Monday, July 02, 2012

How did the "Leap Second" affect you life?

Some of you might actually have known that June 30th, 2012 was actually 86,401 seconds in length; a whole 1 second longer than any other day of 2012. "So what?" you might ask. Well, here's what (via PhysOrg):
Reddit, a social news network, posted a Twitter message, saying "We are having some Java/Cassandra issues related to the leap second."

A later message by Reddit attempted to make fun of the issue: "You ever wish you had an extra second or two? This is not one of those times."

Mozilla, the organization behind the Firefox browser, also had problems.

"Java is choking on leap second," said Mozilla engineer Eric Ziegenhorn, who noted that some services using the Java software platform were malfunctioning.

The Australian airline Qantas reported delays which some media said were due to a software problem with the Amadeus reservation system, impacted by the leap second.
All of these problems sound more like a lack of awareness and concomitant lack of planning. After all, leap seconds - while not as regular an occurrence as a leap year - aren't random effin' anomalies! For companies that function based on clocks and clicks, you'd think that they'd spend some time focusing on the clocks and not only on the clicks.

... kinda like Google did:
Google went in prepared for the latest of 25 leap seconds added since 1972, having identified problems in 2008 and developing "one of our coolest workarounds."

"The solution we came up with came to be known as the 'leap smear,'" Google engineer Christopher Pascoe said in posting last year.

We modified our internal NTP servers to gradually add a couple of milliseconds to every update... Google engineers developing code don't have to worry about leap seconds."
See? A little planning, some understanding of implications about information that is widely available (so long as you actually see it), and the ability to program, and voila! No problems!

Sheesh, Qantas. You might "have never crashed", but your reservation system has.

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