THE FUTURE LIES AHEAD

One of our internal webservers at the office blew up. It’s an intricate and bizarre hack on a little-used platform, and we’re terrified of it dying because our knowledge of the internals is bad. I was pretty sad about it, and especially so because I had to fix it.

A careful search of the internet found a mailing list thread in which many, many other people had the same problem, all starting after 2006-05-12.

The thread starts here: http://www.mail-archive.com/aolserver@listserv.aol.com/msg09812.html

What turned out to be the problem? All these systems failed at the same time, exactly one billion seconds before the 32-bit Unix epoch ends in 2038. The timeouts set for database threads caused the software to look ahead, gasp in horror and died.

Ladies and gentlemen I’m in a select club of the first victims of the Year 2038 Bug.

My job is weird.

6 thoughts on “THE FUTURE LIES AHEAD

    1. Heh! When I read this, I thought “Hrm, I’m surprised this doesn’t involve Dossy somehow.” And then I saw you in the linked thread, and thought “Ah, there we go”, and then came back and you’re HERE TOO.

    2. Nice kibozing; that was quick. I’m not going to say where I work because that would be kind of dumb, but we originally ran AOLserver exclusively and the startup tech people at my job were mostly ex Ars Digita, etc. We now use it for a few internal web applications.

  1. Hey, at least you got a meltdown. What the hell am I supposed to do with eighteen gross of baked beans and one-ply toilet paper?!
    (God, I wanted to smack the shit out of just about everyone who as much as said “Y2K” that year.)

  2. I often tell people I know how I’m going to die.
    I fully expect to die because some critical part of the automated life-support system I expect to depend on when I’m 73 years old will have a Y2038 bug.
    I have been complaining about chronological representation bugs since before I graduated college. I have never had a manager (much less a project manager) care enough to spend any money fixing them.
    I also expect that every last one of those managers will survive Y2038 without a scratch.

    1. I just wonder how they’ll trickle in, now that I’ve realized things like the billion-second crash can occur. Instead of wrapping around and telling us it’s 19101, these things may just… stop. Based on arbitrary constants that no one knows about. Years before anyone starts working on the problem.

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