Monday, 8 August 2016

Toomas Karmo: Operations Clocks and Moral Uplift

Sorry, folks: harsh work on the DDO&P conservation file has used up most of my available blogging time this week. 

Nevertheless, here is a screenshot from my Linux workstation, showing as a kind of diversion two images from my extensive moral-uplift collection. 

On the left is a wigged jurist in a mock UK trial, in proceedings meant to explore  the emerging concept of ecocide. 

On the right is the operations clock at RAF Uxbridge, in the London suburbs. It was at Uxbridge that many of the decisions were taken regarding the 1940 Battle of Britain. The clock is divided into five-minute sectors, colour-coded to the wooden tokens pushed with long rods by headphone-equipped personnel across the celebrated raid-plotting table. (So officers viewing from their  glass-enclosed balcony at, say, 17:03 could see that they were now in a "red" time sector, with the information coded by red wooden tokens now adequately current, but information coded by the blue tokens now five or ten minutes stale, and information coded by the yellow tokens ten or fifteen minutes stale.)

"Biggin Hill" refers to one of around seven aerodromes controlled from Uxbridge, many or all of them possessing their own little own bevies of satellite aerodromes.  

My own operational clocks are in the upper right-hand corner. In green is the current Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), or current Toronto civil time. In red is Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). 

My clocks are disciplined under Network Time Protocol. Although many system administrators will want to automate this process on their own Linux workstations, I do like to keep it manual here, interrogating  - trusty companion of and - via /usr/sbin/ntpdate just once in 24 hours, and mentally noting from a message returned at the command-line prompt by how much my Linux software clock has drifted. (A typical 24-hour drift is at my workstation on the order of 100, 200, or 300 milliseconds. In assembling my workstation, I selected a motherboard scathingly reviewed in one of the gamer mags as "The ideal motherboard for your Dad": when I read this disparaging remark, I knew I had found the kind of stodgy, unimaginative, solid hardware I operationally required.) 

In the small xterm ("glass Teletype") are illustrated some of my command-line chronometric utilities, in a terminal session reading as follows: 


Maailmaaeg, ehk Temps universel coordonné (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20160808T235756Z

Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20160808T235757Z

 19:58:00 up 55 days, 23:53, 10 users,  load average: 0.00, 0.02, 0.00

The "a", "utcv" (for "show UTC verbosely") and "utcve" (for "show UTC verbosely and in English") are /bin/bash aliases, invoking small /bin/bash scripts. 

"10 users" is here a little misleading. There surely are 10 logins, but all are from me. I am in the happy position of not presently having to share this earnest little Spitfire of a workstation with anyone else. 

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