DailyDirt: Time, Time, Time. See What's Become Of..

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

With the Apple Watch available now, maybe more people will be interested in wearing fancy watches again -- instead of just relying on their phones. Fancy watches once focused on telling time with extreme accuracy, but then digital watches made it really cheap to keep accurate time that was more than "good enough" for most folks. It used to be annoying to need to adjust clocks for daylight savings and power outages, but as more and more clocks are connected to the internet (except for ovens and some cheap alarm clocks), we barely need to think about how to change the time on a clock (who owns a VCR anymore?). Check out these links on accurate time keeping. After you've finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

Filed Under: accuracy, atomic clock, clocks, john harrison, leap second, pendulum clock, time, watches


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  1. identicon
    Rekrul, 1 May 2015 @ 6:43pm

    Can someone explain in plain English, the problem with leap seconds and why they will cause computers to crash?

    Maybe I'm just dumb, but I don't understand the problem. The computer itself doesn't know about the leap second. Disconnect it from the net and it will happily go on keeping time as if nothing had happened, except that it will be one second ahead of everyone else. Connect it back to the net, it will see that the time is off and reset itself to match everyone else.

    I can set my computer to an hour ahead and nothing bad happens other than the timestamps on files being wrong. Nothing crashes.

    I read one explanation which claimed that leap seconds were a problem because all computer time is calculated by counting the seconds from something like 1972. What kind of a nutcase would calculate time based on decades worth of seconds? That would be like calculating all monetary transactions in pennies.

    Is my digital clock going to explode because the world has added an extra second to the time? Putting aside the fact that my clock doesn't match up to the world time anyway, all I would need to do is set it back one second and it's back in sync.

    It's not like they're adding an extra second to every day. They're adding a single second at one specific time. Once that second has been added and computer clocks adjusted, time keeping goes back to normal.

    OK, calculating a time difference between dates before and after the leap second would carry a single second error, but does that really matter? How many applications in the world absolutely depend on computers being able to calculate the difference between two dates down to the second? And if it matters, the software can be patched to insert an extra second when performing the calculations.

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