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The 9 strangest software bugs

These glitches are a rare breed

Bugs are common in software, almost every program has one that exasperates its users. But truly unusual bugs that prompt technology to behave as if it was possessed are a rare breed. We round up nine of the most fascinating rare bugs.

1998: Auction interruptus

On June 10, eBay - then, as now, the world's dominant online auction site - suffered an outage. Nothing remarkable about that. Throughout the late 1990s, the company's sellers and bidders frequently faced unscheduled downtime.

But this outage just kept going and going. By the time the site recovered on June 11, 22 hours had passed and 2.3 million auctions in progress were compromised, forcing eBay to waive a small fortune in fees.

The bug: eBay blamed the meltdown on a corrupted database, and it blamed the corrupted database on buggy Sun Microsystems software. Fourteen months later, the site had a 14-hour outage that was nearly as embarrassing and costly; that time, the company said that hardware problems were to blame.

2005: Surprise ending

In late 2005, some users of the TiVo - the US device similar to a Sky+ box – began to notice that their PVRs (personal video recorders) were randomly chopping large chunks off the end of shows, turning many a program with a suspenseful conclusion into a permanent cliffhanger.

The bug: The company took a while to respond, but eventually it concluded that the truncated recordings affected only Series 2 TiVos that had been running continuously for extended periods. Initially it advised owners to power their PVRs off and then on again occasionally, and later it issued a patch designed to eradicate the problem permanently.

2006: Game over

You could say that Bubble Bobble Revolution, a Nintendo DS remake of the 1980s arcade classic Bubble Bobble, was a surprisingly tough game. Level 30, for instance, was unbeatable - literally. That was a trifle odd given that the game boasted a total of 100 levels.

The bug: As in many arcade-style games, Bubble Bobble Revolution levels ended by challenging the player to defeat an überenemy, known as a boss. But level 30 had no boss to defeat, and therefore no way to continue to level 31. Months later, publisher Codemasters replaced defective cartridges with a debugged version - and threw in another game, Rainbow Islands Revolution, by way of apology.

NEXT PAGE: Skype down and out

  1. These glitches are a rare breed
  2. Auction interruptus
  3. Skype down and out
  4. The day the Zunes stood still


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