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Samoa and Tokelau Are Skipping December 30th 140

Posted by Soulskill
from the custom-week-crafting dept.
ocean_soul writes "Starting January 1, 2012 Samoa and Tokelau will be in time zone +13 instead of -11. This means there will be no December 30, 2011 in these countries. The decision to switch time zone was based on the changing international business relations of Samoa. Samoa had adopted the -11 time zone to make business with the U.S. easier. However, currently Samoa's most important trading partners are Australia and New Zealand. By switching time zone the work-weeks and week-ends on Samoa and Tokelau will be synchronized with those in Australia and New Zealand."
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Samoa and Tokelau Are Skipping December 30th

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:50PM (#38540918)

    DST changes in the USA caused times to be odd on certain devices such as VCRs to incorrectly make the change... what's Samoa's tech devices thinking for time zone updates or will everybody have to do a lot of twisting to their watch. For anybody with any interest in what goes on there this is a big tech story.

    • by sconeu (64226) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:55PM (#38540982) Homepage Journal

      No change in time. -11 = +13 mod 24.
      The only change is the date.

      • by InterestingFella (2537066) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:58PM (#38541020)
        But how does Thailand handle unixtime? It's already year 2555 there. That's way past 32-bit int.
        • by tepples (727027)

          But how does Thailand handle unixtime?

          UNIX time is seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00 UTC minus the accumulated count of leap seconds. Thailand just counts it using days since whatever Thai date corresponds to the Gregorian date 1970-01-01.

          It's already year 2555 there.

          Yeah, and it's 5772 in Hebrew years, which roughly correspond to the time since Adam and Eve were created.

          • by ciotog (1098035)
            Someone please mod parent "whoosh!"
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)

            "UNIX time is seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00 UTC minus the accumulated count of leap seconds."

            In other words, it's seconds since 1970-01-01 00:00 UT.

            • Not really, no. (Score:5, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:58PM (#38541656)

              No, actually it's not.

              First, UT is a bit confusing. You have to specify which UT you mean: UTC, UT0, UT1, UT1R, etc...

              All these, except UTC, are based on celestial movement. Which means they will vary due to natural causes. A slight wobble in Earths orbit or a little bit of tectonic shift will cause seconds to be shorter or longer. UTC is based on 'artificial' timing (atomic timekeeping) and as such has slightly different seconds than the other UT's.

              So, no, UTC is not simply another UT without counting leap seconds.

              Timekeeping is hard. Really hard.

            • by Greyfox (87712)
              It's TAI. Or GMT. Or Zulu time. Of all the things it possibly is, UTC is not one of them.

              Linux systems can be configured to count leap seconds, but I've never seen one actually set up that way. I'd just as soon work in TAI most of the time and check the lookup tables myself if I need to adjust the time. At least that way I know I'm not accidentally deducting leap seconds twice or something. It's a huge pain in the ass to deal with just to know when the sun is exactly overhead.

              • by ceoyoyo (59147)

                UT and UTC are not the same. It does turn out I remembered it wrong - UT is mean solar time, the successor of GMT, also known as Zulu time, and is kept by observing quasars. Since it's mean solar time, just like GMT, it doesn't have a constant number of seconds per year, and none of them are the basis for unix time.

                UTC is TAI plus leap seconds (of both signs). It's an approximation of UT.

                TAI is the one I meant.

            • Let me correct this (Score:4, Informative)

              by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @05:00PM (#38542278) Homepage Journal
              I apologize for sidetracking the discussion to the leap second issue. Let me try again: "seconds since the UNIX time epoch, counting any leap seconds as 0 instead of 1". This makes each midnight-to-midnight period 86400 seconds long. My point is that the UNIX time epoch is the same regardless of the local civil calendar's epoch.
        • by mjwx (966435) on Saturday December 31, 2011 @01:59AM (#38546148)

          But how does Thailand handle unixtime? It's already year 2555 there. That's way past 32-bit int.

          Considering that Unixtime only started in 2514.

          Epoch fail.

      • by kale77in (703316) on Friday December 30, 2011 @04:08PM (#38541782) Homepage
        Their work-week is now in sync with Aust and NZ, rather than only having four days that coincide.
    • by Empiric (675968)
      Going by your sig, I think you should get a bonus +1 Informative for your sheer dedication to posting on Slashdot alone...
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My guess is that their VCRs are still very excited about it being 12:00.

    • yup, worse than Y2K I would imagine. It is going to be a horror show from a tech/accounting POV, for those countries and for anyone globally that cares to ever know about or interact with them.

      off hand, for Unix types, you'll have to know not only what timezone, but also the exact locality to get the calendar right. Does current time code even have the sufficient smarts currently to handle specific countries CHANGING their TZ on a particular date? I kinda doubt it...

      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:13PM (#38541186)

        This makes me wonder. Are people going to be paid/charged interest for a non-existing 12-30-11 there?

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:43PM (#38541504)

          Yes. Apparently they're paying people who were scheduled to work on Dec. 30. I assume they'll charge interest too.

        • by mj1856 (589031) on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:54PM (#38541624)

          Does current time code even have the sufficient smarts currently to handle specific countries CHANGING their TZ on a particular date?

          Yes. Linux/Unix has a long history of tracking timezone changes for specific countries, states, provinces, etc. It's called the Olsen Timzone Database. It was recently taken over by IANA, and is hosted here http://www.iana.org/time-zones [iana.org]

          They are discussing this specific issue here:
          http://mm.icann.org/pipermail/tz/2011-December/008458.html [icann.org]

          This makes me wonder. Are people going to be paid/charged interest for a non-existing 12-30-11 there?

          It depends. I work for a time and attendance company as software developer, so I have some insight. Basically, this is handled just like a DST change, but for a much longer period.

          Many timekeeping systems (hardware and software alike) just keep track of "local time". Some have the ability to keep a list of DST changes that need to be applied at specific times, and some use NTP or other protocols to sync their clocks and pickup timezone changes that way. While these systems handle "spring-forward" changes ok, they are usually flawed in the way they handle "fall-back". If someone clocks in or out DURING the fall-back period, there is no way to tell if they get an extra hour or not, because there is no recorded distinction between the two times that are both called the same thing. The good thing about DST is that the change usually happens in the middle of the night, which minimizes the number of manual corrections that have to be made.

          The solution to all of this, of course, is recording time as UTC and converting it for proper display depending on context. Some systems out there caught on early, but really this idea is just now making its way into the market. This is where the timezone database is very valuable. Windows also has a timezone database (different than the Olsen DB), but Microsoft only pushes it out every few months (via windows update), so it is often behind in various parts of the world. Microsoft timezone info here: http://blogs.technet.com/b/dst2007 [technet.com]

          Since Samoa and Tokelau are skipping a day, this is a "spring-forward" scenario - which is very easy to calculate. It is highly unlikely that they will have issues with paying an extra day (or charging an extra day's interest), as long as they consider the change like any other DST change. I would think that this is big news there, so anyone with custom code will probably be aware of the situation and make the correction.

          Of course, if you have a bank account in another country, they are going to say a big "screw you" to your request to be charged one day's less interest just because your homeland is skipping a day. :)

          • Does current time code even have the sufficient smarts currently to handle specific countries CHANGING their TZ on a particular date?

            Yes. Linux/Unix has a long history of tracking timezone changes for specific countries, states, provinces, etc. It's called the Olsen Timzone Database.

            The solution to all of this, of course, is recording time as UTC and converting it for proper display depending on context.

            Since Samoa and Tokelau are skipping a day, this is a "spring-forward" scenario - which is very easy to calculate.

            ok, but the question is whether existing code in routine use (Unix: date(1), ctime(3), and similar functions in Windows), actually makes use of this database and regularly gets updates from this DB.

            Sure the display from UTC is relatively easy, although is currently deploy code (OS's, applications, etc in common use), *already* set up to handle this? But going from dates to UTC is somewhat more tricky. What do commonly used OSs, apps, do about a user that is entering NONEXISTENT dates, like Dec 30, 2011 *in

            • by mj1856 (589031)

              What do commonly used OSs, apps, do about a user that is entering NONEXISTENT dates, like Dec 30, 2011 *in that locality* (but not necessarily in the locality of the user)? I guess dates are meaningless unless accompanied by the locality of the date.

              Exactly. There are a whole slew of dates/times that simply do not exist in certain timezones. As an example, March 13, 2011 at 2:30 AM in Eastern Time (usa), which is smack in the middle of a "spring-forward" DST change. Say you use the TimeZoneInfo class in .Net Framework to convert from this non-existant time to UTC:

              (c# code)
              var tz = TimeZoneInfo.FindSystemTimeZoneById("Eastern Standard Time");
              var localTime = new DateTime(2011, 3, 13, 2, 30, 0);

            • Sure the display from UTC is relatively easy, although is currently deploy code (OS's, applications, etc in common use), *already* set up to handle this?

              Yes. Or at least those written by software engineers rather than painters. So utilities like date and ls are probably ok, whereas firefox and thunderbird might not.

              • so you mean that if I go to Samoa today, fired up a Unix/Linux/BSD and type "cal 12 2011", I will get this:

                $ cal 12 2011
                   December 2011
                Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                            1  2  3
                4  5  6  7  8  9 10
                11 12 13 14 15 16 17
                18 19 20 21 22 23 24
                25 26 27 28 29    31

                And date 201112300000?

                $ date 201112300000
                Non-existent date
                • Seems my Ubuntu is not yet up-to-date. However, a bug has "already" been logged [launchpad.net].

                  Once fixed, date will act as expected (but the actual message will be date: invalid date `201112300000'), but not cal (cal will black the correct current day rather than yesterday, but still display the non-existent December 30th. The Gregorian fortnight in September 1752 is a hard-coded special case.) Just witness a similar case in Kirimati [wikipedia.org]:

                  > TZ=Pacific/Kiritimati date -d @$((9131*86400))
                  Sat Dec 31 14:00:00 LINT 1994

      • by Cyberax (705495)

        Sure it does. A lot of countries change DST rules all the time.

    • by InterestingFella (2537066) on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:16PM (#38541226)
      If you go to north pole and keep running around the pole in same direction, crossing timezones, you can go infinitely back or forward in time!
  • by InterestingFella (2537066) on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:50PM (#38540924)
    If they change on January 1, then December 30 would already been passed at that point. So, that would mean it's already Dec 30 there right now and it cannot be Jan 1 yet according to any time zone. The math is fail.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      I'm more confused about the fact that my calendar tells me there's a december 31st. Are they going to go "december 29th, december 31st, january 1st"?

      • by owlstead (636356)

        "This means there will be no December 30, 2011 in these countries." You've just shown that you can skip calendar dates, congratulations!

        • by Yvan256 (722131)

          But according to the summary they will do that starting january 1st, 2012. The day before that isn't/wasn't the 30th, it was the 31st.

          • by owlstead (636356)

            Not according to the article. Fortunately, they don't retrofit the dates in history, they have gone forward 3hours already + switching dates... Wikipedia tells me the same, as does the television journal at home (which I am currently listening to as I'm posting this). Summary is wrong (gosh, what a surprise).

            • by owlstead (636356)

              My post is wrong as well of course, it's not 3 hours ahead and - 1 day.... It was 21 hours later than Sydney, now it's 3 hours ahead according to the article.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          We showed that we can skip calendar dates, on several occasions. E.g. when the 'catholic' world switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1582-4. Then most of western Europe and the Americas in 1752-3. Eastern Europe in 1918, etc.

          http://www.searchforancestors.com/utility/gregorian.html

      • by Convector (897502)

        Yes, they're losing a day by effectively crossing the international dateline westward.

      • by catbutt (469582)
        Probably because dec 31, 2011 is in lots of legal contracts. If you eliminate that date, you have a lot more chances for people to try to weasel their way out of contracts, and more work for courts.
  • No Friday? How can they properly get down, if not on Friday?

    • by eclectus (209883)

      Yeah, they should have skipped a Monday. Or even a Wednesday

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Or Thursdays, I never could get a hang of Thursdays.

      • by Megane (129182)
        If the wanted to skip a Monday, they could have just shot the whole day down.
  • by Stargoat (658863) * <stargoat@gmail.com> on Friday December 30, 2011 @02:59PM (#38541052) Journal

    This happened to me once. I crossed the International Date line on December 24. It was December 26 on the other side. It was the year without a Christmas.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Go the other direction. I was on a ship where we were scheduled to have thanksgiving day twice. Seeing how the food was rather mediocre, we naturally assumed this meant we would get two thanksgiving dinners, which would have been wonderful. The ship then rescheduled the repeat day earlier (when you have 10 days between the two ports when you're making the idl crossing, you can schedule it whenever you want).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by archen (447353)

        Marry someone from Canada and you can have Thanksgiving twice a year every year (or the other way if you are Canadian).

    • by kervin (64171)

      It was the year you had Christmas on December 26th

    • by owlstead (636356)

      Then again, what's Christmas mid travel but a poor substitution?

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      I skipped over my wedding aniversary on my flight to Australia last year. Best anniversary so far!

      Given wanting to do the flying on the weekend I won't be able to repeat that until 2016.

    • This happened to me once. I crossed the International Date line on December 24. It was December 26 on the other side. It was the year without a Christmas.

      If this was in 2004, and you'd have gone from December 25th to the 27th, maybe the Boxing Day Tsunami could have been averted.

  • I read that they actually skip 12/31/2011, not 1/1/2012.

  • I think Samoa has a terrific idea here. So, I've decided that I'm skipping 12/31/2011.

    I'm still trying to decide whether I should skip 1/1/2012, too.

    • by lgw (121541)

      Presumably this will be decided by how much alcohol you consume on 12/30, and when you regain consciousness?

      • by Kalriath (849904)

        Samoa doesn't have a 31st month, so they wont be skipping that. Or they already are. Hmm.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        Presumably this will be decided by how much alcohol you consume on 12/30, and when you regain consciousness?

        No, it is a decision enabled by my total mastery over the very fabric of space and time.

        And how much alcohol I consume on 12/30.

  • by dbkluck (731449) on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:23PM (#38541324)
    According to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] (admittedly with a "citation needed") the seven day week cycle has continued unbroken for almost two millenia, despite numerous readjustments in the date over the centuries. So although skipping even a whole bunch of dates is not unheard of (e.g., Thursday, October 4th, 1582 followed immediately by Friday, October 15th when the Gregorian calendar was adopted), this seems like the first time in a long time that the day after Thursday hasn't been Friday.
    • by NF6X (725054)
      Once I injured my back, and my doctor prescribed a collection of meds that caused Monday to be the day after Friday.
    • by Deadstick (535032)

      You left out two words: "in Europe". Google "the day no Filipinos were born".

  • by knorthern knight (513660) on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:23PM (#38541328)

    Good thing they didn't have VCRs back then.

  • TFA clearly says they're doing this on December 29, not January 1.

    I know that the editors don't have time to fact-check the articles, but can't the submitter (who presumably read the article before he posted it) at least remember what he read long enough to summarize it kinda-sorta accurately?

  • by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Friday December 30, 2011 @03:45PM (#38541524)
    .. for once.

    [Disclaimer: I live there]

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Of course it's important. Without it, we wouldn't have Narnia or Lord of the Rings...
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      For once? The geekiest movie trilogy of all time was filmed there.

    • by owlstead (636356)

      ...to Samoa... :)

    • by mjwx (966435)

      .. for once.

      [Disclaimer: I live there]

      The most important state in Australia, I think not.

    • NZ (and Australia) is extremely important. Whenever Americans start bitching about crappy Internet connections that they get, you guys are always there to helpfully chime in and explain what a truly sucky connection actually is.

  • Many garments with Made in America labels used to be made in Samoa. Just saying.
  • Just another example of timezones being confusing and counterproductive. Switch the entire world to UTC (and kill am/pm since they'll no longer correspond to morning/night in half the world). Sure, it'll take some getting your head around working 16h-01h for what's currently an 8-5PT, but just the idea of eliminating "2pm your time or mine?" makes it worthwhile.

    • I'd think this would be a problem for military folks with ships and planes scattered in time zones? How do they handle this? They must also have date line problems? Do they shift duty times when moving?

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I've lived on military bases as a family member, and on more than one occasion, asking a uniformed soldier/sailor/airman for the time would get you "1800 zulu" which is the current time in Greenwich, England. It's up to each person wherever they are to figure their relation to zulu time, and add or subtract from that to get your local time.

        In essence, yes, they already do that. Posting anon since i've already modded in here.
    • by Greyfox (87712)
      I've suggested this several times and people are all like "waaaah! I don't WANT to have to eat lunch at 2 in the morning!" But if you're going to do that you don't want to use UTC, since it's adjusted for the rotation of the earth with leap seconds. You want to use nice pure TAI. Nothing there but vibrations of a cesium atom!

      Even then you still have to worry about relativity and stuff, since the time for people on mountains or in space will differ from people on the equator. I forget if TAI adjusts for th

    • by hankwang (413283) * on Friday December 30, 2011 @04:29PM (#38541996) Homepage

      Switch the entire world to UTC (and kill am/pm since they'll no longer correspond to morning/night in half the world). ... just the idea of eliminating "2pm your time or mine?" makes it worthwhile.

      That might be convenient for making appointments for telephone conferences, but it really sucks if you actually travel to such a timezone and need to schedule your daily program; then you will have to calculate the offset relative to your old place every time you wonder whether it is already lunch time, or whether the shops/offices are open. Not to mention that having the date and day of the week change in the middle of the day might also be rather inconvenient: what does "see you on Wednesday" mean?

      And as for appointments: calendar applications already take care of calculating the time zones while scheduling meetings.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Actually all of China is on Beijing time and China goes something like three Russian time zones to the west. That's a lot of people that are used to the clock time not matching where the sun is in the sky.
    • It would add other confusion of it's own though. For example the confusion of having one workday spread across two calender days in some regions and the confusion when you arrive somewhere of "what time is daytime here".

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Friday December 30, 2011 @04:16PM (#38541848)
    If they just waited two months until February, they could have just issued calendars that skipped leap day, and few people would have even noticed (until the work week suddenly became shorter).

    And they'd get to say that they were "leaping" over leap day....

    • by dbIII (701233)
      At this time of year it doesn't really matter in a lot of parts of the world while February is way out of holiday season and it may matter.
      • At this time of year it doesn't really matter in a lot of parts of the world while February is way out of holiday season and it may matter.

        How, exactly? How does skipping an official day of the year not matter now? If you're talking about paying people for non-holidays, that doesn't seem to be the issue here, since they could have chosen a weekend day. Instead, they chose to delete a weekday, which forced companies to pay salaries for a day that didn't exist. If you're talking about interest rates and such, those would accrue the same way no matter what day was deleted.

        I'm not sure how deleting a Friday near the end of the year somehow "

        • by dbIII (701233)

          For the small amount of businesses that shut down completely between Christmas and New Year's, it might have been more convenient

          I see your misunderstanding now. It's not North America. With the summer holiday season nearly everything in shut down between Christmas and New Year in just about every country around and in the South Pacific. The places that are not completely shutdown lost two weekdays last week to public holidays (in most of those countries) anyway.

          which forced companies to pay salaries for

  • As a software developer i assure you, this is going to be a nightmare coming true. Brrrrrrrrr.
  • by jabberw0k (62554) on Friday December 30, 2011 @04:52PM (#38542210) Homepage Journal
    What will this do to the supply of Girl Scout Samoa cookies? (For the record, I hoarded Manila folders when the Marcos government fell.)
  • What do you call a Samoan who falls off the lounge? Fella Fell Off A Sofa

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