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Time/Date Conversion Tool

2009 Aug 28, 3:39

I built timestamp.exe, a Windows command line tool to convert between computer and human readable date/time formats mostly for working on the first run wizard for IE8. We commonly write out our dates in binary form to the registry and in order to test and debug my work it became useful to be able to determine to what date the binary value of a FILETIME or SYSTEMTIME corresponded or to produce my own binary value of a FILETIME and insert it into the registry.

For instance, to convert to a binary value:

[PS C:\] timestamp -inString 2009/08/28:10:18 -outHexValue -convert filetime
2009/08/28:10:18 as FILETIME: 00 7c c8 d1 c8 27 ca 01

Converting in the other direction, if you don't know what format the bytes are in, just feed them in and timestamp will try all conversions and list only the valid ones:

[PS C:\] timestamp -inHexValue  "40 52 1c 3b"
40 52 1c 3b as FILETIME: 1601-01-01:00:01:39.171
40 52 1c 3b as Unix Time: 2001-06-05:03:30:08.000
40 52 1c 3b as DOS Time: 2009-08-28:10:18:00.000
(it also supports OLE Dates, and SYSTEMTIME which aren't listed there because the hex value isn't valid for those types). Or use the guess option to get timestamp's best guess:
[PS C:\] timestamp -inHexValue  "40 52 1c 3b" -convert guess
40 52 1c 3b as DOS Time: 2009-08-28:10:18:00.000

When I first wrote this I had a bug in my function that parses the date-time value string in which I could parse 2009-07-02:10:18 just fine, but I wouldn't be able to parse 2009-09-02:10:18 correctly. This was my code:

success = swscanf_s(timeString, L"%hi%*[\\/- ,]%hi%*[\\/- ,]%hi%*[\\/- ,Tt:.]%hi%*[:.]%hi%*[:.]%hi%*[:.]%hi", 
&systemTime->wYear,
&systemTime->wMonth,
&systemTime->wDay,
&systemTime->wHour,
&systemTime->wMinute,
&systemTime->wSecond,
&systemTime->wMilliseconds) > 1;

See the problem?

To convert between these various forms yourself read The Old New Thing date conversion article or Josh Poley's date time article. I previously wrote about date formats I like and dislike.

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Date Time Formats

2007 Sep 27, 2:17Starting on a new simple project I wanted to get the history of my Delicious links. Delicious has an export tool available via the settings section so I thought I'd try that. However, the links aren't exported in XML not even in XHTML but rather in HTML. Shocking. An example:
"Don't Tase Me, Bro!" (UF Student Tasered Remix)
Remix of the 'Don't tase me, bro!' guy getting tasered.At this point I'm already not going to use this file because its in HTML but I'm even more disgusted by those date time values. Raymond Chen of the Old New Thing posted about recognizing timestamps and timestamp sentinel values. From the first blog post and with the use of a calculator for base conversion one can tell that those are UNIX style timestamps counting the number of seconds since 1970.

It reminds me of my hatred for the MIME date time format I developed working on my webpage's server side parsing of atom and RSS. Atom is of course my favorite as Atom uses the Internet date time format described in the following documents. Here's an example of one 2007-09-27T020:50:00.000-08:00 On the other hand the evil and villainous RSS uses the MIME date time format now described in the more recent IETF MIME standard. Here's an example Thu, 27 Sep 2007 20:50:00 -0800
The Internet date time format has the advantage of being so easy to sort. An alphabetic sort with normal C-style collation rules of strings containing Internet date times will also sort them chronologically. This is not the case for the MIME date time due to the preceding day of the week and the spelled out month name. This also means that when producing these you have to figure out the day of the week and when parsing them you have to match month names rather than just parsing out numbers. Anyway now days if I see mention of a date time in a new proposed standard or spec I be sure to point out the numerous advantages of the Internet date time format.
PermalinkCommentsdate xml html feed time technical date-time code atom rss
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