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One Second Might Blow Up the Internet

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You've heard of leap year, but tomorrow there will have a leap second, and it could mess up a lot things run on computers.

Just like how leap years are added every four years to make Earth's rotation fit into an easy timetable, leap seconds are added every for the same corrective purposes.  Everything needs to synch up with the atomic clock, which sets the standard for international time.

As people, we're not even aware of the extra second added to our day.  Computers, however, are a different story.  Linux system clocks use what's called the Network Time Protocol to keep system clocks in synch.  A bug with the added second causes the systems to lock up and need a reboot to get going again.  In 2012 this bug took out FourSquare, Gawker, LinkedIn, Reddit and StumbleUpon and caused hundreds of flight delays in Australia.

In 2012, this happened on a weekend.  This year, the leap second will be added in the space of time between the change of June 30 and July 1.  Big companies like Amazon and Google have been adding time gradually so there won't be a crash.  Stock markets and utilities are a bit nervous though.  Just one second of downtime on the stock market could cost over $4.5 million dollars.

There's a proposal to get rid of the leap second in November of this year.  Really, everything should go smoothly.  The issues that popped up before have been addressed, and the only people it's really expected to be a bother to are sysadmins who have to make sure everything is working right.