Marga Marga's blog
Free as in Freedom

Mon, 06 Oct 2008

tzdata screwed up most computer clocks in Argentina.

Last year, after many years of peacefully living the whole year in GMT-3, our government decided that Argentina should use DST again. This was done in a rush, but patches were written and applied everywhere to have a correct timezone.

Fixing the problem was not enough, tzdata's upstream decided to predict the future:

# From Paul Eggert (2007-12-22):
# For dates after mid-2008, the following rules are my guesses and
# are quite possibly wrong, but are more likely than no DST at all.
Rule    Arg 2007    only    -   Dec 30  0:00    1:00    S
Rule    Arg 2008    max -   Mar Sun>=15 0:00    0   -
Rule    Arg 2008    max -   Oct Sun>=1  0:00    1:00    S

Well, back in December 2007, October 2008 might have seemed like a long time in the future, and they assumed that sometime in the middle the correct date would be announced... But, predictably (knowing Argentina's current government), no DST has yet been announced.

However, Paul Eggert's guesses had propagated to almost all UNIX distributions, so that at 0:00 Sunday Oct 5th, all our computers were suddenly one hour ahead of time.

Affected systems: Debian, Ubuntu, Gentoo, Red Hat, OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Mac OS. Devices: ipod, maemo, Nokia N95. Websites: Clarin (a major newspaper - still broken 36 hours later), Gmail. And probably many others that I don't know of.

I even read that Windows was affected, although I don't know how that might be possible, since as far as I know they don't use tzdata.

Anyway, not satisfied with how they mistakenly predicted the future before, a few weeks ago (not enough time in advance to fix almost any systems, only sid had this release), they added this change:

# From Alexander Krivenyshev (2008-09-05):
# As per message from Carlos Alberto Fonseca Arauz (Nicaragua),
# Argentina will start DST on Sunday October 19, 2008.
#
# http://www.worldtimezone.com/dst_news/dst_news_argentina03.html
# http://www.impulsobaires.com.ar/nota.php?id=57832 (in spanish)

Rule    Arg 2007    only    -   Dec 30  0:00    1:00    S
Rule    Arg 2008    max -   Mar Sun>=15 0:00    0   -
Rule    Arg 2008    max -   Oct Sun>=15 0:00    1:00    S

So, they decided to take the word of a guy from Nicaragua (no bad feelings against Nicaragua, but I think that this kind of stuff should be informed by people from the affected country), and from a couple of articles that say that "According to some sources, we might have to change our clocks on the third Sunday of October". Would you change tzdata sources with such information? I definitely wouldn't.

Anyway, Aurelien Jarno has already uploaded fixed packages, with no assumption regarding when the DST will happen, which is the sensible thing to do in a case like this. Thanks Aurel!

[18:16] [Category: debian] | Permalink | GoogleIT!

Sun, 31 Aug 2008

Life after DebConf8

Finally, after more than a year of preparation, and six months of very very hard work, DebConf8 has come and gone. Even if I'm not yet completely recovered from all that stress, I'm good enough to feel really happy about how things turned out.

DebConf8 was a great success. We had great talks, many opportunities for developing interesting ideas, a lot of social interaction, an awesome video team that allowed more than 200 people from all around the world to be part of the conference even if they weren't in Argentina, and in general almost everyone had a very good time. It was really nice to have so many people from Debian over here, and it was specially nice to see them working and enjoying themselves so much.

This was all possible thanks to our sponsors, thanks to the many hours spent during the previous months both by the DebConf orga-team (the usual suspects) and specially by the local team, which includes Tincho, Damin, Romanella, Maxy, Sebas, Zero, Mendieta, Dererk, Melisa, Angasule, Lisandro, Nueces, and also thanks to the all help of the volunteers that came to work with us during DebCamp and DebConf, which include Toms, Tinchito, Mnica, Lucas, Germn, Diego, Fefu, Nicols, Martn, Marcos, Hernn, Alejandro, Matas, Rodrigo, Alberto and Joaqun, and finally, DebConf wouldn't have been the great event it was without all the people that managed to travel thousands of kilometers to get here. To all of them, thanks, for making DebConf8 such a great conference

Now, at last, DebConf8 is over (although there is some stuff that we still need to do before we can really forget all about it), and life goes on. Today, I did my first NMU after a long time. I'm particularly glad to have time for fixing bugs again, but I won't lie, I'm also extremely satisfied with how DebConf8 turned out.

See you in Extremadura!

[07:24] [Category: debian] | Permalink | GoogleIT!

Fri, 23 May 2008

The tyranny of Spanish users

Caution: Latin American rant ahead.

With my Latin American Spanish keyboard (xkb code "la") I can type in:

But not in:

It turns out that for some people it's more important to have 3 (yes THREE) asciitilde (~) in the Latin American Spanish keyboard, than to allow people to write in the language spoken by 51% of South American people, or the second official language in Paraguay (spoken by 94% of the population).

The same thing happens with the Traditional Spanish keyboard (code "es"), which was initially thought only for Spain, but is now widely sold all over Latin America. It includes 2 asciitilde, but no dead_tilde.

I think this is outrageous and I'm very very pissed about this. As can be seen in the posts I've made to the bugs in Debian and in FreeDesktop.

However, it looks like we Latin Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of Spanish people in Free Software (particularly in Debian) who don't care that Brazil is the biggest economy in the region nor that other native american languages can't be written without a dead_tilde.

For the record, there are some other European languages, that can't be written with the Latin American keyboard, such as:

But in this case, it makes much more sense to not be able to write those than not being able to write Portuguese or Guaran, and it's not like there are 3 macrons and no dead_macrons, there are no macrons at all (same for all others).

[21:00] [Category: debian] | Permalink | GoogleIT!

Sun, 20 Jan 2008

Languages of the world, unite!

After reading Christian's post about the new ISO 639-3, I thought about the "what is the country in the world which as the highest number of languages listed in ISO 639-3" question, and thought, "It must be India or China", and sure enough they both have a high language count (428 and 236 respectively).

However, after clicking around a while, I found out that Nigeria has 510 languages. I thought I had found the highest one for quite a while, until I got to Indonesia, which has 742 languages, and I thought "it's not fair, that's much more than just a country, it's a huge group of islands". Not having learned my lesson, I was quite astonished when I finally found out that the country with the highest number of languages is Papua New Guinea, a neighboring group of islands (although not so big as Indonesia), with 830 languages!

In Europe, the coutry with the highest number is Turkey (36), followed by Italy (33) and France (32). It looks like Europe has gone a long way after that stupid Babel incident :).

In America, I thought Argentina would be quite up in the list, since we do have a lot of native groups, but it turns out we only have 27 languages and we are on the 9th place. The country with the most languages is Mexico (298), then USA (238), then Brazil (235).

And, after all that clicking around the site, I found a very interesting map, that has one red dot per language in the primary location of each living language. It's quite amazing to see the big red New Guinea island. I wonder what happened there that led to the creation of that many languages.

[15:43] [Category: debian] | Permalink | GoogleIT!


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