[LEAPSECS] pick your own length of second

Warner Losh imp at BSDIMP.COM
Thu Jan 12 10:46:25 EST 2012

On Jan 12, 2012, at 1:42 AM, Ian Batten wrote:

> On 12 Jan 2012, at 0232, Dennis Ferguson wrote:

>> If we had a leap second every other week we'd have gotten so

>> much real life practice that depending on the code and procedures

>> to handle the leap wouldn't seem so scary.


> It would mean that everything that relies on interval timing would need to understand leap seconds, however, which currently they (in general) don't. Other than in very specialised applications, timestamp arithmetic doesn't need to be conscious of leap seconds when they are once every 18 months so so; if they were more frequent (like half-serious proposals to go forward one month and back the next, leaving one out in order to perform a leap of the opposite sign) then much more code would need to be aware of it, and because unlike leap years they're not predictable it would be extremely complex to organise for non-connected devices.

Given my experience with non-connected devices, I'd be happy with the rule that starting June 2012 we do one every 18 months for the next 50 years. Then we come up with a new rule then to account for the small error that most likely will be in place for the next 50 years. This is a half-step between junking them completely and having things be totally random like they are today.

It would finally make UTC a non-observational calendar. We tolerate days of drift in the short term in our current calendar with no ill effect because we know they will be averaged out over the next few hundred years. We should do the same for leap seconds. We've had postings here that show that with a 10s tolerance, we can go out about 20 years using just backward looking data.


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