Friday, March 19, 2010

Don't be shocked when your 2038 butlebot dresses you in bell bottom jeans!

January 19, 2038 at 7:14pm - getting ready to go see the 3rd remake of The Matrix and, yes, the black pleather trenchcoat has finally leapt off the screen to become everyday wear even in sunny California. So why did the stupid butlebot put out bell bottom jeans and a white silk shirt?

Remember Y2K? Computer programs were supposed to melt down when the year changed from 1999 to 2000. Luckily, most programs don't work in decimal notation like humans do, so it wasn't a big deal.

Also, we had the advantage of it being an obvious date to watch out for. Everyone noticed that you couldn't just write 1/1/00 without it looking funny.

But the real Y2K is coming in 28 years. On Tuesday, January 19, 2038 at 03:14:08 GMT (that's 7:14 pm Pacific Time), many, many programs will suddenly think it's midnight on January 1, 1970!

January 19, 2038 at 3:14:08 looks arbitrary, but it's actually a nice round number for computers and internet dates.You see, internet time is usually based on a system invented for an old operating system called UNIX and the programmers decided to start counting at at the beginning of the year 1970. To most computers that is the beginning of time.

So why is January 19, 2038 at 3:14:08 special? Because computers like to count in binary and more specifically in 8, 16, 32 and 64 digit groups. Counting milliseconds from the beginning of time (1970), you reach 2,147,483,648 on that fateful date which is too large of a number to fit in 32 binary digits, so it becomes a 0, which equals 1970.

And computer programs all over the world will think all sorts of things have not happened yet or don't need to happen for several decades. The computers will do something or do nothing and whichever way they choose will be the wrong choice because it won't be 1970 at all, it will be 2038!

Not only will the year be 68 years too early, but the time of year will be 18 days later and the time of day will be 3 hours 14 minutes and 8 seconds later. So, things that happen or don't based on the year, the day or the time will be triggering or not, at the wrong times!

And how many more things will be automated by 2038? LOTS! So, OMG, if we survive 2012, will we still be doomed in 2038? I doubt it will be any sort of major disaster... long as you, dear reader, do your part:

  1. Get some influential friends for a change.
  2. Copy, Paste, Send this page's link to your important new friends.
  3. Make a note-to-self to disable 70's style in your butlebot (or just brush up on finger stabs, hip bumps and other bitchin' dance moves).
  4. Subscribe to forward thinking blogs like this one, so you'll be alerted to brilliant insights about this and other such threats to humanity....and fashion.

1 comment:

  1. I have a serious doubt that 32 bit systems will last that long :)