Peter de Jager's Labor Day 1998 view : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

At is Peter de Jager's state of the Y2K union address ("Moving to Zero - September 1998: How time flies when you're having fun..."). Comments?

-- Joe (, September 08, 1998


I guess he sounds like a cheerleader to some. I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment of the situation. I guess that makes me a "Davy Crockett" type.

-- Buddy Y. (, September 08, 1998.

Mr. de Jager makes it sound so easy to "go back to pencil and paper." I agree with what Dan Hunt said in the thread above. Could it be done? In most cases, maybe, but how long will it take to train your employees? Not to mention the cost involved! Most of the computer "streamline" process has helped to keep costs down- like at Wal-Mart. Sure, they could go back to ordering the "old-fashioned" way, but then they would have to hire a lot more people. That translates into higher prices for you and me!! Plus, you would see empty shelves a lot more often. With the computer system of ordering they have now, as soon as an item is purchased, it tells the system to restock. They don't have to wait on a person to walk around and periodically check stock. Like 'em or not, the computers overall have made life a lot more efficient and cost effective. I believe the human race is very resourceful, but I also believe that the lifestyle we have grown accustomed to is getting ready to change drastically.

-- Gayla Dunbar (, September 08, 1998.

The foundation of Mr. de Jager's ever continuing optimism is now: "Most of the technology in use today is unnecessary, unimportant and perhaps even detrimental to progress, if not also to the status quo." Even if this is true (i.e., we depend on computers when in many cases the tasks that they do could be done manually like back in the good ol' days), the fact is that this is the system that is in place today. We cannot go backward (as Sen Bennett has noted), the manual overrides for railways, power plants, etc., are no longer there -- neither are the people with the expertise to use them; just a small example. You can't just go fishing around for something that seemingly will work when something else won't -- this ignores the fact that part of the Y2K problem is that computers will not be able to be trusted, so virtually everything is useless. And then of course, there are the embedded chips, and third party suppliers who may not be able to do creative fishing. I find this entire approach to be an insult -- kind of an "advanced" form of ... I hate to say it ... Y2K DENIAL! (???!!!)

-- Joe (, September 08, 1998.

DeJager wants to have his cake and eat it too. Perhaps he doesnt like being cast in the same light as Gary North in the press, and I cant say that I particularly blame him, as North holds some wacky ideas in regard to religion. He laments the typecasting of doomsayers by the press, and so, tries to intersperse good news in with the bad news, to avoid being a doomsayer. However the good news is opinion only, no cold hard facts.

His two examples of good news (taken from his article):

1) Sweden has said very clearly they will shut down nuclear power plants if there is any doubt remaining that they've addressed every possible contingency, regardless of the cost.

2) Several airline companies have said the same thing regarding flights. They will not fly planes that evening if they have any doubts as to their safety.

Let me see, shutting down electric plants, and cessation of air traffic = good news! Am I the only one who sees disconnect here? DeJager then continues with nine reasons to be concerned, followed by six assertions of good news not backed up by anything but opinion! I agree that planes will not fall out of the sky, because they will be on the ground. He continues with empty predictions that telecom, oil and gas, financial institutions, and the power grid will not fail. His reasoning: were working hard, were going to perform superhuman feats, we know its important! Please, enough fluff, Im a carnivore, give me meat. Where in his argument does he discuss embedded systems?

I could go on but I shall refrain, I like and admire Peter, he carried a torch at a time when others laughed or ignored. But please give me facts, show me something concrete on why I should not be prepared for widespread disruptions. I am not anxious for my simple little life to come to a dismal end, but I need something better than cheerleading before I stop with my plans for the worst.

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 08, 1998.

Way I figure it....if everybody (nationally) wakes up in all IT departments in every company, works their behinds off, and then everything they can think of in every which they can, at best then we will be left with 5%-7% of the problems still left to be solved.

Could be that 5% level problems could be "non-catastrophic"...painful, but non-catastrophy.

That could be termed "optimistic", but it would be better than 40% failure if we continue as-is as now. Gets back to "defining terms" on the sliding PP-OS scale. I agree, he seems to be "centering" himself away from North, but we have nothing to judge by yet.

Could we get some small isolated island (HI, NZ, UK, Japan, Greenland, Ceylon) to like, agree to shift over early (at the end of this year)?

Then the rest of us could find out what will break and what won't break. They would get two 2000 year New Year's Eve's for their effort.....

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, September 08, 1998.

All other "systems" aside. Can you imagine how many people and how long it would take to do accounting by hand? The computer has helped to make many tasks more efficient however, bar none , accounting and finance have benefited the most. I work at a small company where it takes three of us to maintain our computerized accounting system. It would easily take 6-8 to do the same thing manually. So you can just imagine how many people it would take to do the same at GM or Walmart

-- CP (, September 08, 1998.

I think deJager is a cheerleader. He makes good money giving his Y2K awareness talks. If he was too gloomy, nobody would want him. People want to hear happy thoughts so he laces the good news with the bad.

-- Dave (, September 08, 1998.

Guess what, folks: Peter de Jager was right several years ago when he said the systems were broken, but they can be fixed. He's also right when he says that they're still broken, but there are work-arounds today.

I'm cynical enough to believe that very few CEOs will accept -- in time -- the really tough stuff that has to be done if their companies are to survive.

Peter de Jager is afraid of the things he sees happening in the runs, flight from the cities, all the stuff we discuss here.......and would like to come up with some way of avoiding such. If he admits -- publically -- that there is no hope, then he has no leg to stand on in an attempt to prevent these things.

For years now he's cried that the systems are broken. For years, he was ignored. Then Ed Yourden added technical/project management creditability to the side, and Ed Yardeni gave Y2K the economic painting it needed.

Unfortunately (for de Jager), Gary North decided to capitalize on the situation, and took the position that not only were the systems broken, but that they couldn't be fixed in time. North predicted bad things, and scared a lot of people. This fear generated a lot of attention.

Gradually, awareness has crept in. Some people (and some companies) ARE working full tilt to correct any problems they have. Some aren't (in spite of Peter's pronouncements that everybody's maxed out doing remediation to the limit.)

Read what de Jager is really saying. To paraphrase: "The systems are STILL broken. They can not be fixed in time. Therefore, find new, easy to implement systems."

This message is currently as unpalatable to management as Peter's initial Y2K trumpet blowing because what's needed diminishes the company, and because he hasn't been able to put forward any really viable work-arounds.

Hardly cheerleading. After reading much of his earlier stuff, I thought there was a trace of panic in this one. That might be all that's left.

-- rocky knolls (, September 08, 1998.

Peter used to have Project Damocles where he would encourage programmers to write him and tell him which embedded systems they wrote that would fail in a dangerous manner. Then he said he would send a letter to the company warning them that they needed to remediate their systems. If the company ignored the letter, and a meltdown did occur, Peter would turn evidence over to lawyers. I wonder what happened to Project Damocles? It seems like Peter has turned from a ball-buster into an old softie and I wonder why.

-- Amy Leone (, September 09, 1998.


DeJager decided that he did not want to spend the rest of his life in court.

-- Uncle Deedah (, September 09, 1998.

Peter deJager said during one of his discussions that he had to close that project down bacause of the potential legal problems. What you know does hurt you! Even talking to someone these days is a potential lawsuit waiting to happen. Look what happened to Slick Willie!

-- Dave (, September 09, 1998.

It wouldn't surprise me if he used it to identify potential clients for his services.

-- Amy Leone (, September 10, 1998.

De Jager was told by his attorneys that if someone sued the companies referred to in the Damocles project at some future time, he would certainly get called as a witness to help determine when that company knew about its problems and who knew about it. Since there was the potential for dozens or hundreds of organizations and companies to be referenced, he risked the possibility that the rest of his life would be in court. He therefore cancelled the project and destroyed all the information so he would have no records and no reason to be called into court. <<<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>>>..

-- Dan Hunt (, September 10, 1998.

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