[FoRK] leap second

Russell Turpin russell.turpin at gmail.com
Wed May 20 11:57:51 PDT 2015


I suspect the real problem is that the powers that manage Unix epoch
time did something really, really stupid.

The original epoch time had some very nice features. By starting at
one known time and counting seconds up, a) every second (and
millisecond, and smaller) had a unique designation, and b) programmers
could do arithmetic with time: t2 - t1 was the elapsed number of
seconds between those events. All issues of how to present a specific
time were shoved off to formatting methods. Given a time t, and time
zone and daylight savings time conventions and desired format and
whatever else, generate a desired ASCII presentation, or something
else.

But time itself was numeric and pure.

Then some committee made one of the dumbest decisions in the annals of
engineering. It decided that the way to handle leap seconds was to
shift epoch time and replay those seconds. Which destroys both of the
desirable properties above, and make epoch time less useful for
tracking time.


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