Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Binary Day!

It's 11/11/11 (and shortly 11:11:11) -- so happy binary day! This celebration just goes to show that we learned nothing from Y2K and still use two-digit years when it's convenient, but then again, 2011/11/11 just doesn't look quite as pretty.

I'd propose that we keep the powder dry for a real celebration in 2048 -- that's 100000000000 in binary. We won't roll over another digit like that until the year 4096.

Alternately, since many computers store the date and time as the number of seconds since the so-called UNIX epoch (January 1, 1970), there will be a cause for celebration (or concern) at 3:14:07 UTC on Tuesday, 19 January 2038 -- at which time many programs will spill over their maximum number of digits (if they're using signed 32-bit integers) and dates will suddenly jump back into negative territory in 1901.

In rainy November in Vancouver any excuse for a celebration is a good excuse -- and hey, it's also Remembrance Day and Nigel Tufnel day. Unfortunately I fear the moment of silence is going to be fundamentally incompatible with cranking Big Bottom up to 11...

But cheers, whatever you're celebrating and however you're celebrating it.

(Over-the-top nerd-out: as my generally clever friend Ingo points out, saying that our number system uses "base 10" is a little redundant. If we counted using sevens instead of tens, we'd still call it "base 10" except 10 would mean 7 in that case. Same for any counting system, including binary. Computers would probably say that we count in base 1010 -- and claim themselves to use base 10.)

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