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posted by martyb on Friday January 10 2020, @05:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the Zombies-from-another-century dept.

Thought the Y2K bug was over and done with? Read the New Scientist article A lazy fix 20 years ago means the Y2K bug is taking down computers now and think again!

Parking meters, cash registers and a professional wrestling video game have fallen foul of a computer glitch related to the Y2K bug.

The Y2020 bug, which has taken many payment and computer systems offline, is a long-lingering side effect of attempts to fix the Y2K, or millennium bug.

Both stem from the way computers store dates. Many older systems express years using two numbers – 98, for instance, for 1998 – in an effort to save memory. The Y2K bug was a fear that computers would treat 00 as 1900, rather than 2000.

Programmers wanting to avoid the Y2K bug had two broad options: entirely rewrite their code, or adopt a quick fix called "windowing", which would treat all dates from 00 to 20, as from the 2000s, rather than the 1900s. An estimated 80 per cent of computers fixed in 1999 used the quicker, cheaper option.

"Windowing, even during Y2K, was the worst of all possible solutions because it kicked the problem down the road," says Dylan Mulvin at the London School of Economics.

I seem to remember that credit card companies instead kicked the can on to 2050.

-- hendrik


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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by DannyB on Friday January 10 2020, @04:13PM

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 10 2020, @04:13PM (#941927) Journal

    There was this COBOL programmer around the time of Y2K.

    He realized that Y2K was going to be a disaster on a cataclysmic scale. So he put himself into hibernation with a timer set to wake him up a couple years after Y2K when everything would be presumably fixed.

    He wakes up and finds out that due to a Y2K bug in his timer, he has been asleep for much longer than he expected. It's way into the future. Bill Gates greets him. People can see virtual screens in mid air, and tap on invisible (to us) keys and make gestures in mid air. Life expectancy has been greatly extended so far that nobody is sure how long people will live. There is now plenty of energy for all and unlimited resources.

    The programmer expresses that he's glad his timer woke him up. Bill Gates says, "oh, your timer didn't wake you up. It was permanently stuck on a Y2K bug. We chose to wake you up."

    "But why?", the programmer asks.

    Bill Gates explains, "Well, it's the year 9997, and the Y10K bug is right around the corner, a lot of critical systems need to be fixed, and it says in your records that you know COBOL."

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