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What time is it? Avoid confusion!

posted Sep 26, 2010, 4:20 PM by Yola Plumblossom   [ updated Sep 26, 2010, 5:17 PM ]
Have you ever been an hour or more early (or worse: late!) to a party or concert?
When you get an invitation to an event, it can be confusing to work out what time it starts, even though said starting time is mentioned in the invitation! Why is that? And what is the solution to this problem? We asked  Master Berno Applecore, who is the hobbit responsible for the big clockwork inside the Townhole clocktower in Michel Delving.



BG (Bramblebury Gazette): What causes this confusion about timetelling, Master Applecore?
BA (Berno Applecore): I will try to explain. From old days on, noon was the moment the sun reached it's highest position in the sky. We call that 12 o'clock. Now if you are here in the Shire and your brother is in, say, Rivendell to the east, then your brother will see the sun at its highest at an earlier moment than you. This is a fact, and caused by the great distance between the locations. So when you tell your brother to go to Master Elrond at 12 o'clock, he will do this at a time when YOUR noon (and twelve o'clock) has not yet past!

BG: So is there a solution to this? It seems impossible to make an appointment with someone who is staying outside the Shire. There will always be an argument about the time!
BA: Well yes, there is a solution and it is called “servertime”. Servertime is way of telling time that always yields the same result, no matter at what location in Middle-Earth you are.

BG: So why not set the Townhole clock and every other clock in the world to servertime and be done with it?
BA: And have, say, daybreak instead of noon at 12 o'clock in Rivendell? The elves would never agree to that. No, it works differently.

BG: So how is it done?
BA: We all keep our local time, but COMPARE it to servertime. So you check what time servertime is, then check your local time and note the difference. Maybe for you,  local time is servertime plus two hours. So if your invitation says 8PM servertime, you would have to add two to get your local time, in this example 10PM. But each must work out the difference for themselves, do not blindly follow this example of a two hour difference. It's just that: an example.

BG: Now let's say I want to invite my friends to come to my party at 9PM my local time. What do I tell my friends so they all arrive in time, regardless of their whereabouts?
BA: First you work out the same calculation: local time minus servertime. The result you must substract from the wanted local starting time to give you the wanted servertime. So if the result of the calculation would be 1 that would mean 9PM local time equals 8PM servertime

BG: Can the result of the calculation be zero or negative?
BA: Ofcourse! When zero, local time equals servertime. When negative, you add it to the local time. So if the result of the calculation would be -1 then 9PM local time equals 10PM server time.

BG: Does servertime vary with daylight saving time?
BA: The beauty of the system is that servertime never changes, but you mention a possible pitfall there. With the coming and going of daylight saving time, the local time changes! And therefore the difference with servertime changes too! This fall, when daylight saving time has ended, be sure to check the difference with servertime again.

BG: Thank you very much for trying to explain this complicated matter to our readers, Master Applecore. But one final question: How do we know servertime?
BA: That's easy, just point your nose in the direction of the sun (or moon as may be the case) and think hard: /servertime”.

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Yola Plumblossom,
Sep 26, 2010, 4:22 PM
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