7 Crazy computer glitches that made us groan

From U-2 spy plane/FAA issues to disrupted pig futures, computer problems are messy

Computers are certainly part of everyday life of course so it isn't totally surprising how many hiccups they can cause.  Some glitches are merely annoying others well, are true head-scratchers. Here we have a small sampling of both.

lockheed U-2
U-2 spy jet plays havoc with LA airport computers

 A number of sources are saying the FAA has confirmed that an Air Force U-2 spy plane that flew over Los Angeles airport last week indeed caused major computer problems on the ground.

The spy plane confused LAX computers that saw the aircraft and apparently thought it was a threat to commercial flights and started cancelling or rerouting aircraft. The reality was however that the U-2 was flying at least 60,000ft. well over the height most airliners fly and posed no danger to the commercial aircraft.   The FAA said in a statement that "the computer system interpreted the flight as a more typical low-altitude operation and began processing it for a route below 10,000 feet."

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The FAA went on to say, "the extensive number of routings that would have been required to de-conflict the aircraft with lower-altitude flights used a large amount of available memory and interrupted the computer's other flight-processing functions."

The problem was resolved within an hour,  and LAX reported that 50 flights were canceled and 455 experienced delays.

Not so sly as a Fox

A number of news outlets reported that the dreaded computer glitch caused a five minute segment of "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" to be overrun with ads.  The problem according to the Times Picayune.com site: "The interruption occurred while host Neil DeGrasse Tyson was in the middle of a discussion about how global climate change millions of years ago set the stage for the primates-to-humans evolutionary journey. The commercial break filled more than 5 minutes of airtime before "Cosmos" returned, with Tyson discussing how the gravitational pull of other planets changed Earth's weather during the same period."

That story went on to say a similar glitch made news during the series' March premiere, when Oklahoma City, Okla., Fox affiliate KOKH aired a local-news promo over a similar Tyson sequence about evolution, causing some observers to wonder if the sequence had been censored. KOKH issued a Twitter apology for the 20-second goof, and told the Los Angeles Times it was due to "master control operator error."

Stop and go...well maybe

A software glitch has made General Motors recall 54,000 2013 Cadillac SRX crossovers saying the problems could result in delayed acceleration in stop-and-go traffic. According to the Detroit News.com site, GM said the transmission control module calibration "may cause a three to four second lag in acceleration if the following sequence occurs within two seconds: during an upshift from first to second gear (8-10 mph), the driver then brakes the vehicle to less than 5 mph, and then accelerates again," GM told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Under some circumstances, a three- to four-second lag in acceleration could result in an increased risk of a crash. GM dealers will reprogram the transmission control module.

Sorry, England is full

Published reports say  fighting broke out at Gatwick Airport recently as a computer problem caused a number of immigration processing delays. The government issued an apology for the IT problem as it called it. The glitch meant UK Border Force staff were forced to manually input passport details for those arriving in the UK rather than simply scanning documents, a BBC report stated.

Pig futures flummoxed

In what was termed the "worst-ever trading outage on the world's most important agricultural markets"  was triggered when supposedly sophisticated technology that stopped trades because of a perceived problem.  According to a Chicago Tribune.com item: The April 8 outage stopped electronic trading in 31 agricultural markets that influence global prices for food staples such as wheat, corn and pork, and sent a flood of traders into CME Group's normally deserted open-outcry futures pits to execute transactions. The electronic trading platform handles around 95% of the volumes in grain futures on a typical day, and market participants have been in the dark about the cause of the failure, with CME only saying a "technical issue" was to blame.  CME Executive Chairman Terrence Duffy, a former hog trader who is now CME's highest-paid executive, did not specify which market fell by the daily limit. However, hogs were the only market affected by the outage that traded limit down on April 8, according to the exchange operator.

Better late than never I suppose, but still

WBAY.com reported that a computer glitch delayed the tornado sirens in a Wisconsin town by about 5 minutes during a test of the emergency system recently.  On April 21 at about a 1:45pm scanners in Wisconsin starting squawking, "The National Weather Service in Green Bay has issued, this is a test message, test tornado warning for all of Wisconsin." But the system didn't work everywhere: "We determined that the software that we have that runs our sirens doesn't like the word "test" in the message that comes out from the National Weather Service, so we ended up having to literally turn the key and push the button to set off the sirens," according to emergency programmers.  The problem has been fixed.

You can park here forever, oh wait no, make that 12 days, wait...

A computer system controlling parking in an England garage needs some serious attention.  Reports indicate the system that one day added hundreds of days to customer contracts then takes them back on another day. Others say the system will eat their pass cards as well.  For more on this one look here.

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8 and on Facebook

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