People who are not computer programmers may not fully understand what the Twitpocalypse is and how it effects the wonderful twitter software they use every day.
In computer programming there is various types of data. Strings which are textual pieces of data, floats which handle decimal data and there is integer which handles whole numbers (yeah just like in math class). There are others, but the one that we are concerned about is the integer data type.
Computers represent integers typically using 32 bits. 1 bit to represent the sign of the number (negative or positive) and the other 31bits to represent the actual integer value. Being that computers only have 31 bits to represent the number means that computers can only represent a certain range of numbers. This range is from -2,147,483,647 to 2,147,483,647. If you try to store the value 2,147,483,648 it will be too big. Computers compensate for this by rolling around to the negative end and store the number as -2,147,483,647. Just like the odometer does on your car. When you run out of numbers it rolls around and starts from zero. This is known as an "overflow".
How does this work in the Twitpocalypse? Well, tweets on twitter are associated with ID numbers to keep track of them. This ID is based on an integer value. The number of tweets on twitter has reached (and surpassed already) this value. Any software you use to access twitter that uses a standard integer data type to store this ID will reach the overflow limit and start showing you negative numbers; or worse yet crash. Now hopefully most software out there has already compensated for this and used a data type that can hold larger integer numbers (like the long integer type).
So that is what it means. It is the allegedly "doomsday" number where twitter software may crash. Much like the Y2K bug was for the millennium. If your twitter software is giving you problems then it might be related to this bug.
Hope that clarifies things!
Update: Software list that is allegedly affected....
1) Tweetie (busted search apparently and trends were experiencing problems)
2) Twitteriffic (appears to be limited to apple store version only, not desktop)
3) Tweetmic (connection or timeout errors reported)
4) Twinkle (sat at loading screen)
5) TweetDeck initially was effected but has since released a patch
6) Destroy Twitter prior to their 1.6.4 update
7) Twidroid prior to their 2.1.6 update
This post has been edited by Martyr2: 13 June 2009 - 11:38 PM