back to article PC scuppers NYE fireworks in Seattle

A computer cock-up prevented a New Year fireworks show at the Seattle Center Space Needle from firing off at the stroke of midnight, much to the chagrin of the gathered crowd. reports that in the last minute of 2007 the team responsible for the event in Microsoft's home town, spotted that the computer file …


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  1. pctechxp
    Gates Horns

    The big question

    Was it running Vista?

  2. abigsmurf
    Gates Halo

    Really stretching it

    To blame this on windows is stupid and sensationalist.

    Windows is so incredibly unlikely to corrupt a file, especially one only used by a third party program, by itself. More than likely they turned off a PC/closed a program mid save or put it on a cheap USB memory stick which messed up.

  3. Cameron Colley

    RE: The big question

    Sounds more like Windows Home Server by the description. ;~)

  4. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Better than London

    Anyone else have the delight of being in central London on the stroke of midnight? I was with the 750,000-strong crowd sheperded into a special viewing area to witness the London Eye fireworks. The first ten seconds of the display were great - but the wind was blowing gently towards the viewing area, and we could see sod all of the next twenty minutes of fireworks.

    It sounded like they were good, at least. I notice the TV stations were allowed to broadcast directly across from the eye, so everyone sitting at home had a great view of them.

    I'm distinctly unimpressed with the lack of planning from British Airways / London council / whoever put on the display - they couldn't have done much about the weather, but they could have let people watch it from where they wanted to, not be herded into a restricted area. At least the good residents of Seattle could see their manually-launched fun.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    Not Vista.

    If it had been, the pretty eye-candy pyrotechnics would have worked OK, but the sound would have been out-of-sync, corrupt and only come out of one speaker, the reboot would still be happening and there would have been no audience as they'd all be stuck in traffic even though the roads were quiet.

    Must have been XP.

  6. Lozzyho

    Who cares?

    Who says a file being corrupted has anything to do with the OS? There was no report of the computer crashing so it's far more likely to do with the program that created or modified the file.

    Never let facts get in the way of a bit of Vista-bashing though, eh?

  7. Ferry Boat

    Windows for Fireworks

    How would a reboot 'uncorrupt' the file? We might be onto something here.

    Anyway, since when is 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' suitable music for New Year's Eve and/or fireworks?

  8. Matt Bryant Silver badge

    Get it right!

    Obviously, it was the NSA poking around in the poor guys laptop cos they thought he had leaked details about the movements of GeeDhubya's bathtoys! It's all the fault of them nasty fascist Bushitler Halibruton neocons! Save yourselves, the FBI are coming for your oil!

    /George Smith mode off

    RE: Ian Ferguson - thanks, actually the TV coverage was very good and I did enjoy it from my cosy warm living room. Hope you didn't get too wet or cold. Thanks also if you were one of the Londoners whose poll tax payed for such a lovely display for the rest of us! Feel agrieved, talk to Ken.

  9. Karl Lattimer

    Did they read the reg's other articles today

    @abigsmurf: "Windows is so incredibly unlikely to corrupt a file"

    Let me direct your eyes to

    unlikely huh?

  10. Ron Eve

    Reasonable assumption... Windows has form for failing at *cough* inappropriate times. Like Comdex in '98 and CES in 2005. Google 'bill gates blue screen of death' for info.

    More of a worry is Windows for Warships, currently being used by our beloved Royal Navy (I believe it's W2K). At least the US Army are trying out Macs in an effort to gain security and reliability.. (not to say world peace).

    Flame on....

  11. gareth

    @ lozzyho and abigsmurf

    get a life they are jokes

    but to point out that the os can corrupt files i.e the current windows home server problems

    or (and i know this might sound unlikly but there are companys still using windows 98) a w9x version righting 2 files to the same hdd cluster hmm might that cause a corruption

  12. Billy Goat Gruff

    dry running

    One thing I noticed when I adopted GNU ways was that everything should interlink and yet work independently... ie pipe information in and out of a chain of events.

    With Windows the idea is to present an all-in-one GUI which does everything with a single click. All the internals are deliberately hidden and if they rely on a DLL that is corrupt you will never know until the the final click.

    With GNU/unix you retain control over the entire sequence of events so can do as many dummy runs as you want and be fairly confident that there are no hidden easter eggs to surprise you on the night.

    Yes, linux cannot prevent a corruption (ext3 might but the user will always find a way)... but the point is if you had to create a very esoteric program like fireworks control you would be much better prepared if you adopted the GNU way and not the all-in-one GUI way.

    Since windows programmers are constrained to work in the commercial windows way, then, yes, windows is partly to blame.

  13. Chad H.

    fireworks out of synch

    I doubt anyone would have noticed if the fireworks didnt match the music.

  14. Steven Hewittt
    Jobs Horns

    Corrupt file? How fruity...

    Surely if it's a corrupted file then it points to using a Mac. Maybe they tried to move the file across from USB pen to the local system...?

    Flame on! :-D

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't be windows

    the reboot didn't fix the problem

  16. abigsmurf

    @ gareth

    "But a comment from a reader, who claims to have once worked for ten years on the popular New Year's Space Needle show, on's blog, reckons the culprit would have been a Microsoft Windows machine.®"

    doesn't sound like a joke, sounds like standard windows bashing.

    As for Home Server, it would be illegal for them to be running that wouldn't it, being a business machine? Not that there would be any reason for them to be running it.

    @billy Goat Gruff

    But then in Linux, the GUI randomly failing is far too common based on my personal experience. Sure the OS still works but for most people a command line OS is unusable and it can take more time to fix it from command line than to reinstall.

  17. Morely Dotes

    @ abigsmurf

    "But then in Linux, the GUI randomly failing is far too common based on my personal experience."

    What in the name of all the odd gods are you doing, then? I've been running various flavors of linux since before Mandrake (now Mandriva), and have never had a GUI fail, not fluxbox, not gnome, and not KDE.

  18. steve lampros
    Black Helicopters

    not the only seattle computer cr*pping out

    They also have a tunnel, that was closed for almost 2 weeks for a "computer problem" is M$ is EVERYWHERE? hahaha

  19. Nexox Enigma


    """But then in Linux, the GUI randomly failing is far too common based on my personal experience. Sure the OS still works but for most people a command line OS is unusable and it can take more time to fix it from command line than to reinstall."""

    Seems that we're not talking about most people, we're talking about the rather small segment of the population that runs computerized fireworks displays. No gui required for that at all. What Billy Goat Gruff was getting as was that if the control program had been made in the typical *nix ways, it would have been more testable and more reliable. Seems like if you're going to code a program for fireworks, might as well do it for *nix than much else. Then just have some type the command and hit enter, or, even better, let cron start the show for you.

    And yeah the file corruption could have still happened... So when you're doing something critical, have some backups. Maybe on read-only media like a CD, which you verify has the expected bits in all the right places.

    I guess fireworks people might just not be computer people.

  20. kain preacher

    I'm not going to blame the OS

    I bit iwas some crappy customer software like people soft.

  21. Tezfair

    maybe your all wrong...

    It could have been the same organisers that did the London Millennium's River of Fire and they are using the same old Win98 PC because its better than Vista

  22. Don Mitchell


    It's unlikely the operating system had anything to do with this. If a script was messed up, it was messed up by a user editing it. It's astrononically unlikely that the file system just randomly garbled a file. No OS does that.

    Billy Goat Gruff, piping commands is Bell Labs UNIX stuff, ripped off by GNU not invented by them. Are you trying to say, somewhere in that word salad, that command line interfaces are better than GUI interfaces? These guys were trying to run a command script, which has nothing to do with the GUI shell.

  23. BitTwister


    > But then in Linux, the GUI randomly failing is far too common based on my personal experience.

    And in my personal experience I've never, *ever* had a GUI randomly failing - through various distributions over several years.

    Besides, you should realise that saying "in Linux" is pretty meaningless. Almost as meaningless as saying "the GUI".

  24. Simon Painter

    @Ron Eve

    Much as Windows for Warships is a worry for you, it is even more of a worry for me that the US army is no longer fighting battles and has now resorted to drawing pictures of battles and doing swanky flash animations of battles.

    Or playing Myst.

    At least the US has the sort of defence budget that can justify the purchase of Macs instead of a far cheaper real computer.

  25. Rob
    Paris Hilton

    More to the point...

    .... why didn't the oh-so-professional fireworks display team have a back up of the one file that was needed for them to earn their money.

    Sod what computer it was running on, I personally wouldn't employ their services again.

    Err... picked Paris 'cause..... .... I mentioned the word back and she spends most of the time on hers (with a video camera).

  26. Jonathan Richards
    Black Helicopters

    @Ian Ferguson

    Re: Better than London

    You might have been herded farther along the Embankment because "directly across from the Eye" is the Ministry of Defence HQ?

  27. James Condron


    Remind me never to get my machine fixed by you...

    "Yeah, it looks like this is the work of a cheap memory stick- I also notice you're using a lot of free software- expensive software works best"

    Now, since the program will have been tested and shown to have worked before being sent off, this reboot during saving was when exactly? Maybe they wrote it, got it working and then pasted it into this new machine, compiled it and turned it off part way through?

    The fact of the matter is, if it happened on windows, its a windows problem. If it has worked before, and they've just tried it on, say, vista then its clearly a vista problem. Unless of course the code gremlins have been at the source again? You know, those ones you see when you drink lighter fluid

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