The leap second!

By | July 1, 2012

Did you know about the rules concerning the leap second? No? Go and google it. Just as few people know that GPS clocks are set faster than Earth's clocks to accomodate for relativistic effects, leap seconds (kust like leap years) accomodate for bringing our ugly timekeeping system in time with how our solar system works.

So, did your servers fall for that leap second? So much for sloppy programming. Reminder yet again, to always sanitize input and clean up abnormal input. Yes, seconds may go beyond 59, and not every multiple of four is a leap year. Browsers do not always send back the correct input encoding for form data. And you

Reshared post from +Max Huijgen

One second extra last night and sites are in trouble

Reddit, FourSquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, Gawker, StumbleUpon and many others had problems keeping their servers up thanks the leap second which was introduced last night. I guess you didn´t notice that the evening was longer than normal, but if you had an atomic clock it should have shown you 23:59:60, a time normally impossible. 

As the earth rotation is not exact as our globe wobbles and earthquakes distort rotation as well from time to time the clock time needs to be compensated so a leap second is added. Since unix time, okay officially Coordinated Universal Time, was implemented in the seventies this happened 17 times.

However it still caught a number of well known sites off guard. It seemed to affect Debian Linux 3.2.x installations, but maybe there were others as well. Rackspace warned its customers that the cloud servers showed abnormal high CPU activity due to the leap second bug. 

Amazing that handling leap seconds still caused problems after 40 years!

P,S. The smart boys and girls at Google had no problems with it as they ´smear out´ the extra second over the day.  

2 thoughts on “The leap second!

  1. Gordon McIntosh

    Cool – I was working at that time and being paid overtime , just got to work out how to get that second into my overtime claim

    Reply

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