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Timezone Maintainer Retiring 198

Posted by timothy
from the sunset-clause-means-it's-noon-all-over dept.
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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Timezone Maintainer Retiring

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  • by BeShaMo (996745) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @05:15PM (#35374088)
    You know you're awesome when IANA have to develop a transitioning strategy when you retire.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2011 @05:23PM (#35374176)
    It's posts like this that make me lament only being able to spend one mod point at a time!
  • Outstanding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SPrintF (95561) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @05:24PM (#35374184) Homepage

    The "literary appreciation" article is really first rate.

  • bored legislators (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magarity (164372) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @05:29PM (#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:fuck timezones (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Thursday March 03, 2011 @05:32PM (#35374274)

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

    Yes...the Final Countdown!

  • 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.

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:24PM (#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.

  • by nthwaver (1019400) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:34PM (#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.
  • by Pingmaster (1049548) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:40PM (#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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:55PM (#35375116)

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

Kill Ugly Processor Architectures - Karl Lehenbauer