diary at Telent Netowrks

The Stargreen web site, which I may have mentioned on these pages#

Thu, 24 Jul 2003 03:50:07 +0000

The Stargreen web site, which I may have mentioned on these pages before - what? "only twice a week"? OK then - has a page which lists all the gigs in the system for a given month. Clicky arrows for next/previous months, etc.

Anyway, every so often, somebody (it might be a bot) decides either to click their way through every month until 2039, or to edit the url directly to go to 2039 or some other after-death-of-Dennis-Ritche date. Which causes an error, for which I get to see the backtrace in my dribble file. I wouldn't care too much - after all, it's fairly obvious there are not going to be any gigs booked that far in advance, these people are really just playing - but for completeness sake if nothing else it'd be nice to fix. After all, this is Lisp, one of whose boasts is that we don't have integer overflow problems when we exceed 32 bits.

The problem is with timezones. The only portable way to get timezone data is by calling the libc localtime() function with what the manual page describes as a calendar time - the integer number of seconds since 1970, stored as a time_t. Which is to say, probably 32 bits on most systems in use today. So, despite the fact that we can in principle handle time arbitrarily far in the future, we can't if we want to know if Summer Time is in effect.

So I was jyst about to write a long diary entry detailing what the various different things we could do at this point are, but instead you can read the mail I sent sbcl-devel. The reason for my sudden change of heart? I've just checked the tzfile manual page more closely and noticed that

       The above header is followed by tzh_timecnt four-byte  values  of  type
       long,  sorted  in ascending order.  These values are written in ``stan-
       dard'' byte order.  Each is used as a transition time (as  returned  by
       time(2)) at which the rules for computing local time change.

Which makes the compiled zoneinfo data useless beyond 2038 too. And practically nobody keeps the sources around. This is exactly the excuse I need to not implement option 4. I think 3.1 is most likely.