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Sony's leap year bug

Rory Cellan-Jones | 07:58 UK time, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

It could hardly be a more disastrous message to send to your customers - "Please switch off our state-of-the art product and stop using it now!" But that was what Sony said to hundreds of thousands of users of its PS3 games console yesterday.

Sony PlayStation 3The problem, which affected all users except those with the latest "slim" version of the console on sale since last September, first surfaced yesterday morning. Players trying to sign in to the PlayStation network ended up seeing an error code. Worse, they then found they could not launch games and lost their trophy data - in other words, it looked as though hours of play had simply been wiped out from the console's memory.

Gamers responded very speedily, bombarding specialist blogs and the mainstream media with complaints. In these socially-networked times companies have to respond to problems within hours - and to be fair Sony was pretty quick off the mark. Here's how Playstation Europe used its Twitter account to keep players informed:

Monday 0931
"We're aware of people having PSN connection issues. We're looking into it and will keep you updated. Thanks for your continued support."

Monday 1010
"New Post: PlayStation Network Status Update. http://bit.ly/c9La92"

Monday 1354
"Rest assured, we've many people working on fixing this issue. As soon as we have some news, we'll let you know"

Monday 1510
"Please don't trust info regarding this issue unless from an official Sony source. On Twitter this means @PlayStationEU and @SonyPlayStation."

Monday 1510
"We will be updating you the second we have some news."

Monday 1717
"Here's our latest statement on the PSN issues. We'll update you further when a fix is available. http://bit.ly/cjDYV9"

It looked at first as though this was a network problem, something to do with the fact that games consoles are no longer just pieces of dumb electronic kit sitting at home alone but are out their on the web "talking" to other machines and to the great central Sony server in the clouds.

I'm currently working on a radio programme about the future of the web, and computer scientists have been painting a picture for us of a "web of things" where every object, from a bus, to a heart monitor, to products on supermarket shelves is online and operating almost independently of humans.

"Aha!," I thought as I went to bed last night. "This is what happens when the web of things goes wrong. The machines stop working and everything grinds to a halt." But I've awoken to a rather different story. It turns out that what Sony was suffering from was its very own Millennium Bug, just 10 years and two months late.

The dumb internal clock thought 2010 was a leap year, so decided yesterday was 29 February instead of 1 March, causing consoles to have a nervous breakdown when they talked to a network which knew the right date. Here's Sony's statement in the early hours of Tuesday:

"We are aware that the internal clock functionality in the PS3 units other than the slim model, recognized the year 2010 as a leap year. Having the internal clock date change from February 29th to March 1st (both GMT), we have verified that the symptoms are now resolved and that users are able to use their PS3 normally. If the time displayed on the XMB is still incorrect, users are able to adjust time settings manually or via the internet."

So PS3 players have been caught up in a rather old-fashioned computer comedy rather than a futuristic disaster movie. And remember, the latest version of the console was not affected. Perhaps the web of things will give humans - or rather corporations - more control of machines rather than less.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It wasn't that long ago when the millennium bug was classed as a futuristic disaster movie.

    In fact, one could argue that internet ready machines coming to life is an older story line than the millennium bug:
    * Terminator with Skynet,
    * War Games with the hacker telneting in via a dial up modem,
    and so on.

    Even the Borg (first aired in the late 80s) had an element of this going on to (though that is stretching the argument somewhat).


    What's interesting to note from Sony's recent embarrassment though (and the blog didn't touch on) is how technology is getting so infinity complex these days that screw ups are becoming virtually unavoidable.

    In a future with internet ready fridges (already available to buy by the way) and what not - you'll go to put two slices of bread in your toaster and prey that your breakfast doesn't crash.

  • Comment number 2.

    I spoke to a couple of people during the 'outage' who were so distraught at not being able to play games on their consoles, they were actually heading out to buy the slim version.... one of them came back with an Xbox 360!





  • Comment number 3.

    I wonder why the Slim wasn't affected? I thought they ran the same firmware but maybe I'm wrong.

    Who wrote the main article in the technology section?

    Some have liked the problem to the millennium bug.

    The problem, also known as the Y2K bug, was predicted to cause a global computer meltdown when computer clocks changed at the end of the millennium. In the end, few problems were experienced.


    That should read: "In the end, few problems were experienced because people were well-informed and therefore well-prepared; they tested and, if necessary, upgraded their systems to ensure they would not be affected."

    It annoys me when people imply that the bug was a whole load of fuss about nothing - it's like saying "I had a car crash today and had been warned to wear my seatbelt. The seatbelt went into lock and the airbag deployed - but both were a waste of time because I didn't die anyway."

  • Comment number 4.

    This is really shocking of Sony... appauling actually... They didn't 'fix' anything, they knew about this issue and did nothing but wait for the day to roll over and hope it would right itself.
    My brand loyalty is seriously tarnished.

  • Comment number 5.

    I heard one PS3 user on Radio 5Live last night talking about this as though his life had collapsed because he couldn't get his PS3 to work. Read a book instead, I thought, and take the opportunity to cease being an overgrown adolescent boy.

  • Comment number 6.

    So does anyone know if it's working now?
    P.S Nice example Paul.

  • Comment number 7.

    I can understand the connection problems, but loosing trophies and data... Ha ha! (As a gamer I do feel a pang of grief for those PS owners, but it just goes to show that you don't always get what you pay for (I'm a X-Box fan myself))

  • Comment number 8.

    Paul: It was a fuss over nothing. I ended up testing over 100 machines for the company I worked for and none failed.

    I can sympathise somewhat with Sony, these time related bugs are very difficult to test for. Yet, there must be a lot of corners being cut because I can't see that such a bug would have existed had there been adequate revision and checking of the development.

  • Comment number 9.

    It's not as if the maths/logic is difficult

    if($year%400 ==0 or ($year%100 != 0 and $year%4 == 0)) {
    $febdays = 29;
    } else {
    $febdays = 28;
    }

    Divisible by 4 or 400 is a leap year. Divisible by 100 isn't.

    I'll blame Pope Gregory, he came up with that formula.

  • Comment number 10.

    "8. At 09:29am on 02 Mar 2010, Laurence wrote:
    Paul: It was a fuss over nothing. I ended up testing over 100 machines for the company I worked for and none failed.

    I can sympathise somewhat with Sony, these time related bugs are very difficult to test for. Yet, there must be a lot of corners being cut because I can't see that such a bug would have existed had there been adequate revision and checking of the development."

    Sorry but date releated bugs like this one are one of the easiest bug types to check for. Having built and designed real time micro controlers some of which are police approved for evidance gathering, checking date problems like this are the first tests carried out as they the easiest to prove/disporve a problem. In fact it is one of the few areas in computing that you can actually prove that NO bug exists.

  • Comment number 11.

    Laurence: you were either lucky or were blessed with newer machines. Where I worked we had many older computers that had problems. Because of all the advance warning fixes were put in place using Bios patches or, in several cases, the computers were replaced. There were also some fairly hefty updates to interface software. Fortunately, as I recall, we only had one failure in the end but that was in the air conditioning unit in the computer room - and, yes, that was a clock bug.

  • Comment number 12.

    Sony's fix - well today the internal clock does not think its a leap day, so all is fine.

    Lets hope someone in their testing lab is now testing for the next round of bugs.

    Question is that I'd like Rory and others to ask, what will happen to those who had movie rentals expire on them.

  • Comment number 13.

    Maybe what Sony really needs is better programmers! After all, everyone knows how to work out a leap year! Here's a little bit of computer code, to get Sony started:

    bool isLeapYear = ((year % 4 == 0 && year % 100 != 0) || year % 400 == 0);

    :)

  • Comment number 14.

    8. At 09:29am on 02 Mar 2010, Laurence wrote:
    Paul: It was a fuss over nothing. I ended up testing over 100 machines for the company I worked for and none failed.

    Just as well your company had modern systems at the time then :-)

  • Comment number 15.

    icewombat: Consider just what you are saying here - you would have had to have tested your devices in operation for every transition between one time and another down to at least the second to be 100% confident! Please let me know what you have designed as I'd like to avoid using them.

  • Comment number 16.

    I look forward to problems inevitably resurfacing on March 32nd, 2012.

    Wait a minute...

  • Comment number 17.

    To Laurence (#8)

    Actually the maths to calculate if a year is a leap year or not is relatively simple and has been around for a long, long time.

    1) If the year is evenly divisible by 4, go to step 2. Otherwise, go to step 5.
    2) If the year is evenly divisible by 100, go to step 3. Otherwise, go to step 4.
    3) If the year is evenly divisible by 400, go to step 4. Otherwise, go to step 5.
    4) The year is a leap year (it has 366 days).
    5) The year is not a leap year (it has 365 days).

    In terms of software dev/test this probably wasn't tested as it would typically be seen as 'low-risk' as it's established logic used in computing daily.
    I guess Sony will be slapping the poor sap who managed to get this wrong, but will also test it in the future.

    It makes me chuckle to see something many will consider 'basic' cause such a problem.

  • Comment number 18.

    The only people making a fuss over this, it seems is the media...

    It's got 10x the coverage that the Xbox Live 10day Xmas outage got..

  • Comment number 19.

    I love how it seems that their "Fix" for the leap year bug was to wait until the false leap year day was no longer upon us. Epic.

  • Comment number 20.

    I still can't believe that it was on the front page of the Metro this morning! So much fuss over one day of not being able to use my console! My friend had RROD on his X360 the other day and now can't use his console for a couple of weeks while Microsoft fix it. I still prefer my PS3.

  • Comment number 21.

    Damn!!! LOL I was about to post how long it would be before the comments started focusing on XBOX's RROD but I see I'm already too late!

    Oh noes...here come the MS haters already and the story isn't even anything to do with MS! You fanboys are so defensive....

  • Comment number 22.

    "12. At 09:41am on 02 Mar 2010, Andrew Ferguson wrote:

    Sony's fix - well today the internal clock does not think its a leap day, so all is fine."

    I doubt that is the case as if it were, then the units would still be a day behind, as today (the 2nd) would only be the 1st. They must have fixed the logic that decides if a year is a leap year or not.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'd love to know what made the console think it was a leap year? It doesn't seem like the kind of basic timekeeping mistake Sony's best product should be making!

  • Comment number 24.

    Laurense @ #15 wrote:
    "you would have had to have tested your devices in operation for every transition between one time and another down to at least the second to be 100% confident!"

    Actually no, you'd test the tick over of your code block for calculating leap years efficiently on it's own first. Then in situ on some of the devices.
    You then ensure your code is properly deployed to all devices with zero changes and it follows that your devices calculate the leap year correctly.

    That's probably where Sony failed, they didn't test their code at a unit level correctly.

  • Comment number 25.

    Oh dear... I was so mortified about not being able to use my PS3 for an entire day.... so much so I wrote a letter of complaint to Sony and my MP, staged a protest outside Sony's UK HQ and signed up to XBOX online instead....

    Actually I went out cycling as it was such a beautifully sunny day.

    It's one day and its a games console, its hardly a big deal in the scheme of things. Yes it makes Sony look a little silly and it is a mistake which should have perhaps not happened. But really, is it all that important?

  • Comment number 26.

    Agree with Paul - Y2K was a damp squid because of all the work done in advance. I was working for a computer co. and only we had one customer that had any major issues, and that was because they were still running some mid-1980s accounts software that in the end had to be completely replaced. But we'd already discovered that in 1998 when they had tried to set up the 1999-2000 tax year on it!

  • Comment number 27.

    @Paul Freeman-Powell - The slim does indeed have substantially different firmware to the previous models. One notable difference is the lack of hypervisor support for other operating systems, such as GNU/Linux. Sony cited the prohibitive cost of maintaining drivers for different hardware. Of course it’s more likely that they were annoyed by small businesses filling racks with their subsidised hardware. The PS3 is powered by the extremely powerful Cell Broadband Engine which was developed by Sony, Toshiba and IBM.

    My PS3 remained firmly off yesterday; hopefully all will be well tonight!

  • Comment number 28.

    "That should read: "In the end, few problems were experienced because people were well-informed and therefore well-prepared; they tested and, if necessary, upgraded their systems to ensure they would not be affected.""

    I completely agree, Paul. The company I worked for at the time spent many man-years re-writing applications that had been tested and known to fail Y2K. (Sure, this is partly because they were very old COBOL applications that were in need of modernising in other ways, too). But the point stands: This whole "The Y2K was supposed to be a massive problem, but in the end nothing happened" is VERY annoying for those of us who know how much work was done behind the scenes in millions of companies to PREVENT the problem.

  • Comment number 29.

    #8 "Paul: It was a fuss over nothing. I ended up testing over 100 machines for the company I worked for and none failed."

    Probably because someone had already fixed the bugs. First millenium bug that caused a problem on some old systems I worked on cropped up in 1995 (calculating lost interest on the early repayment of a 5 year credit agreement). Even on a final extra stage of testing in 1999 on systems that had already been tested we found more bugs.

    As to Sony, maybe their programmer thought that 4 was an unlucky number and didn't want to use it for leap year checking.....

  • Comment number 30.

    I can't see what the fuss is about. I have had my PS3 since launch day and never had a problem with it until yesterday. However, I knew that if there was a major problem, Sony would fix it. It turns out that it was just a case of waiting for one day to roll over - big deal. It gave me a chance to catch up with a load of programmes I've recorded over the past couple of weeks.

    And to everyone who keeps on mentioning XBox360, all I can say to you is "Red Ring Of Death" - how many weeks do you guys have to wait until you can start gaming again?

  • Comment number 31.

    What a shambles!

    If I could fix and test the Millenium Bug on an undocumented program suite dating back to the 1960's, then Sony shouldn't have a problem with a brand new system. Seppuku, anyone?

  • Comment number 32.

    1 day not a big deal? Thats around 4 hours of Moder Warfare 2 I missed out on . . . and you're telling me that's not a big deal????


    Lol in all seriousness I don't know whether to be annoyed at Sony for such an almighty balls up or relieved that it was only a one day thing.

  • Comment number 33.

    Well then, it would appear that Sony didn't bother sorting out the problem with 2 and 4 digit dates and it came back to bite them, internally the processor must have thought it was 1910, a leap year. It was released in Nov 2006, so wouldn't have been affected before, I wonder if the PS2 had the same problem but was not widely reported, pre 'Social Networking'.

  • Comment number 34.

    @Yamthief Clearly there is a fix that's needed. I'm sure the date/time code is being reviewed as we speak to ensure it does not occur again, but in the meantime everything is now fine and all the papers and sites that are running this day as headline news are all looking rather pathetic now it's all blown over and it's turned into a storm in a teacup.

    They would have been far better reporting 15m RROD failures on the frontpage, as that truely is significant..

    The difference of course, is everyone is afraid of Microsoft, and it's fashionable in the American media to hate Sony

  • Comment number 35.

    My ps3 isn't and has never been connected to the internet but still had the clock bug. The clock is seems to be ok now but I have still lost trophies. I hope it was just a case of letting the clock roll over and that I don't require a fix through psn. A lot of the problems didn't really effect me but I'll not be happy if I can't play games offline, Heavy Rain in particular.

  • Comment number 36.

    #30 @Mike

    Another tedious fanboy. Enjoy eating your sour grapes while living in the past.

    http://tinyurl.com/yban6wa

    As for the "coding", the issue will have been with the built-in OS. The reason the Y2K meltdown didn't materialise is that modern OSs and development platforms have been Y2K-bug-free for decades. If there was ever going to be a problem it would have been with very, very old software on legacy platforms or with embedded systems. Modern software on a modern OS was never going to have a big issue with "Y2K", or with any other date anomalies such as leap years and whatnot.

  • Comment number 37.

    I consider myself lucky! my 60GB PS3 suffered sony's non existent yellow light of death a couple of days before.
    Hopefully when I get it back later this week, it should all be OK...

  • Comment number 38.

    I have an old ps3 a 60gb which there calling the chunky one. Its was on yesterday breifley i went to swithc it on later in the evening and everytime i went to play a game it switched off to stand by and the stand by light was flashing and now i cant even turn it on.Sony need to set up a free helpline the only updates were getting is through u guys it sucks

  • Comment number 39.

    I guess this problem is bizarre but it's not the end of the world seeing as it now works.

    Some of the PS3 owners above shouldn't be so smug about the "Red Ring of Death" on Xbox by the way - having recently suffered the PS3's own version of this, it seems that this is happening to a fair few consoles, and at least Microsoft fixes them for free. I'd have happily waited 2 weeks to get my console back if it didn't mean stumping up £128 to Sony.

  • Comment number 40.

    Okay so they fixed this bug, what about the bigger problem that Sony Caused their version 3 mandatory update and beyond; Sony dispute the "mandatory" but the fact is if you want to go online or play the latest games you MUST have the update.

    There have been litterally thousand of people's PS3's being "Bricked" by the update, in a nutshell the update has casued a complete failure of the blu ray laser, Sony then have the cheak to charge the unfortunate souls who this happens to in the region of £150, at which point you might as well think about getting a PS3 slim.

    I mean seriously the average user would think that a Sony update for a Sony product should work. Sony have refused to budge on this issue numerous emails asking why this happened etc. have meet with no reply, infact there is now a class action lawsuit in the US precisly because so many machines have been "bricked"

    So the question is what is going to happen now?

  • Comment number 41.

    I have a refurbished 60GB 'fat' PS3 which was unaffected by this, I guess maybe some parts were swapped around and I got lucky.
    "It looked at first as though this was a network problem, something to do with the fact that games consoles are no longer just pieces of dumb electronic kit sitting at home alone but are out their on the web "talking" to other machines and to the great central Sony server in the clouds." - Rory I am disappointed!

  • Comment number 42.

    To Aidy,

    I'm not a fan boy. I couldn't give a monkey's what console people own (each has its good and bad points). It just amazes me that anything concerning PS3 or Sony seems to be the subject of a backlash by Xbox 360 owners which is what I was responding to (MoratBD's post). Life's too short to get upset over something as trivial as a games console. :-)

  • Comment number 43.

    Sorry Rory, but I don't see why you have mentioned Twitter here. Sony used its own websites and blogs to provide all of its information, and merely used Twitter to direct customers there.

    Why not quote the times of the posts on blog.eu.playstation.com instead?

  • Comment number 44.

    For the love of god, some people in here are so unbelievably immature.
    The instant 'Quick, ignore this, Xbox has WAY more problems!' response so many of you are using is just pathetic.

    Both systems have, and have had, their problems. THIS is about the PS3, so put your toys back in your prams and leave this be if you've got nothing worthwhile to contribute.

    IMO, this was a major mess up. Can you imagine if subscriptions were involved? Hundreds of thousands of people will have hit the roof, myself included, big style. I sincerely hope there is none of this once these proposed subscriptions come in. I doubt people would be so forgiving that time.

  • Comment number 45.

    Two questions; How many times in a week do you or a colleague not do your job perfectly and others fill in the gaps? So why expect computers to be perfect?

    PS The sun was out; why was the first thing you did was switch on a game?

  • Comment number 46.

    Was the problem that Sony doesn't know how to perform simple leap year calculations, or that Sony has completely failed to learn the lessons from the Y2k bug, has implemented two-digit dates (storing "2009" as "09"), and when the year became "10" some routines have interpreted that as 0x10, and so believe it to be 2016 - which is a leap year?

    Much discussion on this bug (and its effect on SMS implementations, especially in Windows Mobile) in "Risks in Computing" - most recently http://tinyurl.com/risks-y2k10 for example. I'd be interested to know whether it turns out to be the case with the PS3.

  • Comment number 47.

    When I was told about this at work yesterday, I assumed it was a hoax. How could such modern hardware be unable to calculate a leap year, when it would take 5 minutes to write a BASIC program to correctly calculate it? Hopefully Sony has now worked out what went wrong. Being unable to play for a day is one thing - losing trophies which took many hours to amass is far more annoying. Then again, it's not as if Microsoft haven't had their fair share of similar problems.

  • Comment number 48.

    @35

    Connect it to the net and you will see that your trophies are still there, if, you had bothered sync'ing them. If not, then that is your fault and not Sony's.

    Also, I can see where people are coming from by highlighting the RROD. Sony is taking flak for something that has passed with all the machines now working, however Microsoft appear to have gotten away with what is arguably the biggest mess up in Electronics history.

    I would like to see a report on all console screw ups though, I wonder how many have happened across all the platforms from Amiga up to the PS3?

  • Comment number 49.

    22. At 10:10am on 02 Mar 2010, p309444 wrote:
    "I doubt that is the case as if it were, then the units would still be a day behind, as today (the 2nd) would only be the 1st. They must have fixed the logic that decides if a year is a leap year or not."
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Another person trying to be clever and getting it wrong. When you log in to your PS3 today it is a day out (ie shows 01 March) and then you have to reset the time & date via the settings manual.

    Sony dodged a bullet. There was hardly any information available all day. They then just prayed that it would sort itself out, and fortunately for them it did. But, it should never have happened. Oh and this is not just about gamers, commercial developers who use the PS3 could not work either during the day.

  • Comment number 50.

    "33. At 10:53am on 02 Mar 2010, Peter wrote:
    Well then, it would appear that Sony didn't bother sorting out the problem with 2 and 4 digit dates and it came back to bite them, internally the processor must have thought it was 1910, a leap year. It was released in Nov 2006, so wouldn't have been affected before, I wonder if the PS2 had the same problem but was not widely reported, pre 'Social Networking'."

    An interesting theory, albeit with the slight problem that 1910 wasn't a leap year either.

  • Comment number 51.

    "Some of the PS3 owners above shouldn't be so smug about the "Red Ring of Death" on Xbox by the way - having recently suffered the PS3's own version of this, it seems that this is happening to a fair few consoles, and at least Microsoft fixes them for free. I'd have happily waited 2 weeks to get my console back if it didn't mean stumping up £128 to Sony."


    While you have a point about certain PS3 owners and their remarks about RRoD - yes its immature and not just limited to Xboxs - I'd have to disagree with your view that Microsoft repairs it for free.

    That is not the case, my housemates xbox RRoD'd just before Xmas and Microsoft would not repair for free as it was outside of the 1 year warranty. Even though it's an inherent design flaw that will inevitably happen. Quoting in the region of around £120 to fix it. The same thing happened to my other housemate A WEEK LATER - so he bought Xbox Elite for xmas, under the impression the don't RRoD. he brought it up to uni after the holidays and it played up on THE FIRST DAY he got here. The elite somehow fixed itself, but with the xbox's history its still likely it could play up at any time.

    I own a PS3 myself, and last september after travelling up to uni it wouldn't read discs the second i set it up, i presume it mustv taken a knock on the way and messed up the laser somehow. Anyhoo, I'd had the console for just over a year, (still 12 months tho) and Sony replaced it for free. I'm not sure how they handle YLoD's, and I believe they charge LESS than microsoft for repairs after the warranty date.

    but both are just as bad as each other for charging - as for manufactoring standards well, history says sony were actually better but thats for you to decide.

  • Comment number 52.


    the PSN coming back online is bigger and better than the resurrection of jesus.

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=383844173064

    this group helped me cope while my PS3 was offline.

    8001050F - the day the earth stood still

  • Comment number 53.

    As an avid PS3 user, I was heavily involved on the Playstation forums for what has become known as the ApocalyPS3. The major problem was ill-informed rumour and speculation. Sony did nothing to quell this. In fact, it's communications were woefully inadequate. All they said was, "we're working on it". At one point there was an 8 hour break in communications when users were left in the dark and rumour and fear consequently abounded. It wasn't so much the loss of hardware which bothered people, it was their trophy achievements which had taken years to build up.

    In the end, Sony didn't "fix" it. It fixed itself. At midnight GMT (actually at about 11:30pm for some reason I can't work out), the hardware began recognising dates correctly from the internal clock again.

  • Comment number 54.

    Manufacturers have issues from time to time. This was not a strategic short cut, it was an over sight. Problems are not unique to Sony, and as people have pointed out Microsoft have inconvenienced their customers far more with downtime and console death.

    This isn't to say Sony do not have the potential to beat this 'achievement' at a later date, because they do, but for the moment some perspective would be nice.

    Front page of the Metro? I think we can chalk this up to a slow news day.

  • Comment number 55.

    Connect it to the net and you will see that your trophies are still there, if, you had bothered sync'ing them. If not, then that is your fault and not Sony's.

    Thanks.

    I'm not bothered about the trophies just as long as the machine works like it's supposed to.

  • Comment number 56.

    I hope Sony don't claim they fixed it because they didn't. They did absolutely nothing. It fixed itself. And whilst they said there would be a solution within 24 hours, they didn't know it was going to fix itself, they just hoped it would.

  • Comment number 57.

    Last year my PS3 had a hardware failure of some kind when it started displaying a flashing yellow ring. Sony wouldn't fix it for free as it was 16 months old and out of warranty. Yet Microsoft fixed my RROD for free even though that was over two years old.
    Glad I never invested in another PS3 as would of got annoyed if it happened to mine.

  • Comment number 58.

    @51

    RROD is covered for 3 years, your friend wasted alot of money.

  • Comment number 59.

    22. At 10:10am on 02 Mar 2010, p309444 wrote:
    "I doubt that is the case as if it were, then the units would still be a day behind, as today (the 2nd) would only be the 1st. They must have fixed the logic that decides if a year is a leap year or not."
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------
    Another person trying to be clever and getting it wrong. When you log in to your PS3 today it is a day out (ie shows 01 March) and then you have to reset the time & date via the settings manual.

    Actually, I think it was more basic than that. The Sony servers didn't recognise the 29th Feb as it didn't exist. The date difference isn't a big deal. As the date passed from the 28th to the 29th around the world, so the problem started to get reported in greater numbers. Once that date passed then the problem would have gone away anyway as the units started to sync again. As it happened, Japan were one of the first to experience it and Sony were lucky to get advanced warning. If their programmers had been based in the USA we would still be complaining now.

  • Comment number 60.

    Three observations - With regards the leap year calculation, If a number is divisible by 100 or by 400 then surely it's also divisible by 4, since 100 divide by 4 is 25, and 400 divide by 4 is 100... so all you need to do is see if it divides by 4?

    Also, does anyone else think it's sad how dependant we've become on our entertainment machines? I run my freeview through play tv, and having been told to leave the system off I did, so had no tv or games... and quickly realised what little else I had to do! I might leave mine off for another week and relearn what the real world is like!

    And finally, xbox vs ps3, who cares? If you like the one you got more than the other one then surely you made the right choice? Why does one have to be better than the other for everyone? Are you saying that you're exactly the same as everyone else? How boring.

  • Comment number 61.

    24 hours is 24 hours. OK, I had a day off and wanted to mess around with my console, but it's not the end of the world like people have been acting. Yes - Sony could have dealt with this better but I am sure it's a lesson learned for everyone there. I think we should just see it for what it was and get over it.

  • Comment number 62.

    51. At 11:59am on 02 Mar 2010, DevilOfRed wrote:
    "my housemates xbox RRoD'd just before Xmas and Microsoft would not repair for free as it was outside of the 1 year warranty. Even though it's an inherent design flaw that will inevitably happen. Quoting in the region of around £120 to fix it."

    Your friend needs to call MS again - or 'fess up to chipping the console. I've had the RRoD twice on my 360 bought in 2007 and both times had them replaced free of charge - the first time in India where it was replaced within 24 hours!, the second time at the end of last december (same time as your friend) which was duly returned at the start of January - with a free Live gold membership sub.

  • Comment number 63.

    @48

    "Connect it to the net and you will see that your trophies are still there, if, you had bothered sync'ing them. If not, then that is your fault and not Sony's."

    Are Sony paying you to defend them?

    It's a flaw in the Trophy system that it doesn't sync automatically. I've never had to sync my Gamertag but I can easily access it from anywhere just by logging in and it's always up to date.

    This didn't affect me as I have a Slim PS3 and it's hardly the biggest deal but it definitely is Sony's fault.


  • Comment number 64.

    Regarding the testing of leap years - replying to multiple people - yes the formula is simple, but the testing of it is not. Everyone here is making the same mistake that Sony probably made, testing for a positive rather than testing for the negative. They probably did test that it worked correctly in 2008, and may even have tested that it didn't give a leap year in 2009 and were happy with that. However they probably didn't then go on to test that it didn't give a leap year in 2010 and 2011, a leap year in 2012, no leap year in 2013 etc. Additionally, this calculation may be buried deep within the date routines and so to test it fully (and make sure that it was just February that it added a day to) you would have to simulate every date transition from release date until the supported lifetime of the console. That's a lot of iterations to test.

  • Comment number 65.

    Fair point, Laurence.

    I once tested an algorithm for the classic 0,1,2 and many (in this case 37).

    It worked for four numbers, and ONLY four. Care to guess which four?

  • Comment number 66.

    This shows a major flaw in the trophy system. I managed to avoid the bug but some friends of mine weren't so lucky. I really don't see why we should have to sync our trophies to Sony. Microsoft got it right with 'auto-sync'. That kind of thing is crucial as achievements/trophies have taken over the main point of gaming - fun. If we're all going to worry about our precious trophies/achievements, at least give us some way to make them secure, since bugs like this are not bound to be the last. Microsoft got it right at this point. Sony - get it together.

  • Comment number 67.

    So PS3 players got caught in an old-fashioned computer comedy. You know what? I'm not laughing.
    One little glitch can lead to what you term "futuristic disaster".
    I was thinking the other day, as we become tied together in the intricacy of the web (a very apporpriate name by the way), all it would take is one little spider (akak human keek) to set off an integrated tragedy beyond human comprehension - systems crashing like dominoes.
    I don't think that future machines will give humans any more control; these machines have already surpassed the ability of human beings to monitor adequately. Rather, all we can hope for is that human beings will be able to manage the bugs in the web as they occur.

  • Comment number 68.

    If they struggle with this it will be interesting to see what happens in 2038!

  • Comment number 69.

    @ Mike

    To clarify I don't own a console any more, but I have owned every console out since the Commodore. I was just putting a point my point of view accross. You are 100% in saying life's too short!

    Makes me laugh though, and I still prefer the cross box to the grey station. (you can't take the pi 55 out of the Wii)

  • Comment number 70.

    #57
    "Last year my PS3 had a hardware failure of some kind when it started displaying a flashing yellow ring."

    Where would that 'ring' be then? On the front of your XBox 360?

    Shocking when fanboys try to hijack discussions, from whatever side.

  • Comment number 71.

    Rory, I think your blog has missed the point of SONY's "Toyota" moment.

    After the inital panic had died down after we new it was a date problem and a fix was pending, the issue became will my investment (£400+ in most cases) turn sour.

    This is where SONY's PR really shot themselves in the foot with the "SONY = Sorted Out Now, Yeah?" approach. Promising a fix within 24 hours for a bug only expected to last a day was pointless. Most bloggers got the experience that Sony we're only paying lip service to their concerns (8 tweets in 9 hours?!) With no news of 'Don't worry your Trophies are safe'.
    They've hurt a lot of 'Fan boy' pride (nothing compared to red ring of death admittedly) that will impact future loyalty and spending.

    PS. The next non Leap year (2014) won't matter as the PS4 will be launched by then ;)

  • Comment number 72.

    I have to admit I may have missed the point, I stated rather sarcastically that living without the PS3 for a day was tragic, however this was perhaps symbolising what could be a serious incident.

    Lets get some perspective, a PS3 not working for one day is hardly a life changing issue. But what if this was an bug, in say, a life support machine and all the life support machines across the world failed to work for a day?

    When we are moving forward towards allowing technology to control elements of ours lives, are we setting ourselves up for one major fall?

  • Comment number 73.

    @60 "Three observations - With regards the leap year calculation, If a number is divisible by 100 or by 400 then surely it's also divisible by 4, since 100 divide by 4 is 25, and 400 divide by 4 is 100... so all you need to do is see if it divides by 4?"

    No. The year 2100 will not be a leap year, even though it's evenly divisible by 4. Whether there will be any ps3's still around in 90 years is debatable though. If there are, will their owners still be waiting for GT5 to be released?

  • Comment number 74.

    @72 Sure, it's not life threatening for the PS3 not to be working for one day but reputationally it's a disaster for Sony.

    Why didn't the Xbox 360 or the Wii fall over yesterday? Answer: Microsoft and Nintendo aren't stymied by the transition from February to March.

    Is this going to happen again next year? How many other days in the year won't the PS3 work? Who wants a console made by people that can't handle calendars?

  • Comment number 75.

    I had this error with my PS3 and whilst I'll admit it was a slight inconvenience, it wasn't the end of my entire life. To be honest, I'd still rather have free online gaming with the occasional hiccup over the paid xbl service anyday! Still, at least now I can get back to playing Heavy Rain!



  • Comment number 76.

    My 13 year-old son had decided 24 hours earlier that his online name wasn't cool enough and changed it. First of all it put him back to a newbie on Call of Duty, then he lost all his trophies and then he got the Millenium-plus-a-decade-plus-two-months-bug error code.

    For a while he felt personally responsible for the network meltdown. Oh the tears and gnashing of teeth. That was me. He was much worse.

  • Comment number 77.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that Sony didn't actually do anything to fix this... They just seemed to tell everyone that they thought may be affected to keep their PS3 switched off between 28th Feb and 1st March in the hope the problem would simply go away...

    As it happened I didn't know about the issue but used my PS3 on 1st March with no problems at all, even though my revision of PS3 was supposed to be affected by the bug.

  • Comment number 78.

    @73 - thank you! I have learnt something new today!

    Apparantly a correction every 4 years needs an extra correction every 100 years to make it work, and then every 400 years to sort that out! If only out planet went round the sun with a better sense of timing!

  • Comment number 79.

    What I find most upsetting is the discovery that a simple clock bug can lead to such a failure. I'm not referring to the loss of internet and PS Network access (such things happen), but to the fact that *offline* gaming completely died simply because of an incorrect date.

    This was an unpleasant realization that I rate right up there with the discovery that Amazon can delete purchased books from a Kindle whenever it suits their fancy.

  • Comment number 80.

    LOL@ Everyone that thinks it's a Sony problem. It's not, it's a bug in a freescale chip, the same same chip that lost the plot in the Zune, and other consumer devices...

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 78. Andy:

    Not to mention leap seconds to keep the length of a day in sync with a solar day.

  • Comment number 82.

    @aardfrith said:

    "Why didn't the Xbox 360 or the Wii fall over yesterday? Answer: Microsoft and Nintendo aren't stymied by the transition from February to March.

    Is this going to happen again next year? How many other days in the year won't the PS3 work? Who wants a console made by people that can't handle calendars?"

    No, the 360 didn't fall over yesterday, but since launch probably at least 5 million have completely died (we don't know the exact number, because MS refuse to even respond to the question, let alone provide an answer). Remember that? And a couple of years ago, the entire Live network was out for more than a day because apparently MS was unable to predict in advance that user numbers might increase on 25 December. Remember that?

    And the problem with the PS3 was a small chip which is in Fat PS3s only, a chip not even made by Sony, which also knocked out all 12 Microsoft Zunes sold in the world about a year ago. I think the chip is made by Toshiba.

    And it won't happen every year. Has it happened every non-leap year since the PS3 was launched? No.

    Must try harder. Much harder.

  • Comment number 83.

    @82
    'And a couple of years ago, the entire Live network was out for more than a day because apparently MS was unable to predict in advance that user numbers might increase on 25 December. Remember that?'
    Nope. Because that didn't happen. There were hiccups with downloading and connecting, (for some, not even all) but the system did not go down. In the 3 years I've been on Live, it's never gone down unless it's with notice of maintenance happening.
    Before this week, I'd never had issues with the PSN, either. But as I said, imagine people were paying for this - as they are going to be. Sony should consider themselves lucky that subscriptions aren't in yet, otherwise hell will have broken lose, and no doubt people would be demanding compensation.

    They BOTH have issues of varying scales. Stop trying to shift the attention. All you're doing is opening it up for a bigger fan boy flame war.

  • Comment number 84.

    "That is not the case, my housemates xbox RRoD'd just before Xmas and Microsoft would not repair for free as it was outside of the 1 year warranty."

    That's just flat out wrong. If your Xbox dies because of the RROD it is covered by an extended 3 year warranty, rather than the standard 1 year warranty that applies for any other technical problems.

    You can check Microsoft's website for confirmation.

 

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