The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

My bête noir strikes again

The only real benefits of ending daylight saving time are getting an extra hour of sleep the first Sunday in November and having the sun already up when you awaken for the first time in weeks.

This morning, Parker, not knowing anything about clocks or sleeping in, nudged me awake at 6:45. Sure, my Fitbit says I got almost 8 full hours of sleep, but dammit, dog.

Plus, it's a gray, damp, cool morning in November. Sleeping just a little longer would have been nice.

The darkest morning

Because of a quirk in the calendar, today's sunrise in parts of the United States that observe daylight saving time was the latest it's been in many years. In Chicago, that was 7:27 this morning. The sunrise won't be that late again until 6 November 2021.

Plus, it was pissing with rain when the sun finally did come up today, making it especially gloomy.

I'm not really sure why we switched from the end of October to the beginning of November in 2007, but I really hate it.

Happy 1.5 Gigaseconds!

Tonight at 02:40 UTC, all Unix-based computers (including Apples running OS-X) will pass a milestone: 1.5 Gs since the beginning of time (at least as far as Unix is concerned).

Unix keeps track of time by counting the number of seconds since 1 January 1970 at midnight UTC, which (at this writing) was 1,499,962,035 seconds ago. Tonight at 21:40:00 Chicago time will be 1.5 billion seconds since that point.

If you miss this anniversary, don't worry; it'll be 2.0 Gs into the Unix time epoch on 18 May 2033 at 03:33:20 UTC. Mark your calendars now!

Open tabs at lunchtime


I hope to read these articles sometime this year.


Fascist time zones

It turns out, Spain may be changing time zones soon, away from the one established by Franco:

After months of speculation, Employment Minister Fátima Báñez announced this week that the government is working on a plan to get more workers out of the office at 6 p.m., rather than being stuck at work until 8 or so, as many currently are. Báñez said that one important part of that policy under consideration is a switch from Central European Time (CET) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), under which the clocks would be put back permanently by one hour.

[W]hen the country first standardized its time in 1900 after using solar time for centuries, it used GMT. It was only during World War II, in 1940, that Spain’s fascist leader, Francisco Franco, changed the time zone to CET so that the country could be line with Nazi Germany and its occupied lands. After the war, Franco stayed in power until the 1970s. The clocks were never changed back.

See? And you thought this was going to be about Trump.

Break-Fix, or why it's nice to know the developer

The IANA time zone database published an update a couple days ago, and yesterday I uploaded the changes to a few of my web applications. Then one of the applications blew up. This is because I hadn't accounted for the possibility that a time zone abbreviation could include non-alpha-numeric characters.

Within an hour I'd updated the affected code and published an updated NuGet package. So now it's fixed. I just have to update a couple of applications that have all their time zone data in caches, so that when they reload the data, they continue functioning. (This blog is one of the apps.)

Meanwhile, you can see the problem if you go to the Inner Drive time zone demo, select Europe/Astrakhan, you'll see the "+03" or "+04" that my stuff couldn't parse properly.

So one of my customers, not quite understanding how NuGet works, asked about what they should do if they need something in an Inner Drive package changed. Let this be an example of why they might not need even to ask. And also, contrast this quick response with, say, Microsoft, who created most of the packages that people use in ASP.NET applications.

No, we're not moving to global UTC

CATO institute fellow Steve Hanke and Johns Hopkins physics professor Dick Henry advocate eliminating time zones:

The plan was strikingly simple. Rather than try to regulate a variety of time zones all around the world, we should instead opt for something far easier: Let's destroy all these time zones and instead stick with one big "Universal Time."

While it may ultimately simplify our lives, the concept would require some big changes to the way we think about time. As the clocks would still be based around the Coordinated Universal Time (the successor to Greenwich Mean Time that runs through Southeast London) most people in the world would have to change the way they consider their schedules. In Washington, for example, that means we'd have to get used to rising around noon and eating dinner at 1 in the morning. (Okay, perhaps that's not that big a change for some people.)

Washington Post writer Adam Taylor interviews the two cranks men to get the whole story. They also advocate for a universal calendar that includes an extra week belonging to no specific month between December and January.

There is some reason to suspect that the duo are not entirely serious...

The politicization of time zones

The CBC weighs in on one of this blog's perennial topics:

Going by the sun's position in the sky, Saskatchewan should be on mountain time, the same as Alberta. The border city of Lloydminster gets it right and uses mountain time but the rest of Saskatchewan is effectively on daylight time year round, while the province says it's on standard time.

Lots of places do the same, and some by more than an hour.

And Newfoundland, where the clocks are 30 minutes ahead of the ones in most of Labrador and the rest of the Atlantic time zone, can claim to be in minute-sync with all sorts of places.

The 30-minuters added another one to their list this year.

They also have a listicle of facts about daylight saving time, for those who are not already completely exhausted by this topic.

Turkey time

No, not Thanksgiving; the time of day right now in Turkey. Even though I follow time zones pretty carefully, I really can't tell you what time it is right now in Ankara, and it seems no one else can, either:

Following a decree originating from the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s government has officially delayed the start of daylight saving by two weeks. Like the rest of Europe, the country was supposed to turn back its clocks in the early hours of Sunday, October 25. Elections coming up on November 1 prompted the move, as the government reckoned that more evening light might ensure a better turnout.

But even in a country with a tradition of occasionally delaying daylight saving a day or so, the two-week delay has come across as more than a little Pharaonic in its ambition. There’s another problem: no one seems to have informed the country’s automatically adjusting clocks. This means almost every cellphone and computer jumped out of sync on Sunday morning, causing minor chaos as Turks struggled to work out whether their clocks had changed automatically or not. On Twitter the hashtag #saatkac—“What’s the time?”—trended as people reveled in Erdoğan’s King Canute moment.

The IANA Time Zone Database pushed out a change on October 1st. While some sites, including this blog and Weather Now, updated our copies of the database immediately, apparently not everyone else has. Typically it takes a few weeks to get changes pushed to millions of cell phones.

This is a minor, but telling, example of how authoritarian governments encourage incompetence. If Donald Trump gets elected president, expect this sort of thing to happen here.