Welcome to the Internet that time forgot

Welcome to the Internet that time forgot

Summary: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has shuttered many web sites, including time.gov, as part of the government shutdown. The NIST Internet Time Service will stay up.

TOPICS: Government US

As part of the US government shutdown, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), part of the Department of Commerce, has shut several web sites, including time.gov, which displays the date and time based on the authoritative NIST Internet Time Service.

The time service itself will stay up, and good thing because many other services rely on it. The time.gov site, by comparison, is simple and static, so it's not clear what was saved by shutting it.

Currently, the site displays this message:

(Screenshot: ZDNet)

Topic: Government US

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Shame !

  • I actually do use the site daily!

    My company uses an hosted site for timesheet and time clock. A while ago, there was a dispute with the accuracy of the time clock function and the vendor suggested that we should confirm our computers are synced to time.gov. So every day for the past several years I confirm my punch-in time with time.gov and using screen shots, I note the time discrepancy of their website. Basically throwing the vendor's excuse back at them, since in all these years, our clocks are spot-on accurate with time.gov, but the vendor's time was not.

    BTW, the vendor's time drifts and can be off as much as 70 seconds. Which means sometimes you think you're punching in at 07:59, but it get's recorded as 08:01 so HR docks you for being late. A static time _offset_ might be acceptable, but this vendor's time _drifts_ and occasionally _jumps_ by 15 or more seconds the next day. (I actually noted one day the time jumped by over 5 minutes!) So you never really know what the offset will be on a given day. Thus my screen shots of the offset is needed for any employee dispute.

    So time.gov is essential to me. D a m n you Congress! ;)
  • Time servers are dirt simple now days.

    They are just a GPS receiver that simply encapsulates the GPS time into NTP form.

    A bit expensive for the good ones, but nearly maintenance free.
    • Oops

      While it is true that you can use an GPS in order to make NTP stratum 1 time source, it will be stratum 1 only because you claim so...
      You can also do that with a radio broadcast time signals, etc.
      You can also buy specialized "atom" clocks and use these as well.

      But, time.gov guaranteed does not use GPS. GPS time is not always accurate....
      • GPS time has to be accurate to 100 nanoseconds.

        Otherwise navigation systems will move aircraft/ships too much out of their proper location, and cause dangerous situations.

        These clocks are MORE accurate that most atomic clocks - which are not fully temperature compensated (I used to work with these suckers - the techs calibrating them hated the task - it took from days to weeks to get them right).

        Now if you get an inaccurate "GPS" time, it isn't GPS time that is inaccurate, but the translation of GPS time to UTC done by the machine.

        Network stratum 1 servers can be purchased for around $150 (US). These are using GPS time, and they have to be properly installed to work correctly (mostly, the antenna has be mounted correctly to avoid building interference). These servers require near zero maintenance, as once they are configured for the local network there is nothing to do.
        • Partly true...

          The NTP "stratum" value only refers to how many "hops" away from the "time source" a given NTP server is.

          You can build perfectly valid "stratum 1" server using your PC's unreliable clock.

          It is never the stratum that is important, but the precision. And GPS clocks are not that precise, for many different reasons. But they can be used to adjust (over time) high precision atomic clocks with the multiple atomic clocks that are orbiting the Earth.
          • The atomic clocks are not in orbit.

            They are on the ground and used to update the satellites value of the current time.

            The problem with the clocks being in orbit is that they drift - and cannot be recalibrated. There are high precision clocks in orbit.. but they are always being updated - roughly once every couple of days.

            As I said, the GPS time is good to 100 nanoseconds. Much higher resolution than any clock in a computer.

            100 nanoseconds corresponds to about 3 meters of position accuracy on the ground.
          • There is no point to argue with facts

            There are atomic clocks, sometimes more than one on each satellite. They are synchronized, yes.

            GPS synchronized clocks exist with accuracy up to 40ns and if the GPS signal can be descrambled, accuracy can go up to 10ns. GPS in these cases is used to synchronize an atomic clock.

            An GPS clock synchronized NTP server however provides accuracy in the area of 50-100 microseconds, due to many factors, not related to GPS at all -- so how much accurate GPS signals can be is pretty much irrelevant in this case.
  • How "Times" has changed....

    Putin's Russia seems more stable and ethical... reality or hallucination?
  • Probably spent more money putting up static pages

    More money was probably spent putting up these static pages to "send a message" than would have been spent just leaving the sites alone. Aren't politics grand.
    • Not sure about that...

      BUT, with enough grant money, we can perform a study to gather the data, sort it,
      categorize it, then see if we need more money to come to a conclusion!! Hehe!
  • Including your PC's clock.

    "The time service itself will stay up, and good thing because many other services rely on it."

    Including your PC's clock. It's a service that nobody thinks of, but any device that sets its own clock likely goes to their servers.
    • not

      There are many, many NTP servers all over the world and some are of even better accuracy than the NIST servers. This is normal.

      Most "PC" clocks sync to a vendor's source (Apple, Microsoft, Google) or sometimes their ISP's.

      I happen to run a nation wide network and none of our systems has ever relied on NIST time (primarily because we are across the pond and that would be unreliable).
    • Not Windows

      Windows PCs, by default, synch with time.windows.com. Perhaps they get their time from NIST, I'm not sure, but i doubt it
      • yes and no.

        It uses a GPS time, and some external time servers.

        time.windows.com does not use the complete NTP protocol (figures - something for them only).