevant way. Have fun!

Re:Excel's year 1900 bug (1)

Xoc-S (645831) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133649)

Excel does not treat 1900 as a leap year. Excel's epoch, though, is December 30th, 1899 instead of the 31st to be compatible with 1-2-3 for all dates from March 1st, 1900 onward, allowing for 1-2-3's bug. Excel and Word, and all other Microsoft products that use VBA as a macro language, use the OLE Automation date format that works just fine on all dates from January 1, year 100 to December 31st 9999. Dates are treated as a double with the integer part being days and fractions being the fraction of a day. Negative numbers give the dates before the epoch. The only weird thing is the date of the epoch, which causes things such the Time function to return the time on December 30th 1899, if you retrieve the date portion.

Re:Excel's year 1900 bug (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133769)

But the problem is easy enough to fix by adding another 32-bit epoch with the default being zero corresponding to our current epoch. And add a 64-bit precision timing field when you need precision much better than a second.

Re:Excel's year 1900 bug (1)

jrumney (197329) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134239)

Excel is known for considering year 1900 as a leap year even though it's not, but I don't know if this historical bug (carried over from Lotus 1-2-3 according to wikipedia) is still respected. So consider Excel usable to year 1901 to a date I don't know.

2099 if their bugs are consistent.

oblig xkcd ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133485)

Re:oblig xkcd ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133645)

2013-02-27 and 20130227 are both ISO 8601 compliant formattings of the same date.

As for full timestamps, there are several formats depending on whether a week number is being used (this is a committee format, remember), as well as a time zone option, etc. But perhaps the most vanilla ISO 8601 timestamp is this:

2013-02-27T07:30:00

Yuck, that T in the middle sticks out like a sore thumb. Nobody wants to see times formatted like that.

GPS Time (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133499)

Another interesting one is GPS-Time, which is basically UTC without the leap seconds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GPS_time#Timekeeping [wikipedia.org]

Re:GPS Time (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133547)

Or, it is TAI with an arbitrary offset (the UTC offset at the time the system was set up), because the Air Force couldn't be bothered to ask either NIST or the USNO what time standard they should use, and they just set their clocks to the then UTC.

Re:GPS Time (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133551)

What is rather annoying is that GPS time is UTC without leap seconds; but(for some reason) is different than TAI, which is also UTC without leap seconds.

Re:GPS Time (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133677)

GPS time was UTC during 1980 (TAI - 19 seconds) but haven't kept up with leap seconds to maintain a uniform timescale. Most GPS users don't have to worry about this since the UTC offset of GPS time is included in the broadcast almanac and GPS receivers mostly use UTC timestamps.

ISO 8601 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133501)

http://xkcd.com/1179/

This subject has already been discussed.

Re:ISO 8601 (1)

shking (125052) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133555)

Mod parent up

Re:ISO 8601 (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133847)

Mod parent up

Done!

One time to rule them all (1)

mbone (558574) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133513)

There is but one time, TAI. Everything else is just a TAI with an asterisk.

I'm not one for reddit, I must say (3, Insightful)

AbRASiON (589899) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133521)

However this particular topic has me wishing I could moderate the actual news posts themselves.
We get it, Americans don't like DST - good for you, please stop posting hundreds of goddamned articles on it.

Some of us like getting home from work with more free daylight to spend with the kids, excercise, do gardening or whatever. No, we can't change the time we start work, no we're NOT going to see business's move to an 8-4 model.

My only complaint is it's not an all round time thing, if society isn't going to move to the 8-4 model then damnit just change the zones forward.

Furthermore I've been told by several American pals in the last 2 or 3 days, they actually like DST, they dislike when it's not DST infact and it's just common misuse of the term, don't know if this is true or not.
In conclusion, just deal with it and for fucks sake stop posting these articles every year.

Re:I'm not one for reddit, I must say (1)

Teun (17872) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133681)

Oh it's not just Americans that claim they have physical discomfort due to this one hr. change twice a year.
I honestly think they are moaners for the sake of moaning, it's sixty minutes and it's for the vast majority of people during a two-day weekend they have off from work and other pressing engagements.
Many of them have no problem going out Friday and Saturday night till the break of dawn but those sixty minutes is going to cause them oh so much grief.
Come on, some nights there's something special on TV and you stay up for two hrs. more, other nights there's nothing happening and you turn in half an hr. early.

Or do they truly want to tell me they set the clock for bedtime just as accurate as they set their alarm in the morning?
Seven times a week at the exact same time?

Re:I'm not one for reddit, I must say (1)

0123456 (636235) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133815)

You change time twice a year?

You're kidding, right? That's the funniest idea I've heard today.

Re:I'm not one for reddit, I must say (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133927)

You change time twice a year?

You're kidding, right? That's the funniest idea I've heard today.

Please tell me you change your time a non-zero, odd number of times per year. Because that would be really cool . . .

Re:I'm not one for reddit, I must say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43134041)

No, it's not. I'm not an American, and I loathe DST with a fiery passion.

You want to change the hours you get up and go to work? Fine, talk to your employer. Why do you have to drag my clock into it?

Re:I'm not one for reddit, I must say (1)

Tyler Durden (136036) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133797)

No, we can't change the time we start work, no we're NOT going to see business's move to an 8-4 model.

Why, because that would make sense?

Re:I'm not one for reddit, I must say (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133827)

You know what's even more annoying than that? People who complain about what other people want to discuss. If you don't want to discuss it, then shut the fuck up and let those who care about it discuss it to their heart's content.

We weren't even discussing DST. Just time formats and timekeeping. Is that not nerd-fodder?

Re:I'm not one for reddit, I must say (1)

fox171171 (1425329) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133963)

I think the arguement in general against DST is not the time, but the change. Most people I hear complain, like myself, would like to see the time go ahead in the Spring, then scrap the whole time change crap permanently. Then call it "standard time" all year long.

There are worse things related to time (4, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133543)

Worse than suffering through the actual daylight/standard time changeovers, are dealing with timezones themselves in code. Most timezones are full hour offsets from UTC, but there are a few that are N:30 or N:45. There are even offsets which are greater than 12.

Then you have to deal with differing dates of when the changeovers actually happen over the years in a given timezone.

If you ever write an iCal-related application and have to deal with recurring events, you'll soon realize that Outlook's iCal support is comparatively even worse than IE's web standards support.

Also, relevant xkcd [xkcd.com] .

Re:There are worse things related to time (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133703)

I'd mod you up, if only I had the points today...

I'm a bit surprised there hasn't been a single "everyone should be on UTC" post yet. Maybe they wore themselves out posting so vociferously a couple days ago. Or maybe they forgot to set their clocks forward last night.

Re:There are worse things related to time (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133723)

It's worse than that. There are N:10, N:15, as well as N:30 and N:45. The offset for DST can change on a yearly basis, and some timezones follow DST partially, and different areas will use different dates to change to DST that varies by year as well.

Stardards related (1)

BrookHarty (9119) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133549)

I always push for the ISO 8601 time formats. I like seeing YYYY-MM-DD on my time stamps. Wish this was the industry standard for logging, file systems, etc.

What I hate how the US has Saturday/Sunday split on the weekend. Who really thinks, Oh its Sunday start of the week!
Monday is really the start of the week, right after the WEEK END, and that's how I like my calendars displayed. Monday thru Sunday.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Stardards related (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133693)

What I hate how the US has Saturday/Sunday split on the weekend. Who really thinks, Oh its Sunday start of the week!
Monday is really the start of the week, right after the WEEK END, and that's how I like my calendars displayed. Monday thru Sunday.

Or alternately, much like 'bookends', you have one at each end of the week.

Re:Stardards related (1)

rts008 (812749) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134503)

That won't work unless time flows both ways.

Re:Stardards related (1)

rk (6314) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133711)

Then Saturday wouldn't be part of the week-END, now would it?

Re:Stardards related (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133741)

Monday is really the start of the week, right after the WEEK END

Well, if the first day of the week is Sunday, and the last day is Saturday, what days mark the ends of the week? Thinking of the last day of the week as the end only works when you think of time being one directional.

Re:Stardards related (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133763)

Who really thinks, Oh its Sunday start of the week!
Monday is really the start of the week, right after the WEEK END, and that's how I like my calendars displayed. Monday thru Sunday.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_8601 [wikipedia.org]

Ummm.. "Weekends" because those days are on each end when (like book ends)

Re:Stardards related (1)

Perky_Goth (594327) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133953)

Well, in Portuguese Monday is literally "The second market day".

Re:Stardards related (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134225)

What I hate how the US has Saturday/Sunday split on the weekend. Who really thinks, Oh its Sunday start of the week! Monday is really the start of the week, right after the WEEK END, and that's how I like my calendars displayed. Monday thru Sunday.

I had always thought that this was a holdover from the Jewish calendar, where Saturday is the last day of the week. In Hebrew, Sunday is "first day", Monday is "second day", etc.

Time to make the move to fix the 2038 bug (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133559)

Time to make the move to fix the 2038 bug

Re:Time to make the move to fix the 2038 bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133637)

Hasn't it essentially been fixed already by moving to a 64-bit time variable? Some rare problems with ancient workstations might still pop up 25 years from now, but it will probably be much smaller issue than the Y2K bug. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Re:Time to make the move to fix the 2038 bug (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133751)

I'm prepping now for the 2038 year bug where validating ancient systems will make me a fortune because I'm the only person left on the planet who still understands the Windows 95 interface! I'm so going to be rich!

Re:Time to make the move to fix the 2038 bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43134345)

The issue is not the OS but all of the ancient software that may still be running that hasn't been updated to use the 64 bit time yet.

Adding Date/Time (1)

PktLoss (647983) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133567)

Standards for Date/Time are one thing, I've had a lot of trouble trying to standardize on adding Dates. What's August 31st + 1 Month?

See: http://stackoverflow.com/q/7614361/37462 [stackoverflow.com]

Re:Adding Date/Time (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133793)

Well, since "1 Month" isn't a fixed time period, so it could be anything from 28-31 days, and if you need a more precise measurement, you need to use a more precise operand. However, I suspect that most people would assume that August 31 + 1 Month would be either September 30, or October 1 depending which benefited you the most. Then again, in some fields (financial), a "month" is always defined to be 30 days regardless of which month you are referring to.

Time+/- an hour? Meh. Try dates. (1)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133573)

Jesus fucking Christ on a crackery cross, do any of you code monkeys have any idea just how many possible years today is? No, I know you don't. You know how I know this? Because you myopic fucktards have been the reason my phone has been ringing and my mail client actually crashed from overload today. So fuck you, and thank you, because I get to look super-smart and that pays the bills here in the DogPound.

Even in the fucking "Western World" we live with the Mexican stand-off of Gregorian vs. Julian calendar, and that's just the start. Entire chunks of software -- enterprise software, the shit that has to actually pass all sorts of testing -- had to be rewritten because Catholic Spain feels all butthurt if the calendar starts on Sunday. And since you're at it, well, nearly atheist yet officially religious Iceland kinda likes to have the week start on Mondays, too, and the Icelandic name for Tuesday starts with a non-ASCII character.

Today is one of around 100 different, official dates depending where you are and who you're asking.

Re:Time+/- an hour? Meh. Try dates. (1)

xaxa (988988) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133739)

Most, possibly all, of Europe starts the week on a Monday.

I was taught an old rhyme when I was a child:
Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.

(It annoys me slightly if an American calendar shows the weekend split. I often have events across Saturday and Sunday; displaying them is clearer when Saturday and Sunday are adjacent.)

RFC2550 Compliance (5, Interesting)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133585)

We have quite a lot of them, but we don't have many systems that are fully RFC2550 Compliant:
https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2550 [ietf.org]

Big and Little Endian Systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133589)

My horror story was being handed a file from a phone system, with no documentation whatsoever, and asked to write a program to translate it so that it could be loaded into a database for reporting.

Turns out that time, durations and dates were being persisted in a binary format in the file.

It just so happened that the time tracking system was running on some form of unix running on a Motorola 68K processor. I was working on something else (probably either an HP-PA RISC or x86.

Anyway, I locked myself in a room and puzzled out the problem. I remember doing a lot of bit shifting after reading the data into memory. Once I figured out what to do, it was pretty trivial to spit out an ASCII file with dates decoded into strings.

So it really wasn't the format that was the issue, so much as the transfer of data from one machine architecture to another.

In more recent years, I recall needing to write code to validate dates (leap years, Y2K compliance, etc). I'm fairly confident that most systems have reasonable libraries to have such fun now.

Google it. Dumbass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133635)

Jesus christ, what kind of a retard asks a basic question that can be googled?

I googled this question and found the answer in like 30 seconds, it took another 60 seconds to find 3 more sources confirming what the original told me. Thats it. Like less than 2 minutes I had 4 answers to verify eachother by from reputable sources.

Whats next slashdot going to have a headline question from a user asking how many continents are on earth? Or maybe someone will need to post on slashdot asking what 2 + 3 equals.

Google. Use it.

Swatch Internet Time (5, Funny)

Scorpinox (479613) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133707)

Swatch Internet Time is truly the savior to all of this trouble. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swatch_Internet_Time [wikipedia.org]

The whole time zone thing is just ridiculous in this age of information. When I'm too busy cruising the information super highway, I don't want to worry about whether the person I'm on IRC with is in London or Sydney. And for that matter, seconds? minutes? Relics of the past. Just divide the day into 1,000 beats and you're good to go.

So what if no one has any sense of what 10 beats is (14 minutes 4 seconds), and so what if it was created by a watch maker probably to sell more watches. Swatch Internet Time is the wave of the future, man! Throw your grandfather clocks away and dial-up to greatness on your 56k. You don't want to be left behind in the Swatch revolution!

Re:Swatch Internet Time (1)

bloodhawk (813939) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133781)

Where someone is in the world and time and date are now more important than ever with the information age. Getting items shipped to you, expectations of response times are hugely dependent on the time of day and date. e.g. it is no use me getting pissed off that the American company I am trying to contact from Australia on a Monday is not answering as it is the middle of sunday evening for them, or perhaps a public holiday. It becomes even more important with delivery times as public holidays and weekends and business hours all affect time frames for many 24/7 web sites.

Re:Swatch Internet Time (1)

rtaylor (70602) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134487)

I've found running a 24/7 website, that day or week and time of day really don't matter. Either someone is working or you risk losing business regardless of the date, holiday, or time of day.

Re:Swatch Internet Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43134583)

I have involvement with administering and operating a little over 300 web sites that operate 24/7. of those 99% would not respond to requests of any sort outside of 9-5 business hours and the few that do are sporadic. these are also not small sites (largest one receives of 6 million page requests a day). If you are dealing with stuff on the internet it is actually extremely useful to understand the date/time where the site is based as more often then not it DOES make a difference to expectations.

Re:Swatch Internet Time (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134233)

It might be good idea for people who spend a lot of time in different time zones and such, but let's face it, the vast majority of people rarely leave their own timezone, and many people never leave it. What's the point?

many (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133727)

There are quite a number. There are a number of completely different CATEGORIES of time formats.

For time presentation, there are analog and digital formats. Analog presentation format we are familiar with on watches and clocks is one of them. There is also an analog time presentation format where the hour hand turns once a day instead of once per 12 hours, and seemingly endless variations on these. There are time strip recording charts, timeline graphs, etc. Digital time presentation formats include your familiar hours-minutes-seconds digital clock. On scientific timekeeping equipment, we often also display numeric day of year (1 through 366). Other clocks display calendar month and date. Computer systems display it many different ways and it's often configurable.

For transmission of time codes, there are several varieties of IRIG in AM and DCLS. There is NTP and PTP (both of which comprise a transmission standard and method of synchronization), and Windows Time, which is like NTP only not as precise. There's the coding used on GPS. I don't know if GLONASS uses the same as GPS or not, but I expect they did it differently just to be different. There's the method used on LORAN... You get the picture: lots of ways of transmitting the same information -- or almost the same information. There is a variety of more precise systems used for recording and playback of signals.

And then we get to time scales. There's not just one unique answer to what time it is. The US government supports two time scales: NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and USNO (United States Naval Observatory). USNO is the basis of GPS time. There are national time scales in a number of countries, notably France and each is a little different, but the national timescales talk to each other. Some timekeeping systems have leap seconds and some don't.

At a more gross level, there is the Gregorian calendar, which we use for everyday time keeping and Modified Julian Day, which is different and doesn't have any discontinuities across our current epoch. Then there are a host of ethnic and national calendars, liturgical calendars and no-longer-used calendars like the Julian calendar.

In short, too many to count.

Month-day vs. day-month order (1)

ortholattice (175065) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133743)

Although this doesn't answer the article's question, I think it is relevant to the topic.

One of my peeves (that sometimes has been the cause of actual problems and misunderstandings) is the ambiguous dates that result from the American tradition of using the month,day,year order vs. most of the rest of the world's day,month,year.

Most people here would probably agree that year,month,day is the best standard because it's logical, sorts easily, and virtually no one writes year,day,month. However, the rest of the world is not logical, and people will continue to use their local standards for better or worse, even though "we" know better.

Given that, I've noticed that Americans typically separate the fields with slash "/" and everyone else with either dash "-" or dot ".". But not always. I've seen Americans use dashes (often less-educated ones, not sure why) and I've seen Europeans use slashes (though rarely).

Here is my modest proposal. Always use "/" for the American convention, and always use "-" or "." for the non-American convention. So today is 3/10/2013 or 10-3-2013 or 10.3.2013, completely unambiguously.

How many time formats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43133759)

About as many ways you can define a string in software...

Ethiopian calendar (2)

mcswell (1102107) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133865)

Not sure if this is what the OP is looking for, but my favorite is the Ethiopian calendar (no, I'm not Ethiopian). It's about seven years behind us, which meant that they avoided the Y2K catastrophe until 2007.

Oh, there wasn't any catastrophe?

Excellent book reference (1)

khb (266593) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133875)

http://www.amazon.com/Calendrical-Calculations-Millennium-Edward-Reingold/dp/0521777526 [amazon.com] while it doesn't necessarily answer the question posed, people interested in computing calendars shouldn't miss this book.

I have no vested interest, it's not my name on the cover ;>

Doh. (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133961)

I goofed. My code from the past two years isn't working right because of the M6000 bug -- I assumed there was no point for code to work past December 21 of last year.

I also assumed they wouldn't want their money back.

How simple and beautiful is a date (1)

mlookaba (2802163) | about a year and a half ago | (#43133995)

My company has a timestamp class that contains 2000 lines of code.

And 150 methods, some of which are duplicates, but just misspelled.

Headed over to The Daily WTF [thedailywtf.com] right now. :(

I wrote my own in 1992. Sorry. (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about a year and a half ago | (#43134535)

Sorry, I wrote my own in 1992. It's unintentionally similar to the ISO standard. My only goal was to make timestamps easy to sort using alphanumeric methods available to a BASIC interpreter on a barcode scanner while still being mostly human-readable .

My unintentional and unauthorized contribution to the proliferation. I assume plenty more examples also exist.

Again, sorry. At least I never submitted it to any legitimate standardization body.

Chinese Proverb describing this situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43134559)

Man with one time format knows how to tell the time. Man with two is never sure.......

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