Four Weird Things About Time
A Conference Presentation by Andrew Burke

  • Have you ever noticed that the names of the last four months of the year are wrong? September is the ninth month, October is the tenth, and so on? What's up with that?
  • Did you know that the Nativity probably happened in 6 B.C.E.? If so, then why is it 2021 instead of 2027?
  • Why was there a month in 1752 which only had three weeks in it?
  • And what is the passive-aggressive reason you're allowed be 5 minutes and 2 seconds late for class at Christchurch College in Oxford?

Any programmer who has had to deal with dates and times understands that it's one of those things that gets weirder and messier the deeper one gets with it. A while ago I got fascinated with why our date and time systems are so messy and how they got that way. Not only did I learn a whole lot of fascinating things, but I found a lot that reflected back on the world of software development and the way that culture and technology interact.

So I decided to share what I discovered as a conference talk. It premiered at Detroit's self.conference in 2015, and has since been presented at Maritime DevCon in Fredericton New Brunswick, PodCamp Halifax, and ConFoo in Montreal and Vancouver.

Below are recordings of the various times that I have given the talk. Unfortunately I have had to make these recordings myself using my iPhone or iPad so sometimes the sound or video are a bit constrained.

Closing Keynote at Targeting Quality, September 2018

Audience feedback included "Absolute best talk of the day." "Very catchy talk. You caught my attention and never let go until it was over." "This is how I'd have liked history to have been taught in school."

At ConFoo Montreal, March 2017:

Audience feedback included "Outstanding talk. My favourite so far!", "Nice day closer. Fresh!", and "10/10!".

At Maritime DevCon, May 2016:

"I didn't see your talk, but everyone at my table was talking about afterwards!" - Maritime DevCon attendee at the closing reception.