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The Y2K+38 Problem - It could be your opportunity this weekend

By Andrew Pollack on 01/15/2008 at 04:42 PM EST

For those who don't know, Y2k38 is "short" for 1/19/2038, when many currently used computers and devices will again have a problem with digits. This time, it is because most Unix based system store dates as the number of seconds since January 1, 1970. Many of those numbers are still stored in 4 byte (32 bit) integers. Since dates can of course exist before 1/1/1970, the 32 bits must be used for both positive and negative numbers -- meaning the most significant bit is reserved as a +/- indicator.

So, starting this weekend we enter the 30 year countdown to the failure point of all those date calculations. This may first be felt in 30 year loan calculations. As someone on slashdot pointed out, you may be able to find a loan this weekend with 30 years of payments that are "- $1200" per month. ;-)


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