IITS is taking steps on Tuesday, November 24, to deal with a recently discovered bug in the College voicemail system’s software. This bug prevents it from recognizing dates beyond November 24, 2015. This would render the system unable to correctly announce when messages were recorded. The workaround for this involves changing the system’s date to a prior year that has a calendar pattern that matches 2015.
What Does This Mean for Voicemail Users?
Based on the information we’ve found, there is the possibility that the system will erase voice messages because of this bug.
Our system only retains voicemail messages for 30 days. Since the change in the date we’re making is greater than 30 days, it likely will mark every message as being out of that 30-day range and delete them as it would any old message.
We ask that you check your voicemail toward the end of the day on Tuesday and write down the content of any important messages. Please check it again Wednesday morning to ensure that your voicemail is working normally.
Can’t You Just Leave It Alone?
This problem is one of those where there are no perfect fixes. As described above, the system runs through a daily “cleanup” process. This process purges messages that were not recorded in the last 30-days, and we believe that includes messages that the system thinks were recorded sometime in the future. This last point is important.
If we do nothing, the date will loop back to January 1, 1984. Every message on the system will have been recorded in the future and therefore be “cleaned up” as part of the daily process. In addition, every new message will be recorded and date stamped incorrectly. January 1, 1984 was a Sunday, so messages recorded on Wednesday the 25th would be marked as having been recorded on a Sunday, and the time of the recording would be incorrect. Messages recorded on the following day, a Thursday, would be marked as having been recorded on a Monday, and so on.
If we change the date to November 24, 1987 we still have the problem with the system thinking that messages were recorded in the future and being “cleaned up.” However it happens that the calendars for 1987 and 1988 were identical to 2015 and 2016. Therefore, we believe that if we change the date to November 24, 1987, when the system announces the day of the week that a message was recorded it will be right consistently for both the remainder of 2015 and all of 2016.
There are very few systems like ours remaining in operation, and we’re working as quickly as possible to replace our voicemail system with something more current as part of an overall review of telephone issues. Meanwhile, we believe we must take this stopgap measure.
We’ll keep you posted as we work on plans to update our telephone and voicemail systems and appreciate your understanding as we address this unexpected problem.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time.