[LEAPSECS] No leapseconds on trains

Warner Losh imp at bsdimp.com
Thu Nov 17 11:57:13 EST 2011

On Nov 17, 2011, at 9:29 AM, Rob Seaman wrote:

> On Nov 17, 2011, at 8:29 AM, Warner Losh wrote:


>> That's the problem with leap seconds in a nutshell, btw.


>> Nobody but extreme time geeks thinks about them. Nobody thinks they are important. Nobody thinks that they matter.


> They don't matter but civilization will topple if they exist? Cue the chorus:


> Leap seconds are a means to an end. The issue is redefining the meaning of Coordinated Universal Time. By all means debate alternate ways to meet the engineering requirements.

Well, I did engage in a little rhetorical hyperbole. This isn't about engineering a complete time solution, it is the arrogance and/or ignorance of the corner case leading to people either not stopping to consider it or stopping to consider it and blowing it off.

It is a problem with the current system. No solution is offered to this problem in this context. It is a problem that nobody can deny exists.

>> Lots of people have a "well, it's just a second, things will mostly self correct if I screw it up, so why bother." It hasn't been until the last decade that computers have been connected enough for it to start to matter and all the "it doesn't matter to me, so screw everybody else" attitude is getting in the way.


> The "screw everybody else" attitude is coming from the folks who can't be bothered to call a leap-less timescale "TI" as was decided in 2003.

Was that official? No. Do people actually know about it? No. Heck, I knew that was a recommendation, but didn't know it was formally and finally decided. :)

>> The marketplace is voting with their feet that this standard is lame and not worth doing right.


> The marketplace isn't voting at all. Ultimately physical reality wins all tie-breakers.

No, they've come up with a different solution: ignore the problem and someone/something else will reset the clocks if there's an error. That's the predominate solution that exists in the marketplace today: leap seconds are hard/obscure/not worth the cost: f* em. If time gets out of sync, the magic time fairies will set things right.

As I think we've both said: leap seconds are a means to an end. The "magic time fairies" solution is also a means to the same end. By all sane, rational metrics, it is an inferior means to the end, but the world is full of good technical solutions that have failed in the marketplace to inferior, shoddy ideas that were cheaper to implement.

> And of course the ITU process has spurned the participation of railroads as it has everybody else.

Perhaps that indicates that the ITU process isn't serving the needs of the people its standards are supposed to support.


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