[LEAPSECS] The Debate over UTC and Leap Seconds

Poul-Henning Kamp phk at phk.freebsd.dk
Tue Aug 10 11:03:39 EDT 2010

In message <20100809222912.GB8288 at ucolick.org>, Steve Allen writes:

>The Debate over UTC and Leap Seconds


>is the title of a paper from the AIAA last week with contribution

>from P. Kenneth Seidelmann

That is what we normally call "Argument of a Party".

As member of the opposing party, I will go as far as to call several
sections of this paper for "carefully calibrated misinformation
bordering on pure bunk".

For instance, page 11, letter D:

A a small fraction of software which correctly implements leapseconds,
is taken as "opposing change", totally ignoring that 99.99% of the
worlds computers are not ready for, and by International Standard
barred from dealing correctly with leap seconds.

Or Page 6, letter A:

Too numerous "errors" to list, but notably "Unix-like computer
operating systems are generally leap-second aware;" is about as far
from the truth as you can get without getting sued: International
standards prevent these operating systems from dealing correctly
with leap-seconds and the "awareness" is all about pasting over
them to close this gap.

Or Page 7, letter B:

NTP has known about leap seconds from version 1, what version 4
brings is the ability to transfer the entire table of historical
leap seconds.

The table at the end is almost laugh-inducing:

I particular like how the "Reprogramming of working code required"
mantra is repeated over and over, totally ignoring the fact that
there is demonstrably is very little working code, and that most
of it would work just as fine as it always did in the absense
of leap-seconds.

The much larger body of non-working code, which needs to be fixed
if we continue the leap-second stunt, is not mentioned once in the
"Favouring change" column.

I guess that is "Somebody Elses Problem" ?

The "Computer Science" row on page 19 is worthy of Fox News.

This paper may represent issues above atmosphere correctly, I am
in no position to judge that, but it certainly should not be used
to bear withess about leap seconds inside the biosphere.


Poul-Henning Kamp | UNIX since Zilog Zeus 3.20
phk at FreeBSD.ORG | TCP/IP since RFC 956
FreeBSD committer | BSD since 4.3-tahoe
Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

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