The final minute of June 30, 2012 was actually 61 seconds long. The extra, or “leap second” was added to the clock to ensure official time clocks the world over were accurately synchronized to the Earth’s rotation. Unfortunately for big-brand websites like Reddit and Gawker, neither Linux nor Java’s base application platform were prepared for the change. Wired reports:
Many computing systems use what’s called the Network Time Protocol, or NTP, to keep themselves in sync with the world’s atomic clocks, and when an extra second is added, some just don’t know how to handle it.
Foursquare was among the sites briefly felled by the “leap second’s” effect on Linux servers. For the location check-in service this was insult added to injury–Foursquare was also a casualty of the storm-induced outage that took out Amazon Cloud Services on Friday. Neither Opera nor Google was affected by the change–Opera’s Marco Marongiu blogged about possible methods of avoiding “leap second” snafus at the beginning of June.
While admins for the sites affected by Saturday’s tiny jump forward may grumble, at least adjustments keep the Gregorian Calendar more accurate than the Mayan Calendar. So when the singularity of 12/21/12 hits, it will be right on the money.