On Dec 6, 2005, at 3:27 PM, Steve Allen wrote:

Finally we begin to see folks stand up and identify their systems as having abysmally failed to implement the UTC standard.

Even more remarkably, they proudly proclaim:

"The quality systems of this facility have been registered by UL to the ISO 9000 Series Standards."

So we have a company that manufactures "a complete line of safety and survival products" (!) that are precisely intended to convey UTC as a primary function of the devices.  This company claims to have followed an international standard focused on achieving quality control through best practices in management.

I applaud the company's decision to go public in advance.  However, it seems that one of two things must be true.  Either the fact that the letter is dated December 5, 2005 indicates that they just now got around to acting on the July, 2005 announcement of the upcoming leap second - or, they acted upon this in a more timely fashion and decided to embargo the announcement until the latest plausible moment at which it would be possible for their lawyers to later argue timely notification of their customers.  I am copying this message to John Bell, the company's indicated contact for this issue, for his comment.

They indicate that one must physically disconnect the unit in order to get it to work after the leap second.

And the proponents of a change to the UTC standard are undoubtedly going to assemble a number of such phantasmogorical reports in "support" of their position.  Why bother to change an international standard for the naive and cynical perceived benefit of commercial interests when those interests can't even be bothered to implement the standard in the first place?

I don't know whether to be more embarrassed for the company or for the international standards process.  How many companies claim ISO 9000 conformance?  If they don't comprehend the requirements of international standards pertaining to their products, how likely is it that they comprehend their customers' requirements?  Where in this is the responsibility of the ITU to promulgate the UTC standard?  What is the absolutely vast responsibility of ISO in claiming to offer a worldwide standard in quality control?

And what exactly is the liability of the Underwriting Laboratory in such a case?  "UL is the trusted source across the globe for product compliance."  Are we to infer any better compliance of the corporate world with SI standards, for instance, than with the UTC standard?

Clearly astronomers are the fall guys.  Right....

Rob Seaman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory

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