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(NJ.com)   Fireworks company learns why you shouldn't always back up your files   (nj.com) divider line 63
    More: Followup, San Diego, San Diego Bay, Downtown San Diego, cell disruption  
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16670 clicks; posted to Main » on 12 Jul 2012 at 12:06 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-07-12 12:09:41 PM
How the fark can a computer backup system physically light a brazilian fuses? I'm either confused, stupid, or both.
 
2012-07-12 12:09:59 PM
Bumper Sticker = I Got A Bang Out Of Windows 95
 
2012-07-12 12:10:39 PM
I am sick to death of this story - They messed up...End of Story!!
 
2012-07-12 12:11:08 PM
Still the best fireworks I have ever. In, out, done, asleep with a smile.
 
2012-07-12 12:11:08 PM
What? they don't have a simulator that simulates the firing sequences before the whole show even starts?

How the hell do they even test the files in the first place then!?
 
2012-07-12 12:11:13 PM
If the backup contains extra code, then it isn't a backup. Me thinks they are trying to bs their way out of this.
 
2012-07-12 12:11:31 PM
Blaze strikes again.
 
2012-07-12 12:13:12 PM
today.lbl.gov
 
2012-07-12 12:13:29 PM
I'm not seeing any problems here.

You came for a fireworks show, you saw a fireworks show.
 
2012-07-12 12:13:51 PM

Do the needful: If the backup contains extra code, then it isn't a backup. Me thinks they are trying to bs their way out of this.


I'd guess the article was dumbed down a bit for the news.

I still wish this happened while I was there, I doubt the video is as cool as being there.
 
2012-07-12 12:15:33 PM
Should have used Zambelli Fireworks an' at.
 
2012-07-12 12:17:28 PM

MattyBlast: How the fark can a computer backup system physically light a brazilian fuses? I'm either confused, stupid, or both.


I think what they are saying is their version control grabbed some old code and mixed it in with the new code.
 
2012-07-12 12:18:00 PM
Wait the backup plan was to go balls-to-the-wall launching of everything in 20 seconds? I'm not seeing that as a "computer" error, more like "Hold my Jolt Cola and watch this" one.
 
2012-07-12 12:20:05 PM

MattyBlast: How the fark can a computer backup system physically light a brazilian fuses? I'm either confused, stupid, or both.


Outsourced computer programming contract that was sub-contracted several more times until everybody made money except the Temp worker who actually wrote it.
 
2012-07-12 12:20:21 PM
Good grief, way to over-engineer something that's been done since the 19th century...
 
2012-07-12 12:21:04 PM
Nowhere in your rambling, incoherent article was there anything close to a correct response. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
 
M-G
2012-07-12 12:23:31 PM
So they claim this can't happen again, but gave no explanation of having put any safeguards in place to prevent it....
 
2012-07-12 12:23:57 PM
So what I'm thinking happened was that someone tried to backup the code using copy and paste and missed a line when copying. The copied text was then pasted at the top of the file instead of in a new file. The line they missed copying was supposed to change the time between shots.
 
2012-07-12 12:24:11 PM
It's the perfect metaphor for the last three and a half years.
 
2012-07-12 12:25:44 PM

pgh9fan: Should have used Zambelli Fireworks an' at.


i48.tinypic.com

He did.
 
2012-07-12 12:25:58 PM
"a sequence that would fire the entire display simultaneously and then proceed to fire the display in the proper sequence,"

Sweet Mary - why are these guys wasting their time piddling around in fireworks, when they could be coding at Microsoft?
 
2012-07-12 12:26:14 PM
Yeah right the real reason is that someone missed a decimal point in the timing sequence.

/It's always some mundane detail
 
2012-07-12 12:26:47 PM
Best Video of the Snafu

Be warned, It's LOUD Clickity!
 
2012-07-12 12:27:39 PM

spentmiles: It's the perfect metaphor for the last three and a half years.


Black?
 
2012-07-12 12:28:14 PM

ZeroPly: "a sequence that would fire the entire display simultaneously and then proceed to fire the display in the proper sequence,"

Sweet Mary - why are these guys wasting their time piddling around in fireworks, when they could be coding at Microsoft?


Seriously, toss in a few more abstraction layers and virtual machines, maybe throw in a few gigabytes of RAM and a few billion transistors, and maybe, *maybe*, you'll be able to match what an 8-bit microcontroller running hand-coded assembler can do running at 1MHz off an AA battery.
 
2012-07-12 12:29:34 PM
I imagine the sequence to fire simultaneously would be to test the circuits, then the real one to actually launch the display.
Somebody forgot the line that disarms everything, runs the test, then arms. Just a guess though.

I wonder if whatever SAC is nowadays has checked their code on missile systems....
 
2012-07-12 12:35:05 PM
Sadly, the file it executed was the double file created in the back-up plan download process.

Dafuq did I just read?
 
2012-07-12 12:36:10 PM

DoBeDoBeDo: Yeah right the real reason is that someone missed a decimal point in the timing sequence.

/It's always some mundane detail


This is not a mundane detail, Michael!
 
2012-07-12 12:38:18 PM
Bob Dillon, Mr Jones
 
2012-07-12 12:42:43 PM
Much the same thing happened at Oban in Scotland last winter, although not on quite such a grand scale. In that case the contracted company went back and did it again later.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-15611160
 
2012-07-12 12:52:30 PM
So, they're saying that if everything hadn't blown up at once, it would have blown up right?
 
2012-07-12 01:02:32 PM

Mog32Kupo: Best Video of the Snafu

Be warned, It's LOUD Clickity!


AWESOME
 
2012-07-12 01:02:56 PM
I imagine the following scenario:

They have a directory where they place a "show file". The show file contains for each firework a timestamp. If the launch system detects that the current time >= launch time, it launches that firework.

A master file contains the intervals from the start of the show that each firework should be launched. The show file is produced by adding the show's start time to each firework's interval, creating a timestamp for when each firework should be launched.

So when preparing, the day before they had produced a test file, so that they could test that all the empty launch tubes are properly connected.

And on the day of the show, they forgot to remove that file; it got picked up by the igniter, which subsequently saw that the launch time for every firework had passed, and proceeded to launch them all.

Just a theory.
 
2012-07-12 01:05:00 PM

kayanlau: Sadly, the file it executed was the double file created in the back-up plan download process.

Dafuq did I just read?


How the holy fark do you execute a 'double file'?

unless...

10 call startfireworksequence.bat
20 goto 10
 
2012-07-12 01:08:38 PM
Seen fleeing the scene:
i.ytimg.com

Maybe they shouldn't have placed the launch tubes in the back of a fine china shop.
 
2012-07-12 01:15:49 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: ZeroPly: "a sequence that would fire the entire display simultaneously and then proceed to fire the display in the proper sequence,"

Sweet Mary - why are these guys wasting their time piddling around in fireworks, when they could be coding at Microsoft?

Seriously, toss in a few more abstraction layers and virtual machines, maybe throw in a few gigabytes of RAM and a few billion transistors, and maybe, *maybe*, you'll be able to match what an 8-bit microcontroller running hand-coded assembler can do running at 1MHz off an AA battery.


You sound suspiciously smart..


also buzzcut73 scares the crap out of me.
 
2012-07-12 01:19:17 PM

KingVJ: I'm not seeing any problems here.

You came for a fireworks show, you saw a

totally amazing and memorable fireworks show.

FTFY
 
2012-07-12 01:20:28 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Good grief, way to over-engineer something that's been done since the 19th century...


I know you already know this, but no chance; that show is way too big to be a hand-light. It would take a crew of a hundred to set off 7000 shells in fifteen minutes with road flares, including spotters. Plus, the mortars would all have to be lined up side-by-side. Considering most will be 3" and 4" shells, you're looking at over a ¼ mile of racks.

When you get into the 1000s of shells, you really have no choice but to go electronic. Once you add in synchronized music, you have to go with a computer-controlled show.
 
2012-07-12 01:21:55 PM

NutWrench: MattyBlast: How the fark can a computer backup system physically light a brazilian fuses? I'm either confused, stupid, or both.

Outsourced computer programming contract that was sub-contracted several more times until everybody made money except the Temp worker who actually wrote it.


No, more likely it's engineers that think they know how to write software and do IT work. I'm always cleaning up their messes.
 
2012-07-12 01:31:04 PM

MattyBlast: How the fark can a computer backup system physically light a brazilian fuses? I'm either confused, stupid, or both.


The fuses are all attached to electronic ignition modules. Each ignition module has it's own "electronic serial number" (like a unique IP addy) which is then translated to a simple English 'plug identifier' (i.e. Rack 1, Plug 6). The whole show consists of a series of Racks and Plugs. You just tell the computer when to ignite each plug in what rack using a program like FINALE or StarFire (I prefer StarFire cause they allow easy user modding of stock scripts - which saves a LOT of time).

StarFire also allows you to pull in any audio track and sync the various plugs to the exact point in the song where you want it to explode "in air". Since you have presumably already told it what type of shell is in the plug, it will (for example) intuitively ignite the plug 2-3 seconds prior to the point in the song - so that the actual "Peak Blossom Point" (PBP) occurs exactly when you want it to. There's almost no skill involved, but there is a lot of artistry. If you watch very closely at cheaply-done audio-sync shows, you will see the PBP occur off-target a lot (which means the PyroMaster is simply being lazy). It is not brain surgery, just "plug n play"...

Garden 'Sh*tty' Fireworks (what the smaller companies call Garden City Fireworks) really got sloppy on this one. There are standard protocols in place that prevent this very thing! Someone in charge got lax, period. I guarantee someone important will be fired, if they haven't already. Industry rumor (yes we have fireworks insider message boards) says that Garden Sh*tty will end up losing a hundred grand on this easy. It matters not to them really, they do year round events nationwide and have said (internally) that they will add 1-2% to all shows in 2012 to make up the loss.

Cheers
 
2012-07-12 01:32:33 PM

Enigmamf: I imagine the following scenario:

They have a directory where they place a "show file". The show file contains for each firework a timestamp. If the launch system detects that the current time >= launch time, it launches that firework.

A master file contains the intervals from the start of the show that each firework should be launched. The show file is produced by adding the show's start time to each firework's interval, creating a timestamp for when each firework should be launched.

So when preparing, the day before they had produced a test file, so that they could test that all the empty launch tubes are properly connected.

And on the day of the show, they forgot to remove that file; it got picked up by the igniter, which subsequently saw that the launch time for every firework had passed, and proceeded to launch them all.

Just a theory.


From the description, I think it's more likely they have two files, one with the proper sequence, and one to test the ignition equipment. The tester one just makes sure all the electrical circuits for all the tubes fire off, and isn't meant to be used once loaded. It sounds like they drop the test file where it's meant to go, delete it, and put in the real sequence. However, some setting caused them to either not delete the test file, or accidentally restored the test file after they deleted it. The system did a "test" fire of all the tubes at once from the test file, and chaos ensues.
 
2012-07-12 01:36:23 PM

MattyBlast: How the fark can a computer backup system physically light a brazilian fuses? I'm either confused, stupid, or both.


D) Honest.
 
2012-07-12 01:40:44 PM

Mr Guy: Enigmamf: I imagine the following scenario:

They have a directory where they place a "show file". The show file contains for each firework a timestamp. If the launch system detects that the current time >= launch time, it launches that firework.

A master file contains the intervals from the start of the show that each firework should be launched. The show file is produced by adding the show's start time to each firework's interval, creating a timestamp for when each firework should be launched.

So when preparing, the day before they had produced a test file, so that they could test that all the empty launch tubes are properly connected.

And on the day of the show, they forgot to remove that file; it got picked up by the igniter, which subsequently saw that the launch time for every firework had passed, and proceeded to launch them all.

Just a theory.

From the description, I think it's more likely they have two files, one with the proper sequence, and one to test the ignition equipment. The tester one just makes sure all the electrical circuits for all the tubes fire off, and isn't meant to be used once loaded. It sounds like they drop the test file where it's meant to go, delete it, and put in the real sequence. However, some setting caused them to either not delete the test file, or accidentally restored the test file after they deleted it. The system did a "test" fire of all the tubes at once from the test file, and chaos ensues.



My guess is that this is the closest to the real explanation. Of course whoever wrote the control software (not the fireworks company), given that it is controlling some dangerous and expensive stuff, probably should have thought to put some safeguards in to notice that the control file is a test file or not looking like a normal one and at least throw up a warning or confirmation about running a test sequence.
 
2012-07-12 01:58:02 PM

Mr Guy: Enigmamf: I imagine the following scenario:

They have a directory where they place a "show file". The show file contains for each firework a timestamp. If the launch system detects that the current time >= launch time, it launches that firework.

A master file contains the intervals from the start of the show that each firework should be launched. The show file is produced by adding the show's start time to each firework's interval, creating a timestamp for when each firework should be launched.

So when preparing, the day before they had produced a test file, so that they could test that all the empty launch tubes are properly connected.

And on the day of the show, they forgot to remove that file; it got picked up by the igniter, which subsequently saw that the launch time for every firework had passed, and proceeded to launch them all.

Just a theory.

From the description, I think it's more likely they have two files, one with the proper sequence, and one to test the ignition equipment. The tester one just makes sure all the electrical circuits for all the tubes fire off, and isn't meant to be used once loaded. It sounds like they drop the test file where it's meant to go, delete it, and put in the real sequence. However, some setting caused them to either not delete the test file, or accidentally restored the test file after they deleted it. The system did a "test" fire of all the tubes at once from the test file, and chaos ensues.


You are 100% correct. There is a simple standard program that even the most basic of choreographed shows uses. It's only function is to send a test signal to the entire system at once to make sure EVERY connection is in place. You do this ONLY, and I repeat ONLY, when you have hooked up all the racks and double secured each connection and default. The problem is (and it's not a problem usually) is that the test fire program home screen looks VERY much like the "Launch Event Program" homescreen in FINALE (the software Garden Sh*tty Fireworks uses). If one was to accidentaly leave the test fire window minimized and forgotten about, it would be very easy to hit "launch" on it instead of the actual program.

However, on EVERY pre-ignition checklist is an item at the very beginning "ENSURE ALL IGNITION TEST PROGRAMS ARE DISABLED" - it's pretty much the number 2 item after "ENSURE PERSONNEL ARE CLEAR"

The only way to have this error is to be lax on the checklist. Someone dun goofed!
 
2012-07-12 01:59:16 PM
so...id10t error? S.U.E.? and so on...
 
2012-07-12 02:03:39 PM

Quantum Apostrophe: Good grief, way to over-engineer something that's been done since the 19th century...


They've been shooting five simultaneous synchronized displays (with music no doubt) spread over 14 miles of waterfront, since the 19th century?

Me, I'm happy with a bunch of steel-pipe mortars and some guy with a highway flare running around lighting them... small-town style. But major urban shows are two or three leagues above that these days.
 
2012-07-12 02:06:23 PM

Optimus Primate: Mr Guy: Enigmamf: I imagine the following scenario:

They have a directory where they place a "show file". The show file contains for each firework a timestamp. If the launch system detects that the current time >= launch time, it launches that firework.

A master file contains the intervals from the start of the show that each firework should be launched. The show file is produced by adding the show's start time to each firework's interval, creating a timestamp for when each firework should be launched.

So when preparing, the day before they had produced a test file, so that they could test that all the empty launch tubes are properly connected.

And on the day of the show, they forgot to remove that file; it got picked up by the igniter, which subsequently saw that the launch time for every firework had passed, and proceeded to launch them all.

Just a theory.

From the description, I think it's more likely they have two files, one with the proper sequence, and one to test the ignition equipment. The tester one just makes sure all the electrical circuits for all the tubes fire off, and isn't meant to be used once loaded. It sounds like they drop the test file where it's meant to go, delete it, and put in the real sequence. However, some setting caused them to either not delete the test file, or accidentally restored the test file after they deleted it. The system did a "test" fire of all the tubes at once from the test file, and chaos ensues.

You are 100% correct. There is a simple standard program that even the most basic of choreographed shows uses. It's only function is to send a test signal to the entire system at once to make sure EVERY connection is in place. You do this ONLY, and I repeat ONLY, when you have hooked up all the racks and double secured each connection and default. The problem is (and it's not a problem usually) is that the test fire program home screen looks VERY much like the "Launch Event Program" homescreen in FINALE (the software Gar ...



Great to know -- Thanks for having the inside knowledge on the particulars.

Being a strong study in software usability, I know that the problem with written checklists is that after you run the stuff more than a few dozen times, you just start clicking through those things because it looks the same every time. The software really should be able to detect the potential problem and throw up a warning that looks different from what you normally see.
 
2012-07-12 02:11:34 PM
San Diego fireworks 'disaster' = GIGO.
 
2012-07-12 02:27:03 PM

MorePeasPlease: KingVJ: I'm not seeing any problems here.

You came for a fireworks show, you saw a totally amazing and memorable fireworks show.

FTFY


And loud.It reminded me of a Warthog doing a gun run.
 
2012-07-12 02:33:00 PM

Do the needful: If the backup contains extra code, then it isn't a backup. Me thinks they are trying to bs their way out of this.


If you RTFA it wasn't just a backup. It was a failover system. That still doesn't really explain why it had code to fire them all at once but as was hypothesized in the original thread I imagine it had something to do with testing. Bottom line is some software people farked it up.

I've broken the build before. It's quite a bit deal at certain times and it makes me pretty anxious. I can't imagine being the guy who broke the live July 4 fireworks display.
 
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