efficient use of time

From: Steve Allen <sla_at_ucolick.org>
Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2003 01:32:51 -0700

Given the policies of the ITU, documents from the inside are somewhat
hard to come by. Nevertheless, I've just discovered the 2002 October
"Report of the meeting of Working Party 7A". See for yourself at
Grab it before somebody decides Google should never should have seen it.
I highlight some contents of the WP 7A report...


2000-10: WP 7A meeting that created SRG 7A on future of UTC
2001-05: then previous WP 7A meeting
2001-06: SRG 7A presentation at CCTF
2002-10: then current WP 7A meeting
2003-10: next WP 7A meeting
It indicates that all questions before WP 7A, which presumably
includes the future of UTC, "should extend to the next study period
(until 2006)."

Attachment 4 is "Report of activities in 2002" from SRG 7A
2001-11: previous meeting of SRG 7A at PTTI in Long Beach
2002-03: then most recent meeting of SRG 7A at BIPM.

Indicates that at the 2003-03 meeting there were 3 remaining options
1: Status Quo
2: Change rules for leap seconds in UTC
3: Use a timescale other than UTC
There was also much discussion of the UTC user surveys which had been
performed, and comments on the difficulties of performing and
interpreting such surveys.

Also in 2002-03, a letter from Guinot to the director of BIPM was
discussed, and it was this letter that "supported the notion of a leap
hour". The text is unclear, but it appears that sometime between the
2002-03 SRG meeting and the 2002-10 WP meeting the SRG 7A report
author believed that the SRG had decided that the leap hour was the
proposal to be discussed in Torino.

Annex 2 to the SRG 7A report is a "Draft Questionnaire on Leap Second"
which, to my knowledge, has never been circulated in any forum.


Now to look at what was posted in LEAPSECS...

On 2002-03-28 D. Matsakis informed us that the Paris (BIPM) SRG
meeting had voted to exclude all options except for eventually
discontinuing leap seconds, and that leap hours were not an option.

On 2003-03-24 D. Matsakis informed us of the CGSIC meeting where
Beard reported that the remaining options were status quo and
leap hours.

So during an interval which began between 2002-03 and 2002-10
and ended in 2003-03 the LEAPSECS list was unaware that leap
hours were an (or even the) option.

After pondering this for a while, on 2003-04-10 I posted to LEAPSECS
giving calculations of the expected schedule for inserting leap hours.
On 2003-04-11 Markus Kuhn responded pointing out that leap hours
presented an untenable problem to timestamping in information
technology systems. At the end of 2003-05 it became clear that,
contrary to the documents that announced the colloquium in Torino, the
SRG did not have a consensual opinion to present.

This means that there was an interval of at least 6 months which
consisted of time wasted while not pursuing a workable solution to the
problems that some systems have with leap seconds.

I do not expect that the proceedings of the SRG must happen at
"internet speed". I do not believe that the process needs to be
completely open and that every communication of the SRG should be
posted for the world to see. I do believe that the problems are
extremely complex -- requiring a lot work and a lot of good ideas.
Some ideas (like leap hours) are crazy and will be shot down, but some
of the crazy ideas will lead to crazier ideas which may work. I
simply hope that the next crazy idea gets posted to LEAPSECS promptly
so that more time is not wasted.

Steve Allen          UCO/Lick Observatory       Santa Cruz, CA 95064
sla_at_ucolick.org      Voice: +1 831 459 3046     http://www.ucolick.org/~sla
PGP: 1024/E46978C5   F6 78 D1 10 62 94 8F 2E    49 89 0E FE 26 B4 14 93
Received on Tue Jul 01 2003 - 01:33:07 PDT

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