Here's clocking at you


mills@dcn6.arpa
07-Jun-86 03:56:37-UT


Folks,

I know this must be Summer because our radio clocks are drowning in ionspheric
ooze, which sloshes deeper as the days grow long. Yesterday our WWVB clock on
popular fuzzball timeteller DCN1.ARPA picked up a hot bit which added 256 days
to the day of year and turned its timecode-conversion routine into a hash
function. The resulting random bits presented to timecallers broke a bunch of
code scattered all over the Internet, or at least that's what I concluded once
the phones stopped ringing.

When I manually disabled the broken clock, our clever backup algorithm, put in
last year at this time when the ions grew dim, promptly chose the WWV clock on
DCN6.ARPA. But that was bust too, so the algorithm chose as the next backup
the GOES clock on FORD1.ARPA and finally got it right. It turns out this
sequence of events is not uncommon at this time of year; however, before you
pull your clock plugs, be advised there are two more backups, the WWVB clock
on UMD1.ARPA and the WWV clock on GW.UMICH.EDU. I guess you could say we have
a magnificent, redundant algorithm which reliably delivers the wrong time.

This latest problem should not recur, since I sloshed ample bugspray on the
conversion routine to nip blatant timecode lies, but little lies (like the
wrong year) are known from experience to be just as bad. Therefore, I sieze
the opportunity first to apologize for all those broken message timestamps,
file dates and accounting programs that bogged yesterday and then to appeal
for more players of the Network Time Protocol (RFC-958) game, which may be the
best polygraph.

Dave
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