[Wikipedia-l] Timezone based on UTC? (was: New e-mail feature)

Jaap van Ganswijk ganswijk at xs4all.nl
Wed Aug 21 23:59:51 UTC 2002

At 2002-08-21 18:34 -0400, Pierre Abbat wrote:
>On Wednesday 21 August 2002 16:53, Jaap van Ganswijk wrote:
>> I wouldn't do that if the server is really in that timezone.
>> Servers have an actual location on earth and should run in
>> local time, I think.
>Servers serve the whole world and should run in UTC.

Of course I agree with you that in a perfect world
there should only be one time. What does it matter at
what time Australians get up, they will get used to it.
They celebrate christmas in summer, why not get up at
00:00 and go to bed at 16:00? (I often do, although I'm
in the Netherlands). Of course I'm also dead set against
daylight savings time and think that the responsible
politicians should be shot. I used to work as an embedded
programmer and most people have no idea how difficult
issues of time and date can be, even without daylight
savings time. We used to make machines for the justice
department over here, and the best advice I can give
any crook: Do your evil deeds between 2:00 and 3:00
in the night the clock is being set back and make the
lawyers ask for a mistrial because the exact time of
the crime has not been reported correctly.

>What the time zone at the server's physical location
>is is irrelevant.

On the other hand I'm very practical and say: Use the
local time, but follow common Unix practice. This problem
is not new. Unix systems keep track of local time and
universal time and it's not too hard to get any kind
of time out of a Unix system.

The MS-DOS system was much funnier: A file second's
time couldn't be odd. Bill Gates tried to compress the
date and time in a kind of BCD in 32 bits and he came
one bit short...

>Time zone change is disruptive, and though it happens
>at 2:00 in local time, that is broad daylight elsewhere
>on the globe.

What are you saying? Are you unaware that Unix systems
count the time in seconds since 1970 and derive all
other further knowledge of date and time from that?

(Of course then the next question is: does the system
keep time in seconds since 1970-01-01 UTC or any other
local time...?)

>I have no trouble remembering that my time zone is
>4 hours west of Greenwich in the summer and 5 in the

Yes, but I always wonder: Isn't the daylight saving
time valid in Greenwich itself?

So is our time relative to a virtual time that the
Greenwichers themselves live at, or at the time that
they really have on their watches?

I think that politicians that mess with time are
messing with the essence of things you can't mess
with and should be shot.

>But if I were trying to make sense of logs kept in
>Australian time, which shifts forward when I shift
>back and maybe a few weeks off, I would get quite

Indeed. We should have a single universal time and
date accross the whole globe. We should also spell
it in the same way:
20020822 01:38
2002-08-22 01:38

It's strange however that years are counted from
the birth of a jewish rebel called Christ in
0000 (or 0001 as some claim), months also from 01,
days also from 01, but hours and minutes from 00,
although the angloamericans tend to count minutes
beyond the 12/24. The use of AM/PM is extra confusing,
because the question (for non angloamericans is)
is 12:30 AM or PM?

I'm not advocating the Swass Beat system which divides
each day into 1000 beats and which are the same over
the whole world, but especially you anglo-americans
should wise up!


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