Update: The ABC has examined the computer used to send the PDF document, and appears to have verified that there was a time stamp error with the Department of Parliamentary Services. Sortius’ analysis is still useful, but it appears at this stage that Abbott was correct that there was an incorrect timestamp on the computer.
blog Unless you live in an area of Australia where it’s impossible to get television or radio reception (an idea which has seemed attractive to your writer at times, in the current media environment), it would have been hard to escape the news that a Federal Court judge has thrown out the sexual harassment case against former Federal House of Representatives Speaker Peter Slipper. But it’s one particular comment by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott that has Australia’s IT industry perking up its ears this morning.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reports here, Abbott claimed that the timestamp on a media release issued by the Coalition regarding the affair was incorrect because of “computer server timestamps” which were wrong in April by up to 10 hours. Unfortunately for Abbott, who admittedly is “no Bill Gates”, the nation’s IT professionals have called bullshit on this one. local IT pro ‘Sortius’ writes on his blog:
“So Abbott has been caught with his hand in the conspiracy jar & the first place he decided to go was with the IT problem angle. Having worked in the industry for a long time (almost 20 years), I felt it was my duty to explain how Abbott’s line that “during April the computer server timestamps were sometimes out by up to 10 hours” was wrong, & why it was at best improbably, at worse, impossible.”
Sortius’ investigation of this issue is quite persuasive; Abbott’s comment struck your writer from the start as being wrong … I would find it very hard to believe indeed that a computer server error at Parliament House or elsewhere could cause this kind of datestamp change. Abbott’s explanation might have flown in 1995, but in 2012, with most PCs setting their clocks automatically from Internet-hosted time servers? It seems hard to believe that many PCs could be 10 hours out of date.
Image credit: Screenshot of Tony Abbott on the 7:30 Report, believed to be OK to use under fair use