March 12, 2007: First Full Day of WDST

I woke up minutes before my alarm this morning at four forty five! Way too early for me. I can’t believe that I had to be up so early. I showered, ordered the car and took the server and racking equipment down to the car so that I can deliver them to Scranton tonight after work. What a long week it is going to be. This is the hardest stretch that I have had to do in a long time.

I read a really interesting article today about Google’s San Francisco Bay Area transit system for its employees. What a great benefit for people working at Google.

The weather is gorgeous again here today. Bright and sunny and warm. I could get used to this. This will probably be a good week for traveling which is good because I will be doing a bit of that this week. Scranton later today and Geneseo in a few days. Thursday at the latest.

I discovered an interesting Internet television show today – Goodnight Burbank. GB is a professionally produced comedy show made for the Internet. The cast is from Upright Citizen’s Brigade, Second City and Improv Olympic. It isn’t my style of comedy but they definitely are getting my viewership just to support Internet television. Here’s to the end of media as we know it.

Today is the first day of business under the new Daylight Saving Time rules and the government’s foolhardiness is starting to shine through as expected. Beyond the obvious economic impacts of increased air conditioning costs and global software time change that has engulfed the IT industry for months there are many simpler impacts that are starting to show up this morning. One of the things that people forgot about largely was the impact of changing the time synchronization between the US/Canada and, say, Europe. New York and London have always been five hours apart from each other. But today, for the first time, we are only four hours apart. This means that support organizations no longer have the same coverage that they always have. Meetings that have been pre-arranged and happen on a recurring basis are no longer at the same time for one party or the other. Unforeseen conflicts are starting to erupt all over the place. One of the biggest problems is that of international flights. Apparently the time shift has caused a major disaster for the airlines and international flights are no longer very likely to make it to their connecting flights. But no one can put the necessary resources into dealing with this time anomaly because in less than a month we will be five hours apart again.

The problems with the DST issue are twofold. The main problem is daylight savings time itself. The whole concept was very poor even though I am generally a fan of Benjamin Franklin but this idea was really poorly conceived from the beginning. The impact on society to have a changing time has always been more than most people can really handle well and that is just in the twentieth century when the change is a part of life that we just accept. Imagine how difficult this would have been in the seventeenth century when some people still used sundials and suddenly, for the first time in world history, noon was NOT when the sun was at its zenith (or even when it was “closest” to zenith to account for time zone differences.) Shifting the “time” instead of shifting when events take place is an extremely foolish concept. To think that humans are living at the “wrong time” and that by arbitrarily changing the name of the time will change human existence is just ignorance at its best. And insulting to anyone who can read a clock.

The second problem, and at this point the bigger one, is that time cannot “change” arbitrarily. Over the best several hundred years society has become more and more time dependent. We witness this every day. Our lives are based on schedules and the old daylight savings time caused enough problems that long before it changed many people are proponents of using Coordinated Universal Time or UTC (also called Greenwich Mean Time or GMT) as a universal time structure. The amateur radio community has always done this and the IT industry uses UTC heavily to keep machines in sync around the world and to avoid daylight time changes. But now that we have become so dependent on the time being solid and correct at all times suddenly the US and Canadian governments think that they can play around with our time systems and change the time relationships between North America and the rest of the planet! The impact is enormous and at a time when our economy is fragile (when isn’t it) we should not be so flippant with our system of coordination. I truly hope that society starts to fight back and begins to refuse to use DST. We can do it. Businesses can base their business hours off of UTC. For example, Eastern Standard Time without Daylight Savings Time modifications (i.e. when the sun is roughly at its zenith over the eastern United States at noon) the IT industry has for years been referring to this time as UTC -5 or just -5. Central Standard Time is UTC -6. California is in UTC -8. It’s easy. And it makes the time zones much easier to understand just by the very nature of the system. How far is NY from LA? Well 8 hours minus 5 hours equals 3 hours. There is a three hour time difference between NY and LA. Easy peasy. Try doing that with time zone names. And if you DO want to honour Daylight Savings Time then, if you are in the Eastern Time Zone, you simply switch your designation from UTC -5 to UTC -4.

Given enough time, a decade or so – long enough for the adults to start to switch – the use of UST +/- would permeate society and people will begin to think of time in more logical ways without making any actual changes to the time and without ever being disruptive. Eventually people will be used to the concept of Universal time and basing things on UTC instead of local time will become obvious. Let’s face it, the world is flat and globalization is a part of everyday life now. We cannot act as reckless children in the world marketplace.

I was doing some innocent reading about rutabagas (aka yellow turnips or swedes) on Wikipedia today and learned that the International Rutabaga Hurling Championship is held each year at the Ithaca Farmer’s Market where Dominica and I used to go to shop and eat! You learn something new every day.

I managed to leave work early (read: after over ten hours) and was able to head for Scranton around half past four in the afternoon.  The trip went well and I was able to drop off the new server without any problems.  One less thing that I need to worry about now and one less big piece of equipment sitting around the apartment that we don’t have any space for.  Two more servers to leave Newark and two more to leave Geneseo and we will be done for quite a while, I think.

It was around eight in the evening when I rolled into Newark.  I skipped dinner tonight as I never really had time for it but I wasn’t really hungry so it wasn’t an issue.  I did some server maintenance tonight while Dominica and I watched some Remington Steele.  I also spent a lot of the evening working on learning more about format outputs on Pinnacle Studio.  Unfortunately doing just a test run on Pinnacle can take several hours so it can take a very long time to test anything out.  I have now learned, I believe, how to make iPod compatible videos and small Windows Media files.  I can make small Xvids by outputting to a low compression MPEG-2 and then converting that to Xvid with AutoGK but that is a really useless process.  But I think that AutoGK can support DV/AVI input files so that is my next experiment.  Pinnacle takes about ten hours to compress poorly to Xvid and AutoGK can do a better job in about one tenth of the time so I think that that is probably the way to go.  Unfortunately I bought the expensive version of Pinnacle for the Dvix and Xvid features just to discover that they are useless and only partially implemented so that you always need to use an external tool to actually use them.  I am not very happy about that.  But at least I think I now know of a way to do the conversions that I want.  I think.  And Pinnacle only outputs Divx to AVI and not to Divx which leaves out a lot of the Divx features too.

I have coined a new term for the US and Canada’s new Daylight Savings Time: Wacky Daylight Savings Time or WDST.  This is to make it easily distinguishable from regular DST.

We made it to bed at a reasonable time tonight.  I am exhausted from this past weekend and plan to sleep in a bit tomorrow.  If things go well I will be heading to Geneseo on Wednesday night.

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