by the way did I ever tell y’all about the time I got a blank message from nobody, sent on new year’s eve in 1969, when the internet didn’t exist?

because that happened

What the fuck

Time travel.

Or maybe its from 2069, when we’ve developed the technology to send data to the past. You sent yourself a blank message as a test but as the email address you used to send it doesnt exist yet, it came up as no sender

I… what?


So back in the early days of computers, when we were trying to build clocks to keep all our computers in sync, we tried a bunch of different ways to synchronize them in ways that both normal people could use and programmers could utilize.

We just tried saying “The current time is THIS date” and just storing that date as some text, but while that was easy for humans, it was a bunch of different numbers that worked together in funny ways and computers don’t play nice with a bunch of random, arbitrary rules.

Not much worked, until we realized that we needed a BASELINE to compare against, and a way to represent the current time that covers everybody. So we came up with Unix time, because Unix was the style at the time. Essentially, Unix time represents any given time by saying “How many seconds ago was 12:00 AM on January 1, 1970 in Iceland somewhere?”. Recent enough to keep the numbers relatively small, far enough that nothing computer-y would fall before it, and consistent enough that there’d be no discrepancy based on where you are.

So what happens when you see the date “December 31, 1969” on a buggy message like this is that the computer received a bunch of zeroes by mistake and went “Oh, this must be a message!” Then when it tried to interpret it, it got to the date, found a zero, and said “Zero seconds since the Unix Epoch? I’ll round down - this was sent at the last second of New Year’s Eve, 1969! They’ll be so happy to finally get their blank message.”

And then the computer traipsed off on its merry way, because computers are fucking ridiculous.

This is frankly more hilarious than the 1969 time traveler theory

While I applaud someone trying to educate people, the mistakes scattered throughout make me cringe.

So fix them?

I already spend too much time shouting at the rain.

But fine: Normal human time formats are, in fact, crap, and not just for machine-parsing. Especially when you throw in the USAmerican penchant for writing dates in RIDICULOUS IDIOTIC ORDER.

But.. Iceland? No. UTC. You know, the closest thing most people will ever understand to a /standard/ time. Midnight, 1 January, 1970, UTC, Unix Epoch 0. Where the hell did Iceland come from?

‘Nothing computery’? I.. I just can’t even address this without screaming.

No. The computer did not “receive a bunch of zeros”. The email client received something that was delimited like a message, or otherwise appeared to be a message - it depends on how the mail reader it interacting with the mail store - which did not have a line that looked like “Date: [a date]”. In the case of the screenshot, it doesn’t seem to have had anything /else/ either, but the missing date header is all that’s relevant now. So, the mail reader went to try to parse the email, looked for the Date: header, got a blank string, and instead of crashing, it did the best it could, and in this case the developer decided the best it could would be to assume unix epoch 0.

“round down”? WTF kind of stupid random shit do you think computers do? No. It didn’t “round down”. Unless you live east of Portugal, you live in a time zone that’s /earlier/ than UTC, and your mail client is displaying the email’s date in your local timezone. Unix Epoch 0 anywhere earlier than UTC is sometime on 31 Dec 1969. I’m in Seattle at the moment, and epoch 0 is 4pm 31 Dec 69, timezone UTC-8.

“computers are fucking ridiculous”. I just can’t even. Not without a lot of swearing.

Really, I have an honest difficulty imagining this kind of crap is written by someone who is honestly ignorant, and not actively trying to misinform. Maybe it’s supposed to be funny? But.. no?