100 programming days to fix clock



  • This is hilarious for many reasons:
    @BBC said:


    The BBC Trust has upheld a complaint that the clock on the BBC homepage was "inaccurate and misleading".

    The complaint from a user of the site said that although readers assume the clock is correct, it merely reproduces the time on the user's computer.

    The Trust said having a clock which does not state it derives its time from a user's computer is not consistent with BBC guidelines on accuracy.

    A BBC spokeswoman said the clock would be removed "in an upcoming update".

    "The BBC takes accuracy very seriously," the corporation said in a statement.

    "Given the technical complexities of implementing an alternative central clock, and the fact that most users already have a clock on their computer screen, the BBC has taken the decision to remove the clock from the Homepage in an upcoming update."

    ...

    The BBC had asked its product management team to investigate the issue and it had reported back to the committee that it would take about 100 staffing days to make the changes involved in switching to an independent clock.

    I guess part of the issue is that the clock will need to update if the user stays on the same page for any amount of time. This has possibilities as another TDWTF code contest.



  • Was covered on /., where quite a few pointed out how 100 days was probably an underestimate, along with the nightmarish requirements that would be required of such a clock were it to be (re-)implemented, so it's not as WTF as it first appears.



  • @PJH said:

    Was covered on /., where quite a few pointed out how 100 days was probably an underestimate, along with the nightmarish requirements that would be required of such a clock were it to be (re-)implemented, so it's not as WTF as it first appears.

    Yes, I agree with that sentiment, and didn't find it outlandish (but then, when does humor--or even humour--need to be strictly true). I'm most amused about how the clock violates their accuracy policy. But I still say that given the stink over possibly inaccurate time, there's a lot of potential for WTF solutions. Assuming they put a clock up again, some joker is likely to raise a relativity argument about its inaccuracy.



  • I was talking about this to a colleague earlier, and we thought the biggest issue would be the time-zone of the user as I'm presuming they want the user's local time displaying.



    I came up (in my head) with a half-assed solution involving an AJAX call from the client including the time zone they are in (not used it, but apparently there's a getTimezoneOffset() in Javascript), and the BBC server returns the user's initial local time when loading the page up. This is assuming that their servers are time-synced to a reliable NTP source.



    As for the 100 days to implement? Well, the BBC is the government, so that's probably under-estimating it!!!!



  • @MeesterTurner said:

    including the time zone they are in
    These are users you're talking about. What guarantees do you expect to have that their computer has been set up to have the right timezone?



  • @PJH said:

    @MeesterTurner said:
    including the time zone they are in
    These are users you're talking about. What guarantees do you expect to have that their computer has been set up to have the right timezone?
     

    So the server should do a location lookup using the client's IP address and use that to determine their time zone.



  • @BBC said:

    and the fact that most users already have a clock on their computer screen
     

    Yes. Exactly. Why do websites insist on having a clock? Does anyone ever look at it, given they have a clock on their screen, on their phone, possibly on their wrist, on a dozen other devices surrounding them, etc. Why implement a shitty, inaccurate, mostly ignored clock in a technology that doesn't even have an accurate-to-the-second update event?

     Unless you're website is ThisIsTheGoddamnAtomicClock.Org, you don't need an accurate clock on it. And even if that IS your website, you have no control over the network's latency, so it's still ThisIsTheGoddamnAtomicClock.Org/ButYourInternetIsStillShit.html

    On the flipside, what the fuck is up with forums and shit removing the timestamp from forum posts? I don't care if it was posted "About 8 hours ago", or "2-May".  If I read a post that says "holy shit, did you just feel that earthquake", I want the server timestamp as to when it was posted. If "how many hours ago" is so fucking important, then display both for those who can't do 12/24 hour math.  "Posted 2 May 2013, 07:45:25 (about 8 hours ago)"



  • Both the user who complained about this, and the person who deemed the clock-on-a-webpage necessary, should be punched into red mist to prevent them from procreating.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    Filed under: Let's argue about date formats!

    RFC2550



  • @MeesterTurner said:

    Well, the BBC is the government

    No it isn't.



  • @mott555 said:

    @PJH said:

    @MeesterTurner said:
    including the time zone they are in
    These are users you're talking about. What guarantees do you expect to have that their computer has been set up to have the right timezone?
     

    So the server should do a location lookup using the client's IP address and use that to determine their time zone.

    Nope. Try again. (Think mobile phones in countries with more than one timezone for a start.)



  • @eViLegion said:

    @MeesterTurner said:
    Well, the BBC is the government

    No it isn't.

    Might as well be; it's funded in the same way - by stealing money off the public using threats.



  • @PJH said:

    Might as well be; it's funded in the same way - by stealing money off the public using threats.

    So, organised crime might as well be the government? K.



  • @eViLegion said:

    @PJH said:
    Might as well be; it's funded in the same way - by stealing money off the public using threats.

    So, organised crime might as well be the government? K.

    It's true, of course, that governments are generally organized crime. But not all organized crime is government.



  • @mott555 said:

    So the server should do a location lookup using the client's IP address and use that to determine their time zone.

    Or: Display UTC time by default, ask user to pick their timezone, save it in a cookie or their account info.



  • @MeesterTurner said:

    I was talking about this to a colleague earlier, and we thought the biggest issue would be the time-zone of the user as I'm presuming they want the user's local time displaying.

    JavaScript's Date object already does this when you stringify it, based on the browser locale or somesuch.



  • @MeesterTurner said:

    I came up (in my head) with a half-assed solution involving an AJAX call from the client including the time zone they are in (not used it, but apparently there's a getTimezoneOffset() in Javascript), and the BBC server returns the user's initial local time when loading the page up.

    Here's where you separate the good programmers from the bad. The issue here is the BBC website clock is not accurate when the computer's clock is not accurate, so the requirement is that you need a website clock that does not rely on the computer's clock.

    But you've just designed one that requires the computer's clock to at least be partially accurate. So you fail.

    @mott555 said:

    So the server should do a location lookup using the client's IP address and use that to determine their time zone.

    Accuracy of 75%, max.

    ...

    The REAL answer is:
    1) The requirement is impossible to fulfill
    2) So bullshit a large number so people will take the much, much easier solution of just deleting the clock

    OH HEY LOOKIE HERE that's exactly what happened. No news here. No WTF here, either. Except that the BBC is a mafia.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    Let's argue about date formats!

    YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss
    2013-06-06 20:02:30

    any other format inevitably and intrinsically makes less sense (within the context of this planet). end of discussion.



  • So while I agree that having a clock is stupid (especially one that's just mirroring the user's own time--at least one that showed GMT would be both easy to implement and would make more sense), what I don't understand is the 100 days thing. What the fuck were they planning on doing?

    I mean, either you trust the user's clock, in which case this is trivial. Or you don't trust it, in which case I guess you have to make them enter their timezone when they first load the page, but that's also pretty trivial. What possible solution did they have that would take 100 days to implement?



  • @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    We arbitrarily named our months so that when someone says 'from may till october' you immediately and effortlessly know it spans 6 months time

    October -- the eighth month.

    May -- the second-best month.

    8 - 2 = 6



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    What possible solution did they have that would take 100 days to implement?
     

    Probably some complex back-end solution that involves syncing up to and getting accurate-to-the-femtosecond updates from an atomic clock.

    Then writing a library that would use AJAX to make calls every second or so back to the BBCLOCK server. The javascript would be complex enough to measure the network latency between ajax.start and ajax.complete.  It would then adjust the received timestamp to adjust the now "stale" time.

    A second team would work on an algorithm that would measure the amount of time the above calculations would take, and adjust the adjusted time accordingly.

    A third team would work on geolocating the user's location so that they can account not only for daylight savings time, but also relativity drift caused by the BBCLOCK server and the user being at different latitudes (and thus moving in different frames of reference relative to each other AND the atomic clock itself).

    They also had an entire management team who was given makeshift work to keep them out of the way tasked with forming a committee to determine exactly WHICH shade of teal the font would use. They have subcommittee to discuss the font.

    The above is probably not a joke. =(



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    A third team would work on geolocating the user's location so that they can account not only for daylight savings time, but also relativity drift caused by the BBCLOCK server and the user being at different latitudes (and thus moving in different frames of reference relative to each other AND the atomic clock itself).

    Geolocation is probably even less reliable than just using the user's clock.



  • @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    @Lorne Kates said:
    Let's argue about date formats!

    YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss
    2013-06-06 20:02:30

    any other format inevitably and intrinsically makes less sense (within the context of this planet). end of discussion.

     

     

    ISO format is most easy to understand and explain.

    I am more superior with the dd/mm/yyyy format which is used in leading country like India.

     



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    What possible solution did they have that would take 100 days to implement?

    It doesn't fucking matter. They were just ass-pulling a high number so the management would make the correct decision and remove the clock altogether.

    Doesn't ANYBODY on this forum work at a corporation? Jesus.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    What possible solution did they have that would take 100 days to implement?

    It doesn't fucking matter. They were just ass-pulling a high number so the management would make the correct decision and remove the clock altogether.

    Doesn't ANYBODY on this forum work at a corporation? Jesus.

    Yes, but I never lie about estimates. shrug



  • @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss
    2013-06-06 20:02:30
    Zulu? Mike?



  • @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    @Lorne Kates said:
    Let's argue about date formats!

    YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss
    2013-06-06 20:02:30

    any other format inevitably and intrinsically makes less sense (within the context of this planet). end of discussion.

    RFC2550:

    20130606200230000000000000000000000000000000



  • @PJH said:

    @SEMI-HYBRID code said:
    YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss
    2013-06-06 20:02:30
    Zulu? Mike?

    NPT



  • @Nagesh said:

    @SEMI-HYBRID code said:

    @Lorne Kates said:
    Let's argue about date formats!

    YYYY-MM-DD HH:mm:ss
    2013-06-06 20:02:30

    any other format inevitably and intrinsically makes less sense (within the context of this planet). end of discussion.

     

     

    ISO format is most easy to understand and explain.

    I am more superior with the dd/mm/yyyy format which is used in leading country like India.


    this one takes the second place.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @morbiuswilters said:
    What possible solution did they have that would take 100 days to implement?

    It doesn't fucking matter. They were just ass-pulling a high number so the management would make the correct decision and remove the clock altogether.

    Doesn't ANYBODY on this forum work at a corporation? Jesus.

    Yes, but I never lie about estimates. shrug

    Then either you're lucky enough to work in a corporation where the management knows their shit, or someone higher up the food chain is transforming your estimates for management consumption, or you spend a lot of time implementing features that are brain-hurtingly stupid.

    My company has pretty much given up trying to get estimates out of me, mainly because my answer is always "int.MaxValue" when asked how long I believe something will take. (Not int.MaxValue seconds or days, just int.MaxValue). Mainly it's because the specs we get are shitty and are codebases equally so, but it's also because software estimation is a waste of time and effort in and of itself.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    @morbiuswilters said:
    What possible solution did they have that would take 100 days to implement?

    It doesn't fucking matter. They were just ass-pulling a high number so the management would make the correct decision and remove the clock altogether.

    Doesn't ANYBODY on this forum work at a corporation? Jesus.

    Yes, but I never lie about estimates. shrug

    I never lie about estimates either, but I'm so bad at estimating that when I'm asked "when will you get this done?" I reply with "sometime between now and when I die, or possibly a week or two more than that".



  • @The_Assimilator said:

    ...or you spend a lot of time implementing features that are brain-hurtingly stupid.

    Sometimes, but my job is to implement the features, not lie about how long they will take to trick management into dropping it.

    @The_Assimilator said:

    My company has pretty much given up trying to get estimates out of me, mainly because my answer is always "int.MaxValue" when asked how long I believe something will take.

    Man, I'm surprised they haven't fired you.

    @The_Assimilator said:

    Mainly it's because the specs we get are shitty and are codebases equally so, but it's also because software estimation is a waste of time and effort in and of itself.

    Well, obviously time estimates are more art than science. I didn't say I never have to amend an estimate, just that I don't intentionally lie about it. Still, I've become pretty good at estimating how long things will take, even on shitty codebases with ill-defined requirements.



  • @eViLegion said:

    I never lie about estimates either, but I'm so bad at estimating that when I'm asked "when will you get this done?" I reply with "sometime between now and when I die, or possibly a week or two more than that".

    I don't understand why estimating is so hard for you guys. Look, I know you're not going to get it precise right down to the hour, but I can usually think through the task and, assuming no major hiccups, get it pretty close. And when major hiccups occur ("Turns out this third-party library sucks, I've got to find another way to do this.") then I tell the PM and give an amended estimate and continue to keep him up-to-date, usually on a daily basis.

    Part of it is I think you're not even trying. Like anything, it takes practice to get good at estimating how long a task will take.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    Yes. Exactly. Why do websites insist on having a clock? Does anyone ever look at it, given they have a clock on their screen, on their phone, possibly on their wrist, on a dozen other devices surrounding them, etc. Why implement a shitty, inaccurate, mostly ignored clock in a technology that doesn't even have an accurate-to-the-second update event?
     

    Because in some industries such as online gambling it is a legal requirement.

     


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    Another reason I pad estimates is that there is always scope creep and it seldom goes through official channels.

    Why is the project late? The requirements changed 5 times during development.



  • @lucas said:

    @Lorne Kates said:

    Yes. Exactly. Why do websites insist on having a clock? Does anyone ever look at it, given they have a clock on their screen, on their phone, possibly on their wrist, on a dozen other devices surrounding them, etc. Why implement a shitty, inaccurate, mostly ignored clock in a technology that doesn't even have an accurate-to-the-second update event?
     

    Because in some industries such as online gambling it is a legal requirement.

     

    And the BBC is a poker room, as are most of the sites on the Internet. 

    I think your birds may be too angry today. Or not angry enough. I'm not sure how it works.

     



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    I don't understand why estimating is so hard for you guys. Look, I know you're not going to get it precise right down to the hour, but I can usually think through the task and, assuming no major hiccups, get it pretty close. And when major hiccups occur ("Turns out this third-party library sucks, I've got to find another way to do this.") then I tell the PM and give an amended estimate and continue to keep him up-to-date, usually on a daily basis.

    There's also a big difference in what sort of task you're talking about. One fairly well defined thing (like this clock) shouldn't be too difficult to estimate, unless you really have no clue what you would do. Estimating a task that's really broken down into lots of small tasks is a whole different beast, of course, since all the little rounding errors add up or cancel out and you're a lot more likely to not think of everything that's involved. It's also easier for me to estimate how long I can do something myself. If I need someone else for the task, then it's a lot harder, for Mythical Man Month reasons and run of the mill incompetence.

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Part of it is I think you're not even trying. Like anything, it takes practice to get good at estimating how long a task will take.

    Yes.



  • @Lorne Kates said:

    And the BBC is a poker room, as are most of the sites on the Internet. 

    I think your birds may be too angry today. Or not angry enough. I'm not sure how it works. 

    The point being that there is probably a reason why they have to have a clock on the site (possible a BBC directive). In the industry I work in it is a legal requirement by the gambling commission (which is run by the Government) to have a clock.

    Personally I think it is dumb too.

     



  • @PJH said:

    Might as well be; it's funded in the same way - by stealing money off the public using threats.
     

    The BBC are publically funded. If you don't own a TV that is tuned to receive broadcast you don't have to pay anything. The BBC costs buggar all a month (£10 which is the same as spotify) and makes for the most part pretty damn good television. I would say the iPlayer is worth the cost of the BBC alone.

     



  • @joe.edwards said:

    Another reason I pad estimates is that there is always scope creep and it seldom goes through official channels.

    But padding isn't outright lying. Saying "This will take 1000 man-hours" because you don't want to do it is lying. Padding for the unexpected is just part of being good at estimating.



  • @lucas said:

    In the industry I work in it is a legal requirement by the gambling commission (which is run by the Government) to have a clock.

    Is this so you can see how much of your life you're wasting, as well as money?



  • @lucas said:

    If you don't own a TV that is tuned to receive broadcast you don't have to pay anything.

    Are there broadcast stations other than BBC? Because it still seems they're using a government-supported monopoly to extort money from anyone who wants to receive signals off the public airwaves.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Are there broadcast stations other than BBC? Because it still seems they're using a government-supported monopoly to extort money from anyone who wants to receive signals off the public airwaves.
     

    Yes there are. I don't agree with the TV license 100%. I would rather directly pay for the service if I am using it. It is a hangover from past because at the time it was felt that advertisements would decrease the quality of the programs show.

    However it is relatively cheap and you get a lot of channels and services, also there is no adverts which is a major plus.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Is this so you can see how much of your life you're wasting, as well as money?

    Essentially yes. It is supposed to remind players how long they have been there.



  • @lucas said:

    Yes there are. I don't agree with the TV license 100%. I would rather directly pay for the service if I am using it. It is a hangover from past because at the time it was felt that advertisements would decrease the quality of the programs show.

    However it is relatively cheap and you get a lot of channels and services, also there is no adverts which is a major plus.

    It doesn't sound like a bad deal, but it does sound like coercive use of state power, which is what PJH was stating.

    You guys should take a lesson from us. Our commercial-free public TV is supported by:

    • a billion-dollar-a-year merchandising arm
    • a small amount of money stolen from the public coffers, which people fight vociferously over--one half of the country angrily wants to eliminate the subsidy, despite the fact that money involved is one of the least ludicrous examples of government waste, while the other half pretends like eliminating this subsidy will be the end of Western Civilization, despite the fact that the money's not even needed
    • brief "spots" where companies that donate money are publicly lauded for their contributions, and the virtues of the company are extolled
    • and sometimes totebag-wielding viewers like you


  • @lucas said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Is this so you can see how much of your life you're wasting, as well as money?

    Essentially yes. It is supposed to remind players how long they have been there.

    Ironically, most real casinos in the US don't have clocks or windows, because they don't want you to realize how long you've been there.

    Instead of a clock, I think they should have a little animation which shows the gambler what his retirement is going to look like. For example, the first 24 hours shows an old guy carefully clipping every coupon he can find; the next 24 hours shows an old guy eating canned dog food; the next 24 hours he's moved on to dry dog food; and finally just show an old man blowing a heroin addict for a nearly-empty Oyster card.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    a small amount of money stolen from the public coffers, which people fight vociferously over--one half of the country angrily wants to eliminate the subsidy, despite the fact that money involved is one of the least ludicrous examples of government waste

    Which just goes to show that you can't cut even the stupidest ways to spend a tiny amount of money, such as making statues of Benedict Arnold.



  • @morbiuswilters said:

    Ironically, most real casinos in the US don't have clocks or windows, because they don't want you to realize how long you've been there.

    I think that is because the UK Government regulate the fuck out of the gambling industry. There are "gamble aware" adverts in the UK.

     



  • @boomzilla said:

    @morbiuswilters said:
    a small amount of money stolen from the public coffers, which people fight vociferously over--one half of the country angrily wants to eliminate the subsidy, despite the fact that money involved is one of the least ludicrous examples of government waste

    Which just goes to show that you can't cut even the stupidest ways to spend a tiny amount of money, such as making statues of Benedict Arnold.

    How else are inner-city children going to learn to betray America?

    My point was that every few years Republicans get this bug up their ass about PBS and then proceed to completely fuck themselves over. With all the examples of appalling shit the government is doing, they go on the attack against Sesame Street (and while I am iffy on government funding for public broadcasting, you can do a lot worse with government money than on a program that teaches kids to count and read.. for example, nearly every other use of government money, ever..)

    And of course the Republicans always lose, because trying to kill a beloved childrens' character (who himself is just a child) doesn't just look evil, it looks cartoonishly evil, like it was dreamt up by Democratic Party propagandists to paint Republicans in the worst light imaginable. (And before you say it, I know they weren't trying to kill Big Bird, but that's clearly how that shit was going to be spun. When will Republicans wake the fuck up and realize that having good points and facts to support your argument is meaningless when the average voter is, well, the average American.)

    Seriously, I don't even care that much about PBS. I think it's an okay use of public funds, at least compared to the other shit that goes on. (Although I'd cut NPR in a heartbeat because it's nothing but government money being spent on a big-government cheer section. It's fucking sick and retarded.) How about tackling some big fish, like the $700 billion in defense spending or fucking food stamps or Medicare or SS. (If I was in charge of the Federal budget, it would be $300 billion /year, and half of that would be defense.)

    Yeah, okay, the dumb voters don't want to try to fix those until they blow up in our faces, either, but at least you'd be fighting a fight that's worthy of losing. And maybe, in 10 or 15 years when things have really fallen to shit, people will remember that you predicted this mess and had a solution and maybe there will be an actual shift in public opinion.

    Or, you know, just keep following a program that is a Democratic campaign strategist's wet dream. Whatever works.


    (BTW, this wasn't really directed at you, but was just a general rant about how much I hate the GOP.)



  • @lucas said:

    @morbiuswilters said:

    Ironically, most real casinos in the US don't have clocks or windows, because they don't want you to realize how long you've been there.

    I think that is because the UK Government regulate the fuck out of the gambling industry. There are "gamble aware" adverts in the UK.

    We regulate it a lot, too (we don't even have Internet gambling, dude) but where it is allowed it's basically a free-for-all.


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