Why Are You Optimistic?greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
There are some optimists here and, although they have said a lot, I haven't really been able to detect an actual argument coming out of the optimistic camp. OTOH, the optimists frequently chide those of us who are seriously concerned about a possible meltdown, often citing examples of companies or agencies who claim to be far along in their remediation.
My own reasoning as to why there will likely be massive breakdowns is simple and I'm wondering if John Howard, Woe Is Me, et al. would care to tell us where this particular equation fails to describe the likely outcome:
1) The world's code inventory is broken, across all industry and agency lines.
2) The outcome if the code isn't fixed is devastating.
3) ~25% of software projects are late and ~25% are cancelled before completion. Statistically speaking, those projects that are not late will still retain a significant portion of bugs after 2000.
4) 25% late + 25% cancelled + residual bugs = Big Breakdown.
I don't see any "spin" there and it all adds up to a pending catastrophe. Anybody care to find the flaw in that?
-- Franklin Journier (email@example.com), October 26, 1998
You want Y2K optimism? I'll show you Y2K optimism! (Not me, literally, I'm a card carrying Y2K Meltdowner.) Check out http://www.InsideTheWeb.com/messageboard/mbs.cgi?acct=mb179366 These people think that Y2K is complete hype, and are ready to rumble.
-- Jack (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 26, 1998.
The world's about to have a global campout. I like camping. (Hot showers are great too). Will everyone choose to gather around the global campfire, sing songs, and generally HELP one another with this Y2K meltdown?? Or do choose to fortify your bunker and shoot everyone on sight?
The choices each of us make are what will really determine how serious Y2K gets to be. Just remember, WE ARE ALL IN THIS ONE TOGETHER.
-- Diane J. Squire (email@example.com), October 26, 1998.
I don't think any of the optimists who regularly post here are optimistic to the point of believing that there won't be serious problems. I, for one, am optimistic that it won't be the worst-case TEOTWAWKI scenario. It won't be business as usual but I doubt things will fall to a level requiring wilderness survival skills.
-- Buddy Y. (DC) (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 26, 1998.
I think that approx. 1/3 of the world's population is dependant on food, medicine and technology provided by the 2/3 s that can provide it. If the advanced economies of the world can no longer provide such aid, within a very short time the worlds population will be lessened by that 1/3. I am not a globalist by nature or political inclination, but the thought of death in such numbers tends to sadden me very much. Mind you, it does not have to get real bad in the western world for aid to be cut off.
Bill in South Carolina
-- Bill Solorzano (email@example.com), October 26, 1998.
I am simultaneously optimistic AND pessimistic. Let's get the dark stuff out of the way first. I am pessimistic mainly because:
- The task is unbelieveably enormous.
- The systems upon which we depend are incredibly intertwined and interdependent. It is a 'tangle hierarchy' on a massive scale.
- Computer/information technology is still in its infancy. We don't have the same 10,000 years of experience that we do in, say, structural architecture.
- Many businesses and govt organizations started way, way too late to complete a technical fix. Many organizations have not faced up to that fact.
- Many claims of readiness are based verbal or written statements of their suppliers and vendors rather than on testing.
- The domino effect.
- The ongoing work of Senator Bennett, Senator Dodd, and Cong. Horn indicates that we are in deep trouble.
- The problems will be occurring simultaneously. (No, not everything fails at midnight 01/01/0000. This is only a 'peak' for problems that have already started. Our civilization is pretty good at handling sporadic, dispersed failures. But this will be the biggest clustering of failures we've ever dealt with.
- Carrying capacity. This, more than anything else, gives me grave concern. Ask any hunter or conservation officer worth his/her salt about the concept of carrying capacity. The human habitat is arguably more susceptible because we live in an environment where our machines have artificially raised the 'carrying capacity' of our human habitat. Extended, simultaneous disruptions would be catastrophic.
- The lack of independently verified information. Many companies and organizations have claimed "don't worry, we'll be there". Are they telling the truth? Some are. Some aren't.
- Many places around the planet are not doing as well in their Y2K efforts as we are (not that we have much to brag about) and we ARE affected by what happens around the world. We are not an island.
- The vast majority of people, especially the vast majority of Americans, have never faced hard times. Their reaction to disruptions, even minor ones, may not set the kind of examples you'd prefer to have your kids see.
That's not a complete list but it gives you an idea. Now, on the positive side, I'm optimistic because:
Like most here, I'm constantly pulled by both sides. While the potential for disaster on an unprecendented scale certainly exists, so does the potential for cooperation on an unprecedented scale. It's pretty much our choice. The monsters are due on Maple street.
- The future, to a great extent, has not yet been written. We can either accept the script others choose to write for us or we can make our own choices and write our own chapters. Your choice.
- Work is being done. Many organizations and people are taking this very seriously. Much work is being done and many are making viable contingency plans. Not enough yet, but there is progress on this front. Some technical work will be completed. Some will not. Will it be enough? Just maybe - if the rest of us are prepared to take up some of the slack and endure a bit of hardship and inconvenience for a while.
- Awareness is increasing among the general population, albeit far too slowly. The more the general population prepares, the better we all will be able to survive any disruptions which do occur. The less likely we are to panic. It is, by and large, both our preparations for and our reactions to any disruptions that do occur that will determine the extent of the damages.
For example, if a 1 month outage of electric, sewer, water and phones occurred tomorrow morning, I wouldn't panic. I have food and water and shelter and heat. No need to panic if your prepared. I also no longer need to 'rush to the store' to buy supplies - no long lines to wait in (Whew!). Many of my neighbors would not be so fortunate however.
- The Internet. The Internet is the one wild card here. It's very difficult to keep a secret when millions of people are talking to each other. The people I've met here and other places on the Internet have helped me to: face reality (several versions ), to not panic, to understand my concerns and fears, and deal with them in a responsible and practical manner. It is a marketplace of ideas, some good, some bad, but there's also a lot of 'gray area'. There are a growing number of people on the Internet doing what they can, in there own way, to avert and/or mitigate the potential for disaster. They do this by providing information on a myriad of topics. They provide support and place to bounce ideas off of. Even Scary Gary has provided a much needed service. I have this little unproven theory about the Internet and Y2K which can best be summed up as "This changes everything." Help me prove my theory and everyone can keep their furnaces and hot showers.
(At once an opti-pessimist, a PollySayer and a DoomAnna, and the guy who said "Save the Hagen-Daaz! - Send it to Iowa and I'll guard it for you! (Some bartering charges apply)")
-- Arnie Rimmer (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 26, 1998.
I'm not optimistic after learning I have to drive all the way to Iowa for my Hagen-Das
-- rocky (email@example.com), October 26, 1998.
"I don't think any of the optimists who regularly post here are optimistic to the point of believing that there won't be serious problems. I, for one, am optimistic that it won't be the worst-case TEOTWAWKI scenario. It won't be business as usual but I doubt things will fall to a level requiring wilderness survival skills. "
Darn it! You stole my answer. I would add though that I think wilderness survival skills may not be REQUIRED, but they may be helpful.
-- Rick Tansun (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 26, 1998.
Franklin said, "~25% of software projects are late and ~25% are cancelled before completion."
Those who have read my posts before know my husband is a programmer/information specialist with a worldwide computer consulting company. While he is not directly working on Y2K, he is affected by it on some of his projects. One of the large jobs that is partly his responsibility was supposed to go into production TODAY on a Y2K compliant system. (Wish I was a techie so I could explain this better) The system it has been running on was not compliant. Anyway, problems abound! They have been working on it for a long time, and it was supposed to have been completed long ago. Everyone thought they had it just about complete, but the more work they did, the more new "bugs" showed up. They worked around the clock this weekend frantically trying to get it finished. When my husband collapsed into bed late last night, he said it still wasn't ready. Today, he told me there was a lot of chaos, plus some yelling going on. (Keep in mind these are professionals.) It's now the end of the day and they still aren't finished. The good news, I guess, is that they are working on it now and didn't wait until late 1999. The bad news: this is just ONE job on ONE system. Will all of the companies who say: we expect to be done by ---- 1999 make it? I just don't think it will happen. January 1, 2000 is one "completion" date that can't be altered.
-- Gayla Dunbar (email@example.com), October 26, 1998.
I'm "in between" too. I don't know how bad it will be, but I'm not looking for a meltdown. I have an alternate source of heat, I'm stocking up on essentials, and expecting some big problems in the public sector. I don't think large numbers of us will be killing each other.
Most of us who have researched Y2K see electric power as the key to the severity of the situation. If you want an education, in terms a layman can understand, go to http://www.y2ktimebomb.com/PP/RC/index.htm. After reading through Dick Mill's articles, I'm much less concerned about long-term (1 week +) blackouts. With only short-term electrical problems, in scattered areas, the impact of Y2K failures will probably be more economic than social. I see some businesses failing, directly causing hardship for certain individuals and other businesses. In most cases, someone will step in to take up the slack, but prices will rise in the short term. The same thing will happen to those dependant upon government services, but since they don't operate in the same market as private business, the problems will be more acute. (Who will make Medicare payments if Uncle doesn't? (Sam, not Deedah)) Foreign trade will be messed up too, but not completely. Yardeni is looking for a 70's type recession. Those were hard times, certainly, but far from a meltdown. Am I optimistic? That depends on your definition.
-- Mike (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 26, 1998.
I'm very optimistic. I'm optimistic I'll live through 2000 and beyond, no matter what. Everyone around me will die, but me, I'll live.
-- The Optimist (email@example.com), October 26, 1998.
Arnie wrote: "Like most here, I'm constantly pulled by both sides. While the potential for disaster on an unprecendented scale certainly exists, so does the potential for cooperation on an unprecedented scale. It's pretty much our choice. "
I agree completely with the first sentence. As for the rest -- both those potentials may be manifested -- it won't be one or the other. They go together.
I remember deciding one day when I was five years old -- that was in 1930, mes enfants -- that I really wanted to see the year 2000. It just seemed important. Didn't know why then, never did figure that out.
Now I think I know.
-- Tom Carey (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 27, 1998.
"As for the rest -- both those potentials may be manifested -- it won't be one or the other. They go together."
Yep, I fully agree, it will not be one or the other but some combination of both that compete for what will or will not eventually happen. Thanks for clarifying that.
-- Arnie Rimmer (email@example.com), October 27, 1998.
Franklin, If my positions have seemed optimistic that was only in comparison to some of the extremely fatalistic views expressed on this topic. I am certain there will be problems as there have already been Y2k problems but we will muddle through because a great deal has been done and will be done to minimize the damage. For a moment just examine the foundation of your argument for the worst case scenario. You use the oft stated claim that Y2k projects will be late because xx% of IT projects are late. The argument has been refuted on this forum in the past so I'll paraphrase the rebuttal. Most IT new development projects are late because the people requesting the new systems are continually changing the specifications and this "scope creep" results in a great deal of re-work. Once you are assigned your share of a Y2k programming project you know what has to be done and the specs aren't going to change. To be sure the overall scope of an organization's Y2k project may continue to grow as additional systems are added to the list to be repaired but the lady fixing the payroll software using the windowing technique can go on her merry way with her work and get it done on time because the specs are frozen. When you couple this fact with the growing evidence that the embedded systems problem has been at least somewhat exagerated and you throw in the fact that we still have 14 months and you add to that the fact that many of us have worked on projects that are indeed more complex and labor intensive than Y2k (merging disparate IT departments comes to mind) and mix in a little common sense regarding the hyperbole about how interconnected our systems then you can discover that all is not lost. Now my question how can you not question the prophets of doom and gloom when so much of their prophecy has already failed? Remember all the date horizons for the '99 problem? Have you seen evidence of one passenger vehicle which will not function because of a Y2k problem? If such evidence exists then Ralph Nader would have to be in on the cover-up. There is good news and bad on this topic, try to read both with an open mind.
-- Woe Is Me (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 27, 1998.
WHAT "99" problem are you referring to, Woe? Its still 1998 (at least it was when I started reading your post, prior to dozing off). And there is still, today, not a single Y2K compliant bank, electric utility, telecomm, etc. And things are as interconnected as ever. Re "scope creep", you mean nobody says "Hey, a long as you are in there changing those dates, could you add ...". (This used to be one of Peter de Jager's big worries about Y2K code remediation. Back, of course, when he did worry about Y2K code remediation.)
-- Jack (email@example.com), October 27, 1998.
A very good overview. Let me add a thought for the pseudo-pollyannas out there.(You know who you are!!) In a sense, TEOTWAWKI is (will be) a local event. That is, if in your particular locality, the power goes down, marauders appear, riots ensue, the attack choppers come over the horizon, disease breaks out, your family dies--all of this in two weeks.... Do you really feel better knowing the other 70% of the country is doing okay? YOUR world (as you knew it) has changed forever. Hmmm, I like that as a saying (hear me Milne?)
All TEOTWAWKI is local!
-- R. D..Herring (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 27, 1998.
Jack, I knew you would respond. You must constantly guard this forum to reply to any comments suggesting progress. The 99 problem was supposed to rear its ugly head several times this year as governments entered Fiscal year '99. You are so learned on Y2k I don't see how you missed those prognostications. Sure some folks will have you try to slip in some things and some programmers who have the autonomy to decide on adding those things will slip in some changes beyond the Y2k fixes but these instances pale by comparison to the traditional scope creep which causes projects to be late. Anyone who has developed software knows this. Y2k is a maintenance exercise not a new development project. Now tell me Jack how many vehicles can you prove will fail due to Y2k problems? How many banks need to be Y2k compliant in 1998? How can anyone claim to be totally Y2k compliant? There was recently some good news posted on this forum regarding a banking industry service provider. Of course you took exception with that news. Y2k is big and complicated but it will not be the end of the world. It may end quite a few careers both in government and in business and it will almost certainly cause most of us a great deal of inconvenience but it won't bring our society to a screeching halt. Gotta go now, I'll check back in a few days. In the meantime, Jack, I know I can count on you to keep the troops in line and guard against any clever devils trying to post signs of progress. You know, of course, that all of us who contest TEOTWAWKI are agents of the New World Order and we post this Pollyanna stuff to keep the sheeple in the dark! This message will self-destruct in 30 seconds; 30,29,28,27........BOOM!
-- Woe Is Me (email@example.com), October 27, 1998.
Actually, Woe, given the context of this thread, I was going to give a lot of slack, and not try to poke holes. But your claim of "99" problems in 1998 due to fiscal year rollovers is outrageous. Fiscal year rollover to "00" in 1999 is indeed a well publicized Y2K worry, but I have never heard of anything like this projected for 1998. The only projected Y2K related problems that were expected to occur in 1998, that I have ever heard of, were going to be the side effects of introducing new bugs into software as people madly tried to Y2K remediate code that would then be put into production. But, given the lack of progress there, of course there has not been any significant problems. AND, as far as embedded chips in automobiles, surely they don't care about fiscal years, so look for that to be a Year 2000 occurence. (AND-AND, this New World Order stuff ... I dunno, Woe, I think you are getting kind of stressed. Breathe in, breathe out. Use more periods in your posts.)
-- Jack (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 28, 1998.
Just ask Diane. Can we call her Di (save all that typing) is that OK.
-- Richard Dale (email@example.com), October 28, 1998.
Good post from Woe. Although most of his "arguments" still consist of assertions, he did present one good argument that deserves reply.
I suspect it's wishful thinking to suppose that Y2K projects are going to fare any better than other software projects in terms of their timeliness. But Woe suggests that they will, because they lack the same "creeping scope" as other software projects. This is a good, if not convincing, argument. I'm happy finally to get an actual argument from the optimistic crowd; at least it gets us beyond, "Things will be fine because I want them to be fine. Things won't be bad because I don't want them to be bad."
My reply is that I doubt Y2K projects will fare better than the statistical averages. Y2K projects will likely have the same creeping scope problems as other software projects for the following reasons:
a. Many companies have completed their inventories only recently or worse yet not at all. That means in the aggregate they really don't know the scope of the problem yet. It's late 1998.
b. External interfaces with other software packages are still not fully identified and not fully defined. This will cause scope creep as different external entities change what they expect to see from a given company/agency.
c. I suspect that the "mission critical" vs. "non-mission critical" list for most companies and agencies is still in flux. It will have to be pushed toward a larger proportion of mission critical since, after all, those systems exist for some reason and even contigency plans take time. Again, creeping scope.
d. There will likely be any number of instances in which a software team starts a project using, say, a windowing technique only to find out later that this won't fully solve their problems, perhaps because of external interfacing or some such constraint. So they'll have to circle around and try something else. Creeping scope.
e. Working on other peoples' code is an excruciating experience; hidden repercussions frequently expand the scope of even "maintenance" coding well beyond what one originally suspected was necessary (I am a software engineer by profession so I know all about this from personal experience).
That's just a partial list of the possible ways a Y2K project's scope could creep significantly. I think the argument does not correspond to reality.
Also, Yourdon has made the point that Y2K schedules are likely not really made by asking "How long will this really take?" but rather by realizing "This is how long we have" and simply making up a schedule from there. Those professionals such as de Jager and Jones who were warning way back in 1996 that "if you don't start by late 1997 you're not going to make it" were almost certainly right, but since they were ignored the present reality has to be spun into something less gloomy.
On Good News: Of *course* there's some good news out there! The statistics don't say that 0% will finish on time, just that 50% won't (I'm oversimplifying). Given the reality that some percentage will indeed make it on time and that some other percentage will simply lie even if they will not, the relatively small amount of good news and lack of third party verification we have right now keeps me pessimistic.
So, that's my take. I'm still a pessimist. I'm still planning for Richter 8-9 out of 10.
But thanks for trying, Woe. Any other takers?
-- Franklin Journier (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 28, 1998.
Frankllin, good follow-up post. Although most of your comments were mere assertions two are worthy of reply. First, you repeat the common myth that companies that are just completing their assessment are all in the formative stages of Y2k remediation. If you really are doing Y2k work and doing it right then you should know that remediation can and should begin before assessment is complete. I shouldn't have to explain that no-brainer to a "software engineer" but in case anyone else is interested here goes. The first mission critical system identified as needing repairs is sent to the repair crew and they begin fixing the code while assessmnet continues. It's that simple folks, Y2k projects do not follow the simplistic, linear progression that is used to buttress the most hyperbolic claims. The other point worth discussion was about the deadline being determined by the time available. Franklin, you must not have moved around much in your software engineering career if you have not had to work your way through a corporate merger. Typically, those of us who have experienced mergers, in which the IT functions of the merging companies must become one, have had to deal with arbitrary deadlines. Anyone who will claim that Y2k projects are more complex than converting all the applications of one company's IT portfolio to the applications of the victorious IT function is simply blowing smoke where the sun don't shine. Yet most of us have survived those arbitrary deadlines and eliminated the redundant systems as mandated by management. Nice try Franklin, come back when you have "walked the Y2k talk."
-- Woe Is Me (email@example.com), October 29, 1998.
Do you mean a merger like the one between Union Pacific Railroad and Southern Pacific Railroad?
That IT department integration sure went well, didn't it?
-- Hardliner (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 1998.
The "creeping growth" fatal in Y2K projects is that ever evolving boundary where people keep finding new problems. The original scope remains the same (keep the process running in Jan/Feb 2000), but more and more data interfaces and problems are found.
To your husband - my congratulations on his success in getting to the "easiest", but most rewarding, most important part of the project- testing.
See, before now, its all been theory and guesses and coding - intelligent guesses perhaps, but still only guesses about assumed conditions and mythical interfaces. Now, he KNOWS what doesn't work and can go fix it. Each problem found (now, not later) is one that is removed, permanently. One less problem to worry about. One step closer to actually getting the stupid thing to finally run successfully.
Unfortunately, I can't hazard a guess about what will fail next, or how amny undiscovered problems remain, but at least he and his team are at a point where they can begin finding that out.
"Ya done good."
-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (email@example.com), October 29, 1998.
Hardliner, thank you for your profound, in-depth, thought-provoking contribution to this dialogue. And Nanny Nanny Boo Boo to you too! Robert, good points - I didn't say it was easy just that it is more doable than some would have you believe and that most of the doers have a track record of managing difficult assignments. Life's a bitch and then you Y2k.
-- Woe Is Me (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 1998.
Woe Is Me wrote:
<< Frankllin [sic], good follow-up post. >>
<< First, you repeat the common myth that companies that are just completing their assessment are all in the formative stages of Y2k remediation. If you really are doing Y2k work and doing it right then you should know that remediation can and should begin before assessment is complete. I shouldn't have to explain that no-brainer to a "software engineer" but in case anyone else is interested here goes. The first mission critical system identified as needing repairs is sent to the repair crew and they begin fixing the code while assessmnet continues. It's that simple folks, Y2k projects do not follow the simplistic, linear progression that is used to buttress the most hyperbolic claims. >>
I made no such claim; you are reading way too much into what I did say. The swipe at my professional credentials/experience was unnecessary, but given that you failed to interact with what I said it went wide of the mark anyway. All I said was "Many companies have completed their inventories only recently or worse yet not at all. That means in the aggregate they really don't know the scope of the problem yet. It's late 1998." My point, very simply, is that there is bound to be project "creep" in companies in which the inventory is not yet complete. Period. It's a point that can't really be argued with, but feel free to try.
<< Although most of your comments were mere assertions two are worthy of reply. >>
Yes, they were rather assertive. Are you disputing them or just ignoring them? Regardless, it's not hard to buttress the points:
1) Company inventory: Specifics abound for companies/agencies that have only just or have not at all finished their inventories. See especially NERC's and GAO's reports incomplete inventories in their respective spheres.
2) External interfaces not defined: The Social Security Agency is the classic example here. They were charting their progress based on their federal systems. Then, Whoops!, somebody mentions that they have to remediate their external interfaces with each of the 50 states. Just a bit of project creep there.
3) Mission critical vs. non-mission critical: We see this with the gov't in reverse, downgrading mission critical systems to non-mission critical. Anybody want to bet that this will go the opposite direction and we find out that some systems are mission critical after all? Don't have a specific example so I guess this qualifies as a bare assertion (I'm right, though).
4) Dead-end fixes: Don't have a specific example here so I won't make much of it. Still, I suspect this will happen more than once across the Y2K remediation universe. Do you disagree and if so, why?
5) Working on other peoples' code: I wrote, "Working on other peoples' code is an excruciating experience; hidden repercussions frequently expand the scope of even "maintenance" coding well beyond what one originally suspected was necessary." This was not merely assertion, it is based on my personal experience. Do you actually dispute this statement? Surely not. It is my constant professional experience and I find it hard to believe that I am out of the ordinary.
<< The other point worth discussion was about the deadline being determined by the time available. Franklin, you must not have moved around much in your software engineering career if you have not had to work your way through a corporate merger.
I've moved around plenty but I have fortunately evaded such trauma. Now please, Woe, tell us honestly how many such mergers you have experienced and how many of them went smoothly and hit the ORIGINAL target dates for all mission critical systems. There may be some; give us specific examples. Hardliner's point which you too breezily brushed off is well taken; people died because of software problems in the latest railroad merger.
IANS (In a Nutshell), Woe, your shots went wild. I'm pleased (in a sense) that you had so little criticism of the actual points I made; I take it that the argument as a whole is valid, namely that Y2K projects are every bit as susceptible to "creep" as any other project. That means that the statistics for software projects in the aggregate should hold for Y2K projects specifically and that means:
25% late + 25% cancelled = Big Breakdown
-- Franklin Journier (email@example.com), October 29, 1998.
Franklin, if you feel you have proved your point then we must agree to disagree because you still have shown me no proof. I have survived two mergers in different industries. Prior to the merger mania of the past two decades I worked in a data processing service bureau and converted scores of companies from other services to ours. Sorry, if I offended you but I am a little tired of the hyperbole that passes for evidence in discussions of Y2k. Hardliners comments were shallow and irrelevant, no apologies are in order. "Tolerance is a virtue of people who have no standards."
-- Woe Is Me (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 29, 1998.
Woe is Me wrote:
<< Franklin, if you feel you have proved your point then we must agree to disagree because you still have shown me no proof. . . . Sorry, if I offended you but I am a little tired of the hyperbole that passes for evidence in discussions of Y2k. >>
No problem--you didn't offend me at all. Basically, I'm not sure what you mean by "proof." My original point is that software metrics alone suggest a major breakdown due to too-late remediation. Your point was that Y2K projects are different because they have a well defined scope that's not vulnerable to "creep" in the same way as other projects. I suggested at least five ways in which they will indeed be vulnerable in that way and I can't see that you've addressed those. That's why I still consider my argument valid.
But you're a fine and honorable sparring partner and that means a lot these days.
Still gearing up for an 8 or 9.
-- Franklin Journier (email@example.com), October 29, 1998.
Since you have, "walked the Y2k talk",
and "have survived two mergers in different industries",
and "Prior to the merger mania of the past two decades", ". . .worked in a data processing service bureau and converted scores of companies from other services. . .",
perhaps you would be so gracious as to enlighten us all as to the irrelevance of the multiple train wrecks, loss of life, massive railroad traffic problems across the western US and the intervention of the federal government into the affairs of the Union Pacific and Southern Pacific railroads, all of which have been publicly attributed to the merging of those two companies IT departments.
Surely with your great expertise you can explain that, even to someone who makes such shallow comments as I do.
I understand that it was, and still is, such a problem that the feds have forbidden a similar proposed railroad merger on the east coast.
Do you know about that, too? If so, please comment on it as well.
Thank you in advance for your expert and courteous reply.
-- Hardliner (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 30, 1998.
Union Pacific and Southern Pacific had severe difficulties with computers after the merger. It was a nightmare. I hate to disappoint you but they have worked through those problems. How do I know? I watched a newstory on CNBC a few weeks back and it was reported tha things were starting to move quite smoothly. Sure it was a disaster, but they survived. Again, sorry to post good news here. You all better get some depressing books to read after this website disappears in 15 months. Sure would hate for you not to have any doom and gloom in your life.
-- Believer (OYe@littlefaith.com), October 30, 1998.
The point is that quite a number (I think over a dozen) people died from computer failures in a single merger in one industry. I'll betcha the economic losses were in the tens of millions. Now, multiply that by a thousand--12000 people dead, $10 billion lost. But a thousand system failures is pipsqueak stuff when we look at the number of systems that are really affected by Y2K. Let's say we multiply it by a million, worldwide--that's a meer 12,000,000 dead and $1 trillion lost. That's without the domino effect. Impossible, you say? Tell me why not.
Actually, I think you're a mole here anyway; some of your comments in other threads don't have the ring of a true Y2K disbeliever, they're too pat and manufactured. I'll bet you're just playing around here, eh? C'mon, fess up, how much food and fuel do you have stashed?
-- Franklin Journier (email@example.com), October 30, 1998.
Enough for a year. But it's because I'm a Mormon not because of Y2k.
-- Believer (OYe@littlefaith.com), October 30, 1998.
I have heard/read several articles proclaiming difficulties in 98 when fiscal years roll over to 99. In fact, one was fairly recent. I held my breath for a few days(that's hard to do!) but nothing happened. I had to conclude this particular aspect of y2k was a non-event.
-- deborah cunningham (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 31, 1998.
Regarding the change from 1998 to 1999,
Might have been, might not have been "an event." Certainly not a lot happened, but there are 250 million peopel in the US alone (even more if our neighbors and future kinjs from Canadians take over 8<)), and the news media is ignoring many events, not aware of many others.
For example, if a state or local computer system failed, and the sys ops and agancy staff found and corrected the problem, who would they tell? Who would listen? If it did fail, (and data was corrupted) when would they find out? Who would they tell?
Wouldn't they naturally rather just "tell" the other affected state or county offices, and not the newspapers? If a IRS or treasury report was all screwed up, wouldn't they try to just re-issue the report, rather than "advertise" their failure? All above assumes they recognize it as a fialure:
I've seen hundreds of bugs lay in a program for a long time without being discovered....the problem with Y2K is that it will be a simultaneous unavoidable stress on millions of systems in hundreds of millions of different places at the same time. It is the cumulative effect of that stress that is critical - plus the unavoidable nature of the crisis - it cannot be changed by decree or desire.
-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (email@example.com), October 31, 1998.
Believer "Enough for a year. But it's because I'm a Mormon not because of Y2k. "
You are a hypocrite. Anyone that would prepare for tribulation because his religion mandates it and then demean those same preparations (and the security they bring) by others because their reason is different is a pig.
Go play with yourself somewhere else.
-- Will Huett (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 31, 1998.
Nothing you say matters. None of your reasons nor any of what passes for thinking in your mind matters. This is all very nice cheap entertainment, but it doesn't matter.
The people in this country ARE GOING TO PANIC.
Whilst we sit here debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, the enormous energies for that panic are building steadily.
I have been on this forum since July of 1997, when Ed put his book online free. At that time, and for most all of this year, this forum resembled a small town square on Sunday afternoon. Very often days went by with no new posts at all. Reading everything here took no time. I left town for most of September, and since my return, the growth here is nothing short of breathtaking. It represents an increase in awareness of several orders of magnitude out there, Woe.
Next year it will build to maniacal proportions. Nothing can be done to stop that. People must prepare, NOW. Any debate that slows that will cost people their lives. Guys like you are doing harm in ways you lack the ability to fathom.
All this wasted bandwidth on what's going to happen is a great tragedy. FWIW from someone who has been wrestling with y2k for almost two years now, give it up.
It is too late for your kind of input. It doesn't matter anymore.
It doesn't matter, Woe.
It doesn't matter.
The panic is inevitable. To all the newbies here, don't listen to soporific prattle from guys like Woe. Start buying your food and water and do it NOW. Then come chat.
-- Will Huett (email@example.com), October 31, 1998.
The Chicago Sun-Times Sunday 11/1 edition had a huge front-page headline titled "Year 2000 computer fears bring out survival instincts". Inside the article continued with TWO FULL PAGES of survivalist TEOTWAWKI text, complete with pictures of dehydrated food/water purifiers/gold coins and GAS MASKS, and interviews with some I'm-digging-a-hole-and-climbing-in types. This is one of the two major newspapers that services the greater Chicago area - population 13,000,000. Soooo, kiddies - all you that have been planning to prepare just got some competition. We are in a race against time. I agree with the above post that basically says, "stop debating and get your supplies the heck ordered, TODAY". The first of a number of inevitable panics that are coming may actually happen BEFORE THE END OF THIS YEAR. You should not watch one more second of TV, read one more Reader's Digest, or surf one more minute of the net, UNTIL YOU ARE PREPARED. Then, relax and watch the posts to see if you've missed any minor items (like wind-up radios...)
-- Bill (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 02, 1998.
Will Huet, what a brilliant essay you have posted here. Now let me see if I can recount the best evidence you presented for your end of the world guaruntee. Oh yeah here it is: It's all over because Will said so. Man, that should be good enough for all the newcomers you are trying to rescue from the truth. Thanks Will for showing us all what a thoughtful debater you are and proving the value of your contributions.
-- Woe Is Me (email@example.com), November 02, 1998.
I don't think it's a waste of bandwidth to talk about what the likely scenarios are. The more we know about what will work and what won't work, the more time and energy can be devoted to fixing what won't work. Also, I would rather have a good idea of what to prepare for, rather than simply preparing for the absolute worst case. The absolute worst case can't be prepared for anyway. I don't think 2 years worth of food will last you 2 months if things are as bad as the worst-case doom predictors expect.
-- Buddy Y. (DC) (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 02, 1998.
Dear Believer, Although I don't agree with the Mormon religious beliefs (that stuff added to the new Testament)I have had the most wonderful experiences in the past few months with Mormons in helping me to prepare. To Will and others, the mormons prepare for all disasters to include weather, economic etc.... the people here are very organized for any emergency not just food and water(they told me where to buy my 55 gal barrels for$3.50 ea.)but in helping each other out to include people like me who are not members. and within their community they have an unbelieveable system set up to cover what ever is needed by their members, such as who has what tools and equipment and skills available to be called on. What a blessing! We should all be as organized within our families, churches and communities. Diana
-- Diana (email@example.com), November 02, 1998.
"Woe Is Me",
As it seems that you have said all that you intend to in response to my comment and later request, I shall address you and your "reasoning", if it may be marginally referred to as such, in terms that you must understand--your own (maybe even that's a stretch, but I'll try).
You made the statement, "Tolerance is a virtue of people who have no standards." We'll start with that.
Accuracy is a standard. I adhere to that standard. I will not tolerate inaccuracy without exposing it. I suggest that "getting to a meaningful answer" would insist upon it as well. The readers of this thread will judge for themselves.
The first inaccurate statement you make is, "Once you are assigned your share of a Y2k programming project you know what has to be done and the specs aren't going to change."
One of my immediate family members is firmly involved in the Y2K remediation project for a medium sized trucking company and has been since its inception several months ago. In that amount of time the specs have changed from the original windowing scheme to another windowing scheme three different times, to 4 digit dates and back again and most recently to yet another window spec, all based on new revelation as the inventory proceeded in parallel with the remediation. The reason for all the change is that they keep discovering a need to work outside the latest date window. Each change necessitated rework of some of what had already been done.
Here is a real example of the inaccuracy of your statement, and I suspect that others would not be too difficult to find. This trucking company is not that different from any other MVS shop I've ever been in.
You apparently commit the logical error of assuming the general case based on the existence of the specific instance. If you do this very often, such code as you may write will be really fun for someone else to fix eventually.
You admit that the scope of the project may grow with time, and expect us to swallow the premise that somehow "more work" is cause for optimism while "re-work" is not. This one's a no-brainer.
Next you want to couple your (hopefully slipped past us so far) inaccuracies, ". . .with the growing evidence that the embedded systems problem has been at least somewhat exagerated" (what 'evidence'? You've not presented any nor even referred to any! Furthermore, if you've spent something over, ". . .the past two decades", in the IT environment, it seems very unlikely that you would know an embedded system from an electric pencil sharpener! Do you know what a suppressor grid is? Do you know what ECL means? Do you know what TTL means? How about DIP or VLSI?)
The fact is, that there is no coherent body of knowledge about existing embedded systems. The great majority of them are unique and user specific. When you find accurate and specific Y2K relevant information about embedded systems, it is applicable only to a small number of them, probably within the same enterprise and almost certainly within the same industry.
It seems very probable that you know even less about embedded systems than I do. The difference between us is that in the course of designing, constructing and installing enough embedded systems to make a fair living (in the chemical industry) I discovered just how ignorant I was, and am, of the entire embedded systems universe.
Then you want to, ". . .throw in the fact that we still have 14 months. . .".
So what, "Woe"? Serious people have been ringing this bell for longer than 14 years and it hasn't made a difference!
Now we get to the parts where we're really glad that we're all wearing hip boots. You want to, ". . .add to that the fact that many of us (did you mean, "those of us who REALLY know what we're doing"?) have worked on projects that are indeed more complex and labor intensive than Y2k (merging disparate IT departments comes to mind). . ."
"Woe", do you have any idea how foolish that sounds to someone who understands, even partially, how massive the Y2K problem is?
Even the IT department merger that I asked about (UPRR & SPRR) is as a grain of sand on a beach to the massiveness of Y2K.
Finally, beyond ego, you want to, ". . .mix in a little common sense regarding the hyperbole about how interconnected our systems [are]. . ."
It's obvious to me that most everyone here knows that common sense is not very common, but in your case, I suspect that that is new information. Common sense would seem to indicate that if the G4 satellite goes non-functional and millions of pagers quit, millions of cell phones quit, and millions of credit card POS terminals quit, then all these items are interconnected. Hyperbole? "Woe", give us all a break!
Oh, yeah. You end up this particular "drool string of logic" by saying, ". . .then you can discover that all is not lost".
"Woe", I personally don't know if all is lost or not, but I DO know that it might be. I DO know that Y2K is a big deal. A very big deal. I have a fair amount of experience with the technologies of our civilization, but I still cannot come close to fathoming the total picture.
But, then, I'm just the voice that makes shallow and irrelevant comments (by the way, what does, "Nanny Nanny Boo Boo", mean?)
Lest you call me arrogant, "Woe", again I quote your own words, "Tolerance is a virtue of people who have no standards."
I could continue, but it seems pointless. This is a pretty sharp crowd and they can see your logic (or lack thereof as they may see it or not) for themselves.
BTW, Franklin, I admire your courtesy and generosity in calling "Woe" a, "fine and honorable sparring partner", but IMO he's not fit to tie your gloves.
-- Hardliner (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 02, 1998.
You are quite correct that Woe is "shooting blanks" in his argumentation. His whole premise is that Y2K projects are somehow qualitatively different than other software projects--therefore the industry statistics don't apply. He has yet to establish this and has yet to meaningfully interact with your and my counter-arguments.
I think he is a victim of tunnel vision and vast oversimplification. Also, you are absolutely correct--he points to specific happy-faced reports and posits from those that all will be well. But the statistics don't say that 0% will not be finished on time, only 50%. So of COURSE we will expect some real success stories. But it's not the fixed systems that will get us; it's the broken ones.
For me this is still primarily a numbers game. There are no significant real-world failures yet. Rather, there is a body of data about what is broken, what effects it will likely have if these systems are not fixed, and statistically how many of them will not be fixed by the deadline. That is what I have based all of my personal preparations on--but it is still an abstraction based on analytical thinking and not based on live evidence. That's why most people are not preparing and why Woe has an easy time scoffing. When the real- world breakdowns start then people will kick into high gear and the stampede will start.
But the numbers don't lie and Woe has yet to even begin to challenge the validity of the numbers.
Still planning for a 8 or 9 (and praying for a 5).
-- Franklin Journier (email@example.com), November 03, 1998.
The panic is inevitable. To all the newbies here, don't listen to soporific prattle from guys like Woe. Start buying your food and water and do it NOW. Then come chat.
It is even more effective to simultaneously buy food and water, chat now, prepare your home, contingency plan in your communities, create awareness in your city, state, country, and world, plan in the event that things get so bad that you have no option but to move (or stay put), stay informed, mobilize the intelligent people in all walks of life, come up with solutions while identifying the ever-shifting problems, really prepare your home (or bunker), and plan for a Y2K party. All of the above makes sense to Y2K newbie me.
Still planning to trust in guidance and intuition, too.
-- Diane J. Squire (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 03, 1998.