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<nettime> Ippolita Collective: The Dark Side of Google: (Appendix I.)
Patrice Riemens on Wed, 29 Apr 2009 15:04:30 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Ippolita Collective: The Dark Side of Google: (Appendix I.)


Well this will probably go down with the readership just as well as the
Trotsky cookies....
Cheers from the Tor, p+2D!

(usual intro and exit skipped this time)

(Ippolita Google, Appendixes)


I. The End of the World in a Cookie


The end-date for Google is January 17, 2038. This date is interesting
because it falls two days before the End of the World itself. January 19
2038 is a critical day all over the POSIX world, which includes all
operating systems deriving from the UNIX system (GNU-Linux, BSD, Solaris,
etc.), and all UNIX-style network protocols (such as http, ftp, etc.). On
POSIX systems, time is measured in seconds elapsed since 1st January 1970,
this for historical reasons {explined later}. The measuring unit for this
number is a 'signed integer' traditionally of 32 bits of memory.
[For a refresher see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unix_time]

If a programmer creates a variable of the signed integer type in order to
stock digital data in memory, it cannot be more than 2 147 483 648 nor
less than 2 147 483 647. A very large number for sure, but rather less so
if we translate it in seconds. These 32 bits indeed have room for no more
than 136 years...

When Ken Thompson invented UNIX, he did so as a kind of play, and he never
would have imagined that he would revolutionise information technology;
and even less did he think that some of his choice, for instance the 'file
system', the hour, the character codes, the functions call [?], the
programming language etc., would all in very short time become law for
coders the world over. Thompson had set the point Zero of his operating
system to January 1st, 1970.

2 147 483 647 seconds after that fatidic January 1st , at exactly UTC 3.14
am on January 19, 2038. will be the ultimate second of the UNIX world, of
the Internet (which functions thanks to UNIX protocols) and of most of the
major servers of the world (all working on UNIX-derived OSs). After that
second, we will be put back to the 13th of December 1901, 8.45pm. This
problem will surely have to be addressed in the years to come, and will
call for a change of paradigm in time management and in all UNIX-based
systems. This situation is rather more complex and serious than the
much-vaunted Y2K bug that was hyped up during the 1999-2000 transition.
[More refresher at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2038_problem]

Google's end date hence is the longest programmable date that can be set
for a cookie, which means that our OS's browser will never delete these
cookies nor the information contained therein.

For more detailed info, see:
http://www.2038bug.com/
And the site of http://www.theiet.org/  under 'problem dates'

(to be continued)


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