back to article Y2.01K hits Garmin satnav

Garmin's Geko 201 GPS kit can't decide what year it is, flipping between decades every time it's switched on, though it's performing better on days of the week. Garmin Geko 201 Thanks to Reg Reader Dazed for the piccy 2010 is proving a complicated year for computers, fouling up debit cards in New Zealand and credit cards …


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  1. Thomas Davie

    It's a regression

    I have a Garmin GPS from 1983, it still knows what the date is just fine!

    1. Charles Manning

      1983? Are you sure?

      GPS was only made public in 1983, which triggered the commercial receivers.

      The Garmin brand name only emerged in 1991.

      Perhaps your brain has the decade bug :-).

  2. Anonymous John

    1949 in my case.last night.

    Weird. There was hardly any traffic and I was only charged 6d for a pint when I got to the pub.

    1. Christoph

      Who was there?

      Was there a blue police phone box outside the pub?

      1. Richard Taylor 2

        Blue box

        Yes but they seemed to have moved it when I wobbled back out.

  3. Phil W

    So What?

    I don't see the problem tbh. If you aren't aware of what year it is without the use of a GPS device then you don't need a GPS as you shouldn't be allowed outside.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      What year it is

      So when my software takes the GPS data and adds it to the photo data by matching the DATE, surprise surprise, it finds no matches.

      I might know which year the photos were taken in, but I haven't managed to get the mind-reading app set up under Windows Vista yet.

      1. Anonymous Cowardess

        When working with

        computerized devices, what you know is irrelevant. Just tell your camera what year the Garmin thinks it is and voila, fixed. Not.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Can you read?

      Read the story again. This issue is causing people problems with saved GPS data, it's not about people finding out the date from their GPS.

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: So What?

      On the alcohol consumption scale generally in use, "no idea what year it is" is considerably higher than "can't remember where I live".

    4. Anon

      This What?

      What if you've just been transported in time and you can't find a newspaper to check the year like they always do in films?

    5. Anonymous John

      Re: So What?

      The software knows that there weren't any GPS satellites in orbit in 1949, so it doesn't bother searching for them.

      So you're staring at a blank screen, wondering where you are.

    6. J 3

      @Phil W

      Why do you embarrass yourself so?

      Maybe you should not be allowed to read El Reg... It talks about computers and complicated stuff. Sometimes.

  4. Ash!

    Geko 101/301?

    Does anyone know if this also affects the Geko 101 and/or 301 models?

    I haven't noticed anything with my 301, but then again I haven't really been looking...

  5. bob 46

    cable needed

    My dad has one of these. The problem is not the software update, whenever its available, its the cost of the data cable to connect it to the computer. Garmin charge £34 for the PC cable, and another £37 to convert from rs232 to usb. Thats about what we payed for the Geko 201 in the first place!

    1. Dave 64 Silver badge

      @cable needed


    2. Stoneshop

      There's eBay

      where I found a suitable cable for, roughly, 5 quid (maybe excluding shipping, but it came in an envelope, so postage wasn't that much either). USB-RS232 converters can be had for a similar sum.

      And there's the reputable outdoor shop who will gladly apply the patch if you bought the unit there. When I bought my CSx60 the shop assistant took it out of the box, connected it to a laptop and checked if it was at the newest software level. He also made some initial settings (which he explained to me and asked how I'd like them set).

  6. Alan J. Wylie

    Geko 101 as well

    My Geko 101 is showing similar symptoms. On power on the date/time flicker rapidly between

    several dates in the past, it took ages to lock on to 4 satellites, and the time is now being shown

    as 14:48:57 24-Apr-08 (actual is Mar 10 12:50:34 GMT 2010)

    Position is correct.

    There is no computer interface on the 101, so how Garmin are going to fix this I don't know

    1. Alan J. Wylie

      Geko 101

      > There is no computer interface on the 101, so how Garmin are going to fix this I don't know

      They have offered to upgrade to a 301 for £50.00

      I only really use the GPS for two things: how far I have to trudge back to the car at the end

      of the day, and in case of emergency. If I'm in a whiteout on the summit of the Ben and I'm trying

      to get to the top of the zig-zags at NN 1565 7131 whilst avoiding Five Finger Gully, I don't

      want to be wondering if my GPS had decided to throw a wobbly, so despite having been made

      redundant a fortnight ago I think I'll be taking up the offer.

      1. Marvin the Martian
        IT Angle

        On the other hand

        Getting to the gully in whiteout conditions would put redundancy into perspective, though. So it's life-affirming, unless deadly.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Geko upgrade to 301 for £50?

        Where do I appy for one of these?

        Anyone found the link please?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Updates via downloads

    There's no need to own a computer in order to use one of these devices so why should the updates only be available via download. Hopefully Garmin will offer users without computers an update free of charge. The only way to do that would be to offer a free returns program. No way should users be charged for postage or have to pay travel costs to their nearest dealer.

    I get very bored of manufacturers who think that offering a free download to fix a problem is enough. Not everybody is connected to the internet and those who are not should not be penalized.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Amen, brother!

      Personallly I've never been on the internet and find this assumption that everyone is on it quite irritating.

    2. Alan J. Wylie

      Re: Updates via downloads

      Not only do you have to own a computer, but Garmin expect you to be running a supported OS and browser.

      | Compatible computers and Internet browsers:

      | IBM-compatible PCs running Windows® XP or Vista operating systems

      | with Internet Explorer 6+ or Firefox 1.5+

      | Intel-based or PowerPC G3 or later Mac OS 10.4 or later with Firefox 2.0+ or Safari 2.0+

      1. John Tserkezis

        Updates are a good thing.

        "Not only do you have to own a computer, but Garmin expect you to be running a supported OS and browser"

        Agreed, but to be fair, the fact you DO get some update is worthy of a smiley stamp. Some vendors only care you've bought it, after that, who cares? They certainly don't.

    3. Marvin the Martian

      And your proposed alternative is?

      Not making downloads available, will that solve the problem? It's not like a GPS works both ways, and Garmin could track you down to personally upgrade your device.

      So *if* you know of the problem, it's not that hard to ask an acquaintance with a pc (or visit local library) and search for explanations and hopefully update the problem away --- not using windoze I have to do the same once in a while. The problem is whether you invested in a data cable to make the connection, but once again: it's not like out-of-warranty problems get usually fixed for free, internet or not --- not making things available for free is not a solution.

      /I'm dictating this via megaphone, as I also have never been on those intertubewebs.

  8. MarkOne

    Who wants to bet...

    It's the same freescale realtime clock that affected Zunes, Blackberrys, some PS3's inside?

    1. Stoneshop

      I doubt it

      There are date/timestamps in the GPS signal (it's right at the core of what makes GPS, ahem, tick), so there's no real need for the receiver to do perfect timekeeping.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    You forgot to mention that the old PS3 had a problem with 2010 - somehow it thought it was a leap year and this bounced people of their network...

  10. Richard Cartledge


    Just write the year on a Post-It note and stick it on.

  11. The Mole

    No cable no problem

    Reading the report, if you don't have the cable then you don't have a problem as the only time you need the year is if you are downloading data off the gps onto a computer.

  12. Nextweek

    Out of guarantee

    Your only going to get about 6 months guarantee under current legislation.

    I see reviews of this device from 2003 so getting 7 years out of a product these days is not bad.

    If you don't like the throw away society we have then write a letter to an MP or something. Expecting a manufacturer to do something is just wishful thinking really.

  13. Annihilator
    Paris Hilton

    Clock accuracy

    I'm slightly confused and thinking there must be two clocks inside these sat-navs. As I understand it for GPS to even work, the receiver must have a very highly tuned clock to know the difference between the time signals broadcast by the satellites. Without it, it can't function.

    1. mr.K

      @Clock accuracy

      If you want to know the distance between one sender and one receiver, you are correct. You would need an accurate clock. However if you have multiple senders which you know where are you can calculate the distance and direction if you know the difference in distance to each sender. The difference in distance can easily be extracted from the signals you receive. Basically what you end up with is a set of equations with one equation for each satellite you have.

      I do not know exactly how GPS is implemented, but I am quite confident it is possible to implement it without a clock in the receivers all together. However it might be possible that they use an accurate clock to measure the time difference between the different satellite signals. If they for some reason do, that clock would not be synchronized though as that would be nearly impossible to implement.

    2. Charles Manning

      You are almost correct

      Most have a real time clock as well as a high precision clock used to do the satellite tracking. The realtime clock is a crappy thing like what's in your PC/PDA . The tracking clock is more typically a much more accurate TCXO from Rakon or similar.

      The TCXO does not have to be calibrated for real time since it is not measuring the range between the satellite and yourself, but is instead measuring the **difference** in the range from you to satellite A and satellite B. That tells you that A is, say, 2507 metres further away than B and A is 457789 metres further than C and so on.. These differences get fed into a bunch of simultaneous equations etc which figure out where everything is.

      The TCXO does not have to be atomic accurate since the tracking logic has to handle clock error anyway due to the doppler effect of moving satellites.

  14. Titus Aduxass

    I bought a GPS exactly the same colour as that

    Ooh I can't wait to get home and see what year my Garmin 201 says it is.

    I'll do that just before I go a meeting of my local "Get a life" club

  15. Tony Hoyle


    It must know the time very accurately, so it can calculate the location of each of the satellites correctly. But the date? Not so much.

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Clock accuracy

    GPS measures the difference between the very accurate clocks on each sataleite to get your position - it doesn't need it's own clock.

    Except - the actual date is sent as a number of weeks since GPS started (about 1980) and then hours, mins etc. The GPS week field wrapped around just before Y2K.

    they recently increased the number of bits sent in this field so my guess is that the Garmin is overflowing and interpreting this as a signed number

  17. Harry

    Very highly tuned clock

    "the receiver must have a very highly tuned clock to know the difference between the time signals broadcast by the satellites."

    No, a time *DIFFERENCE* is exactly the same regardless of the base line you choose to use to measure the two points from. Add a day, a month or a year or decade into the equation and it makes no difference because what you add you also subtract too.

    In any case, I suspect that the device receives a correct date from the satellites, but in a coded form and it is the decoding of the date data (purely for display and logging purposes) where the error occurs.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "What time is it, Eccles?"

    The Goon Show dealt with a similar problem, not knowing what time it was...

    Script (the pink section, near the bottom):

    YouTube video, with original sound:

  19. Mike Holden

    Tom Tom problems with dates

    Actually, Tom Tom refuse to acknowledge that a computer device like a SatNav has any need of knowing what the date is. It acquires the time from the Satellite (or you can set it manually), but there's no way to set the date. This means that when you connect the device to your PC, all the dates have stupid timestamps on them.

    I raised this as a support issue with them, but they refused to accept that it was a bug.

    This is on a TomTom 301, a bit out of date now, but still going strong.

  20. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Tom Tom problems with dates

    GPS receivers normally do have real time clocks, it helps the time to first fix if you know what time it is and have a valid empheris (list of where the satelites are) from the last fix.

    Plus a real time clock is built into the SOC and you have a battery anyway so it's not exactly a challenge to implement - of course the maker might not bother to write software to let you set it.

    Another wrinkle, GPS time doesn't include leap seconds so is currently about 15secs out. The new satelites broadcast this correction but older/cheaper receivers might not use it.

  21. pctechxp

    @Tony Chandler

    What do you thimk you are doing right now?

  22. Aaron 10
    Paris Hilton


    My wife's Garmin nuvi 250w has been having a hell of a time acquiring satellites as of late. I'll have to see if this is a date-related bug too...

    Paris, because I've been having a hell of a time acquiring her too.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Neoc

      Well, they got it *almost* right

      Every knows NZ is just another state in Australia, right?

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge


    "Personallly I've never been on the internet and find this assumption that everyone is on it quite irritating."

    I think you'll find he's playing the "Grumpy old man" routine. ¬serious.

  25. Geoff Mackenzie

    The fix will be ready ...

    ... in Q1 of 1950.

  26. Spoonsinger


    So I assume all the "old foggie Y2K" coders from the nineties have actually died of starvation and the pre Y2K years of perfecting, "leap year date technology", (and the couple of lines of code that implies), was totally lost during the last ten years.

  27. armyknife

    Better a meritocracy than titles

    I have a Geko 201, with older 2.50 firmware, tried it out today, date shows as 24 April 2008.

    However I downloaded the test route, I rode today, onto the pc and reading them in GPS Tracker, the dates and times are all correct. Well a uniform hour out, but I think I haven't got it set corectly vis GMT and UTC.

    So unless it starts acting up, I don't see this as an issue, I have a wristwatch/Calender for the correct date.

  28. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Coding like it's 1979

    Or some other time when it was thought the turn of the century was *so* far ahead all the software would be re-written by then.

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