Menu
Latest leap second plan poses a dilemma for conscientious sysadmins

Latest leap second plan poses a dilemma for conscientious sysadmins

Leap seconds will be an occasional fact of sysadmin life until at least 2023

Conscientious sysadmins face a dilemma on December 31, when a new leap second will threaten the stability of computer systems and networks.

Scientists occasionally add a leap second to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the time reference most clocks are set by, so as to keep it in step with the earth's gradually slowing rotation. If they didn't, then clocks would be off by about a minute at midday by 2100.

Computer systems don't like leap seconds as they are programmed to expect the same number of seconds in every minute of every hour of every day. The various ways of tricking them into accepting the extra second -- stretching out all the other seconds in the preceding minute, hour or day, repeating the same second twice, or creating a 61st second in a minute, can cause chaos as they affect different computers in different ways.

A leap second added in 2012 caused trouble for LinkedIn, Reddit, and Qantas, while the last one, on June 30, 2015, caused around 2,000 computer networks around the world to crash.

In November that year, government representatives at the United Nations' World Radio Conference 2015 on international space and radio regulations were invited to consider abolishing leap seconds and the troubles they cause.

Delegates at WRC-15 postponed the decision until 2023 while they gather more evidence, meaning computer systems must deal with the consequences of leap seconds for eight more years.

Meanwhile, on recent evidence, it's likely that about one year in two will require a leap second. The next one is scheduled for midnight on Dec. 31, 2016.

The dilemma for sysadmins next New Year's Eve, then, is whether to stay on duty when everyone else is partying in order to minimize the effects of the coming leap second. Or whether to turn off their pagers, tell themselves that whatever will be, will be -- and let the ensuing chaos stand as testimony to WRC-23 delegates that the leap second's time is up.


Follow Us

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Events

Featured

Slideshows

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners

This year’s Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards were held as an integral part of the first entirely virtual Emerging Leaders​ forum, an annual event dedicated to identifying, educating and showcasing the New Zealand technology market’s rising stars. The 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 recognised the outstanding achievements and business excellence of 30 talented individuals​, across both young leaders and those just starting out. In this slideshow, Reseller News honours this year's winners and captures their thoughts about how their ideas of leadership have changed over time.​

Meet the Reseller News 30 Under 30 Tech Awards 2020 winners
Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security

This exclusive Reseller News Exchange event in Auckland explored the challenges facing the partner community on the cloud security frontier, as well as market trends, customer priorities and how the channel can capitalise on the opportunities available. In association with Arrow, Bitdefender, Exclusive Networks, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News Exchange Auckland: Beyond the myths — how partners can master cloud security
Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch

Reseller News welcomed 2019 inductees - Leanne Buer, Ross Jenkins and Terry Dunn - to the fourth running of the Reseller News Hall of Fame lunch, held at the French Cafe in Auckland. The inductees discussed the changing face of the IT channel ecosystem in New Zealand and what it means to be a Reseller News Hall of Fame inductee. Photos by Gino Demeer.

Reseller News welcomes industry figures at 2020 Hall of Fame lunch
Show Comments