Crazy Clocks: Risks of Automation and Distributed Maintenance

by Andy Oram

You may have read some time ago about VCRs whose clocks were set automatically through a signal from the TV--and often set wrong. A brief and clearly-written
article
(PDF) explains what went wrong in the infrastructure that was supposed to support the automated system. I think the issue has interesting implications, not only for automation, but for any distributed systems that depend on cooperation among multiple remote users.