back to article Hang on a second – Time Lords have added one to 2015

Time Lords at the Earth Orientation Center of the International Earth Rotation Service have decided we need an extra second in 2015, thanks to slowing in the Earth's rotation. Notice of the extra second says it will be slotted in on June 30th, when the clock will tick over from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 before ticking over again to …

  1. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Gissa job

    "Earth Orientation Centre of the International Earth Rotation Service "

    Brilliant! Where do I send my CV?

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Gissa job

      North Pole. It was the only sensible location for such an organization.

      1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip
        Pint

        Re: Gissa job

        Keeping the earth upright and spinning since 1987. Have you considered freelance? I could do with a personal service like that occasionally.

        1. Keef

          Re: Gissa job

          "Keeping the earth upright and spinning"

          Shouldn't that be "Keeping the earth tilted at about 23.4° and spinning".?

          1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

            Re: Gissa job

            I think you'll find it's the rest of the universe that is wonky.

            1. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

              Re: Gissa job

              Well if we are going to be pedantic about this, the tilt is actually about 23° 26′ 21.448″ − 4680.93″ T − 1.55″ T^2 + 1999.25″ T^3 − 51.38″ T^4 − 249.67″ T^5 − 39.05″ T^6 + 7.12″ T^7 + 27.87″ T^8 + 5.79″ T^9 + 2.45″ T^10 where here T is multiples of 10,000 Julian years from J2000.0, but that's still an approximation (apparently).

              For my personal requirements this level of precision is not necessary, a spill rate of less than three mouthfuls of beer per pint will be satisfactory.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Re: Gissa job

        North Pole! Northern Hemisphere Chauvinist. South Pole's better. There's penguins and you'll have somewhere to stand when the ice melts.

        1. andypowe11

          Re: Gissa job

          Sorry, the Centre for Earth Orientation (Rotation Division) already have their offices at the South Pole.

    2. tony2heads

      Re: Gissa job

      Bundesamt für Kartographie und Geodaesie

      Referat G1

      Richard-Strauss-Allee 11

      60598 Frankfurt am Main

      Germany

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Holmes

    The last time this happened, the Amadeus airline booking system , Hadoop and Linux servers around the world struck trouble, probably because they weren't set up to cope with the extra second.

    Rather because nobody can be bothered to check the assumption, read the specs, think things through (true?) then test before shitting code into production.

    1. Martin

      To be fair, it's a tricky one to test. Unit testing is easy enough, but system testing? How do you set up a pre-production system and set it up to run the time with an extra second added?

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Very carefully.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      I'm not entirely clear on why this should be a problem for ordinary computers.

      Some central time reference goes:

      2015 June 30, 23h 59m 59s

      2015 June 30, 23h 59m 60s

      2015 July 1, 0h 0m 0s

      My computer goes:

      2015 June 30, 23h 59m 59s

      2015 July 1, 0h 0m 0s

      2015 July 1, 0h 0m 1s

      Sometime later the NTP update on my system notices that the clock is running 1 second fast, and gradually adjusts, as normal. Unless it happens to be referencing the external service at exactly midnight (easy to avoid), where's the problem?

      1. string
        FAIL

        since you ask

        > where's the problem?

        the problem is, NTP doesn't work like that. It proactively notifies the client of an upcoming leap second, and the client should attempt to deal with it by inserting or deleting an extra second, not by just discovering the clock is wrong by a second at some point afterward.

        1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

          Re: since you ask

          ...but if the client doesn't deal with it like that then the clock is wrong until ntp corrects it using the normal mechanism.

          In normal use computer clocks drift and will regularly get 1 second corrections, things like Amadeus may well be second sensitive with carefully synchronised real time clocks everywhere but for most systems this will happen frequently and probably with larger amounts.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: since you ask

            Yes, if your software doesn't even try to handle leap seconds then it will just notice the discrepancy after midnight and correct it in the usual way.

            However, if your software tries to do something clever with leap seconds, but was never properly tested, then it might segfault or lock up or anything. I think that's what once happened with some Linux systems.

            This is another reason why a good order to do things is: first, implement the tests; second, test the tests; third, implement the thing you're testing. That way you don't accidentally end up with untested code in a production system.

            1. frank ly Silver badge

              Re: since you ask

              Instead of adding an extra second, why not make the seconds (at the internet reference clock) happen more slowly for a short period of time - say 1/30 of a second slower for 30 seconds before midnight - then the internet time will have been adjusted to the 'correct' time?

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: since you ask

            In normal use computer clocks drift and will regularly get 1 second corrections,

            A well-configured NTP setup should never make such a gross correction in one go, though. By default it will slew the clock to correct a 1 second difference over a period of 30 minutes or so.

            1. ZanzibarRastapopulous Silver badge

              Re: since you ask

              @Phil O'Sophical

              Not sure about this, if my machine has been off for a while and I turn it on, then the clock corrects much faster than your statement would imply.

              Similarly we get an hour change twice a year which also happens nice and quickly.

              1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                Re: since you ask

                Not sure about this, if my machine has been off for a while and I turn it on, then the clock corrects much faster than your statement would imply.

                There's a threshold value, 900 secs IIRC, if the clock is out by more than that there'll be a step change to fix it.

                Similarly we get an hour change twice a year which also happens nice and quickly.

                That's a presentation change, the actual clock doesn't change (well, shouldn't change), there's just a DST flag which causes an hour to be added, or not, to the returned value.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

          Re: since you ask

          the problem is, NTP doesn't work like that. It proactively notifies the client

          I didn't know that, thanks.

    3. Sheep!
      Pint

      "before shitting code into production"

      That made me chuckle.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I told them that all those windmills would slow the earth down, but did they believe me? nooo ...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A good time to visit your local friendly ATM. You need to press the amount button at about 23:59:57 so the transaction hits the backend at 23:59:60. You might get lucky ...

  5. ScottAS2
    Go

    Surely if the Earth's rotation is slowing down, the International Earth Rotation Service need to work a bit harder at rotating Earth internationally?

    1. Dale 3
      Joke

      Push

      They are, but they need our help. Everyone, find your nearest East-facing wall, and give it a push.

      1. Martin

        Re: Push

        Everyone, find your nearest East-facing wall, and give it a push.

        That actually wouldn't work - as you push the wall eastward, your feet will push the world westwards.

        Better for everyone to face East and take one step forward at the same time - that should do it!

      2. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Push

        That only works if you have the same number of people pulling the west side of the building at exactly the same moment. Otherwise you compress/stretch the building so that any servers lined up in an E/W orientation will have a variable time differential. Indeed, they might even 'bounce' back and forth across second boundaries causing great confusion.

        However, realy astute designers would have thought of this and put all the servers on an N/S line.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Push

          However, realy astute designers would have thought of this and put all the servers on an N/S line.

          Which is fine only if the servers are non-ferrous otherwise they will run into issues with magnetization.

          Hmm, I thought had a compass in here somewhere.

      3. Scott 26

        Re: Push

        East-facing wall? So, Mecca, then.

      4. Bluto Nash

        Re: Push

        Won't work - opposite force on the ground and all that. Better still to take a flying jump at the wall, thereby transferring all of your momentum to it.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
        Happy

        Actually...

        I think we all knew that, but sometimes it's just fun to suspend what we perceive as reality and just mess around.

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Go

        @Symon you're saying that we should bring the Moon back closer to speed up the Earth? I can bring some string and elastic bands to the project...

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            I'm all for anything that gets rid of that blasted statue of Elvis Presley

    3. Alister Silver badge

      International Earth Rotation Service

      They've had their funding cut, so they can't cope with the demands an extra second would require.

    4. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Joke

      the International Earth Rotation Service need to work a bit harder at rotating Earth internationally?

      It's getting the international agreement synched-up that's the problem. What do you think is causing all this continental drift and earthquakes?

  6. tin 2

    "Google, typically, does things its own way by stretching seconds rather than inserting an extra one, suggesting this approach works because it's hard to log events that take place on an inserted second"

    So I presume in a leap year Google stretches days because it's hard to log events that take place on an inserted day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So I presume in a leap year Google stretches days because it's hard to log events that take place on an inserted day.

      It can be. Way back in the 80s the BT X.25 network fell over, taking the banking services (SWIFT?) with it, the first time it found a February 29th.

      1. A K Stiles
        Pint

        banking systems

        When working on the banking systems a few years back, most of the dates were calculated on a Julian-esque fashion, so Christmas day 2015 will be 115359 (adding a digit at the beginning was the 'fix' for Y2K issues so year 115, day 359) whilst Christmas day 2016 will be 116360 due to the extra day earlier in the year.

        It really started to get complicated when they were trying to calculate daily interest from an annual rate and someone decided that the way the contracts were written meant that we couldn't work it out on 365 but had to work out if the period in consideration was in a leap year...

        Still, all good fun, and usually best sorted with the aid of liquid refreshment!

  7. Crazy Operations Guy

    Why?

    We're already off by several hours each year due to our orbit not being an exact number of days anyway. The point of the time servers was to prevent machines from bugging out when there is a difference in time between systems; futzing about to be pedantic like this only makes things worse.

    I wouldn't mind if they added extra seconds each day to compensate enough to get rid of leap years, but this feels like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic: a pointless task that is only going to get in the way of people doing something useful.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      Maybe it's job justification at work here? They usually hide out, drink coffee, watch You-Tube except for one day every four years. The boss demanded productivity... soooo..... they were productive.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

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