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The Unix Epoch-alypse is only 25 years away


Sign of the end times: On May 30 “Gangnam Style” surpassed 2 billion views on YouTube!

Three weeks ago, on December 1, Google’s YouTube and South Korean pop star PSY shared an amazing milestone: the music video for “Gangnam Style” — by far the most viewed thing on YouTube by a wide margin — also became the first to be watched more that 2,147,483,647 times, causing the video sharing service’s 32-bit counter to overflow, or rollover like an odometer.

As Google stated on its blog, no one originally expected a video would ever be watched in excess of 2.1 billion times but when the time came they were quick to upgrade the counter to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808).

History made. Problem solved (yawn).

The failure of YouTube’s 32-bit view counter and the blithe way it was dealt with it illustrates a looming issue faced by millions of aging 32-bit computer systems and how we may (or may not) be affected by it.

The limit of YouTube’s 32-bit counter is shared by all 32-bit operating systems and it is baked into all computers built on top of 32-bit processors.

This limit doesn’t apply to new laptops and desktop computers, which have 64-bit processors and run 64-bit compatible operating systems but it could apply to programs which may continue to use 32-bit functions, for whatever reason.

It certainly does include all the millions of 32-bit ARM processors in new Google Chromebooks and Android tablets and snartphones. As well as Microsoft’s ill-fated Surface RT tablet and HP’s new Stream 7 tablet which uses a 32-bit Intel Atom processor running 32-bit Windows 8.1.

But mostly it applies to the tens of millions of 32-bit computer systems still in use today and the millions which I expect will continue to be used for years and quite possibly decades to come. Read more…

Toy makers have a super idea


In the mahogany-paneled boardroom of a multinational maker of playthings, executives toy with a new idea:

“As you all know, each action figure we produce is made up of a certain number of parts. Any time one or more of those parts is rejected due to a flaw — say, a head without an eyebrow or a foot missing its heel — then we are left, in effect, with excess parts for an incomplete action figure — parts which we cannot sell!

“Previously we have accepted this as an unfortunate but unavoidable cost of doing business.

“You’ve all heard Perkins’ novel idea for packaging and selling the incomplete figures as ‘differently-abled superheroes’ or ‘Agents of D.A.S.H’. Now I’d like you all to listen to what Harjit from Sales has come up with. We think it might be just the answer we’ve been looking for.

“She calls it ‘Mashers’…”


Fine encryption of the art


The painting I found this morning beside a dumpster looks starkly apocalyptic; chock full of overwrought imagery: a bleeding heart, praying hands, flames, a bird, rockets and cups.

But if I recognize the figurative pieces I can only guess at their meaning. The painting as a whole remains a puzzle to me.

All I can really do with it is be an audience and enjoy being puzzled. Read more…

Trashing a bad litter — both bins and politicians


A new breed of city litter bin on the northeast corner of Willow and West Broadway.

The era of the anti-binner litter bin may be coming to a quiet end.

For some nine years locking grey metal litter bins have dominated the streets of Vancouver. but one of them has lately disappeared from a corner on West Broadway Avenue — replaced not by another of the same ilk but by a completely different, open-top canister bin.

I’m told this new style of open top litter bin is already common in some parts of Vancouver, including the downtown core.


The new-style litter bin does away with locks and basically winds the clock back to the simple, accessible style of litter bin that Vancouverites took for granted for at least 36 years.

The new bin isn’t  a one-off or a place-holder either; the black plastic lid is embossed on the top with large capital letters: “Vancouver: Keep it spectacular”, which incidentally makes it look a bit like an open roll of Lifesavers candy.

The new bin replaces an old bin suffering a broken lock (a common problem), suggesting that the city may be replacing the existing locking litter bins through a process of attrition. Read more…

Browsing the city’s candy store of history

"Broadway Falls" created when the Heather Street Creek overflowed and Cameron's Drug Store

“Broadway Falls” at southeast corner of Broadway Ave. and Heather St., 1909. — Vancouver Archives: AM1376-: CVA 218-5.

The archives of the city of Vancouver, B.C. are searchable online and provide an indispensable resource for anyone seriously researching the history of the city.

The archives also have thousands of digital objects online for the rest of us to amuse ourselves with: over 77,000 high resolution photographs, as well as hundreds of videos and audio recordings.

The photos and videos are of buildings and streets and people going about their everyday business.

The sight of curiously over-dressed black-and-white people of a bygone era living their lives in the same streets that we do — often in  the very same buildings, strikes some kind of chord with me. Read more…

The views expressed aren’t necessarily my own


Alder Street continues to be one of my favourite “go to” streets for attractive views.  Friday afternoon I snapped yet another panoramic photo looking north down Alder; this one from a vantage point at about 11th avenue.

Keep in mind however that none of the actual views I photograph are mine. What I mean is that anyone standing in the same spot could conceivably take the exact same photograph I take. Read more…


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