[LEAPSECS] The Debate over UTC and Leap Seconds

M. Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Tue Aug 10 13:14:15 EDT 2010

I think that he means that the WP7A folks are telling the software
community that either they suck, or it really isn't a problem. either
way, screw you, we're not going to listen to what you have to say and
instead make up crap so we can justify our position.

You can see some of this in the report when they talk about there
being no major disruptions, but they define major in such a way as to
create the impression that there were no problems, which is far from
the case. Many systems were of by a second and had to be slewed in.
For some, this was a big don't care. For others, it was potentially a
big deal since deadlines changed by a second, timestamps were off by a
second, etc. The report reads like a "well, nobody told us about
software problems, and we've not done an actual study of the problems
encountered by a leap second, so we'll just make up stuff that we
think sounds reasonable" but to an experienced practitioner sounds
like they made it...

In other words, they are saying "suck less" rather than understanding
how hard it is to get the details right, especially since a strictly
conforming POSIX time_t implementation makes it impossible to get the
details right. A 'relaxed' time_t implementation makes it possible to
display the right time values, but is known to break some software
that requires start of day to have a value % 86400 == 0 to function
correctly (although being off a few seconds, it functions almost

The other subtext is that "well, it's just software, and it is mostly
good enough to be mostly right, and that's good enough for us" which
relegates the best possible implementation to "somewhat crappy" which
is an aesthetically unpleasing state of affairs.


In message: <32A1A5B6-EBA7-4AE1-81C3-B8CBEAF9ECE3 at noao.edu>
Rob Seaman <seaman at noao.edu> writes:

: Hi Steve,


: Perhaps you can elaborate on what you mean here? Especially the last sentence.


: It's patently obvious that consensus is lacking :-) In other circumstances it would be unremarkable that lack of consensus implies the need for more careful and extensive discussions before acting.


: Rob

: --


: On Aug 10, 2010, at 9:41 AM, Steve Allen wrote:


: > On Tue 2010-08-10T15:03:39 +0000, Poul-Henning Kamp hath writ:

: >> 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".

: >

: > I find this to be an indication that the work of the WP7A is not done,

: > for we *still* lack not only consensus, but common understanding.

: >

: > Something happened in the CCIR VII (forerunner of ITU-R SG7/WP7A)

: > between 1966 and 1970. Instead of being descriptive of the practices

: > of others , they became prescriptive of their practices.

: >

: > --

: > Steve Allen <sla at ucolick.org> WGS-84 (GPS)

: > UCO/Lick Observatory Natural Sciences II, Room 165 Lat +36.99855

: > University of California Voice: +1 831 459 3046 Lng -122.06015

: > Santa Cruz, CA 95064 http://www.ucolick.org/~sla/ Hgt +250 m

: > _______________________________________________

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