Every Second Counts

[article]
Summary:

Time stood still for a second on Saturday, June 30 2012, as the official global clock was adjusted to better align time with the Earth’s rotation. This “leap second” wreaked havoc on many big-name websites and even some software platforms as they struggled to adjust to the time change.

Time stood still for a second on Saturday, June 30 2012, as the official global clock was adjusted to better align time with the Earth’s rotation. This “ leap second ” temporarily brought down many big-name websites and even some software platforms as they struggled to adjust to the time change.

According to Buzzfeed, Reddit, FourSquare, Yelp, LinkedIn, Gawker, StumbleUpon, and many other sites experienced outages at 23:59:59 GMT.

Amazon’s cloud server also experienced problems , some speculate due to a huge storm that took down Amazon's Elastic ComputeCloud, which hosts Netflix, Instagram, Pinterest, and more.

An executive at DataStax—a company that manages the open source Cassandra database—claims Linux did it "Initial reporting often fingered Java or even Cassandra as the culprit ... but the actual problem was a kind of livelock in the Linux system calls responsible for timers," said Jonathan Ellis, DataStax CTO and Cassandra creator in a blog post .

After experiencing problems in 2008, Google appears to be one of the few large Internet organizations to be prepped and ready for the leap second bug with a workaround they call the leap smear.

"The solution we came up with came to be known as the 'leap smear,'" Google engineer Christopher Pascoe said.

We modified our internal NTP servers to gradually add a couple of milliseconds to every update ... Google engineers developing code don't have to worry about leap seconds."

About the author

Heather Shanholtzer's picture Heather Shanholtzer

As Software Quality Engineering's director of publishing, Heather Shanholtzer oversees content generation and dissemination for Better Software magazine, TechWell.com, AgileConnection.com, CMCrossroads.com, and StickyMinds.com.

After nearly ten years of helping software professionals find their literary side, Heather is still excited to discover new voices and she relishes the opportunity to work with industry experts, practitioners, and craftspeople.

If you would like to write for one of our publications, email Heather at HShanholtzer@sqe.com.

StickyMinds is one of the growing communities of the TechWell network.

Featuring fresh, insightful stories, TechWell.com is the place to go for what is happening in software development and delivery.  Join the conversation now!

Upcoming Events

Aug 25
Aug 26
Sep 22
Oct 12