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Twitter "Twitpocalypse" Snags Mac, iPhone Apps 160

Posted by kdawson
from the y2k-all-over-again dept.
awarrenfells notes coverage in Macworld of what is being called "the Twitpocalypse" — Twitter applications breaking as the number of tweets exceeds 32 bits. "The first apparent victim of the Twitpocalypse was The Iconfactory's Twitterrific for iPhone, which stopped working immediately following the event. ... Atebits Software's Tweetie has also been affected by the Twitpocalypse. The program continues to function for browsing and posting tweets, but searches no longer work in the Mac version and results appear one at a time in the iPhone version."
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Twitter "Twitpocalypse" Snags Mac, iPhone Apps

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  • Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dov_0 (1438253) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:29PM (#28323283)
    Which twit didn't see that one coming? Surely it should have shown up in testing?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      In later testing, it should be dected, but to overflow 32 bits thats over 2 billion messages. For being founded as a not-so-major project, I don't think they would think that in 3 years that it would reach that much.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        You might start thinking about it around 1 billion though. Maybe even at 500 million (especially if you are in some sort of obscene growth phase...).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by vadim_t (324782)

          AFAIK, Twitter itself was unaffected, it's just client applications that failed.

          Most client apps probably only handle the number internally, and never show it anywhere, so the developer possibly never even saw that it was getting close to the limit.

          • by John Hasler (414242) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:09PM (#28323525) Homepage

            Yes. When I first saw mention of this I got my hopes up but they were soon dashed.

            • by dov_0 (1438253)

              Yes. When I first saw mention of this I got my hopes up but they were soon dashed.

              Same here. I think the only people calling it the 'twitpocalypse' and sensationalist journalists. Only two apps were affected and we can presume, as other free apps are available according to the article, that the number of users affected is rather small.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                I was one of them. I use Twitterific.

                Figured it was just overhyped but around 6:30pm my time last night, the app just died. And of course with the Appstore having such a stupid approval process it'll take a while for any fix to appear.

                • Right from CSI /.

                  "Looks like we have anothe double fashioncide here....
                  Hey!!! You lieutnant! move your fat donut ass and get all these people from the scene, for goddamn's sake!
                  I think that we will get those web 2.0 gang's assess this time."

      • Re:Well. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @10:07PM (#28324083)

        I want to know who setup twits as signed. Are there going to be negative twits? Twits by your evil twin?

        THINK about what your code does and choose the appropriate data type.

        • People just think "integer" and type "int". That's what happens when you learn from 5-page tutorials instead of a comprehensive spec.
        • by TJamieson (218336)
          I thought most every developer dealing with C or C-like languages will generally use some imports header that has something like:

          typedef unsigned int UINT32;

          (Adjust UINT32 depending on system).
      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        In later testing, it should be detected, but to overflow 32 bits that's over 2 billion messages. For being founded as a not-so-major project, I don't think they would think that in 3 years that it would reach that much.

        It doesn't get said often enough: Reasonable Limits Aren't. Whatever limit you think is reasonable will be exceeded. If you can't be unlimited, think up a reasonable limit, then choose a limit that it outrageously unreasonably large and maybe you'll be OK.

        The move to IPv6 is because we're running out of space in IPv4 which is 32 bits (unsigned). Surely you should be able to handle a tweet count larger than one tweet per IP address over the life of the Internet.

        Were the applications being bit by this bug wri

  • by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:33PM (#28323307)

    So that means there are 2-4 billion messages (depending on if they meant signed or unsigned)? There goes the last of my faith in humanity.

    • by Fishchip (1203964)
      It took twitter to break the camel's back for you? =P
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by johnlcallaway (165670)
      Have faith .. if you ignore the orphan tweets [slate.com], the remaining messages were only created by 37 people who aren't smart enough to realize that their friends don't really give a crap about what they are doing, or are willing to wait to hear about the important stuff when they get together to do stuff instead of sitting with deer eyes in front of the iPhone waiting for the next tweet to show up.
  • And... (Score:5, Funny)

    by dangitman (862676) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:33PM (#28323309)
    ... nothing of value was lost.
    • Re:And... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:42PM (#28323367) Journal

      ... nothing of value was lost.

      Actually what was lost was any hope left I had for humanity. More than 2,147,483,647 'tweets' have been 'tweeted.' God, I feel stupid just saying that. But what is that? Like half the population of earth?! And then they go so far as to call lack of mobile Twitter applications apocalyptic? Humanity has officially jumped the shark, people. Some other animal should have been given a shot at ruining the world.

      I mean at least I can derive cheap entertainment from cell phone texts [textsfromlastnight.com] but Twitter transcripts have little to no value in my eyes. If anyone needs me, I'll be in the backyard building a rocket ship to seek out another planet free of Twitter. Hopefully it'll just have more minor problems like being covered in methane or a flesh eating silicon based virus ...

      • If anyone needs me, I'll be in the backyard building a rocket ship to seek out another planet free of Twitter. Hopefully it'll just have more minor problems like being covered in methane or a flesh eating silicon based virus ...

        You can't escape. Twitter travels at the speed of light. But this is a generational thing. For my sister, her neurons have been modified by consumption of ecstasy. Mobile phones have been cheap and available since she was 15 or so. Emailing small bits of crap around the world is a way of life for her.

        Sure, I would like to live 1000 years but I am not going to like the world that distance into the future.

      • Re:And... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MrMista_B (891430) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @09:22PM (#28323877)

        You feel stupid saying 'tweet', but you're posting on a site called 'Slashdot'.

    • by russlar (1122455)
      If anything screams for that tag, this is it.
  • Let's see (Score:5, Informative)

    by tqft (619476) <ianburrows_au@yahoo.3.14com minus pi> on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:38PM (#28323339) Homepage Journal

    2^32 * 140 char is approx 2^40 = 280Gb so all the actual tweets would fit one smallish (new) hard drive

    Amount of time used - a lot

    Benefit? Unknown.

    What do people get out of it? I thought about it and don't see the point unless I am desperate for continual updates about everything. I just took a week off from my regular news sources (website - bloomberg and newspaper types), because I am not having a holiday this year and needed a break. There a few hundred unread rss messages waiting for me (/., groklaw and so on).

    Educate me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      2^10 = 1 KB (1024)
      2^20 = 1 MB (1024^2)
      2^30 = 1 GB (1024^3)
      2^40 = 1 TB (1024^4)

      2^40 != 280GB. 2^40 != 280 Gb

      ((2^32)*140)/(1024^3) = 560 GB, or using 1000 instead of 1024, 601 GB.

      Including some other stuff, lets make it 160 bytes/tweet for things like username or something, 640 GB.
      Still, you can by drives that can hold that much for under $100.

      • by tqft (619476)

        At this level of analysis being out by less than a factor of 10 is fine

        Looks like I screwed converting 140 2^6 = 64 2^7 = 128 2^8 = 256 and used 2^32 instead of 2^31

    • by strredwolf (532)

      It's mainly chatter, so if you could fit it in a few gig with some nice compression.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)
      What do we get out of this [slashdot.org]? Is it any different?
      • We get a nice message stating that we have either "Bad" "Neutral" "Good" or "Excellent" karma, and occasionally some funny posts.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tqft (619476)

        It just seems to me if have something worthwhile to say 140 char isn't enough.

        With the volume of information I am interested in increasing I know there is a sacrifice between speed, completeness and size. I can't see getting good info from 140 char to make it worthwhile - unless we are going to play follow the link and I would rather hit a big blog (eg /. ) that has summaries and many links than try and follow a vast volume of little stuff and piece it together.

        Maybe it just won't work for the way I want m

        • Admit it, you just added that second paragraph to make your post longer than 140 characters to try and prove your point. In reality your first 78 characters said it all.

          • by jbengt (874751)

            Admit it, you just added that second paragraph to make your post longer than 140 characters to try and prove your point. In reality your first 78 characters said it all.

            The first 78 characters:
            "It just seems to me if have something worthwhile to say 140 char isn't enough."

            The first 140 characters:
            "It just seems to me if have something worthwhile to say 140 char isn't enough.
            With the volume of information I am interested in increasing I know th"

            The entire post (about 560+/- characters, depending on how you count spaces and endlines):
            It just seems to me if have something worthwhile to say 140 char isn't enough.
            With the volume of information I am interested in inc

    • It's "having an IRC window open to the channel all your buddies hang out in all day long", without the part where it is actually happening via this cryptic old protocol called IRC.

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        It's "having an IRC window open to the channel all your buddies hang out in all day long", without the part where it is actually happening via this cryptic old protocol called IRC.

        So it's still a Sartric hell.

        (I.e, to layer paraphrases upon paraphrases of Jean Paul Sartre, "Hell is being locked forever in a chat room with your friends.")

        "Yes, it's... wonderful, isn't it?"

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      What do people get out of it? I thought about it and don't see the point unless I am desperate for continual updates about everything.

      Yeah, that's pretty much it. These days you can be a twat and twit from your mobile device, so you can be connected all the time.

      Eventually, everyone will be connected all the time. We'll all grow up with ubiquitous, always-on high speed internet access wherever we go (well, or civilization will collapse first, but let's be positive) and we'll all want to be talking to people we know (and maybe people we don't) all the time.

      Google allows you to know what people are doing and thinking about; Twitter lets you

  • by religious freak (1005821) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @07:39PM (#28323347)
    Funny computing names like beans, cookies and web were pretty cool and hip... then came blogs, vlogs and pods, which I found rather to be rather silly words... but Twitpocalypse??? WTF?
  • Please note that this is not a problem with Twitter, only some third-party clients that were not smart enough to use 64-bit integers for the tweet ID.
    • by JimboFBX (1097277)
      actually its the clients not smart enough to use an unsigned integer.

      The clients not smart enough to use 64-bit integers will have their day in a couple years.
  • What was the tweet that did it?
  • by ZyBex (793975) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:03PM (#28323487)

    I'm kind of tired with reading that this is Twitter's fault. Twitter actually uses 64 bits ID internally. The "problem" is with 3rd party apps that interface with Twitter's API and expect to receive only a signed 32 bit integer.

    http://twitter.com/twitterapi/status/2048659057 [twitter.com]

    Disclaimer: I've never used twitter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MBCook (132727)

      This doesn't surprise me. Even if they started out on 32 bit IDs, they must have realized this was coming at some point and upgraded everything to 64 bits. It's no surprise Twitter was ready for this.

      It's interesting that 3rd party apps broke. Why would anyone store the ID of something in a signed variable? I can understand not thinking of using a long, but why a signed int?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ZyBex (793975)

        Most occasional programmers don't think about these issues or even, god forbids, check the API's documentation. They just happily use "long a,b,c;" all over the source code. I even bet that version 0.1 of some of those apps used "int a,b,c;" ...

      • Why would anyone store the ID of something in a signed variable?

        You ever read the comments in the documentation on php.net?
        I weep for humanity.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Do you realize that most of those applications were made in languages where programmers don't even need to know what a unsigned int is, don't you?

        Come on.... I saw a lot of applications out there use floats to store ammounts of money, calculate compound interests.

        Let's not be that harsh with those app writers.

        • Come on.... I saw a lot of applications out there use floats to store ammounts of money, calculate compound interests

          I once wrote one that stored my finances in 16 bit ints. The sad thing is that it actually worked.

          • The sad thing is that I could do the same right now, living from month to month sucks.
            As a sidenot, I live in Brasil, and yesterday I just found out, that discounting the inflation since 2001 I am barely making no more than 20% of the 2001 earnings today. This, after having being promoted or changing jobs for better positions and bigger companies from year to year.

        • by Minwee (522556)

          Come on.... I saw a lot of applications out there use floats to store ammounts of money, calculate compound interests.
          Let's not be that harsh with those app writers.

          No, you need to be harsh with those app writers. If you don't swat them with a rolled up newspaper while they're peeing on your rug then they'll never learn.

      • by Ant P. (974313)

        A lot of scripting languages don't have an "unsigned" modifier. PHP and Perl do something stupid at 2^31, Python is smart enough to typecast the number to arbitrary-precision. This isn't just scripting languages being lazy; PostgreSQL doesn't do unsigned types either.

      • by HTH NE1 (675604)

        I remember encountering a similar problem years ago. An installer for Microsoft Word 5.1a for Mac refused to install because the hard drive was too big. The amount of free space in bytes was larger than could be stored in a signed 32 bit integer and it reported the remaining capacity as a negative number. I ended up repartitioning to create a volume small enough for the installer to handle.

        Back in the days of multiple-floppy installers.

  • by MLS100 (1073958) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:04PM (#28323495)

    I'm quickly running out of synonyms for 'pointless' to troll all these Twitter stories.

  • Twitpocalypse? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reed Solomon (897367) on Saturday June 13, 2009 @08:16PM (#28323563) Homepage

    Man am I glad I never got on this bandwagon.

  • if you know you're getting a positive number back, why not just use uint?

    • Because you're using a language where all variables are signed by default?
      Because the CS course at the prestigious University you attended thought that they should adapt to the market and teach you Java, Python, RUP, Scrum and the PMBOK?
      And that because of that, you use floats to store money because, well, they have cents....

      • Because you're using a language where all variables are signed by default?

        The Mac and iPhone API's use NSUInteger all over the place for ID values - you can guess the typedef...

        If developers had followed that lead they wouldn't have run into this wall.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Maybe -1 would be a code for something, like, post not found? I know it doesn't seem to make sense to used a signed integer for things that can only be positive at first but here's a few things about using signeds instead :

      • you can use the negatives for some extra stuff like codes
      • it can avoid you some bugs if you do a subtraction of integers and use the result for some more maths (so you get 4 billion something instead of -1)
      • and then concerning the range, there are only a few cases when 2 billion numbers
  • by J05H (5625)

    Some clients didn't plan for growth?

  • Nerds seem to have a good bit of hate towards Twitter. I've never really understood why. It could be because of the ridiculous names associated with it. Twitter, tweeting, twits, etc. But these are the same people that have no problem whatsoever using Google, Yelp and even WYSIWYG apps.

    Names aside, perhaps its because the 'common' people use it and find it enjoyable. Ditch the air of superiority and embrace what communication is becoming. For better or for worse, it's here to stay like e-mail. That fad from

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