Comment On Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

Nobody believed the French. Not the entire country, or Frenchmen in general, but rather the folks who worked at the European Branch Office in Paris. The bug they described-their computer's internal date was randomly changing-reeked of user error and seemed far too implausible to be caused by the corporate reporting system. [expand full text]
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Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:08 • by Rast a mouse (unregistered)
Maybe if the presumabley American team responsible used a logical date format like the rest of the world in the first place this would never have happened.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:09 • by Bryan the K (unregistered)
TL;DR
The real WTF is VB amirite?

First??

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:13 • by Nagesh (unregistered)
I am glad TDWTF is finaly be coming back after skiping bogus selebration of ejection British.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:15 • by Larry (unregistered)
352116 in reply to 352115
Nagesh:
I am glad TDWTF is finaly be coming back after skiping bogus selebration of ejection British.

TRWTF is foreign tech support.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:17 • by trwtf (unregistered)
352117 in reply to 352116
Larry:
Nagesh:
I am glad TDWTF is finaly be coming back after skiping bogus selebration of ejection British.

TRWTF is foreign tech support.


Le TRWTF, c'est les Frogs.

My jaw dropped.

2011-07-05 10:21 • by Meep (unregistered)
352118 in reply to 352114
Bryan the K:
TL;DR
The real WTF is VB amirite?


It really is VBA. A simple assignment to a common word changes system state, in an embedded language. Unbelievable.

And here's an independent source to confirm that it really does work like that.

No, wait, TRWTF is Akismet, the most worthless spam detection.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:22 • by PurpleDog (unregistered)
352119 in reply to 352113
Americans aside, did anyone not instantly realise what the problem was? Three years? Get a non-US developer on the job and you'd have the fix within a day.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:23 • by Zebedee (unregistered)
It was fairly obvious from the first sentence that this was going to have something to do with the unusual way Americans represent dates.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:25 • by Severity One
Well, the typical American unawareness of people in other countries doing things differently (actually, the entire world doing things differently) is an issue, of course. Well, at least we don't get 'Letter' as standard paper format instead of A4. That's the progress over the last 20 years. Now, if we wouldn't be wouldn't be forced to enter our state, (bit useless if you live in a country with just over 400,000 people) that would be really swell.

But that you can just change the computer's system date with a simple statement? That's seriously messed up.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:25 • by ZPedro


Mieux vaut tard que jamais…

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:30 • by Simon (unregistered)
The daily WTF: The US date format (and other oddities)

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:33 • by Meep (unregistered)
352124 in reply to 352115
Nagesh:
I am glad TDWTF is finaly be coming back after skiping bogus selebration of ejection British.


TRWTF is that if it weren't for a round of grapeshot on Christmas day, General Arnold would have taken Quebec.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:34 • by Baksa
TRWTF is that Moe isn't changed date format to French in the first place and see what would happen, very bad debugging Moe !

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:35 • by snoofle
As an American developer who routinely deals with overseas users, I spotted the cause in 2 seconds. And that happens in pretty much all languages.

OTOH, setting the system date by assigning a value to a function is (AFAIK - YMMV) unique to VB.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:35 • by simple (unregistered)
352127 in reply to 352117
trwtf:
Larry:
Nagesh:
I am glad TDWTF is finaly be coming back after skiping bogus selebration of ejection British.

TRWTF is foreign tech support.


Le TRWTF, c'est les Frogs.


Unneccessary "Le" - Stands for "The"

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:35 • by Mike (unregistered)
352128 in reply to 352119
Even this american non-developer figured out in the first few lines that the problem lie in the backwards dates in the EU. Something was setting system time using the american standard on a french system - tracking it down would be the hard part.

And certainly should never have taken that long.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:39 • by OldCoder (unregistered)
352129 in reply to 352121
Severity One:
Well, the typical American unawareness of people in other countries doing things differently (actually, the entire world doing things differently) is an issue, of course. Well, at least we don't get 'Letter' as standard paper format instead of A4. That's the progress over the last 20 years. Now, if we wouldn't be wouldn't be forced to enter our state, (bit useless if you live in a country with just over 400,000 people) that would be really swell.

But that you can just change the computer's system date with a simple statement? That's seriously messed up.

Enter State: Furious!

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:39 • by Meep (unregistered)
352130 in reply to 352120
Zebedee:
It was fairly obvious from the first sentence that this was going to have something to do with the unusual way Americans represent dates.


Ah, as opposed to the international standard of yymmdd, or, wait, is it ddmmyy?

It just breaks my heart that I'm not a European and don't have a bunch of obsessive compulsive Belgian bureaucrats to regulate every fucking aspect of my life.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:39 • by akatherder
352131 in reply to 352119
PurpleDog:
Americans aside, did anyone not instantly realise what the problem was? Three years? Get a non-US developer on the job and you'd have the fix within a day.


Actually it would be pretty obvious to Americans too. Especially developers/programmers, since we are used to internationalization and various different date formats (even more than mm/dd/yyyy and dd/mm/yyyy).

The only real hurdle would be finding the potentially obscure fact that "Date = ..." would change your system date/time and has access to do so through a VBA macro.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:42 • by anon (unregistered)
Yea, have to agree with several people, TRWTF is that not one developer bothered testing with their date format switched to DDMMYYYY since it could not have been more obvious it was related to that. Yea, VB sucks, and you shouldn't be able to set they system date that easily, but this if you have a French office, this should have been tested before the software got out the door. Failing that, it should have been picked up in less than 5 minutes of troubleshooting once reported.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:45 • by Ben (unregistered)
Hold up. The developer was able to confirm the problem, and then just shrugged and said "no apparent root cause" and went on his way? A bug like this is easy to track down -- attach the debugger remotely and use binary search to find out where the date change happens.

It's a poor workman who blames his tools, particularly when he seems to be aware of some of his tools' existence.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:46 • by LANMind (unregistered)
352134 in reply to 352121
Severity One:
Well, the typical American unawareness of people in other countries doing things differently (actually, the entire world doing things differently) is an issue, of course.


Wrong, we aren't unaware. We just don't give a fsck, because the rest of the world in general - and the French in particular - doesn't matter.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:47 • by Anon (unregistered)
Why is a report changing the system clock in the first place? Are these reports so intensive that time and space need to be warped in order to finish them? Or perhaps the data only exists in the past, and so the computer accelerates to 8.8 gigahertz and set the system clock back to retrieve the data and save its parents' relationship before it (and the report it's still trying to generate) vanishes into thin air.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:47 • by Tom (unregistered)
Sigh. Americans. So many things wrong here...

On the French computers-where dates use the DD/MM/YYYY format-the code swapped the months and the days.


On French computers? Try, "On every computer outside the United States..."

Who the hell finds a problem on a foreign computer and doesn't try switching his machine to the foreign locale to reproduce it? How have we got to this day and age and still have developers ignorant of the mere existence of internationalisation?

Some of the commenters are at least as bad. "Backwards dates in the EU." Are you kidding? The US is, AFAICT, the only place in the world that buggers up its dates like this. In what conceivable way does it make sense? It is not in significance order, unlike, say, every other number you ever come across. Personally, I think the Chinese have this figured out - makes dates YYYYMMDD and poof in a flash of smoke suddenly alphabetical ordering is the same as date ordering.

Rant over. For now.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:48 • by Patrick (unregistered)
352137 in reply to 352128
Mike:
Even this american non-developer figured out in the first few lines that the problem lie in the backwards dates in the EU.


Backward in the EU? You find it normal that the US system uses (middle size unit - month)/(small size unit - day)/(big size unit - year)???

Come on, get real

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:51 • by Steve The Cynic
352138 in reply to 352127
simple:
trwtf:
Larry:
Nagesh:
I am glad TDWTF is finaly be coming back after skiping bogus selebration of ejection British.

TRWTF is foreign tech support.


Le TRWTF, c'est les Frogs.


Unneccessary "Le" - Stands for "The"

Indeed, and the WTF would not be "Real", nor Réel, but "Vrai" (=true), so, given that vrai a pre-noun adjective in this usage:

LVWTF, c'est les americains.

(Flame-shield: I'm English, not French.)

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:52 • by Bort (unregistered)
352139 in reply to 352137
It's because when you say the date out loud, you don't say "5th July." You say "July 5th."

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:53 • by luptatum (unregistered)
Anyone speaking ISO (yyyy-mm-dd) btw.?

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:54 • by Excelsior (unregistered)
Well, I'm French and I'll say it out loud : "TRWTF is that you, american are not using our date format !!"

Err... Okay, don't stab me now, maybe the problem is that we are using a fancy date format just to make it clear we are unique.

We have our own Keyboard layout (ain't it lame ?), we are using GMT+1 even if the Greenwich meridian crosses our land, and there are so much things we can't do like everybody (we even speak french, and we think it's a better french than Canadian speak).

However, you shall keep in mind we, french developers, are always hassled with date formatting problems, here's TRWTF.

Have a good evening !

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:54 • by kikito (unregistered)
That mm/dd/yyyy and dd/mm/yyyy business is just a blasphemous invention from devil itself.

There is only One True Date Format and that is yyyy-mm-dd.

Meditate, and you will be enlightened.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:55 • by C-Octothorpe
352143 in reply to 352142
kikito:
There is only One True Date Format and that is yyyy-mm-dd.


QFT

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:57 • by Pedant (unregistered)
Shouldn't this be a ClassicWTF?

http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Long_Distance_DATE_0x24_ing.aspx

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:57 • by Steve The Cynic
352145 in reply to 352135
Anon:
Why is a report changing the system clock in the first place? Are these reports so intensive that time and space need to be warped in order to finish them? Or perhaps the data only exists in the past, and so the computer accelerates to 8.8 gigahertz and set the system clock back to retrieve the data and save its parents' relationship before it (and the report it's still trying to generate) vanishes into thin air.

"Oh, look, I have a date to store for a while. I know, I'll stuff it in a variable called Date..."

That's how it happens. And because the date is always today's date, nobody notices that the system clock got changed, and nobody notices that even with Option Explicit turned on (they did that, right? don't tell me that VBA doesn't have Option Explicit) the pinhead who wrote this code was able to do so without explicitly declaring a variable called Date...

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 10:57 • by Someone who can't be bothered to login from work (unregistered)
352146 in reply to 352119
PurpleDog:
Americans aside, did anyone not instantly realise what the problem was? Three years? Get a non-US developer on the job and you'd have the fix within a day.


As soon as I read the intro to the item I thought "this is going to be related to locale specific formatting".

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:01 • by augue (unregistered)
352147 in reply to 352138
Steve The Cynic:
simple:
trwtf:
Larry:
Nagesh:
I am glad TDWTF is finaly be coming back after skiping bogus selebration of ejection British.

TRWTF is foreign tech support.


Le TRWTF, c'est les Frogs.


Unneccessary "Le" - Stands for "The"

Indeed, and the WTF would not be "Real", nor Réel, but "Vrai" (=true), so, given that vrai a pre-noun adjective in this usage:

LVWTF, c'est les americains.

(Flame-shield: I'm English, not French.)


Wouldn't it be LVQN (le vrai quel niquer) ?

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:02 • by trwtf (unregistered)
352148 in reply to 352127
simple:

Unneccessary "Le" - Stands for "The"


Yes, thanks for helping.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:03 • by Someone who can't be bothered to login from work (unregistered)
352149 in reply to 352130
Meep:
Zebedee:
It was fairly obvious from the first sentence that this was going to have something to do with the unusual way Americans represent dates.


Ah, as opposed to the international standard of yymmdd, or, wait, is it ddmmyy?

It just breaks my heart that I'm not a European and don't have a bunch of obsessive compulsive Belgian bureaucrats to regulate every fucking aspect of my life.


Belgium can't regulate anything, they can't even elect a government right now. Seriously, they went for nearly eight months without one. They might still be without one for all I know.

I'm sure the US and everywhere else in the world has its own fair share of stupid bureaucratic laws anyway.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:04 • by The Mole (unregistered)
352150 in reply to 352139
Bort:
It's because when you say the date out loud, you don't say "5th July." You say "July 5th."


Try coming to a UK and you'll notice that dates are written "5th July 2011" and pronounced "The fifth of July two thousand and 11".

There is nothing more irritating and insulting* than seeing tv adverts for which they haven't taken the effort to localize and instead say "July fifth"!

*other than all the other things that are naturally

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:06 • by Steve The Cynic
352151 in reply to 352141
Excelsior:
Well, I'm French and I'll say it out loud : "TRWTF is that you, american are not using our date format !!"

Err... Okay, don't stab me now, maybe the problem is that we are using a fancy date format just to make it clear we are unique.

We have our own Keyboard layout (ain't it lame ?), we are using GMT+1 even if the Greenwich meridian crosses our land, and there are so much things we can't do like everybody (we even speak french, and we think it's a better french than Canadian speak).

However, you shall keep in mind we, french developers, are always hassled with date formatting problems, here's TRWTF.

Have a good evening !

Actually the lame thing with AZERTY is that the top-row number keys have to be shifted to produce numbers, and that half of the special-character syntax of C/C++ requires AltGr to be pressed - square brackets, hashes, braces, pipes, backslashes, tilde, but the pound sign requires only shift. Oh, and it has dead-keys for accents. That's lame on any keyboard layout.

The fact that France uses CET rather than GMT can be blamed on the Germans, of course, following the events of 1940.

And before anybody starts, I'm an Englishman in France...

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:06 • by boog
"You could also reboot."
Translation: "I can't figure out what's wrong, but could you leave me alone for a while?"

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:07 • by mohs (unregistered)
352153 in reply to 352143
C-Octothorpe:
kikito:
There is only One True Date Format and that is yyyy-mm-dd.


QFT


my kingdom for instantaneous sortable date values. (Which are more readable than a timestamp

However the US Format is still much more useless than the formats of any other place in the world.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:08 • by WC (unregistered)
352154 in reply to 352139
Except, of course, on The Fourth of July.

The date can be said either way in English, but other languages usually say it in the 'of' form, hence their date format. Plus, their date format keeps the numbers in order of size of what they're counting.

I still prefer the unambiguous yyyy-mm-dd though.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:08 • by TheCPUWizard
352155 in reply to 352139
Bort:
It's because when you say the date out loud, you don't say "5th July." You say "July 5th."


No, I say the "5th of July".

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:08 • by McKay (unregistered)
TRWTF is that the writer doesn't know how to use dashes. It makes the page very hard to read. emdashes, emdashes, spaces surrounding them...

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:09 • by Migala (unregistered)
352157 in reply to 352130
Meep:

It just breaks my heart that I'm not a European and don't have a bunch of obsessive compulsive Belgian bureaucrats to regulate every fucking aspect of my life.


But, but... then how do you deal with inconsistent banana curvatures??

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:09 • by blarg (unregistered)
352158 in reply to 352139
Bort:
It's because when you say the date out loud, you don't say "5th July." You say "July 5th."


a lot of people would say 5th of July.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:10 • by Richard (unregistered)
352159 in reply to 352139
Bort:
It's because when you say the date out loud, you don't say "5th July." You say "July 5th."


Yup. Just like that grand American holiday, "July the 4th," that we just saw...

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:13 • by ContraCorners
352160 in reply to 352121
Severity One:
Well, the typical American unawareness of people in other countries doing things differently (actually, the entire world doing things differently) is an issue, of course...
What is this "entire world" of which you speak?

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:13 • by mjk340 (unregistered)
I guess this site is running out of ideas for featured articles. I predict the next one will be about an unsupervised contractor that doesn't get any real work done, or perhaps a mechanical switch for rebooting servers remotely.

Re: Trans-Atlantic Time Trap

2011-07-05 11:14 • by Cujo DeSockpuppet
Come on, we all know the only real date format worth using is YYDDD. It saves a lot of space on my punch cards.
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