Friday, 3 December 2010

Summer time all year? WTF?

OK news on BBC suggesting it is again being considered.

Sorry but that is just crazy. TBH the change of clocks is a pain, but we all cope with it. So some reasons not to fuck about:-
  • Unless we make working days shorter it will be dark one end or other of the day in winter. That is tough. Changing the clocks does not make more daylight. Darkness causes accidents and problems, but tough. This won't be solved be renaming the hours of the day - it will just move the issues around.
  • Changing clocks is a pain. I have spent a lot of time on software development related to this in every system we have in the company. Man months of time spent/wasted to allow for clocks changing. But we cope. We have systems that understand 23 hour days and 25 hour days. We do better than some (BT!) in sending correct times on XML messages. It would all be a lot simple if clocks did not change.
  • But clocks not changing does not mean UTC+1 for the year - that really is fucked up. When the sun is overhead in Greenwich the time is 12:00. That is the way we decided to name the hours of the day. It makes sense - it is the middle between one midnight and the next. Living in UTC+1 in the country that defined the clocks in the first place is just madness.
  • At the end of the day, what we call the hours is not important. If we think there is a benefit in people going to work and school earlier, why not do that. You do not have to change what we call the hours of the day. Yes, it would not be universal. Make schools an hour earlier and some offices and shops will follow and some will not - excellent. It would spread out rush hour on the trains and roads. That alone means fewer accidents and problems.
So my preferrence is UTC all year, and schools starting earlier.

TBH I bet I have a lot of code that will in fact break if we were UTC+1 and no DST. It would cost me to make that work, and I am a small business. Imagine someone the size of BT changing all their systems to handle that. We are lucky we are based on UTC as lots of stuff is hard when not on UTC. DST is a problem, but UTC+1 all year would be a lot more work.

12 comments:

  1. But the idea is to adopt "Berlin Time" ie. that we'de be CET (ie GMT+1) in winter and CET+1 (GMT+2) in summer... I'm with you though, the time on the clock is a movable illusion - if you want more light when you get up, get up later in the winter...

    There is usually a spurious argument presented about the farmers needing it light of a morning for milking because of the cows. SHOW ME THE COW THAT CAN READ A CLOCK!

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  2. "At the end of the day, what we call the hours is not important. If we think there is a benefit in people going to work and school earlier, why not do that. You do not have to change what we call the hours of the day."

    That's a common argument from, for want of a better word, geeks. I agree. That's the "doing it right" way. However, many feel that changing the clocks is easier than changing the culture.

    What these people seem to be missing is that in the long term it's no good just to change the clocks - you need to change the culture anyway, if you want to actually have an effect.
    Our waking day is offset from the actual day by quite a few hours, and that's presumably because some people, at some stage in the not-so-distant past, have liked it that way - people have liked to do things after dark, so even when there is plenty of daylight in summer we don't use all of it.
    If we were to change the clocks away from our geographic time zone in an attempt to change this, I suspect that it would just drift back again, and in fifty years time we'd be exactly where we are now, only with different numbers o'clock against activities.

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  3. I agree with you that this will break a lot software and be expensive to update (I can see a lot of nasty "fixes" that people will use to workaround problems, especially with legacy systems).

    I also get the feeling that the politician/campaigners are seeing a bunch of things that they consider problems and see this is as a solution. It is really stupid! I especially like that this will "boost tourism revenues", I'd like to see the logic behind that one!

    What if this means that the government ends up having to rewrite all of their legacy systems and move away from IE6?

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  4. The drifting back in 50 years is one of the best arguments yet. Nice one.

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  5. Maybe I'm just strange, but it always made more sense to me to leave the clocks alone and change the times things happen. They could be changed independently, but apparently it would be far too confusing to simply tell people that school begins at 8am next week... Nobody would ever understand that. Of course, I was the 'one' who suggested that we change it so that everybody starts work at 10am seeing as half the staff can't seem to get in before then anyway.

    But Swaldman put this beter anyway, so I guess this is just a me too.

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  6. I think it is too cold in December - let's make December July then it will be warm?

    5 leap months over the next few years should shift it?

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  7. Given something like 2 full hours less daylight from Penzance to Lerwick at this time of year a change like this is just laughable for anyone north of watford, it'll make zero practical difference for a lot of us.

    As for staying on UTC all year round, yep totally agree. So much so that I've been doing exactly that for more than a decade! Confuses the hell out of anyone who tries to sneak a look at your watch :)

    TBH, I really don't care what they do as they're unlikely to pick a sane option. I'd be happy if we ended up with midnight being what's currently 3pm as long as it stays the same all year.

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  8. Oh course, to add to the fun, many people reference Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) rather than UTC. If the UK changes to UTC+1 time zone, then surely GMT does too, unless someone moves Greenwich.

    After all, I am sure anyone referring to "London time" would expect that to move. Saying "Greenwich" is just more specific.

    Oh what fun it would be.

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  9. I've seen people use GMT when they mean "Europe/London" (in POSIX parlance). This is especially amusing when they are someone who is always an hour late or an hour early for something and we're in UTC+1, trying to do an international teleconference. There's no telling when they might turn up...

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  10. andyjpb: they're an hour late or early because they're using outlook to arrange the conference time and didn't bother reading the disclaimer it adds telling you it doesn't have a $%&#!*g clue what the timezone or offset is! all of which is another reason not to bother and just sticking to the same TZ all year.

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  11. Timezone rules change all the time. We've had about fifteen tzdata releases this year already. While I agree about the pointlessness of changing the clocks since it's all arbitrary anyway, I don't agree that it would cause software problems. Any software that is adversely affected would have been broken fifteen times this year in various parts of the world already.

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  12. I know of plenty of software that would have trouble with changing the UK to UTC+1. Almost anything written for bespoke operation in the UK could have problems. Whilst I agree that most commercial international software or even most open source software would not have any particular problems, scripts, and tools and bespoke systems within UK companies almost certainly will.

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