back to article 'Metadatagate' fails to bring down Oz pollie

Time stamps in Adobe Acrobat and Microsoft Word documents briefly became the centre of Australia's political agenda today, after seemingly dodgy dates in a press release were said to point to a conspiracy. To understand the sudden political import of metadata, you need to know that Australia currently has a minority government …


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  1. jake Silver badge

    I got your time-stamp right 'ere ...

    I can time-stamp MS & Adobe crap-ware documents with any time/date you like. It ain't exactly rocket science. Are the AUS politicos really that far out of the loop when it comes to technology?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I got your time-stamp right 'ere ...

      Why are you calling out Australian politicians specifically? I've never seen any particular ability with technology demonstrated by the politicians of other countries.

      Well, with the exception of US politicians of course - inventing the Internet wasn't easy, what with all the welding together of tubes and such.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @DougS (Was: Re: I got your time-stamp right 'ere ...)

        "Why are you calling out Australian politicians specifically?"

        Because they seem (to me!) to be completely clueless about how the underpinnings of the Internet work. More so than politicians in any other so-called "western" country.

        1. Esskay

          Re: @DougS (Was: I got your time-stamp right 'ere ...)

          As an Australian, I'd have to agree. Most politicians' knowledge of of the internet encompasses the fact that their aides have told them posting on something called "facebook" and "twitter" gives them a valuable edge in the youth demographic.

          Sadly such efforts are so transparent as to be close to pointless. It's well worth paying attention though, for the moment when politicians on either side (but more likely to be a national party or christian democratic party candidate) says something completely moronic before deleting it and hoping they got rid of it quick enough (hint - you didn't).

  2. nuked

    "...failed to apply Australia's time zone to the UTC time on which its servers rely. The time stamp on the press release was therefore correct..."


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up



      B:More than likely correct.


    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Sadly you are probably wrong and this is simply a software screw-up.

      So much of MS (and presumably Adobe?) software did things in 'local' time and often without making clear what zone that was. That was just brain dead. What is worse, they assumed that the clock was in Microsoft's home time zone, not UTC, if nothing was specified.

      The reason for being able to say its crap is this was already a solved problem before MS-DOS and Windows was created, as UNIX always uses UTC as its underlying time and just applies the local offset for presentation. That way when DST changes, or you access a LAN from another timezone, you still get the correct (OK self-consistent) times.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        @Paul Crawford

        I would expect to see a server in UTC. There is no benefit in having it in local TZ.

        So as far as the parliament PFYs having extra work for Xmas to reconfigure servers to local TZ - that it is stupid, counterproductive and against operational best practices. I used to reprimand PFYs working with me for doing that in the days when my job desc said BOFH. Too many badly written pieces of software out there which use localtime when they should not and do stupid things after a change to daylight savings time.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Paul Crawford

          > I would expect to see a server in UTC. There is no benefit in having it in local TZ.

          You didn't read his comment so I will repeat it for you.

          as UNIX always uses UTC as its underlying time and just applies the local offset for presentation.

          All underlying timestamps are in UTC. Individual applications might use and save local time, but that is the responsibility of the application.

      2. david 12 Silver badge

        re 'UNIX always uses UTC as its underlying time'

        Like Windows?

        "Win32 API GetFileTime() returns the create time, last access time, and last write time for the specified file. The times returned are in Universal Coordinated Time (UTC). "

        >...and just applies the local offset for presentation...

        Like Windows?

        "The appropriate number of hours are then added or subtracted to/from the stored UTC value. This adjusted time is then displayed in any operation which reports local time"

        Clearly, you haven't even begun to understand the problem, much less the solution. Probably better to restrict yourself to making coments about things you understand.

    3. druck Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Bollocks to your bollocks.

      Given that every state and territory in Australia does their own thing with regard to time zones and day light savings time, (including 2 with half hour offsets, and even one town split down the middle between DST and no DST), it's completely understandable any server is set to UTC, or there would be total confusion.

  3. pixl97

    Time Legacy.

    Think of how much effort would be saved if the world moved away from time zones and daylight savings times. Yes, it would be quite odd not to call the time when the sun is directly overhead 12, but instead noon could happen at what ever local hour it happened to fall at. It would be 14 o'clock in London, Chicago, and Hong Kong at the same time. We'd still have the same problem of knowing weather people are awake in that part of the world at the time, but knowing that the U.S. is dark from around 20 to 6 would mean the same thing for everybody.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Time Legacy.

      Think of how much effort would be saved if software developers just implemented time sensibly? It is not like this whole world timezone & DST issue is something that happened after computers were developed, is it?

    2. Helena Handcart
      Big Brother

      Re: Time Legacy.

      The problem is, you wouldn't then need the wall of clocks showing the time in different cities, which would leave my underground lair bereft. I'd still have the huge map of the world I suppose, but the wall would look naked.

    3. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Time Legacy.

      I'd rather they got rid of daylight savings time first. It's a pain in the arse having to remember to turn clocks backwards in spring and forwards in autumn (we live somewhere that doesn't observe dst but no one told our clocks that and they auto adjust).

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: Time Legacy. @Spaniel

        ...then why get clocks that auto adjust!

        If you are talking about computers, both UNIX and Windows can be told not to adjust for DST, so I don't see your problem.

        But be careful what you ask for. DST is applicable in summer, not the winter (which is what most people assume). We are lucky in the UK, because normal time (GMT) ~= UTC, so it is very clear to us which should be 'normal' time, and which is DST, but it is not so clear cut for any other timezone.

        I would not object to losing DST, but only if time was such that the sun was at it's highest in the sky at noon.

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Sun @ Noontime

          Why, can't you adjust your sundial? I don't see your issue :-)

          Unfortunately finsing non auto adjusting clocks is increasingly difficult (barring buying them online and getting raped for shipping). The bigger problem lies with stuff like dvd recorders etc, just smart enough to cope with dst, not smart enough to turn it off.

          IIRC the concept is about 120 years old and was invented to allow more time for bug collecting and playing golf. When it was actually used it was to reduce coal usage. The reality is that any saving in energy usage is negligible and often can cause more usage depending on the climate and economy. Plus the disruption caused should be taken into account. It just seems to be a solution in search of a problem, many countries cope just fine without it so why bother at all?

      2. Gonzo_the_Geek

        Re: Time Legacy. @ Spaniel

        Are you sure you got that the right way round?

        Clocks go forward in Spring and back in Autumn...

        1. Rampant Spaniel

          @ gonzo

          hahah seriously, read what I wrote then think really hard! I know you can do it if you try!

    4. Fink-Nottle
      Thumb Down

      Re: Time Legacy.

      > knowing that the U.S. is dark from around 20 to 6 would mean the same thing for everybody

      America trying to pinch the noble Greenwich meridian .... I mite hav known!

  4. DrXym Silver badge

    I could see this being true

    If the server in question is just a print server or something, then there is no reason to care what it's "local" time is because nobody will see it. So I could see the potential for a server to be running on UTC because there are no users per se, just an Adobe print server or what not which embeds UTC into the meta data.

    There are also very good reasons some times when UTC *should* be used. I to write code which talked with a trading system that returned trading tickets as a date / timestamp in Eastern Standard Time. So I had to write code which converted EST back to UTC using a timezone database and with the added risk that the timezone db on the client and server boxes might not contain the same values. Just because the server admins and server software authors couldn't be arsed to return a UTC formatted string like they should have.

    Another time I was writing set top box software which showed a electronic program guide. I *insisted* that the server returned UTC simply to avoid stupid situations like the above, especially when times go back or forward an hour and the EPG is supposed to show a program which in local time could end 30 minutes before it even started.

  5. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Tony Abbott and his legal politics

    What is it about Tony Abbott and his desire to resort to dubious legal action to get the political result he wants? Before this, he funded legal action against One Nation/Pauline Hanson (aka, 'that daft racist') on electoral fraud grounds, getting them imprisoned before it was all overturned. In that case, he established a secret trust fund and recruited potential litigants, in order to stop a candidate from standing.

    It's all so underhand and seamy.

    1. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Tony Abbott and his legal politics

      On the face of it, Pauline Hanson did commit electoral fraud. That's why she went to jail. The only way she got out of it was by hiring a lawyer to put up technicalities and plausable arguments. Which she was too stupid to do at first.

      A big chunk of the voters agree with her: any kind of electoral fraud is OK if the working class gets in, no election is valid if the working class representatives do not win.

      On the other hand, the political right has always held that the rules are rules, and should be obeyed. That is why we call them 'conservatives'.

  6. cortland
    Paris Hilton

    SQL what?

    I metadatagate

    And asked her for a date,

    Now she wants to litigate;

    That's fate.

    Paris, because.

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