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.