Friday, December 18, 2020

A New Scientist article on the 2020 Y2k glitch refers to a "lazy" fix to the Y2K glitch.

I and many programmer/analysts worked very hard to fix the Y2K problem.  Many thousands of programs had to be modified. Many thousands of files containing dates were affected.  Executives would not approve the funding and resources for the Y2K fix until it was a real time crunch.  To change all the affected dates from 2 to 4 digits would have meant creating all new files, and all programs using them would have to be implemented at the same time.  The windowing fix was implemented to allow a timely conversion process.  It was expected that a more permanent solution would be implemented when there was less of a time crunch.  What actually happened was that after the problem was fixed, there was a mass layoff of the people who had done the work.  We saw job ads specifying that people who had done the Y2K conversion should not apply!

 The reason for the Y2020 problem was not lazy workers, it was cheap, greedy, ignorant executives.


16 December 2020
By Donna Lu 

The year began with digital havoc, when a computer glitch known as the Y2020 bug took payment systems, parking meters and a wrestling video game offline.

Y2020 arose from a lazy fix to the Y2K (or millennium) bug. This was the concern that computer systems that saved years as two digits – 99, say, instead of 1999 – would treat 00 as 1900 rather than 2000. Thanks to mass patching in 1999, this didn’t happen. Yet it turns out that an estimated 80 per cent of computers solved this using a cheap and quick method known as “windowing”, in which all dates from 00 to 20 would be treated as the 2000s rather than the 1900s. When January 2020 rolled around, those systems reached the end of that window and reset to 1920.

The issue now seems to be under control, but 19 January 2038 was set to be the next troublesome date for Linux computers, which count the date in seconds from 1 January 1970. The date is stored as a 32-bit integer, and its storage capacity would be exceeded at this point.


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