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Y2K bug is back


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The Y2K bug is back, causing headaches for developers again


Twenty years ago, as the world celebrated the start of a new millennium, IT professionals across the globe were getting cold sweats at the prospect of the Y2K bug kicking in: the fear that important systems relying on two-digit date logs would come to a standstill if computers interpreted the 1 January 2000, registered as 01/01/00, as the first day of the year 1900. 

No major incident happened, because developers had seen Y2K coming and prepared well. But two decades later, it has become apparent that some resorted to a quicker fix than others, and simply postponed the problem to 2020. 

A series of incidents seem to have confirmed that Y2020 is tech's latest unwelcome blast from the past.

Parking meters across New York, for example, declined credit card payments after an outdated software took the payment option offline in the New Year. The Department of Transportation is still going through the city to manually update the 14,000 parking meters one by one and dubbed the problem a "Y2K2X software glitch".

And a wrestling game produced by 2K, unfortunately named WWE 2K20, reported crashes in the first seconds of the New Year; gamers took to social media to point out that the crash could be fixed by changing the date to the previous day. 

Although not officially attributed to a Y2020 bug, failures in Hamburg's subway system hindered traffic after a new year software update proved unsuccessful. 

So why are computer systems suddenly struggling with a 20-year-old bug? In some cases it may come down to a technique informally called "the pivot year" and which many a developer used back in 2000 to tackle the Y2K bug. 

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