China may be an emerging superpower, but for the moment, they are still running critical pieces of infrastructure on Adobe Flash.
For the tech illiterate, Flash was a multimedia platform used widely on the internet until 2017 – and when I say widely, I mean it was used for everything.
The platform had major security issues, however. Apple's Steve Jobs once wrote a letter slamming Adobe Flash, and it was ultimately replaced by HTML5 (the current language used for structuring things on the interwebs).
After being phased out, Adobe announced quite a while ago that Flash would be permanently disabled worldwide on January 12, 2021 with a "time bomb" they had embedded in its code.
It seems China didn't get that memo... at least for a few of their railroads that were still using the software to literally run their operations.
Around 30 train stations were knocked offline because they were using Flash to track trains' arrival and departure times.
That's when Chinese software engineers got to doing what communist-controlled China does best – using bootlegged technology to get things running again. In less than 24 hours, they had a pirated copy of an older version of Flash (without the code that would render it useless past January 12) installed so the trains could run.
"Adobe surely won't be happy to hear its abandonware will shamble on in pirated form," said James Gilboy of The Drive, "Though it'd have the darnedest time taking legal action against CR Shenyang. Copyright laws in China, as Captain Barbossa would say it, are treated more like what you'd call guidelines than actual rules."