dkatana writes: On January 31, 2013, approximately 400 milliseconds before the official release of the EIA Natural Gas Report, trading activity exploded in Natural Gas Futures. It is believed that was the result of some fast computer trading systems being programmed to act, and have a one-second advance access to the report. On June 30th a leap second will be added to the Network Time Protocol (NTP) to keep it synchronized with the slowly lengthening solar day. In this article, Charles Babcock gives a detailed account of the issues, and some disturbing possibilities: The last time a second needed to be added to the day was on June 30, 2012. For Qantas Airlines in Australia, it was a memorable event. Its systems, including flight reservations, went down for two hours as internal system clocks fell out of synch with external clocks. The original author of the NTP protocol, Prof. David Mills at the University of Delaware, set a direct and simple way to add the second: Count the last second of June 30 twice, using a special notation on the second count for the record. Google will use a different approach: Over a 20-hour period on June 30, Google will add a couple of milliseconds to each of its NTP servers' updates. By the end of the day, a full second has been added. As the NTP protocol and Google timekeepers enter the first second of July, their methods may differ, but they both agree on the time. But that could also be problematic. In adding a second to its NTP servers in 2005, Google ran into timekeeping problems on some of its widely distributed systems. The Mills sleight-of-hand was confusing to some of its clusters, as they fell out of synch with NTP time. Does Google's smear approach make more sense to you, or does Mills's idea of counting the last second twice work better? Do you have a better idea of how to handle this?
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