Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Twitter's own 'Y2K' problem

By John Bowman, CBCNews.ca

Back on Blog Watch a few months ago, I wrote about how Unix computer systems tell time by counting the number of seconds since midnight on Jan. 1, 1970, and how in 2038, that number will no longer fit into a 32-bit integer.

Well, Twitter is going to be hitting that limit a lot sooner than that.

Each post on Twitter is given a unique identifying number and Twitter is running out. Once Twitterers create more than 2,147,483,647 posts, Twitter will start giving them negative ID numbers: -1, -2, -3. And third-party apps will likely crash as a result.

According to Twitpocalypse.com, Twitter is quickly approaching 1.85 billion tweets. Martin Dufort and Fred Brunel of WhereCloud, the Montreal developers behind the site, told the Montreal Gazette that Twitter could hit the 32-bit limit sometime in June.

WhereCloud set up Twitpocalypse.com as a marketing campaign for its iPhone app, Reportage, which is still awaiting approval by Apple.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments

Marc B

Saskatoon

Why is this such a big deal? If Twitter was originally built with a signed-32bit integer as their tweet primary key, then we can say at least one or more of the following:

a) Twitter never expected to get this big
b) The developers lacked the knowledge/foresight/intelligence to at least used an UNSIGNED integer as their primary key
c) The developers were too cheap to spend the extra 4 bytes of disk space per tweet to make the primary key 64bit

Posted May 19, 2009 06:08 PM

François Caron

Are you certain of that? It could be a 32 bit unsigned integer. Or if Twitter is running on a 64 bit operating system, the theoretical limit will be reached some 2 BILLION years from now, assuming the same rate of growth.

Posted May 19, 2009 06:53 PM

gukid

So you make one unique identifier for the user, and another for the post of that user, thus exponentially increasing the limit, it's easy. There are actually hundreds of different ways of dealing with this problem.

This, is just a publicity stunt. People will join, and post, to try and "crash" twitter, but it will never happen, and their user base will increase.

Posted May 25, 2009 02:58 PM

Chris Thomson

Twitter's not going to be setting status_ids to negative numbers. As Matt Sanford, a Twitter API developer, has said:

"There is no change to the format of responses and the number will continue to grow upward."

Some clients that cannot properly interpret 32-bit signed ints so large will have an issue with negative numbers.

Posted June 12, 2009 05:32 PM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

Iraq protesters breach Baghdad's Green Zone, storm parliament video
Anti-government protesters tore down walls and poured into the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified Green Zone on Saturday, where they stormed parliament in a major escalation of a political crisis that has simmered for months.
Obama's last standup: Correspondents' dinner gives president final chance to zing Washington
U.S. President Barack Obama got one more chance to poke fun at fellow politicians, the press and himself at the annual White House correspondents' dinner.
Ringling Bros. elephants pack up trunks for retirement
The remaining 11 elephants touring with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus take their final bows on Sunday, ending a 145-year spectacle that delighted fans but enraged animal activists, who say the highly publicized retirement is not enough.
more »

Canada »

Vancouver issues fines to pot shops defiant of city rules
City of Vancouver bylaw officers have not wasted any time visiting marijuana shops in the city that continue to operate despite not meeting new licensing criteria, issuing $250 tickets along the way.
Missing man Nicholas Brophy, 19, found dead near Thompson
The RCMP are treating the death of a man from Thompson, Man., as a homicide after his remains were found near the city earlier this week. Nicholas Brophy was last seen on Sept. 8 of last year.
Video Revelstoke roller-coaster will send riders careening down ski hill video
A roller-coaster that takes people over a 279-metre drop down a mountain in the Selkirks is a few weeks away from opening at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
more »

Politics »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hints feds will fund Montreal light rail
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government cannot wait to examine the ambitious light rail train project proposed for the greater Montreal area by Quebec's pension fund.
Federal government backs move to liberalize flow of alcohol between provinces
The federal government has reacted to a landmark court case in New Brunswick on inter-provincial trade barriers by backing the spirit of the decision and committing to a "comprehensive renewal" of the agreement that governs trade across provincial borders.
Canada should boost military spending, former NATO commander says
The former supreme allied commander of NATO says he agrees with Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, that non-U.S. allies need to step up and boost their military budgets.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

British royal Kate appears on Vogue cover for first time
The Duchess of Cambridge will be on the June cover of the British edition of Vogue, marking not only the publication's centenary but also the first time Kate has posed for a fashion magazine.
Obama's last standup: Correspondents' dinner gives president final chance to zing Washington
U.S. President Barack Obama got one more chance to poke fun at fellow politicians, the press and himself at the annual White House correspondents' dinner.
Photos White House correspondents' dinner: Famous faces on the red carpet
Take a look at the stars gracing the red carpet at the the White House correspondents' dinner.
more »

Technology & Science »

Franklin Expedition: Exploration of HMS Erebus wreck may reveal more than artifacts video
Parks Canada underwater archeologists planning their next steps in the exploration of the HMS Erebus wreck see potential for revealing more than just a treasure trove of mid-19th-century artifacts.
Coral reef at Amazon River's mouth surprises scientists
Scientists have discovered a huge, coral reef hidden in a place they didn't think coral reefs could live – under the muddy waters at the mouth of the Amazon River.
Bedford company sending drones to survey earthquake damage in Ecuador video
A Halifax area drone company will team up with an energy engineering firm to put high-end technology to the disaster-relief test in Ecuador during the next 10 days.
more »

Money »

Video Revelstoke roller-coaster will send riders careening down ski hill video
A roller-coaster that takes people over a 279-metre drop down a mountain in the Selkirks is a few weeks away from opening at Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
Venezuela at risk of unravelling as economic, energy turmoil deepens
A devastating drought has brought Venezuela, already facing economic and energy crises amid simmering political unrest, to the brink and threatens the future of the oil-rich nation.
Exclusive IBM wins $32M Ontario government contract despite delivering problem-riddled software
As workers and municipalities in Ontario continue to incur costs associated with 18-month-old SAMS software, the creators of that software have won an IT contract to help improve it.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
NHL draft lottery: Maple Leafs win 1st-overall pick video
The Toronto Maple Leafs won the 2016 NHL draft lottery Saturday and will select first overall when the entry draft takes place June 24-25.
Lennox Lewis throws support behind Mandy Bujold, local boxing
Up-and-coming boxers got the rare opportunity to showcase their talents alongside Olympic-calibre talent in front of friends, family and a Canadian boxing legend on Friday night in Toronto.
NHL draft lottery: Leafs win, fans react
The Toronto Maple Leafs win the first overall draft pick in the NHL draft lottery and fans across the league react.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »