Paul's Take : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

"Research by one leading computer services company has shown that it will take organisations with more than 500 employees on average two and a half years to resolve the year 2000 problem." Ocean Gypsy has 'accused' me of 'spewing' nonsense. Well let's see if my reasoning is nonsense in the clear light of day.

I think that we can all pretty much hold that Awareness is 1% of the solution and that assessment is 1-2%. So that, by the time that assessment is completed, the organization will have about 2-3% of the job done with 97% to go. The above research IF CORRECT and APPLIED to the recent 10K filings of the 250 biggest firms in the US leads to some very scary conclusions.

The SEC 10K filings showed that about 60% of these 250 companies had not completed assessment by the end of Dec 1997. That means that they had not yet finished the first 3% of the job. The above research says that they would have had to have begun in the middle of 1997 to successfully conclude. And so if they did begin at that time or earlier, then they took six months to 'not do' 2-3% of the job. Now they have two years to do 97-98% of the job. And these are not companies with 500 employees. Way beyond that.

In all fairness and objectivity, I do not believe that these Fortune 250 companies will be able to successfully remediate in the finite time allowed now knowing that the costs are rapidly escalating way over the $1.10 Per LOC level. A few might. Most won't. Some of those huge companies still have not finished an assessment. And YES, I know that they are not sitting on their hands and not beginning to remediate code while waiting for a complete assessment. Irrelevant. They still do not know how big their problem is. Look at the Federal Government. At first they said they would remediate ALL systems. NOT. Then they said they could do Mission Critical systems. Now it is apparent that they can only finish about 63% of that miniscule number of Mission Critical systems. These people are not stupid. They are supposed to be experts in their field. Yet they completely misunderstood the original situation, in that it had to be pared down to MC systems and then pared down again to a little more than HALF of those. NOw, if those systems are indeed Mission Critical, and only 63% percent of them get done, what do you think it means when 37% of mission *CRITICAL* systems do not get done? Is that reason for optimism? Give me a break.

No, the information pours in every day that things are getting behinder and behinder, faster and faster, and that is ignored by the wearers of rose colored glasses.

Less than a year and a half to go. Please. Do tell me. Name any industry on the face of the earth that is 50% compliant and I will go away. (Let's be serious here and not mention electric dog polishers) Airlines? Utilities? Multi-national Manufacturers? Banks? Telecoms? Railroads? How about 40%? 30%? C'mon, now. How about 20%? Please, help me here. 10%?

Silence. But somehow, just somehow, in utter defiance of thousands and thousands and thousands of hours of highly sophisticated IT metrics performed by highly respected individuals, this situation will somehow defy all of that and spring like a Pheonix from the ashes into meaningful compliance. They are all just on the brink of success and are ready to turn the corner. I understand that the majority of you in this NG, geeks, are proud of your profession. And you should be. But that is no reason not to understand that with all the amazing accomplishments that have been made in IT, that the performance record is dismal at best and disgracefull at worst. That is not the burden of coders, but of management.

Noses-to-the-grindstone, military analogies of 'front-line' soldiers, Cheerleaders screaming "Huzzah", aside, it is not getting done. Oh, a lot of work is being accomplished, but that is not enough, overall. 25% of the all the code is in the US. The rest of the world is basically asleep at the switch. Our economy is UTTERLY dependent upon the rest of the world. Their 75% is shot. Our 25% will not even be close to being done. And let's not forget the problem of greater magnitude than IT systems, embedded systems.

It is not even possible to accurately contemplate the enormity of the scope and magnitude of the problem let alone fix it in time. The most collossal project ever undertaken by mankind, under no central authority, complete lack of coherent organization except on a totally decentralized basis, miniscule budgets, millions and millions of companies not yet started or even aware, underestimated manpower, low pay, no standards for fixes, every government wildly behind, and yet enough is magically going to be done on time. 24 months just dwindled down to 18. Where did it go? Did things get demonstrably better? No. Things are getting worse. 18 will dwindle to 12 in the blink of an eye. Will things appear better? No. More slippages will be announced. More fancy footwork by the mouthpieces rendering excuses like brackish water to be lapped up by the naive. And then it will all cave in and everybody will sit there 'stunned', incredulous, unbelieving that such a catastrophe could have happened with all the 'dedicated' hard work.

So, please, Ocean Gypsy, tell me where my understanding has gone amiss. Tell me how I am just a cynic and 'want' these things to happen. Tell me why, with no meaningful level of compliance achieved to date, that I could reasonably anticipate that to change in the next 18 months, in every industry across the board, in every country around the world. Tell me why there will be 10% ready. 20% 30% 40% 50%. Literally MILLIONS and MILLIONS and MILLIONS of companies that will become compliant in the next 18 months.

Please tell me. I will listen to you. I have five children that I do not want to be harmed. And I have to decide whether it is best to be squirreled away or whether everything will be alright. Show me convincing evidence that would lead a reasonable person to conclude that with not even a measurable level of any industry, completely compliant, that we can expect that to dramatically change.

Please tell me.

Paul Milne

-- Andy (, December 20, 1998


Gosh, his writing and manners were better six months ago.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx

-- Leska (, December 20, 1998.

So were mine Leska, so were mine :)

-- Andy (, December 20, 1998.

"I have five children that I do not want to be harmed."

Dear lord...IT's reproduced


-- Rick Tansun (, December 20, 1998.

Could someone give me Milne's URL, please.

-- gilda jessie (, December 20, 1998.

Awareness at 1% and assessment at 1-2%? Oh come on now - a common topic of conversation in the streets for God's sake - in what sort of ivory towers do you think CEO's live? Lord man, that is not even close to realistic.

-- Paul Davis (, December 20, 1998.

It took over 30 years to build the IT systems that now threaten to take our lifestyle back to the 1950's if we are lucky. I myself see no way that all of these systems can be remediated in just 2-1/2 years. The focus of purpose, the understanding of what total Y2K failure means is not there. With just 12 months left it is too late.

As a programmer myself I can very honestly say that the scope of my knowledge of IT is very tiny indeed. There is no one person who has a full grasp of IT. I say 30 + to 2 our systems are in deep trouble.

We also have children. They are my first concern not Y2K. Come 01/04/00 I will not consider going to work if I feel that it will put my family in danger.

-- Ed Stevens (, December 20, 1998.

Paul Milne's latest c.s.y2k posts

-- a (a@a.a), December 20, 1998.

# # # 19981220, Sunday


Hmmm ... This Milne post ( seeing it for the first time ), is right on target! Give the guy a break.


To the civility of this post_six months_ is an eternity in the Y2K kaleidoscope time warp. As the encroachment of 01/01/00 on global computer calendars draws nigh, expect frustrations, angst, and anger to grow exponentially in cacophonous shrill. How else does/should one express abject disgust and utter disappointment? Sitting on one's hands and watching civilization go poof is not an optionunless youre a rock.


Relentless provocation _may move DGI's into the GI camp. The trick to it all is accomplishing it effectively. What will do the trick, my friends? Whatever it takes, I say!!


Many visitors to this forum have expressed exasperation and resentments of their suasive inability with loved ones and friends on the issues. Admit it, DH's: The task of imparting Y2K awareness to afflicted populations on the planet, _is proving to be _the toughest, thankless--albeit unprecedented--PR engagement in human history!


Criers, heretofore, have been drowned in cachinnation. That economics and politics have breached the fray of Y2K, is all the more execrable. It's the computer code, stupid! It's broken!


There is nothing--political or economical--that will inexorably alter the course that lies ahead. Events are well beyond, and impervious to, political, monetary, and conative efforts. Wishful thinking, diminisheswith each passing houropportunities for the survival of societies standing on this broken code.


Ad hominem is counterproductive to the survival task. Just _what will it take_ to awaken the sheep? Cultures, tolerating "wolves" in their midst for so long, cannot, and will not, "see" the Y2K-bear in the landscape that will rend "wolves" and sheep, alike.


So be it! That's all there is to it. I, too, weep in sullen rage after hundreds of hours of gallantly fruitless efforts to awaken sleeping sheep. There is unequivocally no consolation--only consternation. We all are to be losers in the Y2K scenario.


The Y2K stealth script will play out before us; unabated, striking unmitigated, and with indiscriminate malevolence.


Can't you hear the sucking sounds? ... That's wailing and gnashing from the sheep and "wolves" sitting in subjective oblivion to the Year 2000 Techno-Ambush, in spite of all the axiomatic warnings.


Having spent Herculean efforts firing Y2K warnings, quiet rage and lament are the only reward.


I leave you with the following for personal consideration and contemplation during the throes and aftermath of Y2K ...


Psychological disconnect from externals is essential as a means of an individual's physical survival. If nothing else, Vietnam ( substitute any war here ) taught me, and thousands of others, a universal, practical, psychological defense: shrugging off the unthinkable that otherwise gets in the way of attention to survival facing the unimagined horrors of potential extinction. The phrase we usedaloud and mentallyis succinct and poignant:


** "It don't mean nothin'!" **




Get over it! Then, deal with it! 


Regards, Bob Mangus # # #

-- Robert Mangus (, December 20, 1998.

Bob Mangus;

Well said Sir. Well said indeed.

** "It don't mean nothin'!" **

It still says it all doesn't it? Even after all these years.


-- sweetolebob (La) (, December 20, 1998.

Was there really any doubt? In a country where a reporter asks "Should the President be impeached?" and is answered, "No, but he shouldn't run again?". Was there really any doubt? In a country where the daily news reports closely followed a home run contest? Was there really any doubt? In a country where a person on the street can not find on a map of the U.S. where they are. Was there really any doubt? In a country where recent studies show the general population to be 70% functionally illiterate? Was there really any doubt?

-- curtis schalek (, December 20, 1998.

First, I agree that there is overwhelming evidence that the scope of the remediation effort was drastically underestimated. The exploding IT Y2K budgets are evidence enough. However, I will dispute that assessment is only 1 or 2 percent of the effort. A good assessment of a large scale application is at least 10%. In fact, one of the reasons (probably the MAIN reason) for IT projects to be overbudget and late is inadequate assessment. Does this radically alter Paul's overall statement? Not really. You could say that inadequate managerial assessment 10 years ago is why we are in such a chaotic state now.

-- RD. ->H (, December 20, 1998.

RD: Assessment is by no means 10% of the average software remediation project. 1-3% tops. Software development is taking exponentially longer these days, as is testing.

Now in cases where the assessment reveals that there is LITTLE to remediate, I may agree with the 10% figure.

-- a (a@a.a), December 20, 1998.

You're right Bob.

It don't mean nuthin'!

RIP America.

-- INVAR (, December 20, 1998.

a @ a.a is right I'm afraid. If you are a huge corpration with hundreds/maybe thousands of systems and it takes you 10% of total man hours to just do an inventory - you, IMHO have a very good chance that you won't make it unless you started, and I'm guesstimating, back in maybe '95 at the latest. I know for a fact it took VISA over a year for the asessment/inventory phase and all these weird little systems kept being discovered, that whilst not maybe mission critical, were certainly critical to the people that used them.

And notwithstanding 'claims' of compliance VISA will be testing all through '99, one of the few company's that has it's act relatively together. I just hope that they can come up with a silver bullet to stop the propagation of imported corrupt data - at this point in time nobody in IT has figured out a way to prevent this.

So Paul's assessment of 1-3% is subjective, OK let's call it a little on the low side for certain companies, for small businesses with one system that is known to be non-compiant it is on the high side. The fact is this certainly does not invalidate his argument in the rest of his essay.

America does not live in a vacuum - we trade for our livelyhood with the rest of the world - if the rest of the world implodes IT-wise (never mind about the global economy for the moment) in the next thirteen months, then any successes in the USA will be academic at best. The only success we're all hoping for is a robust electricity system, only then will we have a chance to rebuild and repair. Everything else is secondary.

Do my question is why the hell aren't those bozo's in Washington on top of this by now, it's a national disgrace, total abject failure of leadership.

And according to the Vanity Fair article Clinton was the first one to get it over Gore back in '96. That's *four years* to work with folks.

I'll say it again, there is an agenda at work here. *NO OTHER POSSIBLE REASON TO EXPLAIN APATHY IN WASHINGTON*. To me, this is scarier than the code problem itself.

-- Andy (, December 20, 1998.

A source that is often quoted in terms of how long each stage of the classic Y2K remediation project should take is a white paper put out by the State of California:

Calif Y2K Proj White Paper

And you can peruse any number of Y2K project management books, too, to see similar estimates.

Quite frankly, at this late date, any company of any reasonable size that is not at the testing phase might as well hang it up. There is not enough time to complete the Y2K project, the deadline for which cannot be extended by one second. Regardless of how many people are put on the project (or, in view of the book The Mythical Man-Month, perhaps in spite of how many people are put on the project is more appropriate), no matter how much money is poured into the project. (And even if a company could, what about their suppliers, vendors, customers; the banks, the telecomms, the power; etc.)

Look, folks, in a word, its hopeless. Thats all Paul Milne is trying to say. And it makes good sense to me.

-- Jack (, December 20, 1998.

Sorry a@a and Andy. I will hold to my 10% number (+/- 2%). Assessment is not just inventory of x number programs with y number lines in z number systems. In a given large system, say inventory, you have to understand how the system relates to other large systems like shipping, order entry etc. I say again THE reason for large scale projects being way behind schedule and way over budget is inadequate assessment at the get go. I made a lot of money over the years getting hired to fix what other people started and couldn't finish. Just my take on it. Sort of like measure twice, cut once.

-- RD. ->H (, December 21, 1998.

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