Reply to post: Re: Remember Y2K?

Reliable system was so reliable, no one noticed its licence had expired... until it was too late


Re: Remember Y2K?

I have actually read a story about one (and only one) use case wherein something being unmaintainable was absolutely fine.

There was a system that had to do some precise math - some very, very, very, VERY precise math - on some rather cheap (for its use case) hardware, with next to nothing in the way of storage. It had to do this math blistering fast, repeatedly, very very quickly.

It would fill up all its storage and RAM and overflow and completely crash out and go FUBAR in a very short amount of time - on the order of about ten minutes or so.

A sharp-eyed new hand on this development project foresaw this problem, brought it to the attention of the lead of the project, who agreed that yes, this overflow and crash-out would indeed happen in roughly the timeframe the newbie had calculated, good spotting that.

The newbie asked when they were going to fix it, and how.

They were not, the lead said. It was absolutely fine.

The newbie boggled at this for a moment. The lead asked the newbie if he had taken the time to recall exactly what it was that was doing all this blisteringly fast, accurate math.

It was a physics system. That was part of the guidance package, of an air-to-air missile.

The computer would overflow and freeze up in about ten minutes. The missile had a maximum flight time of about eight, with an average engagement time of under two minutes or something.

Oh, said the newbie. Yes, that would indeed make the overflow irrelevant.

(All numbers pulled out of my arse because this is just my recollecting a story that may well have been pulled out of someone else's arse a long time ago, and are for illustrative purposes only.)

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