Home > Blogs > Leap second--Are You Ready?

Two Grandfather clocks--what can you do with those?  How high-tech are those?

Not sure why, but I'm drawn to Grandfather clocks.  I have two, one of which has been through extensive repair.  They work well. 

They are a marvel of analog technology, with round gears mapping out hand positions as well as we remember they could when studying geometry or tangents and the like in high school. 

I'm studying GPS, GPS security, and how to attack it.  Most of us are familiar with Network Time Protocol (NTP).  Many more know about GPS and using them for directions.  But how many of us are aware of the time information provided?  Increasingly, GPS feeds us time, and that's important.

In 2000, we all worried that the assumed 19 in front of dates would trigger calamity in when 20 became the year prefix.  But that was old technology, and now it seems odd to worry that a 1999 microwave would go on the fritz when the date started with a 20.  Silly, right?

As we study computers, multi-core processors, threading, semaphores, and the like; time is everything, with each partial second being accounted for as surely as a conductor leads an orchestra with metronome like accuracy.  Increasingly, GPS conducts the worldwide symphony of computers playing financial transactions, factory production schedules, and everything else kept in synch.

And soon, we have a leap second to account for.  As the earth's rotation slows a bit, these corrections are necessary, but there are potential problems.  Many time sensitive processes don't react well to timing changes being injected, even if done in small increments.  No, we won't see the bedlam predicted for 2000, but little cracks may show in the system.

Which is why I like my grandfather clocks.  Keep the weights and chains or cables as high and tight as a good Marine's haircut, and those clocks run a long time.  Maybe twist the nut below the pendulum bob to adjust the swing speed, but that's about it. 

We'll see if the coming leap second finds digital systems as flexible and accommodating.


Become an InformIT Member

Take advantage of special member promotions, everyday discounts, quick access to saved content, and more! Join Today.

Other Things You Might Like

Data Breaches: Crisis and Opportunity

Data Breaches: Crisis and Opportunity