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Thread: Forum clock problem

  1. #1
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Forum clock problem

    Forum clock seems to be improperly set, and by the difference it does not seem to be just a "different time zone" problem, which would cause full hour (or worst case half hour) differences.
    I am in Buenos Aires (same as Brazil and Georgetown) GMT-3 time zone.
    In London itīs 9:59PM, in Buenos Aires 06:59PM (same thing minus 3 hours) but Forum clock says my local time is 6:21PM , some 40 minutes difference.
    Mind you, I "warned" Forum Settings that I am in a GMT-3 time zone.

    Please check yours, both real local time and Forum calculated.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  2. #2
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I mentioned this a couple years ago, yes the forum clock is something silly like 25 minutes or 47 minutes or whatever away from the real time.

    Ah, apparently 38 minutes.

    Been that way a loooooong time.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  3. #3
    Supporting Member eschertron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Conner View Post
    If it still won't get loud enough, it's probably broken.

  4. #4
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Post to check forum timestamp: as I click on the Post Quick Reply button my NTP Level 2 sync'd time server says 19:45:00 CT.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  5. #5
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    Well, there you have it. I posted the above post at 19:45:00 CT and the page auto-reloaded as of 19:45:06. The timestamp on my above post says that I posted it at 19:06:xx. Forum timestamp is slow by 39 minutes.

    Synchronizing the system clock on the server is typically something that's done using the NTP protocol.

    http://www.ntp.org/ntpfaq/NTP-s-algo.htm

    http://support.rackspace.com/how-to/...-to-sync-time/
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  6. #6
    g1
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    Little bit of a latency issue.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    I mentioned it to tboy long ago, but thinking of it, it really doesn't matter. This is a discussion page, nothing done here requires accurate time stamp.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  8. #8
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Oh, yea, certainly.
    I mention it because it might be a symptom of some other problem on Forum software, server or whatever.

    As in one day it becoming paranoid and locking everybody out (Even TBoy ) because "we must certainly be fakes/robots because we answer questions 38 minutes before they are asked" or some other silly idea.
    Juan Manuel Fahey

  9. #9
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    computer clocks are subject to drift. they're pretty notorious for drifting, actually, and if they are left alone for a long time they'll grow to be pretty far off like we see here.

    today's desktop operating systems perform NTP time syncs in the background via the internet and adjust your system clock automatically so that you're not even aware the the problem exists and that it's being fixed. the result is that with NTP time syncs you system clock has the ability to be sync'd within milliseconds of a precise atomic clock reference.

    as an example: in the USA the National Institute of Standards & Technology establishes the exact time in the United States using a cesium fountain atomic clock located in Boulder, CO.

    http://www.nist.gov/pml/time-and-fre...andard-nist-f1

    The NITS atomic clock is the reference clock for NTP time service in the United States. Only Stratum 1 time servers are allowed to directly sync to it and they provide service for Stratum 2 servers. Stratum 2 servers in turn provide synchronization for Stratum 3 servers, etc., all the way down to Stratum 15.

    Even at Stratum 15 NTP is very accurate because a computer running an NTP daemon will keep track of it's own hardware clock skew and use it to self-adjust. The result is that even when syncing to the high numbered strata servers (like the Windows desktop time servers at Microsoft), the end user's system clocks are very accurate, typically within < 10 milliseconds of the atomic clock reference.

    Unlike Windows and Linux desktops, web servers are normally not auto-configured to run an NTP daemon. That software has to be activated by the sysadmin, either when installing in a rackspace type rented server or when hosting on bare metal at a private location. The convention is that if you are hosting your own farm of machines, then you sync ONE of them to an external timeserver and use it as a private local server to provide synchronization for all of your other machines on-site. Most windows boxes just sync to an array of time servers at Microsoft.

    I don't run windows type servers, so I can't offer any help about syncing on a windows hosted system. But I do maintain a Linux based Stratum 2 time server and all of my machines sync directly to it, so the machine I'm typing on right now is at Stratum 3. The result is that my clock skew on any of the machines here is accurate within 2 msec vs. the NIST reference clock.

    My time server is old, old, old and is still running the ntpd daemon, which is now deprecated. It's still accurate to a few msec because the NTP protocol is that good, even on low priority servers with high stratum numbers. The current versions of Red Hat and Fedora are using the "chronyd" daemons. So if anyone is interested in fixing the time problem, the software to look for on a *nix server will either be "ntpd" or "chronyd", depending on the age of the server. It only takes a few minutes to set up.
    J M Fahey likes this.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    I mentioned it to tboy long ago, but thinking of it, it really doesn't matter. This is a discussion page, nothing done here requires accurate time stamp.
    You never know, one day some post(s) here might become legal evidence. If that does happen, accurate time-stamps matter.

    It's not that uncommon a scenario - as an example, Facebook posts feature in the majority of divorce cases in some countries, as it used to be the preferred way for cheating spouses to find people to cheat with.

    I have also heard of at least one case where a student was charged with murder, and the teacher's attendance roster was the crucial alibi. Nobody expects a teacher's attendance roster to be a life-or-death matter, but in this case, that's literally what it was.

    Imagine if member here was similarly charged with a crime he/she didn't commit, say robbing a convenience store. An accurate timestamped post showing that said member was actually typing a long post about EL34 screen grid overheating problems, at the time the convenience store robbery occurred, might be crucial evidence that could mean the difference between jail time and acquittal or dismissal.

    -Gnobuddy

  11. #11
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    Then again, that I can type that post from my phone or tablet in the parking lot of said robbed ence store... hopefully they do enough digging of routers, ISPs, etc. to get an idea of what technology the post came from...

    Justin
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Easy enough to spoof posts, and to set up a computer to send a message when you were not present. And in the unlikely scenario, it would be easy enough to point to this thread that spells out the time offset.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Thomas View Post
    Then again, that I can type that post from my phone or tablet in the parking lot of said robbed ence store...
    Immediately before you're about to embark on a life-threatening crime that might end with you, or someone else, dead in a pool of blood? No normal human being would be capable of that. I think it only happens in movies.

    -Gnobuddy

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Easy enough to spoof posts, and to set up a computer to send a message when you were not present.
    I don't think the average convenience store robber has enough intellect to plan that far ahead, or enough attention span to figure out how to do something like that.

    Not to mention, the typical post here isn't just dropped into a thread and then ignored. More typically, there will be some back-and-forth exchange of posts. You can't set up a computer to do that effectively, no yet, at any rate. (Well, you could probably make a chatbot that sounds as dumb as Trump's daily stream of tweets and sound-bites, but that doesn't exactly mimic normal adult human conversation either.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    And in the unlikely scenario, it would be easy enough to point to this thread that spells out the time offset.
    That's what happens in Hercule Poirot novels. In real life, "The law is an ass", as Sam Weller famously said in the Pickwick Papers. If the time stamp is inaccurate, it is quite likely not legally admissible as evidence.

    But my point wasn't to split hairs, it was rather that running a webserver on the public Internet comes with a long string of possible responsibilities and legal gotchas that the average sysadmin may not ever think of.

    In this particular case, you don't even need to wait for legal trouble. Simple things like Linux cron jobs will run at the wrong time if the clock is off. This can cause all sorts of problems in the long term. Most modern operating systems use time stamps for a variety of housekeeping purposes, ranging from time-stamping files and backups, to keeping track of software updates.

    This particular time error is very unusual. As Bob P. said, some form of internet time synchronization has been a routine part of installing and configuring any modern operating system, for many years now. I remember having to do that manually on some Linux distributions circa 2001 - 2005, but in recent years, it's usually done automatically during installation, with no input from me.

    -Gnobuddy

  15. #15
    g1
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    From the looks of tboy's profile, this tear in the time-space continuum may well be a 'zion curtain' thing.
    Certified Dotard

  16. #16
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    yes we can rationalize any odd thing, I still sit in the horses not zebras camp.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  17. #17
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    I like to think I'm pretty smart as computer guys go, and I have no idea how I'd execute Enzo's idea of programming a computer to make a robotic post while I'm elsewhere, knee-deep in mischief.

    OK, I admit it ... I have done some automated web scraping and I have some experience in web browser automation, but using the right tool for the job -- like Selenium -- to do automated web browser playback is so doggone complicated that I couldn't even get it to work reliably when I spent months trying to make it work on a work-related project. We ended up spending 3 years creating and refining our own python scripts to scrape the web for data, only to find that all of our work became obsolete every time that a web site changed the way they present data ... and they do this all the time. We ended up banging our heads against the wall over and over again.

    It's easy to suggest that someone could just automate posting on a forum. It sounds like an easy idea, but in the real world it's a very daunting task. I don't think many people would be up for it, and those that would be up for it would never consider relying on it as a defense if they were out to make trouble. It's just not reliable enough to be your life on it. Just my $0.02.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

  18. #18
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    REmember the context. This whole tangent was built upon the premise that some hideous crime had occurred, and the time stamp on a post here was being used as courtroom evidence of someone's whereabouts at the time of the crime. If we have dipped this far down into the barrel of crime show plots, and knowing their penchants for phone spoofing and such things as setting up a Skype or other video communication but editing in a background scene from elsewhere (to establish your presence in say Central Park), I have to think our time offset is easily gotten around.

    Probably less about getting away with a crime than about framing someone for one.

    Abby and McGee could do this in a heartbeat.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  19. #19
    g1
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    I'll do alibi posts for cash.
    Send password and paypal.
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  20. #20
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    I just looked at the bottom of the page and it says "All times are GMT +1. The time now is 07:30 PM" and it was correct!

  21. #21
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    It is now 2:53 local time, and I am hitting POST.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    Looks like the problem has been corrected.
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  23. #23
    Old Timer Leo_Gnardo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Looks like the problem has been corrected.
    Just in time too. I needed to set my watch.
    rjb likes this.

  24. #24
    ToneOholic! big_teee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo_Gnardo View Post
    Just in time too. I needed to set my watch.
    Me Too!
    Technicians Run the World, but Bankers, Lawyers, and Accountants, Take All The Credit!
    Keep Rockin! B_T
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  25. #25
    Old Timer J M Fahey's Avatar
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    Cool
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Enzo View Post
    Looks like the problem has been corrected.
    Woo hoo! Just in time to make sure my alibi is watertight!

    Circa 1990, I was using Unix (Solaris) on Sparc workstations. Back then we used a command-line mail client; it was quite easy to send an automated email while you were away, and I sometimes did so, for example, I remember writing a little C program that reminded me a week or so before birthdays of friends and relatives were coming up, so I'd have time to go get them a card and mail it off. The reminder itself was emailed to me - the C program I wrote would automatically generate those email reminders at the appropriate times.

    To automate email back then, basically you typed your message into an ordinary ASCII text file, then wrote a short little shell-script that called the email program, told it whom to email, and slurped in the text you had already saved in a file. The final piece of the puzzle was to set a cron job to call your shell-script at the appropriate time.

    After the "desktops and mice" paradigm took over, and we all ended up using some sort of windowing environment (X-windows, Microsoft Windows, Apple OS, etc), relatively simple tasks like that became much harder. Nowadays many of us use some sort of webmail, and, as Bob P. says, it would be much more of a challenge to successfully automatically send out email messages at some later time.

    -Gnobuddy

  27. #27
    Senior Member Enzo's Avatar
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    DAMN! I almost had you...
    Education is what you're left with after you have forgotten what you have learned.

  28. #28
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    I've stood as an expert witness a number of times in a previous career. Time and date stamps don't carry much evidential weight. Neither does most of electronic content unless from a system that has prior approvals for use as evidence - some Government systems, for example. In the general world of IT there's usually no way to prove or disprove whether time and date stamps have been altered, or content has been altered - either intentionally or by accident or negligence. At best you come down to 'balance of probability' and nothing more.
    bob p likes this.

  29. #29
    Better Tone thru Mathematics bob p's Avatar
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    sending automated emails isn't all that hard, even though we all use GUI now. there are libraries in all of the common programming and scripting languages that make it trivial to send emails from the command line, a program, or a script. when i was doing the web scraping thing in python, whenever i found a significant hit, i'd send an email to myself via a separate gmail account that I used just for the scraping notifications. it was pretty easy to do, actually.

    what really stinks about email is that it's so easy to spoof the sender's information, as there are basically no safeguards to insure that what's offered in that text field are legitimate/factual. a friend of mine even has an iPhone app that allows him to spoof emails as if they were coming from someone else. he abused it and he got in trouble with the law when he took it too far.

    as they say, it's all fun and games until somebody puts an eye out.
    "Stand back, I'm holding a calculator." - chinrest

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