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“Leap Second” Messes With Webs Last Weekend

by Adriana Lee | July 3, 2012July 3, 2012 10:00 pm PDT

One additional second, and the world goes nuts… the online world, that is. On Saturday, we got a little extra time, and that “leap second” had international timekeepers setting back the clocks (to coordinate it with the Earth’s rotation). That one event actually screwed up a heaping load of websites. Tweets, site messages and user forums reveal that Reddit, Mozilla, Gawker, FourSquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, and others experienced glitches due to the time-shifting.

Looks like Linux and Java had issues with the extra time, perhaps because they use Network Time Protocol (which time-keeps to atomic clocks), and NTP struggled with the change.

Some sites, such as Google, were able to ready themselves. The search giant already had a protocol in place to deal with temporal shifts like this. Last September, Google posted about something it calls a “leap smear,” a process that slowly adds milliseconds to its system clocks in advance, so when the changeover technically happens, it’s not a massive clusterfuss.

“This meant that when it became time to add an extra second at midnight, our clocks had already taken this into account, by skewing the time over the course of the day,” the company says. Others, like Opera Software, weren’t so blissful, however. (The site administrators even warned that there could be potential problems).

Did you notice any issues with sites you visited this weekend? Weigh in.

[via Wired]


Adriana Lee

Adriana is the resident writer-slash-culture vulture who has written about everything from smartphones, tablets, apps, accessories, and small biz...

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