American in Spain

Sunrise at 5:30

December 10, 2007

Computers store the current time as a single integer: the number of seconds since 12:00 AM on January 1, 1970, Greenwich Mean Time. From this integer value, a very complex algorithm must be applied to arrive at the current date and time for your timezone, counting leap years and all that other arbitrary stuff that our Julian calendar has evolved over the centuries. This date determination algorithm exists in all operating systems, all programming languages, and many many types of microprocessor-based hardware. So any time the rules change on how to determine the current time, ALL those algorithms have to be updated. This is why, earlier in 2007, your operating system asked you to download an update, because the US Congress decided to change when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends. The resulting nightmare for computer programmers everywhere was cheekily dubbed Y2K7. I'm not going to debate whether Congress's decision was the correct one or not. The motive was to save energy, similar to the motive of the original concept of daylight savings time. It's quite possible that the change and resulting confusion only cost a few million dollars and that billions of dollars in energy costs will be saved in the future because of it.

As you might imagine, due to my career as a computer programmer, it takes a lot of convincing to get me to agree that a change in the algorithm is a good thing. There's nothing a computer programmer despises more than having to modify a program that is working perfectly on the arbitrary whim of some administrator somewhere. Which, by the way, constitutes about 30% of the job...the other 70% is fixing the bugs caused by these changes.

With all of this in mind, you can imagine the loud smacking sound my palm and forehead made this morning when I read the following article:

Venezuela Creates Own Time Zone

Venezuelans have set their clocks back half an hour as the country adopts its own time zone.

Speaking ahead of Sunday time change, President Hugo Chavez told reporters that he doesn't care if people think he is crazy. He said the new time will go ahead anyway.

The Venezuelan leader has said the time change will give schoolchildren more daylight.

The change was first announced several weeks ago but had been delayed for technical reasons.

Clocks will be set to Universal Time (UTC) minus 4.5 hours. The change is likely to affect time/date entries on computers and other devices.

by VOA News

Hugo Chavez visit

Hugo "Fascist Donkey" Chavéz explains how big his ego used to be.

I know from my recent trip to Venezuela that the sun rises and sets there at 6:00 and 18:00 respectively all year round. I guess now it will rise and set at 5:30 and 17:30.

As a great man once said, "¿Por qué no te callas?"