August 24, 2013

Falsehoods programmers believe about time

Almost exactly two years ago, Patrick McKenzie wrote Falsehoods programmers believe about names, which lists common assumptions about how human beings are named. As the offspring of Dutch immigrants living in Ireland, this post rang very true to me - my family background forces me to notice names and the assumptions people make about them. Patrick’s post is one I’ve returned to again and again when I need inspiration when testing how names are stored in systems I work on.

Now Noah Sussman brings us Falsehood programmers believe about time, in the same spirit as Patrick’s post. Here are a few of them. Go read the full list.

  • The system clock will always be set to the correct local time.
  • The system clock will always be set to a time that is not wildly different from the correct local time.
  • If the system clock is incorrect, it will at least always be off by a consistent number of seconds.
  • The server clock and the client clock will always be set to the same time.
  • The server clock and the client clock will always be set to around the same time.
  • Ok, but the time on the server clock and time on the client clock would never be different by a matter of decades.
Update: W3.org (the organisation for standardisation on the web) has put together a decent page entitled Personal names around the world. It provides real-world examples of names that don’t fit the western naming approach, explains the conventions behind these different name presentations and then makes recommendations for form design. Well worth your time.

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