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Disabling Flash paralyzes Chinese rail for a day



Passengers carrying luggage call a concrete terminal.
Enlarge / Dalian Railway Station.

In 2017, Adobe announced that it would disable Flash by the end of 2020. Earlier this month, January 12, Adobe implemented its plans and disabled Flash installations worldwide. One result, according to the Apple Daily, was chaos on a Chinese railway in Liaoning province.

Officials at China Railway Shenyang use Flash-based software to plan daily rail operations. As a result of the outage, Apple Daily said, “employees were reportedly unable to view train operation charts, formulate train sequencing schedules, and arrange shunt schedules.”

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As a result, the railroad was unable to send its trains, “which led to the complete closure of the railways in Dalian, Liaoning province,” according to the Apple Daily.

After a day of chaos, the railway found a solution: it got a pirated version of Flash without the self-deactivating code. The railway installed it early in the morning of 13 January, so that the operation could be resumed.

Officials reported the incident in a post on the Chinese social media account QQ.

“After more than 20 hours of fighting, no one complained and no one gave up,” they wrote (according to Google Translate). “Although there is little hope, it is a motivation to move on.”

The post attracted some ridicule on the Chinese Internet, with observers pointing out that railway officials could have expected this problem and developed a non-Flash broadcasting system months earlier. The post was removed, but a copy is still available at archive.org.


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