Twitter “”twitpocalypse”” affects Mac, iPhone apps
The surging popularity of the Twitter messaging service has broken at least one Twitter client application and affected another as a part of what is being called “the Twitpocalypse.”
Each message on Twitter is assigned a unique identification number. On Friday evening, the number of tweets exceeded 2,147,483,6471. While that doesn’t seem like a round number, it’s the largest number that can be stored as the data type known as a “signed integer.” Once that number was exceeded, some versions of some Twitter client apps could break in a fashion similar to what was expected during the Y2K “millennium bug” era.
The first apparent victim of the Twitpocalypse was The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific for iPhone, which stopped working immediately following the event. Though The Iconfactory released a version of the app that the company felt addressed the Twitpocalypse, apparently that assumption was incorrect. Twitterrific users on the iPhone and iPod touch who attempt to contact the service will receive a “YAJL error 3” indication.
A tweet from Twitterrific developer Craig Hockenberry seems to indicate that he’s fixed the bug, but now must wait for Apple to approve the bug-fix release. The Iconfactory has suggested that Twitterrific users follow @twitterrific on Twitter for status updates. Twitterrific users might want to use a free Twitter app such as Twitterfon or Twittelator in the meantime. (Update: Twitterrific’s developers report that a fixed version has been submitted to the App Store and awaits Apple’s approval.)
Atebits Software’s Tweetie has also been affected by the Twitpocalypse. The program continues to function for browsing and posting tweets, but searches no longer work in the Mac version and results appear one at a time in the iPhone version. Tweetie developer Loren Brichter said on Twitter that he is working on an update to address the problem as well.
Twitpocalypse’ the collapse of Twitter?
Twitpocalypse is stemming from the fact that a numeric identification is given to every single tweet made with the service Twitter. That identifier is about to hit 2,147,483,647 integers. What can happen next?
Once it hits that limit, some third-party clients of Twitter, such as Apple, may see their Twitter apps start to crash (and burn).
It has been reported that Twitter may force the crash early so that everyone is still in the office to help cope and fix the bug. The crash is being predicted to happen at 3 a.m. PT in the United States, and could leave some Twitter applications down for more than a week.
Twitter Engineer Mark Sanford had this to say:
“While we did warn developers about the Twitpocalypse I’m sorry we didn’t think about setting a drop-dead date and scheduling this previously. We’ll keep trying to improve on warnings like this. Good night, and good luck.”
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