Skip to main content

Global Warming is a Year 2000 problem

Global Warming is a Year 2000 problem.

What I mean is not that Global Warming has been solved (far from the case) nor that it is a problem that we could only have solved 15 years ago (though that might be closer to the truth).

What I mean is that if we solve Global Warming, then people will think it was a hoax (or something we should not have worried about).

Think back to the glory days of the 1990s. Media was full of stories about how all the world's computer systems were going to fail because programmers tried to save space on their systems by dropping the first 2 digits off the year field. Power stations and ATMs would stop working. Global financial crises would ensue (well, that did happen, but for other reasons...). Basically we were going back into the stone age unless we chucked large amounts of money at software developers to fix our computer systems and by and large that did happen.

After we partied like it was 1999, apparently nothing happened. I am sure a couple of systems failed, but nothing major. We were all still alive and we still had electricity and we could still get money out of ATMs.

Post 2000, everyone now thinks the whole thing was just a bunch of hooey.

But maybe we did avert major disaster by all our hard work. We will never really know.

I hope to an extent the same thing does happen with Global Warming. There are differences of course. We have not got a set date where the planet will be uninhabitable. A date when we can look back and laugh at ourselves for being so silly.

Instead, we will look back at ourselves in shame for being so oblivious (and remember what things used to be like).

There's probably not much we can do on an individual level. We will need to elect people who are aware of the problem and reach consensus (easier said than done).

Let's just hope that in 7984 years we have a Year 10,000 problem to deal with ("Why on earth did they think they could save space by only allocating 4 digits to a year?").

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Freezing Gems

What is a gem and why would you want to freeze it? In Ruby, there are times when you want to access pieces of functionality that other people of written (3rd party libraries) and you normally have 2 options. You can install a plug in or install a gem. Normally the method you use is determined by which ever is made available by the author. Gems are installed on the host machine and are pretty handy when you want to run things in the command line or else across lots of projects, but their downside is that if you use a gem in a Rails project there is no automatic publishing mechanism when you deploy your site. You will need to log onto the remote host machine and install the gem manually. Plugins are specific to Rails and are similar to gems in that they are also 3rd party libraries. However they are associated with your Rails project as opposed to your machine so they will get posted to the server on a regular deploy. Freezing a gem is the process of transforming a gem into a plug in

Unit/Functional Testing RubyAMF

One of my current projects is using RubyAMF to communicate with Flash (http://rubyforge.org/projects/rubyamf/). On the whole this is really nice because it allows you to transfer Ruby objects directly to ActionScript ones (as opposed to translating the object into XML, sending the XML and then recreating the object in ActionScript). However, Rails does not provide a built in transport mechanism for AMF, so we cannot run functional testing directly on the data call (as we could for an XML or HTML transport layer). This is a show stopper for a lot of people (Rails w/o Unit testing = a big mess of trouble when something goes wrong). We can though serve both the HTML and the AMF formats depending on the request format. This means that we can test the object instantiation logic and make sure there are no errors in the controllers (though we cannot check the actual format of the data being served). In the controller, instead of rendering AMF alone, do the following respond_to do |format|

Responsive Web Design

I wanted to go over Responsive Web Design using CSS. In the old days of web development, we had to code to common screen sizes (i.e. 800 X 600, 1024 X 768) and we patiently waited for people to upgrade their computers to have a decent amount of screen real estate so we could design things the way we really wanted. We also took on semi stretchy web layouts etc to expand and contract appropriately. Then about 2 or 3 years ago, Apple released this little device called an iPhone with a 320 X 480 resolution which took the world by storm and suddenly a lot of people were viewing your website on a tiny screen again... Anyways, as it can be difficult to design a site which looks good on 320 X 480 AND 1680 X 1050, we need to come up with some kind of solution. One way is to sniff the client and then use an appropriate stylesheet, but then you are mixing CSS with either JavaScript or server side programming and also potentially maintaining a list of appropriate clients and stylesheets. Also,