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Friday, December 30, 2011

nn:nn.nn isn't always what you think

I recently had the "opportunity" to sit through a four-hour flight next to someone who didn't bother taking control of their in-flight entertainment. As a result, for the first three hours or so, it ran nothing but infomercials on our plane's default channel. It was Ronco knives and all sorts of other garbage.

While this was going on, I noticed something unusual. Most of the time, it's live action showing some guy in a TV kitchen playing with knives. However, every 5 minutes or so, they put up a slate with a picture of the product, the 800 number, and the price. It's the standard "call now, operators are standing by" thing, only, well, it's hard to do that from 30,000 feet in 2011, long after the demise of the GTE Airfone.

But I digress. The unusual part was the clock they had running on that slate. It was counting down and it was showing NN:NN.nn. Looking at that, you'd think it would be minutes, seconds, and 100ths of a second, right? The two digits after the . could go from 00 to 99.

Well, no. It actually went like this:

36:01.01

36:01.00

36:00.29

36:00.28

Got that? It goes from 00 back around to 29. In other words, it's using that last thing as 1/30th of a second.

1/30th of a second? Where have we seen that before?

Oh, right.

Now I'm wondering if they used some broadcast timing device instead of an actual clock for humans and figured nobody would notice.

If so, sorry guys. I'm one of the types who notice.