The Y2038 Problem

The Y2038 problem is similar to the Y2K problem. We’re exactly in between both about now. Both are 18 years away, in either direction. While Y2K is over and was obvious to everyone, Y2038 is not.

The issue here relates to a representation of date and time in Unix systems, and is therefore sometimes referred to as Unix Y2K. The root is the convention to store date and time information as 32bit unsigned integer in such systems. This means, possible values are limited. Time-differences in seconds, starting from 01.Jan 1970 cannot span beyond 03:14:07 UTC on 19 January 2038.

The Y2038 Problem
Calendar

The Y2038 problem will make all calculations beyond this date impossible, until migrated to another representation. At the time being, this seems far away. However, the problem casts its shadows already. Industries, in particular financial markets, often rely on long term forecasts.

Governance issued treasury bonds come with with the longest maturity. Often twenty years, sometimes thirty years. Calculations for complex, long running financing models easily try to estimate returns 20 years and beyond into the future. This is already beyond the problematic date that Y2038 brings. The code to run these calculations is typically complex and stable. Sometimes, it is as old as from 1970. Back then, this date-representation Unix engineers introduced this approach. 32bit covered a long period. John Femellia has a thread, over at Twitter, telling a story about the upcoming issues today.

Lifelong Learning

IEEE’s Educational Activities Committee (EAC)¬†invited me for their regular meeting, that happens May 13th and 14th in Porto, Portugal. Me being there is to¬†represent¬†Action for Industry Committee (AfI). On first priority, the attendance is to foster inter-committee cooperation. However, one of the items we’d love to promote to industry, but to everybody else, is that education is important. In particular in Industry, where innovation and therefore differentiation from the competition is key to any activity.

To make the point about lifelong learning: upcoming, innovative technology trends, just to mention the Internet of Things, Electromobility or Autonomous-Driving require broad sets of expertise’s, abilities¬†and complex organisations to come to life.

The Internet of Things, while being a vague term, is often associated with an App controlling a device remotely. While this looks easy on the outside, looking into the workings of such a product, it typically requires skills from 2 mobile platforms, Android and iOS, potentially Web. The connectivity part requires knowledge about transport protocols, that need splitting into IP protocols and constraint field busses. The cloud end alone is typically broken down into data transfer, data storage and data processing, while the field offers a broad choice of communication protocols and physical layers, all for different purposes and use cases. Not to mention the engineering, design, production process and supply chain that yields a physical device that a consumer wants to control. Adding in service based products, that give a customer a better understanding of usage patterns, energy savings, potentiation gameification of product use, require data processing and analytics.

This very high level example requires at least 3 major degrees, again, not mentioning the business administration side, that’d increase the count to 4 major degrees, with about¬†3 minors each, just on the¬†upside¬†estimate. ¬†Highly complex products like this need¬†highly skilled engineers and managers, that do not only need to execute on producing and operating a device, but also keep up¬†on¬†technical ability to stay on top of upcoming technologies, processes and¬†procedures.

Lastly, any requirement to understand peering functions and technology¬†makes the final argument for lifelong learning, because not only does the world change so fast, there is always fields interfering with an engineers major in an evolving market. This way, lifelong learning is not only something desirable¬†to¬†one self’s development, but a fundamental requirement to stay ahead of the market.

IEEE’s main pillars are academic publications, conferences and standards, all carried by an overwhelming number of volunteers. These are all, with no doubt, convinced that sharing knowledge increases knowledge. The really differentiating fact for IEEE is these are not from a single domain of research, but these ~420.000 members are organised in 39 technical societies, spanning all different kinds of technology and research.

Through this large spectrum of interest and the volunteering nature of the organisation, it enables lifelong learning through the exchange of ideas and knowledge alone, with Committees like the EAC fostering the activity, and Action for Industry keeping the relationship with engineers in industry.

MIT offers Internet of Things #iot training for professionals

Students will leave the course with an understanding of the foundational principals, architectures, applications, security and protocols that underpin the IoT, an MIT dean says.

IoT gains traction, also in education.

via: MIT offers Internet of Things training for professionals