Discussion:
POPCORN (767-2676) still works.
(too old to reply)
sms
2014-05-17 16:16:17 UTC
Permalink
Our power went out yesterday and I didn't have my cell phone handy so I
tried calling POPCORN. I was surprised that it still worked. It also
told me the temperature, though I don't know if it was the temperature
where I was.

Perhaps this is a service provided by Sonic.net, I'm not sure.

I also like the fact that you don't have to dial the area code for
numbers in your own area code.
Travis James
2014-05-17 20:11:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by sms
Our power went out yesterday and I didn't have my cell phone handy so I
tried calling POPCORN. I was surprised that it still worked. It also
told me the temperature, though I don't know if it was the temperature
where I was.
Perhaps this is a service provided by Sonic.net, I'm not sure.
I also like the fact that you don't have to dial the area code for
numbers in your own area code.
I never heard of that. I tried it, no dice on Ooma in Fresno. I do recal
the similar 767-8900 to get the time, which also didn't work. It does
bring back pre-cellphone days though when it was handy to synchronize
clocks.
sms
2014-05-17 20:31:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Travis James
Post by sms
Our power went out yesterday and I didn't have my cell phone handy so I
tried calling POPCORN. I was surprised that it still worked. It also
told me the temperature, though I don't know if it was the temperature
where I was.
Perhaps this is a service provided by Sonic.net, I'm not sure.
I also like the fact that you don't have to dial the area code for
numbers in your own area code.
I never heard of that.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaking_clock#United_States>

It was actually 767-xxxx and x could be any digit.
Post by Travis James
I tried it, no dice on Ooma in Fresno. I do recal
the similar 767-8900 to get the time, which also didn't work. It does
bring back pre-cellphone days though when it was handy to synchronize
clocks.
I think that Sonic must have programmed this into their switching
system. Cute.
Eric Weaver
2014-05-17 22:17:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by sms
I think that Sonic must have programmed this into their switching
system. Cute.
Huh.. I just tried this on the voice portion of my Fusion service and
got "Cannot be completed as dialled". So I guess it's not programmed in
the switch I'm on, whatever that may be.

I recall reading that the old Pacific Telephone time box lived in Palo
Alto, which explained why it sounded so far away in Redding and so close
at my uncle & aunt's house in Menlo Park.
sms
2014-05-17 22:28:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Weaver
Post by sms
I think that Sonic must have programmed this into their switching
system. Cute.
Huh.. I just tried this on the voice portion of my Fusion service and
got "Cannot be completed as dialled". So I guess it's not programmed in
the switch I'm on, whatever that may be.
I recall reading that the old Pacific Telephone time box lived in Palo
Alto, which explained why it sounded so far away in Redding and so close
at my uncle & aunt's house in Menlo Park.
It might not be in every area code. I'm in 408.
Thad Floryan
2014-05-18 02:54:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by sms
Post by Eric Weaver
Post by sms
I think that Sonic must have programmed this into their switching
system. Cute.
Huh.. I just tried this on the voice portion of my Fusion service and
got "Cannot be completed as dialled". So I guess it's not programmed in
the switch I'm on, whatever that may be.
I recall reading that the old Pacific Telephone time box lived in Palo
Alto, which explained why it sounded so far away in Redding and so close
at my uncle & aunt's house in Menlo Park.
It might not be in every area code. I'm in 408.
Hi Steve,

Googling "popcorn time number california" finds this as the first hit:

Time of day calling it quits at AT&T - Los Angeles Times
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/29/business/fi-lazarus29

followed by these relevant items on the first page of hits:

Speaking clock - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speaking_clock

Telephone Time Lady: POPCORN No More! - YouTube


Telephone Milestone: AT&T Terminates POPCORN Time ...
http://bartning.newsvine.com/_news/2007/12/20/1176823-telephone-milestone-att-terminates-popcorn-time-information-service

Topic: No More POP-CORN After Sept 19th - AT&T Time Service
http://www.socialwave.net/topics/3766/

Doni: It's time to say farewell to dependable, available ...
http://www.redding.com/news/2007/sep/09/its-time-to-say-farewell-to-dependable-available/

The first entry at the "socialwave" site has this comment:

" All things come to an end and it looks like the time of day
" service that has been offered by one company or another since
" 1929 is ending. On Sept 19th, you will no longer get the time of
" day when you call POP-CORN in Northern California. Or 853-XXXX in
" Southern California.
"
" The move will allow AT&T to retire aging equipment that they said
" can no longer be repaired. Probably more importantly, it allows
" for 300,000 phone numbers to be freed up.
"
" While I'm saddened to hear of this bit of comfort technology
" getting put out to pasture, it's interesting to read about the
" device that is used to produce the time recordings. It's not
" digitized. It's some funky series of drums that turn and churn
" out the recorded time.

The redding.com site has this line in their article:
" [...]
" The Bee story also said that when AT&T dumps POPCORN, it will
" gain about 300,000 new phone numbers that were reserved just
" for giving time.
" [...]

So there was a good reason (then) for dropping POPCORN.

Thad
David Kaye
2014-05-18 18:59:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thad Floryan
So there was a good reason (then) for dropping POPCORN.
Thad
No, not really. Anybody, you or me or the 200 people watching this
newsgroup, could write a simple program that could do exactly what the
Audichron did. I'd do it under Windows, since I'm way more familiar with
its various API calls. Heck, it wouldn't take more than an hour or two to
write and debug it. This assumes that the audio distribution to the phone
circuits stays in place, but being solid state I don't see why it wouldn't.






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Thad Floryan
2014-05-18 21:42:50 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Kaye
Post by Thad Floryan
So there was a good reason (then) for dropping POPCORN.
Thad
No, not really.
Hi David,

And why not? Cellphones are ubiquitous and every single one I've
seen displays the current date and time. And some people still
wear wristwatches. GPS units all display time. And some of us
can tell the time reasonably accurately day or night looking at
the Sun or the stars as can be seen at the 2nd thumbnail here or
by using a Sundial daytimes:

http://thadlabs.com/Planispheres/
Post by David Kaye
Anybody, you or me or the 200 people watching this
newsgroup, could write a simple program that could do exactly what the
Audichron did. I'd do it under Windows, since I'm way more familiar with
its various API calls. Heck, it wouldn't take more than an hour or two to
write and debug it. This assumes that the audio distribution to the phone
circuits stays in place, but being solid state I don't see why it wouldn't.
Even simpler would be to use a Votrax Type 'N Talk (T'NT) and one doesn't
have to write any code -- simply type text to the Votrax using any terminal
program over RS-232 serial and it speaks.

A simple command-line or GUI program could be easily and quickly written to
send specific speech text strings to the T'NT unit for quick responses when
one is pranking someone else and/or needs to camouflage/conceal one's voice.

I bought one in the early 1970s and it's amazing: simply send ASCII chars to
it over RS-232 as either text strings to be spoken or as phoneme codes to be
pronounced and it does it all automatically; 3 pix taken about 4 years ago:

Loading Image... 126kB Box and Votrax T'NT
Loading Image... 98kB Votrax front panel
Loading Image... 83kB Votrax back panel

I still have a tube "somewhere" in my garage of the SC-01A speech synthesis
chips used in it if I wanted to make a speaking accessory.

My Votrax TYPE 'N TALK still works fine today and I control it using a
serial port on any one of my computers (*BSD, Linux, Solaris, Windows).

It's great fun to use it to carry-on a conversation with someone on the
phone and changing speech parameters to vary the accents, pitch, and
more. By tweaking the parameters it can even mimic the speech of a help
desk person for whom English is not a primary language which is hilarious
when wanting to prank someone over the phone. :-)

More info about it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Votrax

The Votrax Type N Talk - Kevtris.org
http://kevtris.org/Projects/votraxtnt/index.html

Tasty Crepes: Votrax Type 'n Talk
http://tastycrepes.blogspot.com/2011/08/votrax-type-n-talk.html

SC-01A Speech Synthesizer and Related ICs
http://www.redcedar.com/sc01.htm

Thad
David Kaye
2014-05-17 22:52:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eric Weaver
I recall reading that the old Pacific Telephone time box lived in Palo
Alto, which explained why it sounded so far away in Redding and so close
at my uncle & aunt's house in Menlo Park.
Hmmm...this is odd because the 767 exchange came from the Bush/Pine CO. I
wonder why the box was in Menlo Park.




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Thad Floryan
2014-05-17 21:00:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by Travis James
Post by sms
Our power went out yesterday and I didn't have my cell phone handy so I
tried calling POPCORN. I was surprised that it still worked. It also
told me the temperature, though I don't know if it was the temperature
where I was.
Perhaps this is a service provided by Sonic.net, I'm not sure.
I also like the fact that you don't have to dial the area code for
numbers in your own area code.
I never heard of that. I tried it, no dice on Ooma in Fresno. I do recal
the similar 767-8900 to get the time, which also didn't work. It does
bring back pre-cellphone days though when it was handy to synchronize
clocks.
Pre-Loma Prieta I ran BATS -- Bay Area Time Service -- which provided
4 format choices of date/time data that folks' computers could call to
synchronize time on their computers for free.

Time on my server was synched via a Heathkit WWV/WWVH receiver since I
didn't have a 24/7/365 Internet connection and there were 2 modem lines
to which people could program their computers to call.

Come Loma Prieta 17 October 1989 and my large antenna went down and I
didn't bother putting it back up since NTP was becoming ubiquitous. I
did install a much smaller NIST antenna on my TV tower (first thumbnail
here):

http://thadlabs.com/PIX/LX200/

for my own use for awhile but I discontinued the BATS service. The above
URL also shows the Sprint Broadband transceiver on the tower which I used
until July 2008 at which time the service was disconnected due to the FCC
reallocating frequencies and that's also when I lucked-out and got the
first Comcast service in my neighborhood since Comcast had recently been
running fiber down Foothill Expressway as I noticed heading to work each
morning.

For the curious, here's the manyard harness I wore every time I would go
up the tower to install or remove things:

Loading Image... 74kB

I also used that harness frequently in San Mateo when stringing Ethernet
cables high above concrete flooring, most often at 2727 El Camino Real
when building-up Sigaba's first office location Hmmm, entering the URL
http://sigaba.com into a browser goes to this proofpoint URL -- they bought
Sigaba's IP (Intellectual Property) when Sigaba bellied-up:

http://www.proofpoint.com/products/privacy/policy-based-email-encryption.php

For the curious, here's two pix of Sigaba's motto "Securing Internet Commu-
nications" on the sides of the 10 Hummers we used at the Las Vegas 2001 CES:

Loading Image... 169kB
Loading Image... 196kB

Thad
Peter Lawrence
2014-05-19 18:07:19 UTC
Permalink
I never heard of that. I tried it, no dice on Ooma in Fresno. I do recall the
similar 767-8900 to get the time, which also didn't work. It does bring back
pre-cellphone days though when it was handy to synchronize clocks.
One can still sync up by phone (on the minute, not every ten seconds) with
the official U.S. Time at (301) 499-7111 though their website warns that
those calling via a mobile phone or voice over IP (VOIP) network can
experience delays as large as 150 ms. ;)


- Peter
Thad Floryan
2014-05-20 01:47:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Lawrence
I never heard of that. I tried it, no dice on Ooma in Fresno. I do recall the
similar 767-8900 to get the time, which also didn't work. It does bring back
pre-cellphone days though when it was handy to synchronize clocks.
One can still sync up by phone (on the minute, not every ten seconds)
with the official U.S. Time at (301) 499-7111 though their website warns
that those calling via a mobile phone or voice over IP (VOIP) network
can experience delays as large as 150 ms. ;)
Hi Peter,

Wow, 150ms can be really critical when cooking food in the oven. :-)

Another option I didn't mention previously is the family of so-called
"Atomic Clocks" that use this free service from the NIST:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWVB

Such clocks are ubiquitous and are found nearly in every drugstore, Frys.
Costco, Target, etc. I have one on my kitchen wall, another on my home
office wall, and a small one (about the size of a deck of playing cards)
I use to re-sync kitchen appliances (oven, microwave, coffee maker, and
even an analog clock with which I can calculate precise time of a power
failure) and other clocks around the house after a power failure or a
PST/PDT switch. I've also seen wristwatches that sync using WWVB.

See: http://www.ntp-time-server.com/atomic-clock.htm

This is good and also shows the present day/night coverage across Earth
and I was surprised it picked up my time zone correctly with no input
from me -- it probably acquired data from my computer:

http://time.gov/HTML5/

Thad
David Kaye
2014-05-20 23:19:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Thad Floryan
Another option I didn't mention previously is the family of so-called
I have one of these. It tunes in to WWVB for 10 minutes each day at 3:00,
4:00, and 5:00am, when presumably longwave interference is at its least.
Due to the fact that WWVB is longwave and the coding is long and consists of
frequency shifting, it can take a minute or more to sync the clock.

I've never had one of these clocks with an analog face, so I wonder how it
adjusts. Do the hands spin around to the correct time when first setting
them? If the clock is fast does the second hand go backwards?




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Travis James
2014-05-21 05:20:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Kaye
I've never had one of these clocks with an analog face, so I wonder how it
adjusts. Do the hands spin around to the correct time when first setting
them? If the clock is fast does the second hand go backwards?
I have 2 analog clocks. I never see them spin day-to-day, so I am
guessing the clock will periodically pause a second if it gets ahead of
sync time. But when time switches between standard and daylight the
hands will spin. The clocks don't do it at the same time. One seems to
take an extra couple of days.
David Kaye
2014-05-17 22:03:21 UTC
Permalink
POPCORN works on my Verizon Wireless service. It talks once and says:

"Saturday May 17th at 3:02 pm, temperature 66 degrees." That's it. No sync
beep or anything. She also doesn't seem to hang up, either.

Well, it's *something* anyhow.




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sms
2014-05-17 22:19:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Kaye
"Saturday May 17th at 3:02 pm, temperature 66 degrees." That's it. No sync
beep or anything. She also doesn't seem to hang up, either.
Well, it's *something* anyhow.
Tried it on Pageplus (essentially Verizon) and got the same type of
message. They did hang up.
Glenn Geller
2014-05-21 14:37:13 UTC
Permalink
The US government time number given incorrectly by
another poster in this thread as 301-499-7111 is in fact
303-499-7111 and is run by NIST in Fort Collins. It
announces the time at the top of the minute.

I think that the US Naval Observatory's "master clock"
is better. I announces the time (with a beep) eight times
per minute, in an excellent voice. The main number is
202-762-1069, and 202-762-1070 also works.
Glenn Geller
2014-05-21 14:50:04 UTC
Permalink
And speaking of cool phone numbers, MCI (now
Verizon) runs 800-444-4444, a gateway to their
customer service. It answers by reading your
caller ID back to you, which I find very useful and
usually better than calling my cellphone to learn
a phone line's caller ID.

800-444-4444 has been active for years. Every
telephone technician and alarm technician in
the NANP area deserves to know about it.
David Kaye
2014-05-21 19:45:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Glenn Geller
The US government time number given incorrectly by
another poster in this thread as 301-499-7111 is in fact
303-499-7111 and is run by NIST in Fort Collins. It
announces the time at the top of the minute.
This number is simply WWV output to a phone line.
Post by Glenn Geller
I think that the US Naval Observatory's "master clock"
is better. I announces the time (with a beep) eight times
per minute, in an excellent voice. The main number is
202-762-1069, and 202-762-1070 also works.
I could never figure out why the USA has two time-keeping organizations.
Must be a turf war or something. I've noticed that they diplomatically
mention each other in various pamphlets and online, but don't talk about why
we have to have both. The 202 number is by far better for the casual
caller.




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Thad Floryan
2014-05-21 21:25:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Kaye
Post by Glenn Geller
The US government time number given incorrectly by
another poster in this thread as 301-499-7111 is in fact
303-499-7111 and is run by NIST in Fort Collins. It
announces the time at the top of the minute.
This number is simply WWV output to a phone line.
Post by Glenn Geller
I think that the US Naval Observatory's "master clock"
is better. I announces the time (with a beep) eight times
per minute, in an excellent voice. The main number is
202-762-1069, and 202-762-1070 also works.
I could never figure out why the USA has two time-keeping organizations.
Must be a turf war or something. I've noticed that they diplomatically
mention each other in various pamphlets and online, but don't talk about why
we have to have both. The 202 number is by far better for the casual
caller.
Hi David,

The "simple" answer is that NIST coordinates worldwide to maintain
a variety of standards (e.g., mass, length, time) whereas the US
Naval Observatory coordinates astronomical times -- there are some
subtle differences -- which are of no concern to daily commerce.

Standards maintained by NIST (and corresponding organizations in other
countries) are the fundamental cornerstones for scientific research
(e.g., CERN, FermiLabs, et al).

And let's not forget leap seconds:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_second

At some future time (before our Sun novas) Earth will have stopped
rotating and the current time will be moot (assuming there will be
anyone/anything intelligent left on Earth to worry about it).

Thad
Eli the Bearded
2014-05-21 22:41:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by David Kaye
I could never figure out why the USA has two time-keeping organizations.
Must be a turf war or something. I've noticed that they diplomatically
Casual time keeping is very straight forward. Accurate time keeping is
very complicated. What is the "real" time?

Here are several different "times" that can be correct anywhere on Earth.

1) Local solar time (defined as noon coincides with sun's zenith for
that longitude), in apparent hours.[*]

2) Local solar time (defined as noon coincides with sun's zenith for
that longitude), in mean hours.[*]

3) Local time (UTC with local time zone applied). This one will get you
to your dentist on time. UTC is, roughly, definition 2 for Greenwich.

4) Straight out UTC. This one you want for your automatic logging.

5) Sidereal time and later UT1, which is measured against stars (then
quasars) in the night sky, and is the basis for adjusting for leap
seconds. This is the one used to measure the accuracy of all the rest.
UTC is kept within 0.9 SI seconds of UT1.

[*] Apparent hours vary with season ("equation of time"). Mean hours
are standard length. Solar apparent time is the one you will use
on Gilligan's Island. Solar mean time with your sextant and
marine chronometer[**].

[**] Dava Sobel's _Longitude_ (2007) book is well-known and covers how
accurate time keeping was important for sextant use. But David
Landes' _Revolution in Time_ (1983) covers time keeping from the
invention of the sundial in ancient Greece to the start of the
quartz revolution. Unfortunately a lot of time keeping innovations
from 1970ish onward are not covered, for example all the "gravity
well" corrected versions of time.

Elijah
------
you can get lost reading the definitions of all the different "times"
Thad Floryan
2014-05-21 23:46:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eli the Bearded
Post by David Kaye
I could never figure out why the USA has two time-keeping organizations.
Must be a turf war or something. I've noticed that they diplomatically
Casual time keeping is very straight forward. Accurate time keeping is
very complicated. What is the "real" time?
Here are several different "times" that can be correct anywhere on Earth.
1) Local solar time (defined as noon coincides with sun's zenith for
that longitude), in apparent hours.[*]
2) Local solar time (defined as noon coincides with sun's zenith for
that longitude), in mean hours.[*]
3) Local time (UTC with local time zone applied). This one will get you
to your dentist on time. UTC is, roughly, definition 2 for Greenwich.
4) Straight out UTC. This one you want for your automatic logging.
5) Sidereal time and later UT1, which is measured against stars (then
quasars) in the night sky, and is the basis for adjusting for leap
seconds. This is the one used to measure the accuracy of all the rest.
UTC is kept within 0.9 SI seconds of UT1.
[*] Apparent hours vary with season ("equation of time"). Mean hours
are standard length. Solar apparent time is the one you will use
on Gilligan's Island. Solar mean time with your sextant and
marine chronometer[**].
[**] Dava Sobel's _Longitude_ (2007) book is well-known and covers how
accurate time keeping was important for sextant use. But David
Landes' _Revolution in Time_ (1983) covers time keeping from the
invention of the sundial in ancient Greece to the start of the
quartz revolution. Unfortunately a lot of time keeping innovations
from 1970ish onward are not covered, for example all the "gravity
well" corrected versions of time.
[...]
you can get lost reading the definitions of all the different "times"
Hi Elijah,

Good list, and your last sentence above is very true. :-)

Another good reference is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equation_of_time

I use sidereal and UTC time to annotate my calculated star charts; one
example is here from 2003 when Mars had its closest "approach" to Earth
in millennia:

http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Mars_retro_2003.pdf 51kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Mars_retro_2003.txt 14kB

"retro" in the two filenames above means "retrograde" when the planet(s)
appear to move backwards in their orbits around the Sun; details here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apparent_retrograde_motion

I calculate retrograde charts that agree with NASA's and some examples
are with respect to my back yard's latitude/longitude since my viewing
uses computerized scope mounts (LX200, LX200GPS, LXD750, Atlas, etc. *):

http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Mars_retro_2005.pdf 60kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Mars_retro_2007.pdf 68kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Mars_retro_2010.pdf 69kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Jupiter_retro_2008_detail.pdf 33kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Jupiter_retro_2008_magnif.pdf 8kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Jupiter_retro_2008_magnif.txt 2kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Jupiter_retro_2008_overall.pdf 58kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Jupiter_retro_2010_FW_9.pdf 40kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Jupiter_retro_2010_FW_18.pdf 42kB
http://thadlabs.com/FILES/Jupiter_retro_2010_FW_180.pdf 181kB

I have current ones for Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn but I don't put
those online unless I'm referencing them in an astronomy forum. I
could do Uranus and Neptune since those are still visible from Silicon
Valley and it's pointless to do Pluto (even though it's one of my
favorite targets and one of my college profs was its discoverer) since
I've to go to Mariposa or Chews Ridge to see it in a scope due to its
faintness plus I'd have to borrow a Hummer or equivalent to both tote
my 14" scope and get to the viewing sites -- my car's ground clearance
is insufficient.

Thad

* Here's one example setup at approximately 3am mid-March 2003 in prep
for Mars' approach while I was waiting for it to clear some trees so
I took this picture without ruining my night vision:

Loading Image... 168kB
David Kaye
2014-05-22 01:49:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Eli the Bearded
Here are several different "times" that can be correct anywhere on Earth.
Yeah, I know all about that. Among other things I'm a time geek as well as
a radio geek.

My question remains: Why is our "official" time kept both by the USNO and by
the NIST? Here are web pages for both USNO and NIST. BOTH claim to
maintain the time standard. What's more, BOTH have their own NTP (network
time protocol) clients:

http://www.nist.gov/pml/div688/grp50/primary-frequency-standards.cfm
http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/time





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David Kaye
2014-05-22 02:03:55 UTC
Permalink
HAH! From a web page at the NIST:

"
What is USNO time or UTC(USNO)?
The United Stated Naval Observatory (USNO) maintains the U. S. Department of
Defense reference for time and time interval. USNO has an ensemble of atomic
clocks, which is used to derive a time scale called UTC(USNO). The clocks in
the ensemble contribute to International Atomic Time (TAI) and Coordinated
Universal Time (UTC). UTC(USNO) and UTC(NIST) are kept in very close
agreement, typically to within 20 nanoseconds, and both can be considered
official sources for time in the United States. Recent differences between
the two time scales are published in the NIST Time Scale Data Archive. "


So, even though there can be a 20 nanosecond difference between NIST and
USNO clocks, BOTH are considered the official U.S. time sources. Very odd.




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Peter Lawrence
2014-05-22 22:01:15 UTC
Permalink
Post by Glenn Geller
The US government time number given incorrectly by
another poster in this thread as 301-499-7111 is in fact
303-499-7111 and is run by NIST in Fort Collins.
Yes, thanks for the correction. I messed up the area code. Oops.


- Peter

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