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By ReallyEvilCanine (Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 03:12:36 AM EST) A Day in the Life, time, DST, Nisqually Rule the Waves, WTF?, pie (all tags)
Don't Know Much About History

Stupid design is rampant in software, and with it stupid limitations. Inevitably someone wants our software to do $Action which isn't feasible due to design limitations. After receiving a negative answer to their question about whether something is possible, they turn into Veruca Salt:

"But why can't I do it?"
"Because we said so."
"But I waaaaant to."
"It won't work, but I'll file a New Feature Request for you."
"But I want to do it nooooowwww."
"Sorry."
Fighting with a software company is one thing, fighting with more than 100 years of historical standards and international treaties is another.

Poll: Hanna-Barbera Survivor.
x-posted to da brog.



Hi, We want to use UTC time so that all our times are synchronized but why do we have to use GMT as the base time zone? Since we're in Seattle we want all the times based on our own time zone. It should be possible to turn on UTC with a base time zone of Pacific time so how do we do it? This way the data in the database is still getting stamped with times relative to Seattle time and we do't have to do any calculation for our local jobs running here in Seattle.
Um... OK? So you don't understand how time zones work and that Seattle's time is itself based on UTC/GMT. If I were to write back and say that without further explanation I'd end up in a giant game of ping-pong in the usual "Why?"/"Because." pattern.

I decided to be helpful and explain things clearly.

The base time zone for UTC has to be GMT-0 because this is the designated "starting point" by international treaty. Initially decided at the 1884 International Meridian Conference (since 2/3 of all nautical charts used Greenwich as the prime meridian at the time), it was later codified around the world in 1958 with the beginning of International Atomic Time (TAI) and finalised in 1961.

Technically you could use Pacific time since some point has to be the starting point. Had the Nisqually "ruled the waves" in the late 19th century and come up with an extremely accurate naval chronograph, no one would care terribly much these days what time it was in some village seven miles outside London, and instead we might today say "Basin Mean Time". Alas, Britannia beat us to the punch.

As to the time stamps, they already are being stamped with a time relative to Seattle, a time exactly nine hours ahead of it. Since your local jobs already run via scripting you only need to modify the scripts to be based on UTC for a locale nine hours behind. If a script should run at midnight, set it to run at a DB time of 3:00p.m.

Love, REC

And that should've been the end of it, but it never is.
I didn't ask for a history lesson, I asked for a solution. We need to use Pacific Time because our local database uses Pacific time and we don't feel we should have to change all our scripts. If we can't use Pacific time as our base time and won't synchronize our servers times and there's nothing more to say.
Yes, stamp around the room, hold your breath until you turn blue, get it out of your system. Words can't express how dreadfully upset I'll feel if your servers aren't synchronised.

This is my boilerplate response since so many different companies have sent in almost the exact same set of questions citing xthe exact same reasons. It's really uncanny. To date, two of them have ignored my explanation resulting in Prio-1 emergencies with serious data corruption, the fuckwits.

Endnote: I have a tenuous familial tie to the Nisqually and a direct familial tie to US DST codification; for two years of my youth DST was the center of discussion, interrupted only to inquire about a test in school that day or by admonitions to clean up that filthy, messy room of mine. It's ironic that as an adult -- as old now as my father was then -- I find myself knee-deep in DST issues, still receiving admonitions to clean up that filthy, messy roomdesk of mine.

< More stormy weather | BBC White season: 'Rivers of Blood' >
A Day in the Life | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Gord by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #1 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:03:08 AM EST
That's one of the funnier ones.

I'm going to call up Garmin and demand a mod that makes longitude 0 run through my house.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

You can't do that! by mrgoat (2.00 / 0) #7 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 06:43:40 AM EST
I already demanded they change the real longitude 0 to run through my house. Also, I live in a giant astrolabe. Pls Mv Nrth Str, KTHNX.

--top hat--
[ Parent ]
We can both do it by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #8 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 06:46:05 AM EST
We'll just have the software do the conversion.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
I want my mod to change the real thing. by mrgoat (2.00 / 0) #9 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 06:49:40 AM EST
I will not be satisfied until everyone else's garmin shows my giant astrolabe house as the center of the universe.

--top hat--
[ Parent ]
I worked on a system by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #2 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:05:34 AM EST
where my colleagues referred to Unix time as UTC, and appeared to fail to understand that although they both begin with U, Unix and universal are different words. It was particularly galling as I was the one who was actually marshalling our different sources together and ensuring consistency.

Also, by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #3 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:07:30 AM EST
I know the answer to this, but why oh why oh why is there a section in the Wikipedia article titled 'Unix time in Literature'?

[ Parent ]
Thirdly, by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #4 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:48:55 AM EST
PST is GMT-8 and PDT is PST+1, so PDT is GMT - 7.

So they should be running their midnight scripts at 5 pm local time to run at DB midnight. Or more usefully at 7 am DB time to run at local midnight.

Of course PDT is CEST - 9. I hope that's not what's confused you, though.

D'OH! by ReallyEvilCanine (2.00 / 0) #6 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 06:38:40 AM EST
You are correct. I was thinking CET as I typed. I do tell the various people the correct offsets and double-check before I send out the answers. Writing is personal and I was thinking about me vs. the West Coast rather than actual GMT offset, especially since I was supposed to have a conf call with a company in LA. They rescheduled so I'm already home.

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
Yeah, by ambrosen (4.00 / 1) #10 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 07:16:07 AM EST
I think the brain totally isn't wired for thinking about timezones, let alone crossing them. Not that it does well with other "add a negative to a positive" tasks, or fencepost errors, but I think the concrete detail of time and the fact that it has an instinctive abstract representation will just confuse learned abstract representations.

[ Parent ]
+1 History Lesson by atreides (4.00 / 1) #5 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 05:55:31 AM EST
And, as you would so aptly say, fuckwits...

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

i dunno by LilFlightTest (2.00 / 0) #11 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 07:53:25 AM EST
i always like to receive an explanation of why. makes me feel more like they're trying to be helpful instead of looking at me like i'm a moron.

also, i would guess that if they just went with GMT it'd take about two weeks for everyone to be pretty capable of the conversion. it takes about that (or less) to be able to think in military time...at least, from what i noticed at work.
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if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake

People don't do any conversion by ReallyEvilCanine (2.00 / 0) #12 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 08:03:21 AM EST
The only differences are where the DATETIME value comes from and how it's stored in the DB.

The conversion is done at the system level, and it's pretty simple. Change two settings to DST=TRUE, note the DB time and time zone, enter the DB server's local time zone, set user default time zone, done. Users don't see squat unless they're in a different time zone than the default, in which case they need to take 30 sec. to set their preferences.

The whole process takes most monkeys about 8 minutes including writing the E-mail to all employees telling them to set their time zones and setting up a system message with the same notification to pop up at log-in for the first NN days.

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
ah, i see by LilFlightTest (2.00 / 0) #13 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 08:36:01 AM EST
you just have lazy monkeys.
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if de-virgination results in me being able to birth hammerhead sharks, SIGN ME UP!!! --misslake
[ Parent ]
I'd drive you thru the reservation, but you'd cry. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #14 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 01:21:53 PM EST
To their credit, they cut down a bunch of trees and built a nice casino.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Careful or I'll visit by ReallyEvilCanine (4.00 / 1) #15 Fri Jun 22, 2007 at 02:32:19 PM EST
Billy Frank Jr. would receive me as a guest instantly, even if I didn't hit the crap tables.^

the internet: amplifier of stupidity -- discordia

[ Parent ]
Time Zones by dmg (2.00 / 0) #16 Sat Jun 23, 2007 at 07:41:33 AM EST
Its not as easy as you think!
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STFU UP ALL OF YOU. I haven't seen this many assholes in all my life.
A Day in the Life | 16 comments (16 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback