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Bug PlayStation (Games) Sony Games

Passage of Time Solves PS3 Glitch 147

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-only-they-were-all-so-easy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A quick update on the widespread PlayStation 3 glitch we discussed recently: as of last night (Monday, March 1st) the problem has resolved itself. I powered up my PS3 to find the clock was set to April 29th, 2020, but once I went into the system menu and set the date and time via the internet I got an accurate date. That seems to be the test of whether your PS3 is 'fixed' or not; Sony says you should be all set."
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Passage of Time Solves PS3 Glitch

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:27PM (#31332998) Journal
    Here is the official press release I received in an e-mail this morning:

    First Quadrennial Childhood Obesity Awareness Day Goes Off Without a Hitch!

    We'd like to thank all our gamers for observing our compulsory First Quadrennial Childhood Obesity Awareness Day that we had planned many years in advance back when we made our first consoles. We hope all the children took the time to get outside and exercise. As always, Sony endorses moderation in game play and we feel that this surprise holiday away from the Playstation Network will help today's youth become more healthy and social.

    Should we decide to surprise you with a second Quadrennial Childhood Obesity Awareness Day, it could happen March 1st of 2012. See you in 2012 (maybe)! Until then, remember to get plenty of fresh air and exercise!

    Totally in control of the situation,

    Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf
    Chief Sony Public Think of the Children Relations Officer

    • The problem yesterday was that the servers thought it was the 29th, but the consoles refused to accept such nonsense. In 2012 it really is a leap year. I guess the reverse could happen, but then you'd just change the date to something else and you'd be alright.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The problem yesterday was that the servers thought it was the 29th, but the consoles refused to accept such nonsense. In 2012 it really is a leap year. I guess the reverse could happen, but then you'd just change the date to something else and you'd be alright.

        Actually it was the exact opposite. The servers thought it was March 1st. Some older consoles (with a bug in their hardware clock chips that have a leap-year programmed every 2 years instead of every 4 years) thought it was Feb 29. Newer PS3 Slim consoles were not affected. Not all "fat" PS3's were affected either as they did not all contain the faulty chips.

        • by Zenaku (821866)

          Some older consoles (with a bug in their hardware clock chips that have a leap-year programmed every 2 years instead of every 4 years)

          That is not the nature of the bug. (If so this would have happened on March 1, 2006 as well). The older consoles thought it was a leap year because they interpreted the date as a binary number instead of a binary coded decimal number. Essentially, they know which years are leap years, but they thought this was 2016.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2000_problem#Year_2010_p [wikipedia.org]

          • Since the PS3 was released 11 November, 2006, how do we know this bug did not happen 01 Mar, 2006?

            • by Zenaku (821866)

              Touche'.

              Regardless, the bug is not as trivial as someone getting the basic rules for when a leap year occurs wrong, but a result of the date being stored in one format by one module, and interpreted as a different format by another module, where the formats happen to be identical for values less than 10.

              In the end, a bug is a bug, and the result is the same, but everyone seems to be assuming that Sony's programmers just don't know when leap years occur, and I think they deserve a *little* more credit than t

        • by PitaBred (632671)

          So my PS3 will stop working again on March 1, 2014? Nice.

    • Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf
      Chief Sony Public Think of the Children Relations Officer

      And I was wondering just yesterday where he ended up... Well, I guess in times like these, with economic problems, even honest people have to bend over and take any job they can get.

  • Is SONY going to make my PS3 explode?

    • Yes. And then April 2nd they'll provide instructions for reassembly via their PS3 online network.

      No problem, right?

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        This post reminds me of those finallyfast.com commercials. "Is your computer fucked? Just go to finallyfast.com to fix these problems and more!"

        yeah...because if your computer is fucked, you can really get to their site. ::coulda had a V8::

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by JWSmythe (446288)

          I like that as much as Verizon and Brighthouse/Roadrunner's voice attendants. "Thank you for holding. You can also get help on the web by visiting our site com"

          Every time I've been stuck on hold hearing that, it's been because the Internet connection was down. After hearing it every 30 seconds, for 45 minutes, I've been as polite as possible to the person who answers the phone and then asks

          "Is your computer turned on?"
          "Are there any lights on the front of the modem?"
          "Are yo

          • by adolf (21054)

            Hmm. Yeah, it's about like that with AT&T, too.

            Or at least it was. Nowadays, my account is flagged, and my calls go straight through to level 3 support.

            A conversation now goes something more like this:

            First, an American answers the phone.
            "This is Mike. What can I do for you?"

            "Hi, Mike. My DSL is hosed. Again. I think your RADIUS server is down."

            "Let me check on that. [clickity-click] You're right. We'll get right on that. Do you want me to call you back when it's fixed?"

            "Sure."

            Or, if it's a li

        • Don't tell me your ISP never told you that you could simply download the drivers for your NIC/modem...

    • by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @01:36PM (#31333138)

      Is SONY going to make my PS3 explode?

      No, but every twenty minutes a kitten will come out. [penny-arcade.com]

      That'll be fixed in the next update [penny-arcade.com] though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by vlm (69642)

      Is SONY going to make my PS3 explode?

      No, that's July 4th not April Fools Day.

    • Just Sony's famous times kill switch, that's all.

  • that the PS3 was powered by the Zune...

  • bool isLeapYear = (((year % 4 == 0) && (year % 100 != 0)) || (year % 400 == 0));

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by smaddox (928261)

      Your using an extra 'mod', 'compare' and 'or' to avoid a branch, yet those 'compare's are probably going to be compiled into branches anyway, thus defeating the point.

      Really, you should either break down and write it as a simple branch, or write branch free assembly for each target platform. I would suggest the former. Simplicity and readability are much more important in this day and age than a few clock cycles.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Your first word betrays your grasp of syntactical structure.
    • (year % 4) is enough. Next leap year exception is 2100, I will no longer be in office by then.

      Before someone complains and compares it to Y2K: We're talking about a game console here with an expected lifetime of less than a decade. Not a supercomputer whose programs might outlive its makers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dominious (1077089)
        WTF dude? how long does it take you to type the rest of the logical statement?

        unless you are considering limited processing power and you want to avoid extra checks. And I don't think this is the case here.
    • by Megane (129182)

      Great. Except that the bug is probably in a hardware RTC circuit. Please try again in Verilog or VHDL and include the process by which the silicon can be updated to use your glorious patch.

      It is very likely that the clock chip used BCD for the date and time, and used "bcd_year % 4" to determine a leap year. 10 is not divisible by 4, but 0x10 is.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      bool isLeapYear = (((year % 4 == 0) && (year % 100 != 0)) || (year % 400 == 0));

      What type is "year"?

      Human representations of time should be restricted to display purposes only. A computer shouldn't care whether a particular span of 86400 seconds is in February or March.

  • Time heals all wounds, and so do health potions.
  • by 6350' (936630)
    Bug bug bug BUG "bug" "BUG"!

    I know I have pretty much become an old man at this point in my life, but how did we let Warcraft users slowly replace the word "bug" with "glitch" ?! It's a bug!

    However, I have to feely admit one point: replacing the word with 'glitch' makes it easier to use as a verb, as in "that instance is glitched" vs "that instance is bugged" - in the sense that the latter use could mean "we put that bug in the bug DB already." Ah well, back to feeding ferrite core beads to pigeons...
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I view it as the 'bug' being the problem, and the 'glitch' being the manifestation of that problem.
      • by 6350' (936630)
        Pithily put.

        More generally, I guess the new term arose from having a huge mass of people suddenly wodged together - many of whom were/are not terribly computer-ey - creating terms themselves to describe what they experience (ie, sixty zillion Warcraft users interacting daily). A king of eternal September in a way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xtifr (1323)

      how did we let Warcraft users slowly replace the word "bug" with "glitch" ?! It's a bug!

      A bug is a logic problem in the code; a glitch is misbehavior by the program. Glitches are normally associated with bugs, but faulty hardware or cosmic rays can also cause glitches. On the other hand, it is quite possible for a bug to exist without ever triggering a glitch, if the conditions that would trigger the bug are sufficiently remote, or if other code in the system corrects for the behavior of the bug (the latter is actually quite common).

      In this case, I don't believe they've fixed the bug, but th

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Because you are using the wrong form of bug.

      the correct use is....

      "That instance is completely buggered!" and yes the UK use of buggered is 100% correct in any sense of the term bug.

    • by Abcd1234 (188840)

      Bug bug bug BUG "bug" "BUG"!

      Why, for god sakes, are the last two "bugs" in quotes? Are they some sort of ironic bugs? Is the wink implied?

      (yes, this is a ripped off joke [wikiquote.org])

    • by ildon (413912)

      Don't blame WoW players for this. The use of "glitch" instead of bug is, and has been, extremely prevalent in console communities since the N64 days.

      There is some usefulness to the term "glitch" in the context it's often used for in console games, though. There are a lot of things that players can do to break the game in certain ways that don't necessarily fall into the realm of something that should or even can be fixed by a developer. Things that are the equivalent of shifting your NES cartridge left and

  • I have a theory there's an unseen clock running inside the PS3. Since the passage of time solved the problem, shouldn't too have setting the system time forward a day? I tried that, yet the system was still bugged. It would make sense if there was a hidden clock not able to be directly set by the end user for things like DRM. Since Sony has downloadable movie rentals, which can only be viewed for 48 hours after payment. It would follow that there's an extra timer which one can't over-ride to get more t

    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      I tried that, yet the system was still bugged. It would make sense if there was a hidden clock not able to be directly set by the end user for things like DRM. Since Sony has downloadable movie rentals, which can only be viewed for 48 hours after payment. It would follow that there's an extra timer which one can't over-ride to get more time with the rental.

      Yeah, but even so, it shouldn't care about leap years. In fact, it shouldn't care about human time at all. All such a clock really needs to do is continually increment some value every unit of time. Then, it just needs three pieces of information to determine if it's in the rental period:

      1. The time the rental period start, in "clock units."
      2. How long the rental period lasts, in "clock units."
      3. The current clock time.

      Is "start time" + "rental period" less than "current time?" Then it's still in the rent

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The RTC is not a theory or a myth! The RTC exists. Take the battery out of your PS3 for ten minutes if you want to reset the RTC.

    • There are errors in your post. First of all when you download a movie from PSN ,you have 2 WEEKS to first watch it. After you first push play, you have up to 24 hours to watch it again before it expires.
    • The problems seemed to specifically affect the PSN system along with the older PS3s (I don't have one so I haven't followed the issue that much). I'm going to guess that the date and time is sent from PSN as a single integer in seconds from an epoch time, likely Unix/POSIX time counting from Jan 1, 1970, which is then used by the hardware to figure out the actual date/time for talking to the network, and not your system entered "local" time.
      The system must have been translating the epoch tim

      • It wasn't a PSN problem, I know someone with a PS3 which has never been online, yet she couldn't play a trophy-enabled disc game on Sunday.

        The affected systems now think it is January 2, 2000--unless the user has corrected the time. When the bug hit they all reset to December 31, 1999 (which is a year one can't manually enter).

        • So it sounds like they're running on epoch time where Jan 1, 2000 = 1, and the bug forced the time/date value to 0 or null. Ultimately it still sounds like that version of the hardware is trying to treat all even years as leap years and the bug handling code is not very graceful about it.

        • by Megane (129182)
          They were showing December 31 because of the time zone adjustment. In whatever is the "prime" time zone (GMT?) it would have been exactly 2000-01-01 00:00.
          • by Megane (129182)

            I just realized that the zero date may have been the result of: 1) clock chip returns February 29 2010 as discrete Y/M/D components, 2) date is passed to conversion routine that returns seconds-from-epoch of the date at 00:00, 3) conversion routine says WTF U DOIN? and returns zero as an error value, 4) hours and minutes and time zone offset are added to the zero.

            So it didn't so much divide by zero as add to zero.

    • by plague3106 (71849)

      What I don't understand is my system played fine Sun night and Monday night. At least, it synced trophies and Bioshock played. I have one of the newer fat models though, maybe that's the difference.

      • Some trophy enabled games failed to init properly (Heavy Rain is one such game) and would quit. While others would load and play fine. I played Fallout 3 sunday evening but the catch was it zero'd out my local trophy data, as if I had never played the game. Not sure what would have happened if I earned one during my playtime that night. If anyone is curious now that everything working again I restored my trophies by launching the game (init to 0%) then quit and re-synced my trophy data with the PSN servers.

  • As one of the owners of a console that got bit by this bug (and the last revision to support PS2 backwards-compatibility), I'm still rather pissed off by this bug.

    First off, it's ridiculously stupid. I'd love to hear an explanation from Sony about how, exactly, they managed to have this bug exist in the first place. First off, I'd love to know why the internal clock considers 2010 a leap year [playstation.com] but what I'd also like to know is 1) why this "internal clock" is different from the PS3 clock, which knows 2010 isn

    • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:35PM (#31334152) Homepage

      I'd love to hear an explanation from Sony about how, exactly, they managed to have this bug exist in the first place.

      Well, apparently, it wasn't a Sony bug per se, it was a bug in one of the support chips [wikipedia.org].

      Sony decided to be paranoid about time because of pirates. If you can hack the PS3 and change the date, then you can avoid expiration times and so forth. So if the hardware clock and software clock get out of sync, their DRM and such stops working. Considering the PS3 is the only major console that has not been hacked to the point of widespread piracy, keeping to this level of paranoia seems to have paid off for Sony's purposes.

      As to Sony's "piss-poor handling of the entire incident", I'd like to know what, exactly, you think they should have done about it?

      Seriously, I've just appointed you, _xeno_, to be CEO of Sony, and you just got a phone call. "Oh, crap, it's midnight GMT on March 1st, 2010, and all the older PS3 consoles can't play downloaded content or games with trophies or sign into the PSN!". What are you going to do? What orders do you give?

      • by _xeno_ (155264) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:14PM (#31334722) Homepage Journal

        You may not be aware of this, but they have a Twitter account devoted to the PlayStation [twitter.com] and a blog [playstation.com]. Sadly, the blog doesn't record the time when the entries were posted, but you may notice the 13-hour stretch between "slim consoles still work" and - well, actually, if you follow the link, it basically reiterates that slim consoles are working.

        Then complete silence until the 24-hour period ended, followed by a brief announcement that "hey, it works again!" and then completely ignoring that it ever happened. Instead they've posted several blog entries that conveniently knock the PSN outage way down the page.

        Do they intend to fix this issue with a patch? Can they? Does it even matter? Who knows, they certainly aren't saying. All they've said is "oops, sorry" and, well, that's it. Not even a "we're still looking into this matter."

        Of course, based on the vague "if we get new information we'll keep you posted," I get the impression that this isn't the fault of the people running the blog, it's that the PlayStation group themselves are simply not bothering to communicate. Maybe they're still looking into it, maybe they aren't, but the community managers apparently have no idea based on the weasel-wording on the blog. And that would be a problem that Sony should address.

        But in any case, I still have to wonder: why in the hell does a reduced instruction set computer have a buggy leap-year function? Why the hell does it care what the human-readable date is? All it needs to do is keep track of "units of time since a known start point." Let the OS worry about what the human time is.

        • by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <sorceror171.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @03:50PM (#31335358) Homepage

          Then complete silence until the 24-hour period ended, followed by a brief announcement that "hey, it works again!" and then completely ignoring that it ever happened. Instead they've posted several blog entries that conveniently knock the PSN outage way down the page.

          A major bug knocks out significant functionality in a console with an installed base in the tens of millions. Remember, you're the CEO of Sony, and you have to protect the value of your company. It would be criminally irresponsible if you were to rush out an untested fix. If that broke anything you'd be subject to lawsuits. Firmware updates are risky at the best of times.

          Meanwhile, your engineers are telling you, "We've got a problem with the date that's screwing up DRM. On our special development consoles, it looks like once the date rolls over in less than 24 hours, the problem will go away. We've tested it on a handful of our customer-style consoles, and from what we can see it appears to be the case there, too. But there are seven 'Fat' models [wikipedia.org] out there and in these few hours we can't test 'em all. Even once that's fixed, we can't absolutely guarantee all will be working after that."

          So, you're careful about what you say, and you proceed with deliberate speed. The problem hasn't even been resolved for 24 hours yet! I strongly suspect that they are working on adding a fix to the next firmware upgrade - but that means they'll need to delay the next upgrade, add new tests to the regression tests and QA process, evaluate the fix on all nine models of PS3 (plus the two new slim models in the pipe [n4g.com]), and then finally roll it out.

          Every company with a substantial codebase and millions of customers is this slow, by necessity. It took Microsoft a week to get the Live network stable after the flood of new users back in December, 2008 [gamestooge.com]. A week later (i.e. seven times 24 hours), they gave away a free downloadable game as a further apology [gamestooge.com]. And they still got sued over it [mtv.com].

          I strongly suspect that Sony will release more information soon, and may offer a downloadable trinket as a further apology, too. But expecting a giant company to share technical information (that might be used in a lawsuit) in real-time is a bit much.

      • by ShakaUVM (157947)

        >>As to Sony's "piss-poor handling of the entire incident", I'd like to know what, exactly, you think they should have done about it?

        Well, they said they'd have a fix within 24 hours, and here we are!

        I actually laughed when I read that yesterday, since I knew exactly what their fix would be: doing nothing.

      • by Dishevel (1105119) *
        Make me CEO for the day.

        Issue apology for the bug. Give free premium theme of choice to all affected PS3 users. Then get me a limo and six hot hookers.

        This CEO shit rocks!

      • by kirkb (158552)

        Anybody got a link to the errata from ARM? Can't find it on their site.

      • by Gulthek (12570)

        Easy, post an explanation to the official playstation twitter account and playstation blog. Be open about the problem, admit it's a mistake, admit we aren't going to fix it, explain that it's one day. Call March 1st "Playstation Nap Day"

    • I mean, it's apparently an internal hardware clock, right? It's not user visible. So why, exactly, is it storing dates and not just being a clock?
      Many off the shelf hardware RTCs do use human style date and time, I guess because they expect people to use them in systems where that is the most convenient format. PCs also traditionally use a human style format for thier RTC so if that part of their system is a derivative of a PC design that could also explain it.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Shut up, if you anger them they will start putting root-kits on CD's and DVD's again!

    • by Megane (129182)

      The wiki entry mentioned in another reply was deleted becase it was not relevant to "ARM Architecture". (And it had horrible grammar too.) I dug it out of the article history:

      PS3 Date Controversy It has been suggest that older verions of the ARM SYSCON cpus had errata such that the CPUs believed incorrectly that 2010 was a leap year and may be partially responsible for non slim versions of the Playstation 3 not being able to function properly on 3/1/2010 (issue resolved itself on most PS3s at midnight GMT on 3/2/2010). "The ARM SYSCON CPU that is used to power up the front panel of the ps3, that is responsible for doing things like sleep mode, eject, RTC etc. Is an old batch that sony picked up from the shelf like other manufacturers that has that calendar year bug regarding feburary 29th on certain periods. Causing the ps3 system clock and the real time clock to desync, messing up security measures like Digital Rights management software and sometimes games that relies on clocks for whatever reason. As well as signing up to the playstation network This CPU is always on even when your PS3 isn’t plugged

      This is the one of the same type of CPUs that is powering up mobile devices like zune and blackberries, they have been affected with this bug, so they done some software patches. A syscon update can also fix this problem

      The Slims ps3s aren’t affected because they use a newer up to date revision on the syscon cpu that fixes this bug.

      [WARNING: will void your warranty, may be best to wait for official solution from Sony] - A quick way to fix this is to remove the RTC battery for at least 5-10 min and plug it back in, you will see the date and time reset, and voila "

      I would add the following:
      1) PS3 asks for date from chip (note: chip time does not include local time zone, and is probably in UTC)
      2) Chip returns 10-02-29 with correct hh:mm:ss. Like many clock chips, these are returned as discrete components, probably in BCD.
      3) PS3 adds 2000 to the year and passes 2010-02-29 to conversion routine

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @02:08PM (#31333634) Journal
    That this particular bug "fixes" itself in a relatively short span of time.

    According to the documentation [kernel.org] provided for PS3 linux, the clock that is embedded in the PS3 cannot actually be manipulated from under the hypervisor:

    "Similar to a PC, a built-in real time clock (RTC) keeps the wall clock time for the PS3. The RTC is backed up by a battery and so ticks even if external power is removed. The RTC value can be read by a hypervisor call, but it can not be written. The RTC value monotonically increases and never rolls back. The PS3 Linux platform support uses the standard RTC userland interface /dev/rtc, The standard hwclock command can be used to manage the RTC. Since the RTC is read only, the PS3 Linux platform support maintaines a value in system flash memory that represents the difference between the hardware RTC value and the Linux RTC value."

    I'm assuming that this read-only clock "feature" is in some way related to DRM, to keep people from playing tricks with expiration dates. Worst case scenario, it is impossible to modify the RTC without hardware tinkering. Had this not been a transient bug, that would have meant massive physical recalls. More likely, it is possible for sony-blessed firmware updates to modify the clock. However, Sony can only push those either through the internet, or on physical disks. Since the bug was preventing PSN logins, the internet option wouldn't have been automatically available(though, since the issue is transient, it now is again). They would either have to mail out upgrade disks to affected users, bundle the upgrade with future game releases, or make their customers go to some support site and burn their own upgrade disks. Gigantic pain in the ass.
    • by DarkJC (810888)
      You don't need to be connected to PSN to download an update. In fact, if you aren't up to date and the update is mandatory, you can't connect to PSN until you DO download the update.
  • These sorts of bugs have a tendency to repeat themselves. I fully expect this to happen in 2014. After all, 2010 was the first even non-leap year since the PS3's release.
  • Sony has a little less than 4 years to figure out how to solve this. I pray they can do it in time. Meanwhile, my PS2 worked just fine.

    • by Megane (129182)

      They may have only two years to fix it. If it's a bug that causes the BCD year mod 4 to be used to determine leap years, then it will be a problem every other year in this decade. Then another ten years later it would be a problem again.

      The next time it happens, the clock will lose a day, instead of gaining a broken day. Among other things, imagine what happens when you play a downloaded "rental" video with a 24 hour clock from when you first start playing it... and you start playing just before it turns F

  • by Warhawke (1312723) on Tuesday March 02, 2010 @04:03PM (#31335556)
    I love how sony said that they would "fix" this in the next 24 hours yesterday. I'm glad they worked so hard and diligently to apply this fix. One might even say they moved the earth for it.
  • This clock verification exists to figure out whether the console is compromised. Avoiding being compromised serves both DRM and anti-cheating. I don't want people with hacked consoles getting every trophy in every game instantaneously. I don't want people getting instant headshots in MW2. This is one of the reasons I stopped playing on the PC.

    I realize cheating is still possible, but I applaud having a system which is difficult to hack, even if it means things like this can happen. Do they get to us

The bogosity meter just pegged.

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