Number of Y2K workers is greatly under estimated. : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From talking to the people I know in the programming and LAN management areas, there are a lot more than 20% of the total of the trained US computer work force who are trying to fix Y2K problems. Shucks, if you look only at my title, you get LAN Manager, but for several months Y2K problems have been my major concern. Lots of folks tell me the same thing, and I really think you are making a major underestimate if you think only 20% are working on this problem. I think 50% would be a real minimum, and that would not be counting electricians and electrical engineers who are testing PLC's etc. Shucks, if the county hires a kid next summer, and the county engineer trains him to identify problems with the traffic light controls and gives him the master key to the boxes on the poles, and the kid tests all the boxes in the county and reports on which ones the engineer needs to fix or replace - that kid helped solve a Y2K problem! And you can bet he isn't counted as a Y2K expert! That is part of the reason I don't think it will really hit the fan - gross undercounting of the number of people working on the problem. Not all problem solving requires a PhD, or even a BS. OK, what do you think - are the numbers under reported or not?

-- Paul Davis (, September 28, 1998


ok wow thanks for fixing the problem....

-- ron (, September 28, 1998.

I can make free time, is there any chance of me fixing a Y2K problem and stay at home and get paid for it at the same time?

-- Bardou (, September 28, 1998.

Might seem obvious, but those of you who have shared so much hard facts and practical information are ALSO "Y2K workers", and greatly appreciated.

-- Melissa (, September 29, 1998.


I took a look through the Seattle Times classified ads a few weeks ago at IT jobs. There were numerous pages of small ads - and I could only find one or two out of hundreds that remotely looked like Y2k remediation jobs. Admittedly, companies may be using their current employees for Y2k and new hires for other stuff. ...............

-- Dan Hunt (, September 29, 1998.

:Not all problem solving requires a PhD, or even a BS.

That part's right. But --

First, the rest of your reasoning assumes that the degree to which solutions are developed is directly proportional to the number of bodies thrown at the problem. This is not necessarily the case.

Second, with an inflexible end date the real question becomes, "Did the company (agency, etc.) begin early enough so that all remediation, including testing, can be completed on time?" The answer to that question appears to be, "No!" in many cases.

-- (, September 29, 1998.

Dan - another thing I didn't mention is the large number of businesses that have said "chuck it" in response to Y2K. Basically, they have just decided to replace all mainframe and mini hardware and software with LAN based client server programs. I have been contacted by several recruiters looking for people to fill positions in this area. No, it isn't listed as Y2K work, but it surely fixes part of the problem! Almost any job you see involving Powerbuilder will most likely be this type of work. Powerbuilder is the tool of choice when converting COBOL and FORTRAN data to the formats expected by todays client server applications.

-- Paul Davis (, September 29, 1998.

The fact remains that MOST businesses (small and mid-size) are either doing NOTHING or started very late.

I keep a close watch on the job market. There is NO demand for Y2K jobs; at least nothing advertised as such.

-- Steve Hartsman (, September 29, 1998.

does anybody want to compare the number of systems running on mainframes against the number running on client-server systems? how long will it take to rebuild all those mainframe systems on the new client server systems?

-- areseejay (, September 29, 1998.

The fact that there could be any question whatsoever regarding Y2K work shows how little attention is being paid to this problem. I think part of it is continued denial on the part of management, but also just the way today's business operates, only being concerned with the upcoming fiscal quarter. If Y2K were taken half as seriously as it should be, there would be no question as to who was doing what when and how to fix it.

-- Joe (, September 29, 1998.

I can see it now...a kid on every corner!

Texas Terri

-- Terri Symington (, September 29, 1998.

Paul, thank you for your words of encouragement. I know you are doing what you can. I'm not sure where someone got the idea that a client/server could come close to replacing a mainframe system. That is some serious disinformation. Regarding manpower and utilizing human resources. I think that is an excellent idea. In fact, the only way we could possible avoid a crisis with y2k is to marshall the public in an effort not seen since World War 2. However, with regard to embedded systems you would only get a location and accounting of where embedded micro systems could be. You wouldn't get a precise number of chips and which have date criteria, what the chip functions, if the chips are compliant, are able to be replaced or if a whole new system must be installed, etc. In essence, you would get information, but it wouldn't be completely reliable. And, someone with an understanding of the technology involved would have to go out and check and replace or upgrade the systems. Also, you don't take in to account that many of these systems have no compliant replacement or if you could even identify the manufacturer of those chips to contact them and determine if the chips are compliant. Regarding mainframes. It is unlikely that most businesses would have the capital to invest in new systems and new programs and then to customize these systems and complete the task before TSHTF. Paul, there is a shortage of programmers. There is a shortage of time. What we do in the U.S. will not help our trading partners overseas or across our borders. Furthermore, fixing traffic signals is the least of our worries regarding y2k. And, what good are traffic signals if there is no power? Paul, you understand networks and data sharing. You must understand the huge problem that could occur if bad information is shared between a compliant system and a non compliant system. In all honesty Paul, I'm a graphic artist who runs my own business. I have a couple Macs utilizing a little EtherTalk LAN. I'm no IT professional, but, I've done some serious homework. I think you should do some further investigation before you feel optimistic. Start with the WhiteHouse, the Senate, the Congress, the Government Accounting Office, the NERC, the DOE... the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon, the Justice Department... they think we have serious problems coming our way... they're making plans. I'm an optimist. I want that Marshall Plan. I want to get people involved. Lets start preparing our communities for the disruptions and stop thinking all the problems will be solved. OUR GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY STATED THAT THERE WILL BE PROBLEMS. Let's get to work and build some bridges in our communities. Traffic lights will mean nothing to an angry mob of fathers who have lost their jobs, recieved no welfare, received no pensions... THIS IS REAL STUFF... THIS IS REAL. please, keep your happy face,

-- Michael Taylor (, September 29, 1998.

please, keep your happy face, but don't bury your head in the sand.

-- Michael Taylor (, September 29, 1998.

Michael, everything you wrote is on-target, but applies to a different time, perhaps circa 1994 at the latest. Its too late to do that stuff now.

-- Joe (, September 30, 1998.

Joe... I know you're totally correct... I'm moving toward complete acceptance. I guess I just want that one last push as a way to bring people together.

-- Michael Taylor (, September 30, 1998.

There are not enough lifeboats. Its too late for everyone. There is still yet time for the few who are aware and prepare.

-- Joe (, September 30, 1998.

Michael, your ideas are wonderful, but here is the reality, too. I've talked about this before, but it was before you came to the site, so I'll repeat it. My husband is a programmer with a worldwide computer consulting firm. He has been with this company for 11 years. He is NOT working on Y2K. Why? He is making lots of money for the company with what he IS doing. With 2 raises in one year's time his salary increased 16%. Obviously, they want to keep him right where he is. It would be great if everyone would give their all to fixing Y2K, the reality is THEY'RE NOT!

-- Gayla Dunbar (, September 30, 1998.

Yes many companies have outsourced their Y2k hack work to India. Have heard that y2k has contributed $8,000,000,000 to that country's software industry. It has given them a foothold in the worldwide software scene, next they will be trusted with major new developments, not just maintenance. Its happening in Figroup UK.

-- Richard Dale (, October 01, 1998.

Terri, client/server programs on modern micros can and do replace mainframes in many applications. The Corps of Engineers just replaced their old system for tracking expenses with just such a system. The computing power of hundreds of micros on hundreds of desks is MUCH greater than the power of any mainframe. As a matter of fact, most mainframes aren't especially powerful machines as regards raw computing power - they are optimized for I/O with hundreds of ports capable of supporting a terminal for each port. The last mainframe I wrote programs for, in COBOL (yep, while not listed as Y2K work we were told to watch for Y2K problems) was a Honeywell machine with two processors, each of which ran at 2 mhz. A good micro now runs at 400 mhz or better. The I/O optimization for the mainframe is the real thing, not the raw power. Servers and Wide Area Networks are capable of providing better I/O than mainframes at a lower cost and better responsiveness. WANs have their own Y2K problems, but are generally easier to solve as most WAN Y2K problems arize in the router and hub software, and can be fixed by swapping a floppy disk and rebooting the equipment. (Yes, the software can have Y2K problems - but most LAN/WAN software gets replaced every 4 to 5 years, and the newer programs are Y2K compliant.) Please believe that many many mainframes have been replaced by WANs and client/server apps. Thats why IBM stopped all research involving mainframes several years ago. They just aren't selling any more.

(Now I will get blasted by a lot of folks who love mainframes telling me how wrong I am. But the fact is there are a lot more people exchanging information over WANs that have ever used a mainframe terminal.)

I have never claimed there will be no Y2K problems. But there are a lot more people working on these problems than most realize, and they are solving a big hunk of the trouble. I just don't put a recession or disruptions in air travel on the same level as the end of the world. I have said before and I say again - What I expect - given what I have seen - is six months to a year of varied problems, most solved in a few days, some (which will get the real publicity) taking months to fix. The level of problems will probably be about like a major flood that just won't go away. This isn't the end of the world, just major inconvienence.

-- Paul Davis (, October 02, 1998.

I guess everyone sees Y2K through whatever colored glasses that they wear. If you just see it as a SOFTWARE problem, especially if you see it as a MAINFRAME SOFTWARE problem, then that will obviously limit your field of vision considerably. The reality is that Y2K affects all kinds of hardware and software, and thus all kinds of life sustaining infrastructure (e.g., electric power), and kinds of interdependencies. I am starting to see that just about every "optimistic" Y2K view these days (since everyone pretty much admits that it really is a problem) is based on the following: "Hold everything else constant -- i.e., assume that it will not be affected -- then explain Y2K effects in terms of the one thing that you are not holding constant (e.g., mainframe software)." (Actually, this is just Y2K denial in a more advanced state.) of utilities and life sustaining support systems, and all manner of

-- Joe (, October 05, 1998.

Whoa Joe, (hey, I'm a poet) I am certainly not looking at this as just a mainframe problem. I was just pointing out that one area often overlooked where a lot of Y2K corrections are being made is the conversion of mainframe apps to WAN client/server apps. BTW, I just ran a search on the deja news server for current jobs containing Y2K. I got 10,322 hits. There are certainly jobs in Y2K fixes, and many are not advertized as Y2K. My whole point here is just that, many Y2K workers are falling through the cracks as it were, and not being counted as working towards preparing the nation for next year. This leads to overly gloomy projections of what will happen. I expect troubles, some severe, some not so bad and probably some we will think are funny. I don't expect the kind of things where millions of people will die from freezing or starvation which I have seen here. That is much worse than I would expect given normal conditions (Assuming we don't have the worst blizzard in 40 years hit in late December, and then no one can work on power transfer station problems because they can't get to the stations etc.). We will have problems enough without exaggerating the possibilities.

-- Paul Davis (, October 05, 1998.

Paul, I now understand where you are coming from, thanks for the clarification. Now, I'd like you to understand something: Regardless of how many people suddenly get counted as being Y2K workers, regardless of how much money might get counted as being spent, the make-or-break issue is TIME. Nobody, for no ammount of money, can delay Y2K deadlines (yes, plural, because I'm including early fiscal year rollover dates). There is, today, not a single Y2K compliant electric utility, not a single Y2K compliant bank, not a single Y2K compliant telecomm, etc., etc. We will not have a Y2K compliant world in time. The result COULD indeed be a lot of deaths due to freezing and starvation.

-- Joe (, October 05, 1998.

In answer to Joe, I think we've got to look at the definition of "compliance". If an organisation has many systems with say a few potential y2k problems does that make it "non-compliant". By non-compliant people think that the organisation cannot function at all. This is of course nonsense. Everyone will experience some y2k problems, it may be fatal for some whilst an irritation for others. Some services will be affected others not. Many organisations will survive even if they haven't fixed all their systems.

-- Richard Dale (, October 06, 1998.

My local small town bank has a Y2K fixer and the bank assures me it will be compliant by Y2000. Fixer was hired this last August fresh from school. He has programmed in basic and fortran. I went to teller and withdrew all money except minimum required $100. Question? "Did I leave too much in bank?

Secondly, I am relatively new(few months) to surfing Y2K and on all sites Yourdon, North, Hamasaki, etc. I find no category devoted exclusively to examples of GOOD reported fixes of problem. Have I missed something or do I conclude this problem is NOT being fixed. It seems to me some sites ought to be screaming about valid fixes.

H.A. (don't bother to tell me what H.A. stands for, my wife has already informed me)

-- H.A. (, October 06, 1998.

Welcome to the world, so far there is little "good" news, no "great" news to share - the best that can be said is that "some" companies are "beginning testing"; of those, "none" are complete, "all" have found many nasty, unexpected and many more unintended problems than they thought they would have, and "none" have declared themselves fully compliant.

On the plus said though: more people are becoming aware of the problem; more companies are beginning inventory, triage, reprogramming, and alternative solutions, and progress is being made. Also: the car industry is generally in agreement that the embedded chips in cars and trucks themselves aren't expected to have Y2K problems. That only leaves getting fuel, cargo, payroll, finances, funding, taxes spare parts and inventory management left to solve. Plus comunication, plus ....

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, October 06, 1998.

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