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[NEWS] Browsers usher back the days of Y2K

Remember the Y2K millennium bug panic? Computer scientists warned that computers might not be able to process code with the year 2000, and everyone panicked, thinking there would be a global catastrophe as computer systems all failed simultaneously. And then… nothing happened.

Guess what? The world is poised for a repeat. Web developer industry reporter Steven Vaughan-Nichols reports on ZDnet that Google and Firefox will both soon release their 100th versions. “Besides being a cool number,” this triple-digit release could spell trouble for web developers and users alike. And that’s because, in the world of Internet networking, the whole system runs on numbers — currently two-digit numbers for Google and Firefox browsers.

What happens when a release hits three figures, instead of double-digits? Google 100.0 and Firefox 100.0 could mean your website will fail. 

You heard right. Your websites could fail completely. 

Because each website header contains a UA (User Agent) number identifying the browser it arrives upon, if your header doesn’t update to 100.0, your website will return an error message to users. It is suspected some websites will mistakenly think versions have reversed to 1.00.

The world had a sneak preview of this problem when browsers went from 1-figure UAs (1-9) to 10-figure UAs in 2009. For instance, Opera 10 wouldn’t recognize scripts correctly back then, and some sites wouldn’t render at all with Firefox 10, defaulting instead to the out-of-date Firefox 1.0. It’s hard to predict what the effects will be when UAs hit 100 on websites around the world.

Both Google and Firefox have plans in place to test the possible effects on browsers. Web developers are bug fixing and running pre-launch tests. Before the release dates in March 2022 for Chrome 100 and May 2022 for Firefox 100, it is hoped your websites will still work the way you expect them to. If not, you can force your site to update with Chrome and Firefox directly, or if you find something has broken, file a report on Webcompat.

After a late ’90s coding frenzy preceded the ushering in of the new millennium, the Y2K fears didn’t materialize. Let’s hope for the same positive outcome this time. 

In other news

  • White Castle gets robots to cook. Between a shortage of workers and increasing labor costs, a US burger chain has decided to automate food preparation. In a report by ZDNet we meet Flippy 2, a fast-food robot by Miso Robotics. The technology was first tested in Chicago in 2020, and now will be introduced to 100 locations. According to White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram, “We believe technology like Flippy ROAR can improve customer service and kitchen operation. This pilot is putting us on that path — and we couldn’t be more pleased to continue our work with Miso Robotics and pave the way for greater adoption of cutting-edge technology in the fast-food industry.”
  • Snoop Dogg goes all-in with NFTs. The rapper Snoop Dogg recently acquired Death Row Records, and wants to turn the record label into an NFT label. As reported by NME, Snoop Dogg told fans on Clubhouse that the label “will be putting our artists through the metaverse and through a whole other chain of music.” As he explained, “just like how we broke the industry when we was the first independent to be major, I want to be the first major in the metaverse so Death Row will be an NFT label.” Death Row Records was founded in 1991 and rose to prominence with the success of Dr. Dre, who then mentored Snoop Dogg on the same label. Snoop Dogg acquired Death Row Records this month.
  • King Tut’s space dagger. Gizmodo has the story about an iron dagger that was found in Tutankhamun’s tomb when it was opened over 100 years ago. The forged blade had scientists scratching their heads, since historians don’t believe the ability to work with iron was known during King Tut’s lifetime (1361–1352 BC).

    To try to determine how the dagger was created, researchers noticed a cross-hatched texture present on both sides which is typical of a Widmanstätten structure found in certain meteorites. These marks, plus the presence of iron sulfide, suggested that the weapon was forged with relatively low heat, under 950° Celsius, whereas later iron would be forged at 1371°, a temperature that would have destroyed the pattern. As reported in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science, researchers now believe the dagger was made from an octahedrite iron meteorite, and based on other ornamentation and documentation, they believe it came from Mitanni, a region of Anatolia, as a gift to Tut’s grandfather.
  • One step closer to a real-life holosuite? New technology by PORTL and Canopy Space appears to allow people to attend virtual meetings as a three-dimensional hologram. David Nussbaum, Founder & CEO of  PORTL Inc., shared a video on LinkedIn that showed him projected into a box that made it appear that he was sharing the space with the other participants. Check out the TikTok video for yourself!
  • Man shuts down a town’s Internet—by accident. In a story that proves parents will go to any lengths to limit their kids’ screen time, a father faces stiff penalties for not only blocking his children’s online access, but many others who live in the French town of Messanges. According to Gizmodo, the unidentified man intended to use a multi-wave band jammer to cut off the Internet at his house late at night, but the device set off waves of outages through the town. Because jammers are illegal in France (as well as the US, and many other countries), the father now faces up to six months in jail and a fine of €30,000. No word on whether the town’s residents actually got a good night’s sleep as a result of the man’s foibles.
  • Crypto—or creepy? In a truly inexplicable moment, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of that other Zuckerberg, shared a video on Twitter of her singing a parody of Adele’s song “Hello,” but with lyrics promoting cryptocurrency. We’re not sure what to make of it, but we couldn’t resist sharing it with you. 

Tip of the week

Ever feel like your productivity is on a downward spiral? There could be a number of reasons for this, but one of the most common is that you are spending too much time on your phone. According to the new book Stolen Focus by Johann Hari, we touch or check our phones more than 2,000 times a day. Constantly checking our notifications and texts, according to Hari’s research, has led to an “attention crisis.”  

To alleviate this crisis, Hari recommends taking prolonged device breaks every day, as well as separating yourself from your phone when focusing on something meaningful. Hari uses an electronic safe to literally lock his phone away for four hours every day and often locks it up again during family time. By taking consistent device breaks, you’ll experience better focus and concentration, as well as reduce stress and get better sleep. 

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Lisa McKnight avatar

Lisa McKnight

As a Senior digital copywriter at Namecheap, I'm passionate about communicating how vital the technology industry is and how stuff works. I enjoy writing persuasive and compelling copy for B2B and B2C clients, alongside interviews and thought pieces for authors and entrepreneurs. More articles written by Lisa.

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