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What time is 12am?

What time is 12am? What time is 12pm? An entertaining discussion on the Chiswick W4 site on what time is 12 am? Local Tom O’Keefe informs us:

I received a PCN [Parking Fine Ticket]today for parking at 14:22 in a bay near Hoxton square (Hackney) that showed parking to be restricted between 8.30am and 12.00am. I assumed that 8.30am to 12.00am meant restrictions for the 3 and a half hours following 8.30am, but since I have received a PCN can only assume 12.00am means 12 midnight.

The truth of the matter was revealed quickly when local councillor Chris Calvi-Freeman (who happens to be our representative for all things traffic and roads), brought in not the authority of traffic law, but that of his dad:

I can recall my old dad, a master mariner, telling me that there was no such time as 12.00am or 12.00pm – they were 12 noon or 12 midnight.

And he’s right: there’s no such time as either 12 am or 12 pm. As NIST, the US’s National Institute of Standards and Technology explains:

…12 a.m. and 12 p.m. are wrong and should not be used.

To illustrate this, consider that “a.m” and “p.m.” are abbreviations for “ante meridiem” and “post meridiem.” They mean “before noon” and “after noon,” respectively. Noon is neither before or after noon; it is simply noon. Therefore, neither the “a.m.” nor “p.m.” designation is correct. On the other hand, midnight is both 12 hours before noon and 12 hours after noon. Therefore, either 12 a.m. or 12 p.m. could work as a designation for midnight, but both would be ambiguous as to the date intended.

So now you know and if you get an invite for a meeting at 12 am, just don’t turn up, as it clearly is going to be a waste of time! Whether Tom’s parking ticket appeal will work and he is let off his parking fine, is still a moot point…

Update: Hackney Council saw sense and removed the PCN. Wonder if they let the next person off?


Price of Spam

Reports in from Australia and New Zealand plus that august journal The Register, of a court case against one Lance Atkinson. You may have heard of him as he’s one of the chaps behind millions spam mails offering to augment appendages under such brands as Herbal King, Elite Herbal and Express Herbal, all made and shipped by Tulip Lab of India.

But how much spam did the spammer actually send out?  The Sydney Morning Herald says it’s in the billions mark and cites the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

…allegedly controlled a “botnet” of 35,000 computers, capable of sending 10 billion email messages a day.

Atkinson’s fine for all this is the Register tells us, is $92,715 (about US $63,400). Infonews in New Zealand put it at $100K but which ever, all of which pales compared to the $2.2M USD he caught fined in 2005. But, being a good egg and of good character Lance got off lightly in any event:

The maximum penalty provided in the UEM Act for an individual is $200,000 but Justice French said Lance Atkinson was entitled to a substantial discount because of his co-operation and candour with authorities at an early stage, his undertaking to comply with the Act and the fact that the spamming began before it became illegal. (Infonews)

All a paltry drop etc when compared with the volume. None the less, according to Voxy in Kiwiland the Internal Affairs anti-spam compliance unit is celebrating:

The negative effects of spam are significant and far reaching and it’s pleasing to know there’s at least one less spammer plaguing the internet.

Too right, one less…one less.