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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 joeme1 (959209) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:15PM (#35374086)
    I keep refreshing, but there are no comments. How am I supposed to learn anything about this subject if there are not comments?
  • by BeShaMo (996745) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:15PM (#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 @06:23PM (#35374176)
      It's posts like this that make me lament only being able to spend one mod point at a time!
    • by icebike (68054) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:24PM (#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 dunng808 (448849) <.moc.ahola. .ta. .pso.> on Thursday March 03, 2011 @09:52PM (#35375896) Homepage Journal

        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?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2011 @12:36AM (#35376660)

          this is 100% bullshit.

          osanna died of a heart attack, and it was rewritten so it would be in c
          rather than pdp assembly.

          http://www.netadmintools.com/html/7roff.man.html

          • by xded (1046894) on Friday March 04, 2011 @05:05AM (#35377536)

            Mod parent up, since I'm losing that ability to post a better history.

            http://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?query=roff&manpath=FreeBSD+8.1-RELEASE&format=html#HISTORY [freebsd.org]

            Osanna first [roff] version was written in the PDP-11 assembly language and released in 1973. Brian Kernighan joined the roff development by rewriting it in the C programming language. The C version was released in 1975.

            [...]

            After Osanna had died in 1977 by a heart-attack at the age of about 50, Kernighan went on with developing troff. The next milestone was to equip troff with a general interface to support more devices, the intermediate output format and the postprocessor system. This com- pleted the structure of a roff system as it is still in use today [...]

        • The original formatter was named roff, short for run off.

          No, it was street slang for rough, because that's how Unix hackers like it.

      • by iris-n (1276146)

        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.

      • by Etcetera (14711)

        Two words: Jon Postel [wikipedia.org]

        A legend who contributed more to the operational structure of the internet than probably any other person. These techno-trustees are Greats.

      • by RogerWilco (99615)

        Oh, there are many stories. Personally I work in astronomy. Given the budget cuts that have been coming down the line in science in the wake of the credit crisis, a lot of institutions have started focussing more on their "core business" and several problems have arisen where the maintainer of a widely used (1000+ users across the globe) package was let go at their local institute because all this work was contributing to the wider community for free, and the local institute (often just a dozen to a few doz

    • by FiloEleven (602040) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @11:36PM (#35376388)

      You know you read too much Slashdot when you read "IANA" and your internal parser breaks because it isn't followed by a noun. =(

    • hahahaha, you sir, owe me a coffe and a new keyboard :) But I just can't be mad at you, that's the best comment I've read in a long time, kudos!
  • by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:19PM (#35374138)

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

    So it was magical server elves all along!

  • So long... (Score:5, Funny)

    by eexaa (1252378) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:23PM (#35374180) Homepage

    ....and thanks for all the zones.

  • Outstanding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SPrintF (95561) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:24PM (#35374184) Homepage

    The "literary appreciation" article is really first rate.

  • bored legislators (Score:5, Insightful)

    by magarity (164372) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:29PM (#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.

    • Given how fast regime changes are happening these days, it's not that surprising.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      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 hav

      • Re:bored legislators (Score:5, Informative)

        by nthwaver (1019400) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:56PM (#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?

        • It tracks all of the changes. If a train left Paris at 12:06pm on Jan 12, 1936 and averaged 60mph all the way to Moscow, you can't tell when it arrives in Moscow just by knowing the timezones now and the length of the track. You need to know what the timezones were at the time. And, you need to know exactly when they changed -- especially if they changed during the journey.
        • by DrVomact (726065)

          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?

          Maybe, but it quickly gets complicated when you try to take a detailed look at the past. Say you're writing a program that generates statistics for certain events (along with pretty PP slides for the boss). You want an exact look at the temporal distribution of these events. You're trolling a huge database for this information, so you have to extract and crunch the relevant records. The program you're writing has to give answers to questions like, "what conditions prevailed on November 16th, 1999, and what

          • by RogerWilco (99615)

            It's why Astronomers work in Julian Day notation. (sometimes Modified Julain Day, but it's basically the same).

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

            But yeah, I used to work for an electricity company, and then things do get complicated, as you have to take into account Daylight Savings, leap seconds and what not if you're trying to predict what customers will do based on data of their past consumption.

    • Re:bored legislators (Score:5, Interesting)

      by vossman77 (300689) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:00PM (#35374558) Homepage

      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

  • by plcurechax (247883) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @06:50PM (#35374454) Homepage

    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.

    • I say find someone who completely understands Primer and put that person in charge. Clearly, such a person has already demonstrated the ability to understand absolutely anything about time changes.

    • by plover (150551) *

      There are no doubt a hundred capable organizations about the world who would likely be willing to host and maintain the database, but the problem is going to be politics. The NIST would likely be seen by non-Americans as a U.S. Government run operation, which they may believe would threaten their sovereignty.

      And any time you deal with an international map, you deal with nasty national politics. "How dare you put Palestine in the Israel Standard Time zone!" "Taiwan must use China Standard Time!" "You can

  • 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 nschubach (922175) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:00PM (#35374552) Journal

      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?

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        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.

        • 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.

          • Being a USAian, I grew up with middle-endian, but the senselessness of it and frequent encounters with little-endian end up making me confused by both. Big-endian always makes sense, though.

        • 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: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Swatch Internet Time [wikipedia.org]?

      • by Pingmaster (1049548) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:40PM (#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 @07:55PM (#35375116)

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

          • by Kjella (173770)

            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...

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Need to fix more than just time too. As in my case remembering meetings when a foreign team said their project would be ready in week 33 and the Americans were scratching their heads trying to figure out when that was... Or calling up a foreign office on Monday to follow up on Friday's meeting and discovering that the entire country has gone on vacation for a month. No one answers the phone during Tea Time either.

          Forget trying to have a uniform calendar too, 12 months based on Roman ideas is a bit provi

          • by RogerWilco (99615)

            Use Julian Day for everything, then convert to whatever representation people want at the user interface end.

            It's what the astronomers do.

        • by IICV (652597)

          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.

          It's not like you're going to be flying to another country and then living in a well-lit bubble. You'll eat lunch when your hosts offer lunch or when you get hungry; you'll go to bed when it gets dark and you get tired; you'll set your alarm to wake you up an hour or so before your first schedu

          • by plover (150551) *

            When you're jet-lagged, you're certainly not thinking at your best, and picking up environmental cues is likely not as easy as you make it out to be.

            But what I think Pingmaster is kind of saying is that we still have a need for local conventions. Local bus schedules will be tied to the common morning and evening rush hours, which are today centered around local solar noon. And despite geeky protestations to the contrary, local solar noon is important as we are still diurnal mammals whose circadian rhythms

      • by gsgriffin (1195771) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:58PM (#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.
      • Better yet (Score:5, Funny)

        by gsgriffin (1195771) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @08:01PM (#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."
      • If you do a little reading up on it, that's partially already the case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_zone#Skewing_of_zones [wikipedia.org]

    • 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...
    • by Bogtha (906264)

      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.

    • by nthwaver (1019400) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:34PM (#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 Coppit (2441)

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

    • 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

      • The reason time shifts in daylight savings is to try to extend the evening hours of daylight, reducing energy use.

        What studies show that daylight saving time reduces energy use in practice?

        I estimate you can get global political agreement on timezone consistency shortly after global peace imposed through evidence of porcine aviation.

        In other words, "when pigs fly". In 2009, swine flu [wikipedia.org].

        • What studies show that daylight saving time reduces energy use in practice?

          http://www.energy.ca.gov/daylightsaving.html [ca.gov] links to this DOE 2008 report [PDF] [energy.gov] which suggests Daylight Savings saved the US 1.3 TWh over 4 weeks in 2007. While this only corresponds to 0.03% of the annual energy output, it's a fair chunk in absolute terms.

          Of course, the energy picture is complicated by the fact that DST typically occurs in summer, when temperatures are hotter and there is greater demand for powered cooling, and the demand for that varies from year to year. There's no control environment

          • There's no control environment to measure it against

            Would Arizona vs. New Mexico count as a control environment? Indiana vs. Illinois used to until a few years ago.

      • by RogerWilco (99615)

        Daylight savings isn't just about saving energy. It's also about safety. Especially in places where it's dark during morning rush hour (most of northern europe), it has been demonstrated that you have a lot less accidents if you shift the times so that less people commute to work in the dark. Especially trials in Scotland during the seventies have shown this effect and are the main argument in the UK and other places, even if the savings in energy do play a role as well.

    • by initialE (758110)

      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?

      • Well, it worked for that pope dude whatshisface some time ago, and for a couple of Romans whose names we still use in our calendar so it clearly can be done, but it gets increasingly more difficult as population grows.
    • 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.
    • by bzzfzz (1542813)

      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 t

    • by antdude (79039)

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

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      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 determin

    • by corbettw (214229)

      "Stupid humans"? I thought people like you either said "foolish mortals" or "puny humans".

    • ...And your comment is really an insight to what it means to make a database. In the real world, when presented with data, one will have missing entries, retarded conventions, and other plain stupidities that must be recorded due to crazy external forces.

      You say use "UTC+/-x:xx", how do you know the primary key isn't something just like that? I am sure that primary table serves as a way to get anywhere with the most efficient way a database programming individual could proceed. (actually if someone finds

    • by Damek (515688)

      "Names should be simple and non-political"

      Ha! Hahahahahaha. Yeah. Good luck with that one.

      Um, even "UTC" is political. Who came up with it? Why do you need to impose your time scheme on everyone? Sure, time ticks on, but in 60s? 100s? And what gives you the right to dictate universal time for someone on the other side of the globe?

      Plus, names are always political, even when you think they aren't. The very idea that someone should adopt a name you want them to is political.

  • 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. =)

  • ...
    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]

  • by Neanderthal Ninny (1153369) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:25PM (#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/

  • We only need it until 12/21/2012!
  • Jon Postel (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ivoras (455934) <ivoras @ f e r .hr> on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:27PM (#35374814) Homepage

    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.

  • by PinchDuck (199974) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @07:27PM (#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...

  • by massysett (910130) on Thursday March 03, 2011 @08:39PM (#35375440) Homepage

    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.

    • Oh, another good place to look for the oddities that are buried in your Unix system is to go to "info date"

      I remember the Solaris "truss" man page (equivalent to Linux' strace command) documenting some option, closing with:

      This option is for unredeemed hackers who must see the raw bits to be happy.

  • Like 98SE and ME

  • 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"

  • Is now a good time to bring this [timecube.com] up again?
  • As a follow up to Wikipedia's deletion frenzy, from TFA:

    Most of this Talmudic scholarship comes from founding contributor Arthur David Olson and editor Paul Eggert, both of whose Wikipedia pages, although referenced from the Zoneinfo page, strangely do not exist.

    I guess they were not notable enough....

  • The secret of this record isn't about setting your clock right NOW... The secret is you can use the HISTORICAL record of changes to work out how many seconds have elapsed between midday on the 7th July 1988 and "now" or, to put it another way. You can work out at precisely which local time satellite ABC123 was directly overhead at any given location.
    • by RogerWilco (99615)

      Yeah, or as I used to work in electricity production/sales, it was about predicting what your clients were going to do based on historical record, with the right adjustments for Daylight savings, leap seconds, leap days etc.

  • Try to find an active site or mailing list outside of the freedesktop wiki telling you where to submit patches for new keyboards. And all the links on the freedesktop wiki point to 404 or NXDOMAIN.

    At least I didn't get a bounce when sending my patch to the ML(?). No idea where or if that reached human eyes, though.

    Up to now, I took keyboard settings for granted, as well.

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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