Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fateful Fall Fiasco

Reset your Clocks
Well, the day has arrived for me except for GandalfTW that I am typing this on and Sauron who is experiencing a hiatus of sorts.  At 02:00 in the United States, reset your time back an hour to repeat the 01:00 to 02:00 hour a second time in the wee hours of the 7th of November, 2010.

Sauron is taking a rest to get some new feet on him for him to keep his cool but both of them are blissfully set to UTC time for Windows, Linux and BSD.  Most of you in the United States or Canada will be repeating the hour of 01:00 to 02:00 twice, but when it comes to when and how things move in DST it is a lot more complex than that!  There is no mention of the extra hour on one of my two PBS stations. But the other one has it in a rather strange fashion (click on the picture to enlarge it):

I don't know what to make of it. It shows the hour twice, but the first one which is the standard Austin City Limits shows a start time of 12:07 AM and the second one a start time of 1:05 AM. The second on-line PBS channel schedule ignores it altogether.  I don't know if that means Astrospies will be shown twice, whether they will have a filler and it doesn't show, or the rest of the schedule is out of line in some way. Such is the fiasco of DST in the new modern age.  The Internet is one of the biggest drives of showing the weaknesses of the DST way of doing things. In simpler times with less global communications DST may have sort of worked but in the modern era the flaws of DST should be readily apparent to everybody. Here, let me look at what Comcast provides with their menu schedule.  At least they have the History schedule correct.  Until DST bites the dust and the History channel shifts their way of computing the local time based off which feed you have based in UTC time they will never get it straight! For mountain time zone users select Pacific and add one hour except in Arizona in the summer. Comcast makes it a little clearer:

12:00 ... 01:00 Rosemary and Thyme
01:00 ... 02:00 NOVA - Astrospies
01:00 ... 02:00 Antiques Roadshow
02:00 ... 03:00 Lords of the Gourd

So the program I want to record in the morning is the first 01:00 ... 02:00 that is the DST hour. On that subject I list everything in 24 hour time. Just keep in mind for two twelve hour time periods that 12:00 PM is noon and 12:00 PM is midnight.  Or is it vice-versa?  Let the Wikipedia 12 hour time experts sort that one out:

12 Hour Clock

If you ask me, in addition to eliminating this clock thrashing, everybody in the world should standardize on a 24 hour clock.  The article also points out that frequently we end up with confusion due to the time in Internet forums. That just makes a good argument for or all things involving computers, do everything in UTC 24 hour time if you can help it.  Try it!  You will like it! Do we have this all sorted out?  No, because in the southern hemisphere they were (are?) jerking the time forward while in the northern hemisphere they are falling back. But surely they have it all straightened out now don't they?

iPhone DST bug (AGAIN)!

The one I originally put in the blog was for 2010 and it has disappeared.  But when I went to find a link for it in Google I found they have the same problem again in the year 2011.  Will the problem ever disappear?  Yes if we send to DST to the scrap heap.  No if we continue trying to use such an insane system as DST!  If the DST system is so simple, then why is the most modern device we have, the iPhone, experiencing problems?  I have news for you. Apple developers are a lot smarter than the now Republican controlled United States House of Representatives is and Apple still fouled up!  But having Republicans back in control in the US Congress does not bode well for reform.  Too many of them play golf. The people in favor of this clock thrashing are the retailers and most notably the sporting retailers and the apex of those thinking DST is a good thing is the golfing industry.  I hope some of the new Republicans are like the Republican who slept in his office, showered at the congressional athletic club and used the money he saved by not having a fancy town-house to finance his son's college education. Who thought what this Republican representative was doing was a bad idea?  The speaker of the House, Tom Foley, a Democrat. What we need are more creative people that can see we must come up with a better way of doing things! So don't let up people.  We need to get this standard time only way of doing things back on track.  I am going to digress in the next post and give a time keeping 101 so you know what that standardized time is.

A Better Way

What is the better alternative?  Put the clocks back to a standard time and leave them there.  The various national legislative bodies need to pass legislation that encourages but does not mandate when they shift to doing things earlier but tells them to probably do it in two separate time shifts of 30 minutes about three to four weeks apart in the spring.  You do that by showing up to work at 08:00, then 07:30, then finally 07:00. That may get rid of the spring suicides, accidents and other health problems caused by a too rapid shift forward in doing things.  Some may whine, that won't work. You will never know whether it works or not until you try it.  Nobody has tried it yet! But why should congress mandate when these shifts forward in doing things takes place?  Florida doesn't have that much extra daylight in the summer than the winter but Minnesota does.  Let the locale determine if and when to make these time shifts. The reason Arizona said it is dumb is two-fold.  First their summers are so blistering hot that they have a mid-day shut down of sorts in summer.  They work in the morning, do a siesta during the mid-day hours when it is too hot, then work again in the late afternoon, especially when they work outside.  I should know because I used to work in Arizona.  You only work all day long in the summer if you are up in the mountains like in Flagstaff or a place like that.  Second, shifting the clock forward and then backward really is a dumb idea!  Arizonans must be blessed with more intelligence because they saw that. For Alaskans it was a stupid idea anyway. If you only sleep at night you will be getting less than 3-4 hours of sleep during the summer in most places. Hawaiians just don't benefit from DST since like Florida but even more so they have almost no difference in the number of hours in summer or winter.  If you do not believe me start Google Earth and fly to Hilo, Hawaii. The latitude is only 19 degrees, 43' 47" North.  That is amazing detail!  "The times, they are a changing."

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Falling back in the Fall

Well this year to quote a lady, "an election is coming and the fox has a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry."  But more than that this insane time that comes up twice a year is now staring us straight in the face.  Here are some links on the subject of DST:

Wikipedia Daylight Saving Time
About DST Article
Moderatrix hates DST
DuncanMac's VIews on DST

Okay, lets back up for a second.  When is the mysterious day going to occur in the fall of 2010 that we have 01:00 to 02:00 hour repeated twice?  In 2010 it is going to occur on 7 November.  In spring we don't have too much of a problem with schedules.  That is because nothing is scheduled during the hour of 02:00 to 03:00.  That is because it doesn't exist.  But you better be careful in the fall.  When somebody says, record this program that is on from 01:00 to 02:00 on channel 115 we have to retort, which one, the first one or the second one? It may have been tolerable back in the days before computers and instant communications with people all the around the globe.  But now it is causing extreme problems.  We need some standardization on time again and DST must be abolished!

The failling back in the falls hasn't come a moment too soon.  For the past four weeks I have watched children trudging off to school in darkness, no doubt with some being maimed or injured or even killed because they are going to school too early.  But I have no easy answer other than to say they should have shifted to going later much sooner than now.  Why didn't they do it sooner?  Because the darn golfers in the United States Congress have saw that with global warming they can get approximately twenty more extra hours of golfing in during the month of October.  In the year 2007 they changed the shift to go back from DT to ST to be the first Sunday in November rather than the first Sunday in October.

Okay, what will happen to my computers, especially since it used to take me almost a week of hashing out what time it is due to the differences between the way Linux and Microsoft Windows handle things?  Well from now on nothing will happen.  Things will go smoothly without any problems.  That is because I have shifted my computers over to UTC time which does not change.  I advise you go read those sections in the Wikipedia article on the TZ database and Microsoft Windows.  It will clue you in that it is much more complex than just falling back an hour in the Fall and springing forward an hour in the Spring.  How bad is the problem?  I noticed no less than two TZ updates for Ubuntu Linux, one for OpenSuse Linux, and one for Microsoft Windows in the past two months.  If DST is so simple, why do I have that many updates to the TZ database to handle this insanity?  Not only that but the extra month caused all sorts of problems with more than one piece of software that had all sorts of problems with this extra DST month.

There are both downsides and upsides to having my computer and networking clocks set to UTC time.  Humorously, the only downside was to see the online schedule for one TV channel properly displayed in UTC time, not local time.  I just checked and it is still doing it.  I can see a reason for them doing it that way since my body is in the MT time zone.  If they provided a feed to Arizona, what is showing in the rest of the MT zone at 13:00 is showing at 12:00 during the Saving Time Period in Arizona.  In just a few weeks we will be back in sync again.  So how do I handle the schedule snafu?  During the Saving time period I just subtract six hours and during the regular time period I will subtract seven hours.  If I had my choice I would always just subtract seven as long as I am in the MST time zone.  But the upsides are tremendous.  No thrashing of the clock.  No problems at all. It is rock hard stable.  Let them change that TZ data all they want to.  I am now immune from it.  But I also communicate with people all over the globe.  It is much better to just stabilize on one time that is rock hard stable.  There is a reason the US miliitary and other militaries have stabilized on using UTC (Zulu) time.  Quick, which time zone is the aircraft carrier or the long range bombers in right now?  They had tons of problems before they did that and that is even without the added complexity of DST being added into the mix.  Another thing is that it throws the Internet tracking of me for a loop.  My WAN IP is correctly identified but I notice that the UTC time does throw some of them off.  Would I ever go back to a local time zone time?  NEVER!  From now on all computing and networking equipment will be UTC time all the way.

So as you can see, this is much more complex than just a simple fall an hour back in the fall and spring an hour forward in the spring. TV and other schedules get all fouled up.  Here is my tentative plan for addressing the problems I see with Daylight Saving Time (DST):

1. Safety issues, latitude problems.

2. TV Schedules.

3. Energy Savings.

4. Circadian rhythms and health issues.

5. Military and other problems where multiple time zones are involved.
    12:00 PM / 12:00 AM versus 00:00 / 12:00

Z. Simplification and beyond.

So stay tuned.  This isn't just a random beef against DST.  I am firmly committed to a fight to kill this DST monster once and for all.  To clue you in where it is headed, I am not against doing things an hour earlier during the longer daylight hour months.  But you can easily do that by just doing it an hour earlier.  It is just that when that starts and ends will be later and sooner respectively in Canada or Minnesota than it is in Alabama.  Sorry golfers, this train is coming through and that is all there is to it.  I am dead serious about seeing DST to die the death that it deserves.  It is causing infinitely more problems than any good that comes from it.  Like that Gregorian calendar that replaced the flawed Julian calendar that should in turn be replaced by the business calendar, DST needs to be abolished from off the face of the earth.

Business Calendar (proposed)

Stay tuned.

A Better Calendar Part 2

So what is wrong with this calendar that the US Congress proposed?  We have this steady progression of every seven days and all of a sudden we have eight days between one Sunday at the end of the year which just happens to be the last day of the year and the next Sunday because of that extra day.  The same holds for Saturday or any the day of the week.  From one day of the week to the next they are always seven days during the year but from one year to the next we have eight days.  And then every leap year we have an additional eight days instead of seven.

I would think they could just adjust but tradition is far more powerful than intelligence.  I can remember watching the original Around the World in Eighty Days and watching Phileas Fogg arguing with Passepartout: "I have kept  a careful record and this is the 81st day."  But they had gone around the world, always traveling east. They had crossed the International Date Line.  But it does give one pause for thought.  How does this impinge on this insane idea of every seventh day?  If we are to be literal, Phileas Fogg is correct.  Sunday for him is now one day ahead of everybody else.  So they can stick that in their date calculations of what is when and perhaps move Christmas to that end of year day that is not part of any week.  What made Christmas to be on the 25th of December and Easter when it is?  People did and they can change it if they want to.

So what does this have to do with Daylight Saving Time?  You can see there are problems when you move around the earth.  You can also see that beliefs are much stronger in opposing something that works better.  Okay, now you at least know of an alternate calendar that could be used and IMHO, should be used.  I can guarantee that it won't be used for at least another 400 years though.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Better Calendar

Before I continue on with this madness which for people in the US except for Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii means they have to thrash their clock back this month there is an allied topic, the calendar we use.  Here is a Wiki article on a proposed modified calendar that could be used to replace the current Gregorian calendar:

World Calendar

The only major objection I have to it is that there are four Friday the 13ths in the accursed thing.  Well, guess what?  Those same people that gave us DST in the United States Congress tweaked this design so that it was even  better and had no Friday the 13ths.  Why didn't they refuse to take no on that one and push the calendar forward instead?  The sad thing is that the URL that I had that showed what that calendar looked like seems to have disappeared.  So if somebody who reads this knows anything about it I would appreciate you adding the URL in a comment.  The calendar was created in the 1950s.  Let me do one more search to see if I can find it.  All I can come up with is this:

Calendar Reform

It seems that the US Congress wants their lovely calendar that had no Friday the 13ths, and was business oriented to never be seen again.  The main arguments against the Congress Calendar came from the various religious factions.  But those arguments apply equally against the World Calendar and the International Calendar that has thirteen months and each one has a Friday the Thirteenth. Gasp, thirteen Friday the Thirteenths every year! Given the fact that even the Eastern Orthodox and Russian Orthodox Easter is sometimes not on the same Sunday with their calendar as it is in the Gregorian I think these religious arguments are already off to a bad start because we can't even get them to correlate.  Don't get me started on the Muslims or the Jews because both of them also have a lunar calendar.  I just remembered what the tweak was and I hope this gets put into the Calendar Reform Wiki article.  Here is what it looked like:

US Congress Calendar (proposed in the 1950s)

Why did I include this blog entry?  Because it shows that in the issue of time there are a lot of beliefs and very little rational thinking is going on.  If people were thinking rationally they would dig up that Calendar system the US Congress created and ram that thing through just like they did with DST. At least then we would have a calendar system that makes since.  Or does it make sense?

There is one more thing. The Mayan Calendar is not the most accurate calendar in the world.  Not only that but it isn't just one calendar but two calendars instead.  Finding an Easter in either the Haab' or Tzolk'in would be almost impossible:

Mayan Calendars

Not only does it have two calendars but it takes a time cycle of 53 Haab' years before the Haab' and the Tzolk'in mesh again due to the difference of 260 days versus 365 days. The year 2012 is not the end of either calendar.  It is just when the two coincide again.  So like the year 2000 when some idiotic reporters didn't understand why some place in Italy shifted the year to 1972 you can rest assured there will not be some magical melt-down.  Why did they use 1972?  Because the days aligned the same as they did for the year 2000 which was the first end of century year since 1600 to have a leap day per the formual set up for the Gregorian calendar.  The idiots that wrote the original Gregorian leap year calculation in their software didn't implement it right.  They said there was a leap year if the year was evenly divisble by four (no remainder) unless it was a century year, The forgot the calculation that century years that are evenly divisible by 400 are also leap years.  Given how simple the algorithm is I am shocked they did such a bad job of implementing it.  I can understand the two digit years which could be stored in just one byte with BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) since memory was very scarce when they wrote the code.  Even the computer instructions that are being coded for posterity are getting fouled up when it comes to good accurate time.  Everybody coding for time needs to take the oppootunity to get it correct right now.  They should code for UTC (also called GMT despite the two implementations being different) time and ignore local time.  At least that way they can throw the DST nonsense out the door right now.  There is no DST for UTC time.  Isn't stability wonderful?

The next post will tidy up on this subject and then I will make one on the upcoming thrashing that will go on this month and repeats itself every year with another one ever spring. It includes what Linux distros need to do that was a choice and should be a choice once again of UTC time when you do a system install.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Reason for this Blog

This blog will concentrate on the reasons for doing away with Daylight Saving Time (DST). Even in a simpler era, the trains fought DST for a very good reason. It caused them a lot of problems. Back then times were much simpler. Today we have television, radio, Internet, airplanes, and problems with even something so simple as Microsoft Windows and Linux both setting the clock differently. At least until recently, Microsoft Windows Windows set the real clock (hardware) to local time and Linux set it to UTC (also called GMT and Zulu) time.

Today we have TV channels with people who still cannot get it right. Take the History channel for an example. If I go to it selecting the Mountain Time Zone, their web site has it fouled up. They show "The Universe: Secrets of the Space Probes" as coming on at 10:00 PM MT. It has been this fouled up for years now. If you want to see when it comes on, select PT. Then add one hour unless you are in Arizona. During winter that is what you do there. During the summer which has DST every place in the Mountain Zone except Arizona that is still what you do since Mountain time is one hour ahead of Pacific Time. But Arizona does not use DST. So during the summer they do nothing in Arizona since the Pacific Time (PDT) has de-facto become the same thing as MST and it is thus at the same time.

Confusing? Of course it is. How should the History channel do it? Stop specifying their two feed times (one for eastern and one for pacific) in local time! Express them in UTC time. To calculate the viewing time just subtract the proper amount of hours depending on which feed is used. If you get the eastern feed you subtract from it. But I can guarantee they will never get it correct until DST is abolished.

Kazakhstan has abolished DST, citing health complications as the reason. That is probably because it caused so many headaches with things like this. Russia has about eight time zones and Kazakhstan still has ties with them for television and other things.

So tell the golfers in Congress to just shift to doing things an hour earlier so they can go out and play golf. They can do that very simply without the added complexity of Daylight Saving Time (English Summer Time).