It's About Time

BOSTON (05/23/2000) - Datum EBS President Mark Hastings is a time geek. He talks about clocks the way some guys talk about hot rods. Pop the hood on his company's Trusted Master Clock. Got your Rubidium oscillator. Not slick enough?

OK, make it a Cesium oscillator (external, of course). Got your Global Positioning Satellitereceiver card. Got your timing engine. The works.

Hastings knows that for information technology, nanoseconds aren't the most important thing. "The issue is not pure accuracy," he says. "The issue is [getting] a time stamp from a source that you can trust."

Nevertheless, you can hear his disgust when he talks about piddling off-the-shelf clocks. "In Unix, you can only get down to microseconds," he sneers. "It's very easy to fool with a Unix clock."

These days, a time geek is valuable. Consider the latest salvo in the time-is-money wars: In Germany, securities traders are demanding that their transactions be completed in eight seconds, maximum. Otherwise, they want theorders killed. Achtung, baby.

CertifiedTime Inc. San Jose www.certifiedtime.comPerhaps Datum EBS's most direct competitor, CertifiedTime lets IT synchronize desktops and transaction servers via private leased-line connections with its regional timing centers.

Surety.com Inc. Reston, Virginia www.surety.comIts Digital Notary Service lets you notarize electronic files and records before you distribute them. Surety.com's built-in time stamp is highly rated by experts, and the company has partnerships with Lotus Development Corp. and others.

TimeCertain LLC Washington www.timecertain.comIts product, also called TimeCertain, wraps in a protective seal the content, author identification and time of creation of any digital document. Thenit attaches a tamper-evident certificate to the document.

Got the Time?

If you suspect your watch is a few nanoseconds slow, check NIST's time page.

From an atomic clock to your Timex: www.time.gov.

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