There appears to be an inadvertent software time limit built into the Activ E-Book compiler version 4.22 and consequently all ebooks compiled with it. They will fail to run after January 19th 2038. My problem is that I am soon about to market my ebook as a booklet plus CDROM, and am a bit worried about selling a product which I know will fail and that I will have to replace all product at some time in the future when the compiler is corrected. I have contacted Sunil and it is now on his to-fix list, but not with very high priority. I am sure that the code is fixable and with enough support from other users, Sunil may be persuaded to put it on his urgent list. The fault can be checked quite simply by resetting your PC clock to sometime after the above date and trying to run the compiler or your ebook. I guess if you could register your views in this forum topic, Sunil will be able to guage other users concerns and schedule an update.
I'm not sure you need to be concerned about the functionality of your ebook 32 years from now.
Technology changes are occurring exponentially, so it is very unlikely that ANY software that runs today will run on the future platforms of 2038.
For example, Window 3.1 software will not run on the next version of Windows, as LongHorn is dropping all support for 16-bit applications. At this rate, todays' software will be obsolete in ten years.
Further, CD ROMS have a useful life of 10 to 12 years. After that, they start deteriorating quickly.
Then, is your content even going to be relevant 30 years from now? Unless it's a great classic, or a religious or philosophy text, won't time itself make the subject matter obsolete?
But before that time comes, let's imagine an old and gray-haired Sunil, laboring over his latest 256-bit version of Active, with a Vanilla-Sky holographic interface, and a James Earl Jones Microsoft Agent reading the text aloud in the virtual reality setting....
Thanks for replying. I understand what you say, and to be perfectly honest, I agree to a certain extent. But.... 1. You sound like a young guy, I have loads of books more than 40 years old - text books I had at university and are still relevant and I still refer to them. 2. I read that CDROMs for music should last 1000 years so why shouldn't data CDROMs? 3. If I told you that a book/CD would self-destruct after a certain time, wouldn't you expect a discount? 4. A software bug is a software bug - look at all the trouble that 2000 brought! 5. Windows may not be around, but Linux will and should still be able to run old Windows programs. 6. Ebooks are still looked at frivolously by major book publishers who like you think that ebooks are a fad which will eventually blow out and then they can continue to make big profits on printed paper. Once they hear of this limitation, they will have a field day. 7. I am personally trying to push an interactive technical ebook using lots of Java Applets on Microwave System Design. This approach - it appears very useful for self-teaching as well as design. Activ E with its Java Virtual Machine is an ideal medium except for the Time Limit. 8. Ohm published his famous law in 1825 and we are still using it, and will be for the forseeable future! 9. PC's have been around now for nearly 30 years, and you can still run DOS, early Windows and even Sinclair ZX80 programs on modern machines. And I am sure that in 30 years time this will still be the case. There are software wrappers available to run any Windows 3.1 or earlier software you wish to run.
Finally, I think it is encumbent on all professional software writers to strive to make their software 'safety critical' and fix all known problems as their limitations appear. I know that this is an embarrassing problem, but it should be easily fixable - double floating point numbers should sort it out.
I can appreciate your concerns for a CD Rom with an extensive life. Unfortunately CD rot has a good chance of destroying the material in a timely fashion. CD rot is when there is a micro fissure within the plastic encasing the CD media that stores the data information. Once air gets to the actual media it rots and becomes unreadable.
What you may have read about CDs lasting a 1,000 years is from a marketer selling CDs. In fact I don't give CDs another five years before they are going to be replaced. As an example the DVDs currently on the market are going to be replaced within the next two years by another type of DVD format. (If it is going to be backwards compatiable I don't know.)
There is a push on by some manufactures to replace CD with a memory card (much like Sony's memory card). Think about it. No moving parts. Compact. Inexpensive to manufacture. Inexpensive to ship and warehouse.
If you want your work to live on I'd suggest that you also create a POD version (Print On Demand).
First, I think that it's great that you have a product with substantial content, that will provide some real value to the world. Your work may well survive beyond those 32 years. I hope it does.
Nonetheless, I still wouldn't lose any sleep over a 32 year expiration date. You deal with it like any other software developer who supports their products; you provide an update.
And by then, Sunil will have another version out, anyway. By the year 2037, maybe several...
So, the solution? Add a dialog box to your ebook set to pop up in the year, say - 2037, reminding them to visit your website and enter their userID to get an updated ebook. You'll keep a database of your ebook purchasers anyway, in case they want to move their ebook to a new machine, or install a new OS.
I'll defer responses to your enumerated assertions and assumptions; StoryMan did a good job outlining some of the problems with CDs, and I'll end on a positive note.
I am really surprised that no one supports my case for sorting out this niggling software bug. I guess that this means that Sunil will definitely put it on the back burner. I cannot in all seriousness publish and sell a product which self destructs albeit in 34 years and falling. Anticipating this possibilty, I have done a review of the competition and have found a similar product which satisfies all my requirements and with some serious testing, so far, I have not been able to break it. I will therefore consign Activ E to the tip and fork out another wad of dollars. I was surprised how good the competition is - I was switched on to Activ E from the good reviews it has received - it appears that apart from price, there is now not much to choose between them. That said, I look forward to testing Activ E's next version, hoping that Sunil does manage to identify the problem and sort out this niggle.
AtB to All Readers and my Thanks to the Contributors
Peter East::: "There appears to be an inadvertent software time limit built into the Activ E-Book compiler version 4.22 and consequently all ebooks compiled with it. They will fail to run after January 19th 2038. My problem is that I am soon about to market my ebook as a booklet plus CDROM, and am a bit worried about selling a product which I know will fail and that I will have to replace all product at some time in the future when the compiler is corrected. ".... I do worry about that... as a customer of ebookcompiler...
Peter East::: "I am really surprised that no one supports my case for sorting out this niggling software bug." I do support you, and sent email to Sunil, waiting his reply about this issue, and how we can fix before we distribute CDs that comtain data that will fail....
It's very important to know this issue, and your customers (people who will buy your product) have the right to know...
Imagine if we say... THIS CD WILL EXIRE 2038.. Who will buy... No one i believer.. I won't...
This issue should be addressed soon if Sunil wants his product marketable and compete with other ebookcompiler....
It will be un ETHICAL and rong to sell CDs that will expire without telling them, and by telling them means the end of ebookcompiler use... Unless the issue will be corrected...
IN USA and in UK, and many parts of teh world it's agianst the law to distribute the software that will fail.... [http://www.bbb.org/]
Hope Sunil will address the issue and correct as soon as possible so that he keeps his happy customers... We love eboockompiler, but that may change if it becomes shoddy software...
Yes i also tested the software: and when you change the clock to Jan 18, 2038 is OK, but when you change after that it will FAIL... That is very very bad.
I also disagree wiyh 'Alaska' who said we do not have to worry about that date.. It will be unfair to our customers to sell a product that will fail, and that we know now EBOOKCOMPILER will FAIL on Jan 2038.. LEGALLY and ETHICALY is not right to sell ebooks created with this software unless it's corected the error... Maybe the error will be corrected by Sunil soon and this question will be history...
Quote: "Further, CD ROMS have a useful life of 10 to 12 years. After that, they start deteriorating quickly."
.....BUT you can copy the content of the CD to new CD or DVD... The real question is that the creator of the Software must and should address the issue, it's a mother of trust.. You did trust him when you did buy his product .. and he should address this issue to keep his customers... The info travels fast on the Internet and that may be a bad news for Ebookcompiler customers if the issue is not addressed soon....
Hello Peter, can you please post other compiler that you have tested so that I can also switch... I cannot use the software that is definelty failing withing 34 years... I cannot by all means do that to my customers... NO, if Sunil will not address the issue I will use other reliable software...
Are you absolutely positive that the application that you reference will work beyond 2038? The 2038 problem is not a problem with Sunil's programming as it is with computer programs in general.
My understanding is that Unix has the same drop dead date problem. Have you set your computer to the year 2040 and verified that the alternative application works?
Not being a programmer (beyond the basics), I suspect the problem's roots are grounded in the same problem that prevents PHP (and other languages) from referencing dates before 1970 (I'm not certain of the specific year, but it's close to that) without a lot of tricky programming.
Even if your alternate application does work with your computer set to 2040 it still does not mean that someone in the year 2040 will be able to access the program. What happens if the rest of the world follows the initiative that Brazil is currently pushing. That initiative is too switch from Windows to Linux operating systems.
In fact, the word on the street for some years has been that the reason Microsoft has not released a new operating system for some time (and does not have plans to release a new one for some time) is that the new system is moving closer to the Unix style OS like Linux.
There are a great many advantegous to open source programs in that innovations come swiftly and security flaws can be dealt with swiftly. What I'm suggesting is that the basic building block of your arguement, that a compatiable Windows OS will be around in some 35 years, remains unlikely.
When was the last time you used DOS? How about Fortran or Cobalt? Sure they still exist, but can you run them using your computer? Most people cannot.
If you want permancey get the material published on acid free paper. (You mentioned you had a lot of books over 40 years old. How many of them have yellow and brittle pages because they were published on acid paper? How much longer will they be in usable condition?)
I share this with you because you obviously have something of value that future generations can benefit from and it would be a shame if the Microsoft Operating System is left in the dust in favor of a less problematic OS. (Or would it be?)
For the sake of the argument, I tested the program on the date that Storyman mentioned, which is 2040. Simply change the clock to that date and open any ebook that has/had been created by ebookcompiler, and it will definitely fail. WILL NOT WORK.
The issue is not Windows or Linux, the issue is responsibility and ethics. Would you sell ebooks or CDs that contain contents that will fail and you are aware of it… That is the issue, and that is why many of the consumers of the Ebookcompilers will ask them selves when they realize that the product that they have been using to create many CDs will Fail… If the issue is not be resolved….
Maybe the problem will be fixed easily soon and so this discussion will be history…
Hope Sunil will respond and let all of us know when he can fix the problem so that we can get update for the software….
I would say that ebookcompiler is a good program, but that may soon change, especially when all Internet Technology websites carry news about this problem : Ebookcompiler failure on Jan 2038. That is only 34 years away.
The final question is: what if we leave software and information that will fail for our future generations… Think about that… Also it will be unethical to sell information or books, CDs, ets that you know will fail, just because the compiler that you have used while you were creating….
I haven't got a problem with people not wanting to read my ebook but I have if they are not able to read it even if they want to because it crashes destructively. Your arguments on permanency of other tools are not really relevant. The 2038 problem I now realise is wider than just Activ E, and affects all C and C++ and unix programs based on 32 bit compilers and using system library calls time.h and time_t. Unix/Linux just do not allow you to set the time clock after 2038, but it doesn't crash! There is an Open Source Library available which will sort out the time rollover problem for the next few billion years. ( seehttp://cr.yp.to/libtai.html) My point is that the rollover problem is known, and even if the improved library was not available, it should not be outside a good C-programmers wit to r-write his own double precision calls, or trap the problem and stop the program crashing. I understand that Java, another C++ type of program, doesn't suffer from the 2038 bug. It is not too difficult to cross-compile delinquent C and C++ programs and recompile in Java! In short, there are a number of solutions available and until Activ E is corrected I cannot in all honesty sell it as a lifetime product until some fix is incorporated. I am using the other product I mentioned which still has plenty of time based security features in it but does not fail to open after Jan 19 2038!
Thank you for getting to the root of the problem and presenting the solution.
Being someone who bought his first computer in the early '80s, I do not share your confidence that what will be useable on a computer today will continue to be so in ten years. I have a cabinet full of useless programs--including a couple of early ebook programs.
The time issue is something that should be addressed at some point, but not before the more pressing issues outlined in the thead features desired for the next version.
As it stands in a worse case scenario the user can always set the computer's clock back in time.
Say you have created a CD (Using Active Ebookcompiler, which will fail on Jan 2038), the CD is about ‘what ever subject you want’…Okay, then would you include the print materials that accompany with your CD saying: DISCLAIMER::: THIS CD WILL FAIL JAN 2038, and IF YOU STILL HAVE THIS CD BY THAT DATE, PLEASE SET YOUR COMPUTER CLOCK BACKWARD FOR say 2000…
I think that our capability is not frozen in 2000, we can do better by simply re-programming the software and creating a reliable product.
No, we cannot use Ebookcompiler to create ebooks and CD that we now know will definitely fail on Jan 2038.
It isn’t that I disagree with your conclusions based on your premise. I just disagree with the premise. Technology changes too rapidly to have any sense of permanency.
When I purchase reference material that I plan to use over an extended period of time (years) it is always in printed form. The digital form is great for skill and knowledge acquisition because of the use of mixed media, but once it serves it purpose it collects digital dust.
What ebooks (or even computer applications for that matter) have you purchased that you expect to be using in thirty years? It wouldn’t be reasonable to include anything that would need to updated because that is a restriction that you have imposed (otherwise you have defeated your own position.)
I see what you saying, but I totally disagree. The issue is that this software that we have bought from Sunil (EbookCompiler) and any CD created using that Software will fail on Jan 2038.. That is the issue, and that need to be addressed.
Who know how many people who bought Ebookcompiler and are not aware that the software they have created will be history soon. That is the issue and needs to be addressed.
Sunil did not respond this problem, and ebookcompiler creator did not tell his clients when they will fix that flaw, and when we are expecting the Update. That is the issue and needs to be addressed.
For me, I will not use Ebookcompiler anymore unless fixed, I will not use creating any CD until fixed, I will not sell any product that I know will fail and we now know that ebookcompiler and any CD created by it will Fail on jan 2038. It’s not legal or ethical to sell product that you know will fail. This is matter of responsiliblty.
I just wish Bill Gates had your values and ethics when it comes to releasing applications and operating systems. In regards to Sunil, it is unreasonable to suggest that he is being unethical in regards to the date death issue.
The core issue, in my opinion, is the longevity of the hardware (combined with the OS). From what we have experienced in the growth of the computer industry it appears unlikely that we will be using what is on our desk today in another five years.
I respect your decision to only offer your product if it will be functional past the death date of 2038. I would also respect your decision if you had made the decision to offer products that will suffer from the death date.
Not ever publisher expects (or intends) their published printed material to survive for decades. Do you seriously think pocket book publishers print books that will change hands for generations? Of course there is always the matter of the paper the use. As mentioned earlier nearly 99% of all books published today are on acid paper that is not going to stand up much beyond several decades. If you were publishing your book would you fall into the 1% of publishers who use acid free paper? You better be because those are the only books that will last for generations.
In regards to ebooks what will you do when the end user needs to replace their hard drive? As you know the security systems that prevent misuse of your ebook is often tied to the hard drive's serial number. Is it unethical for you to sell an ebook with such a security system knowing that the user's hard drive is absolutely going to fail at some point? Are you providing for those users to be able to secure a new password from you for the next sixty years? You know it is going to happen.
I believe that Sunil must be away or he would have addressed this issue by now with more specific plans on how he would fix this glitch. I am confident that he will find a solution to the problem so please wait until he posts a message here on what his plans will be.
Thanks for the compliment -- makes my day! I haven't had much time to work on the site in the past few months... I have been promoted to Manager in the pharmacy where I work. The increased workload is outrageous! I still manage to keep up with everything as best I can though.
Hi Eva, Thanks for your interest. I did raise the time limit with Sunil back last December and he does understand the problem, but couldn't promise me a slot as to when it would be fixed. He agreed that I should post it to get an idea how important other users think it is. To date, only a couple feel that it should be fixed quickly although the topic appears popular, so I guess it will go on the back burner for an update. If you or other users think otherwise then here is the place to tell him. Regards, Peter
Yes, I believe that it is important for some who are concerned that their ebooks won't be viable after the time limit. I don't think it needs to be a priority for Sunil, but it is definitely something that should be looked into.
I have tried out at least half a dozen other ebook compilers now. All seem to have various different features, but none crash in 2038 or thereafter. Activ E stands its ground with all of these apart from this bug.
As Eva suggest in her post it isn't that there is any disagreement with what you say about the 2038 issue; rather it is a matter of priorities.
I feel confident that Sunil will address the issue at a future date and at which time updates can be offered to those who purchased the ebook.
Personally, I'd prefer to see Sunil address Active e-Book features that keeps it competitive with the competition. In regards to which issues Sunil should focus on first puts us in the same boat because I doubt that he will work on the issues in the same order that either you or I would suggest. He's done alright by what I've seen, so he must have a good picture of what is needed.
If you have a web site it would be interesting to see what kind of results you would get from a non-biased poll.
Yes, it’ is matter of priority, that is why maybe many people already moved on and bought other more reliable e-book compilers. People will NOT hold their plan and wait Sunil for period of time that no body knows. But the disappointment is that people trusted Sunil when they bought his program and he did not at least responded when they need his support.
I kindly ask EVA to remove the ebookcompilers' reviews untill until Sunil solves that problem, other wise many people may read EVA’s good review [http://ebooksnbytes.com/compiler_review.shtml] about ebookcompiler and they will buy without ever seeing this discussion. Or at least if EVA cannot do that why don’t link back to this forum so that people will see and decide.
Finally my advice to Sunil, and who ever manages ebookcompiler, would be the sooner you response top this forum, the better for your program, because they maybe a future time you look-back this and will say why didn’t Take action of at least responding to the people you have provided the program…. Silent may mean that embookcompiler had been discontinued. and so EVA should take action - removing the review of ebookcompiler or maybe telling EVA's readers about this problem.
I won't remove the review -- but I would definitely be willing to add a warning in the review about the fact that this glitch is present in the software. That would be better than not saying anything at all ...
I don't have time to go back through each compiler to see which ones have this particular glitch -- I work full time (no, actually overtime) as a pharmacy manager. Today is the first day off I have had in 3 weeks...
But, if someone has checked the different compilers, then I would be happy to include that list on the review page.
Here is your opportunity to let others know about your concern.
You had written: "I have tried out at least half a dozen other ebook compilers now. All seem to have various different features, but none crash in 2038 or thereafter."
I can appreciate your concern for the death date, but quite frankly don't see the relevancy into today’s quickly changing technological world. That isn’t to suggest that others don’t feel the way you do—then again not many have voiced their concern for the matter.
On one point we agree. Why hasn’t Sunil responded to any of the threads in this forum and is he still actively developing the next version of Active e-Book?
Hi Storyman, You are right, not many others have expressed their concern, which probably means it won't be fixed for some time. I am sorry about that as I do think that Activ E is a good product and I would still like to continue to use it but feel I can't release a faulty product on the market. Especially as I am planning to publish my ebook through a major US technical publisher; this raises my personal urgency. My reviews of other products are solely for me to find a suitable replacement and I don't think out of deference to Sunil that here is the place to publish a list of alternatives. The 2038 problem is similar to the 2000 software problem and I am sure will get addressed by all software suppliers sometime. Unix/Linux libraries are already available to sort it as I have linked in an earlier submission, and a recompile for the next release seems an ideal way ahead. I fail totally to be swayed by your changing/obsolete technology arguments. DOS is still available on my computer. In any case, the responsibilty of every good (software) engineer is to solve problems as they are identified. The best solve them before most get to hear of them! I will keep monitoring this forum hoping that Sunil will respond positively,
You didn’t mention that you have a contract with a technical publisher. Now I have a greater appreciation for your concern of the death date issue—still it doesn’t alter my position.
One reason that I don’t find it as relevant a problem that you do is based on the fact that Microsoft supports the current OS plus 2 OSs back. In other words Windows 98 is no longer supported by Microsoft and when the next version of Windows is released Windows Millennium will no longer be released.
In addition a lot of countries are moving away from MS OSs and migrating to Linux. (Did you see in the news where the government of Brazil has told all of their offices to switch to drop Windows and install Linux? How about how MS had to drop the price of XP in Asia because their copy protection system is so good that users are switching to Linux?)
Your wrote: “the responsibility of every good (software) engineer is to solve problems as they are identified.” Yes and no. I used to work as a film editor for prime time series. One producer I worked with had a ‘producer in training’ that he had taken under his wing. She would look at a reel of film and would want to work on it from beginning to end getting every little detail right. When this producer came into the room and saw what was happening he flipped and told the ‘producer in training,’ “Get the big things done first, then go back and fix up the little things. Otherwise you’ll end up with a show half fixed (baked).” That is my personal feeling about setting the priorities for what gets fixed first in software.
(This comment is totally off track and thought I’d mention it if you haven’t dealt with publisher contracts before. Be sure to read the contract carefully and pay particular attention to the section on buy backs. Publishers will often negotiate this point, but several book editors have told me that their experience is that new authors are so excited to get a contract that they accept the contract as written.)
What I'm suggesting is that you share your knowledge regarding the death issue with others in a short article to be submitted to Eva's site. You have already done most of the work and it would be helpful to others with your concern.
Not taking some action to share your experience beyond the scope of this forum limits the the issue to a few dozen people.
Storyman I don't need to write an article as there is plenty of information already on the net as I found out eventually. Two good sites are:-http://pw2.netcom.com/~rogermw/Y2038.html http://www.deepsky.com/~merovech/2038.html The second goes as far as providing links for programmers to make their code future proof. BW Peter
We are definitely on different wave lengths. The two links you provided are for programmers. I do not for one moment think that you do not recognize how irrelevant those links are to the average Joe compiling an ebook—after all it took you some time and diligence before you discovered them yourself.
Your behavior is spoiled by the fact you make the assumption that all users are privy to your knowledge and understanding. Make no mistake about it; the people who participate in this forum are no dummies. Yet, no one no (or cared) about the death date issue before you solicited their support in forcing Sunil to make immediate changes in his program.
When Active e-Book users failed to rally to your support you then asked Eva to remove the review for the program. When that failed you asked for the review to be changed to include your concern for the death date.
Now, when I suggest that you take the time to write a short info piece on the importance of the death date in the way it relates to ebooks you reply by saying it is not needed because of the articles written by programmers for programmers. That is a weak comeback and makes your effort to bring the issue to everyone’s attention specious and self-serving.
If you want to get something done about the death date issue, then write the info piece.
Whoa whoa Storyman, I am sorry I appear to have upset you, let me put my position straight. 1. We are definitely on different wavelengths - I thought you were asking me what the problem was and how to fix it! 2. I am not an IT or Unix expert, my area is microwaves, and although I discovered that Activ E had a problem in 2038, it was Sunil who told me that it was a general Unix problem. With an internet search, I came up with the information I have passed on, with the sole aim of being helpful. It is not in my nature to put anybody down. 3. I like Activ E and would like to use it but as a matter of principle I cannot sell an ebook knowing that it will be unusable at some future date. I don't think that anyone would be happy buying it under those terms. 4. With Sunil's agreement, I raised it as a Forum issue to see if I could get support, sufficient for him to raise the level of urgency to fix. 5. I did not get that support as you point out, so voting with my feet, I researched and have chosen an alternative compiler which I am now using. I am surprised I did not get any Activ E user support, but I assure you I am happy to accept the passive decision of the majority. 6. It was not me who asked Eva and I assure you, I would not seek to influence anybody to remove Activ E reviews from their sites or use it! 7. Just as the Millenium bug was a software generated problem, 2038 is a software generated problem. Once a serious problem like this is flagged, my personal view is it should be put right. Would you feel the same if you were told that safety critical software, like air traffic control used the same C++ compiler? What if some programmer had divided the clock by 2, making the problem occur in late 2004? 8. Whether or not my ebook will be read post 2038 because of operating system or PC obsolescence, I couldn't care a fig - at least it will still be readable on some museum based hardware. That is my point. Regards, Peter
Hi, all, when do you think news version of Ebookcompiler would be available, it has been 3 years now since we talked about the problem of 2038, and since then we were told by the compiler author that new version was being developed. I just want to know when that new version 5.xx maybe available
Hi Sunil, I was very pleased to see you had fixed the 2038 bug back in 2005 with the first beta 5.01! I did test it at the time and also the later beta issues - all versions appeared to sort it and have proved very reliable for my limited requirements. The big question is when will v5 be released for general use? I am sure you would like to improve it even more, but I for one would be very happy to use 5.05 as is! Best Regards, Peter
If this date problem is with all C and C++ programs, don't you think Microsoft will come out with a hotfix Windows patch by 2040? That would seem the simplest solution, rather than recompiling all existing ebooks.
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