"Most people spend their New Year's Eve watching the ball drop and celebrating the New Year," writes Jason, "and actually, that's what I planned to do, too. Instead, I found myself debugging our licensing activation system." "Just as I was about to leave the office, I received a torrent of emails with the subject 'License Activation Failed'. One or two every now and then is expected, but dozens and dozens at four o'clock on New Year's Eve... not so good. It took me a moment to realize the significance of 4:00PM, but then it hit me: I'm on Pacific Time, which is UTC -8 hours.

"The error message that was filling up our logs was simply 'INVALID DATE' and for the life of me I couldn't figure out why. Our license code was a 32-bit number that represented the expiration date of the license and the features in the license. 7 of those bits represented the year since 2000, so obviously the date was fine up until 2127. After hours and hours of digging through PL/SQL, Java, JavaScript, Ruby, and some random shell scripts, I found the following.


Jason continued, "nowhere in the code was any indication why 12 would not work, so I took it out. Figuring it couldn't make things any worse, I published the code and tested the registration system. It worked. In the end, a meaningless IF statement had shut down our renewals business... just because."

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