Monday, April 2, 2012

British Leap Bug

So I have to admit, I’ve become accustomed to my GPS.  In my car, while driving, the GPS has gone from being a distraction to a normal part of my dashboard display.  For the most part, I know where I’m going, but having it there to tell me about traffic jams and congestion, even beeping at me when I go over the speed limit are all a welcome array of features. 

So when I returned home from New Orleans and STPCon (which upcoming blog posts will talk about) I immediately noticed that the GPS map was way off and the display constantly read ‘waiting for a valid GPS signal.”

What could be the problem?  We immediately thought of and dismissed Sun Spot and Solar Flare activity.  As interesting as that might be, we figured that our cell phones and other devices would also be experiencing issues and they were all clear.  So we then narrowed it down to a recent firmware upgrade; since the upgrade, the GPS error appeared. 

I didn’t know about the upgrade (occurring while I was away at STPCon) otherwise I would have gone with that first rather than the Solar Flare hypothesis.

A quick search of TomTom’s webite revealed that we were not alone in our GPS signal issue.  From their forums:

We have identified the root cause of the issue which has caused some of our models to not get a GPS position. The issue is caused by a ‘leap year’ bug in our GPS firmware. We’re working on a fix and will provide a further update as soon as we know more.Since Saturday 31st March a limited number of models have been having an issue getting a GPS position. We’re looking into the cause and will post an update here as soon as we know more. If you click Notify me at the bottom of this FAQ, you will automatically receive an update.
We hear from some of our customers that a reset of the device temporarily resolves the issue

A ‘Leap Year” bug.  This is great.  The kind of bug that comes along only once every four years really.  Even better, because TomTom is a UK company, the Leap Year bug didn’t appear until the UK entered British Summer Time this past weekend, not when the US sprung ahead a few weeks ago.

Resetting the device didn't work for us by the way.

On testing this, though, I can identify with them.  Testing for Leap Year issues is always an interesting challenge. 

1 comment:

  1. Apparently they didn't test this, but maybe they do now. On the other hand, they may have had similar issues four years ago and didn't learn from it. Who knows? Btw, TomTom is a Dutch company.