Newtpocalypse: the final countdown

Newton users have a deadline approaching: January 5, 2010 at about 6:48 p.m.

That’s when Newtpocalypse is scheduled to happen.

The bug strikes because of how NewtonScript handles dates with repeating appointments and other apps/settings, says Eckhart Köppen:

The overflow happens in all NewtonScript functions which use seconds as the resolution. In contrast to the 32 bit unsigned integer used by the C++ functions, NewtonScript integers are only 30 bit wide. While the C++ functions can handle times from 1904 until 2040 without an overflow, the NewtonScript functions had to be designed with a smaller range of applicable times due to the limited precision.

The seconds-based functions are implemented by taking the value of the real-time clock, subtracting the offset to January 1st 1993, and converting the results to a NewtonScript integer. This limited range causes an overflow on Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 6:48:31 PM.

But fear not. If you’ve installed Köppen’s patches, and uninstalled the Fix2010.pkg, you should be safe for the New Year.

I prepared for the Y2010 bug in August when I installed Patch 73J186 on my eMate 300. For MessagePad 2000 and 2100 users, you have your own patch.

The Newton’s Y2010 bug got plenty of airtime in the Mac world earlier this year. And for a while, Newton users were nervous that we’d have to resort to setting our clocks back to avoid the trouble.

Thankfully, Köppen went right to work and saved the day, with some help from many testers in the Newton community.

It’s a great retro technology story, filled with villains and heroes and a community coming together behind a cause.

So come January 5, 2010, Newton users can use their pioneering PDA with reckless abandon. They have themselves to thank.

One comment.

  1. […] those hopes about Newton users using their eMates and MessagePads past January 5 this year? It’s still possible, just a little annoying now that something else is messing with our […]

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