Computer Virus Blamed for San Diego’s ‘Big Bay Boom’ Fireworks Mishap
The company responsible for last week's "Big Bay Boom" Fourth of July fireworks mishap in San Diego is blaming a computer virus, but CIO.com blogger Constantine von Hoffman isn't buying that explanation. Here's why.
By Constantine von Hoffman, CIO
There is a chance you are one of the three people in the world who hasn’t seen the video of the world’s shortest major fireworks display. If you are, watch the following video. I’ll wait. After all it only takes 15 seconds to watch all of the $400,000 worth of fireworks go off. Actually I think I’ll watch it again, too.
Now if you were Garden State Fireworks, the company hired to run the synchronized explosions over San Diego Bay, would you want to admit you were incompetent? Of course not.
“We did last year’s show, and this one was to be even bigger,” August Santore Jr., co-owner of Garden State, told the San Diego Union Tribune. “We did this show in 15 locations around the country last night, and this was the first time this has happened. No one is more saddened than we are.”
So what do you do? Blame the computers, of course!
The nation’s fireworks industry is watching the fallout from the San Diego show as Santore tries to isolate what he said appears to be a virus in the code that synchronizes the firing of shells.
Blaming computers is usually a 100 percent ironclad alibi for everything from crashing a car to voting for Ralph Nader, but in this case, as they say in Texas, “That dog won’t hunt.”
“Everything was in sync,” Santore said. “The computer coordinates in milliseconds. A signal was sent to the barges and had a corrupted file that said, ‘We’re going to fire everything.’”
Sure as hell sounds more like a bug or a configuration error, doesn’t it? It also seems a mite odd that San Diego was the only one of the 15 shows Garden State performed on the 4th that was hit by this virus. Also, that would have to be a very specifically designed virus. It didn’t shut down the system, afterall.
If you don’t buy this reasoning, I also have the testimony of an IT industry expert Ace Big Brother IT Security Hack who happens to live in San Diego. (I asked him if he missed the show because he sneezed, but he said no he was in a small town that paid a whole lot less for a fireworks show that was a whole lot more successful.) He gave me a technical explanation the next day that can best be summed like this: “They screwed up during testing.”