Doing the math: Normal Distribution & Y2K : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

One of the things I find most alarming just 12 short months away from Y2K is something called normal distribution and how it applies to the number of companies involved in Y2K remediation. Now I'm no statistician (and in fact would appreciate any input on this from someone with significant experience in statistics) but like many people I have a basic understanding of the concepts involved.

I will try to keep this as simple as possible. For those unaware, normal distribution refers to a 'bell curve' shape that is seen on an X/Y graph when data values are plotted on the X-axis and the number of data points assuming that value are plotted on the Y-axis. This could be something as simple as test scores where the score is plotted on the X-axis and the number of students receiving that score is plotted on the Y-axis. (Remember 'grading on a curve'?)

The concept is extraordinary important and it shows up everywhere in modern life. It would be impossible to list all the places where this normal distribution shows up but there are countless examples: the age of a human being mapped to the number of humans who are that age, etc. Closely examining the curve of scientific results is frequently used to evaluate the quality of an experiment or study.

As it applies to Y2K remediation, I would like to map the date a company completes its remediation efforts to the number of companies that completed their remediation by that time. The curve will look similar to the following:

               |                * *
          # of |              *     *
     companies |            *        *
        & orgs |          *            *
           who |        *                *
     completed |      *                    *
   remediation |    *                        *
  by that date |  *                            *
               | *                              *
                        date (month and year)

Experience tells me that remediation efforts will have a normal distribution, that is, it will be a bell curve. The curve can be a flattened out (if the standard deviation is high) or a spike (if the standard deviation is low).

So just what does the normal distribution curve look like for Y2K remediation and where are we currently at on the curve? With the huge number of companies, governments and organizations involved in such projects, I would think that if, as the PR statements indicate, 'most projects will make it in time', then there should already be THOUSANDS of such groups claiming to have reached that goal. I've heard maybe (at most) 100 companies make such statements. But thousands of others have simply said 'we're making great progress' or 'we're on track' or similar.

Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert when it comes to calculating standard deviations and presenting this is a purely scientific context, but it seems to me that either we are VERY early in the curve (very bad news) or that, for some reason which I'm unable to determine, the vast majority have actually completed remediation (unlikely) or that normal distribution does not apply to Y2K remediation (I think this even more unlikely).

Your thoughts?

-- Arnie Rimmer (, January 05, 1999



What you're describing is an excellent idea. The problem is that specific information on Y2K is hard to come by. We've been left with noting which companies have missed their remediation deadlines...

-- Kevin (, January 05, 1999.

The level of remediation achieved by an organization is not a yes/no state& this property admits of degrees. The probability of achieving a level of y2k-readiness sufficient for survival is likely to be neither normal nor symmetric. It's liable to have a negative skew (peak is shifted to the right) through 1999 as many systems achieve y2k-readiness closer toward the finish line. After that is the corporate die-off. More to the point would be a model of failure rates for commercial, private, and institutional organizations. This would be a positive-skewed distribution with the peak shortly after the rollover and a gradual decline subsequently. Failure curves are usually modeled with one of the gamma distributions such as the lognormal probability distribution function. A good book for more info on this is "Probability and Statistics for Engineering and the Sciences," by Jay L. Devore.

-- Jon (, January 05, 1999.

Forget all the high fallootin math, the notion that by now we should have many living examples of Y2K readiness from our banks and utilities -- especially considering that a number did start quite early and have been working diligently -- is just plain common sense!!! The absence of this verifies the awful truth: Y2K cannot be fixed.

-- Jack (, January 05, 1999.

Exerpt from Margaret Wheatley's "Leading Through the Unknowns of Y2K"

The Nature of Complex Systems' Failures"

Complex systems failures share a set of distinguishing features:

  • the longer they unravel, the more extensive their effects

  • costs always far exceed what has been budgeted for amelioration

  • as effects materialize, unknown interdependencies become visible

  • the more that problems come into focus, the fuzzier they appear

  • past experiences with simple systems dont apply

  • cause and effect are impossible to track

  • consequently, there is no one to blame
  • These features describe the most frightening realization about complex systemic problems: They are inherently uncontrollable. They cannot be understood sufficiently either before or even while they are occurring, therefore prediction and control are impossible. Traditional approaches to management simply dont work.

    -- Critt Jarvis (Wilmington, NC) (, January 05, 1999.

    Just turning off the hotlink from the previous poster...

    -- Dan (, January 05, 1999.

    Your lack of information doesn't verify anything. Every time some company says it fixed Y2K, you don't believe them. You claim they lie because of stock holders. You don't accept the truth and then say the lack of data implies we won't make it. My company has fixed Y2K for critical system and we're on track for the rest by June. Do you believe me? Of course not. I heard my city utilities have tested and fixed their systems. Do you believe them? Of course not. Not accepting the data you hear doesn't negate the data. It only verifies you're an idiot.

    I've found the best way to approximate the failure rate is through the normal distribution. It's actually the binomial (failure or success) for large n. You can easily find the expected value of X (failure) assuming completion of remediation.

    Troll Maria

    -- Maria (, January 05, 1999.

    But Maria - your own analysis shows the danger of your assumption of "it will all be okay, with only minimal problems."

    Let us assume you'r correct: that the distribution is a bell curve. Then the fact that so few are now even able to claim "ready to test" and even less "finished testing" - indicates that we are on the very start of the curve - certainly less than 1-2% complete in any category, perhaps less than 1% in most fields and governments.

    So, if now less than 1% are complete, when will the "crest" arrive? Remember, the crest only shows that 50% have completed claimed to finish testing - which indicates that half of all utilities, industries and government services will have disruptive, possible catastrophic, failures, irritations and confusions. Each week delay in the "crest" - which will be impossible to quantify in any real case anyway - after June, indicates that a ever larger number of industries and government agencies will not complete at all until Feb, Mar, Apr, May of 2001 - if at all under service disruptions and emergencies.

    And you are forgetting that the crest only represents "claimed" compliance - there will be millions of cases of errors and ommisions - even in the best of cases - where things will fail anyway due to unforseen problems.

    Youe complacency is unwarranted by your math.

    -- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw GA) (, January 05, 1999.

    Bell curves don't apply because we can't evaluate ahead of the fact (1/1/2000) the degree of misinformation being disseminated nor the near-total lack of a standard for determining percentages of compliance, definitions of mission-critical systems, etc. Putting it more charitably, not even responsible programmers know *for sure* that compliance is compliance. That is the nature of software fixes.

    This cuts both ways. The situation could be better than we think (more work done but not published or declared due to litigation concerns) or less.

    With non-software dependent systems, one would expect many to reach compliance all-at-once towards the summer of 99. However, software projects historically exhibit a different pattern (reference: Yourdon article on "deja vu").

    A more interesing curve (maybe someone could map it) would be the slippage in declared Y2K schedules (you know: we'll all be compliant in Dec. 98 and then spend 99 testing) compared with historical metrics. Capers Jones has done some of this, but not to my knowledge for the actual, ongoing Y2K "progress" declarations.

    Bottom line: huge portions of the world's infrastructure won't be compliant. This is a done deal and almost not worth discussing. What we don't know, even now, is whether it will be a 2 or a 9 and we *can't* know.

    We can only control the level of our preparation, with money to spend being a major but not the only major component.

    So, it's not whether the world is Y2K compliant (it won't be by a long shot), it's, "are you Y2K compliant, ie., ready?" Where are you on that bell curve?

    -- BigDog (, January 05, 1999.

    The problem with using the normal distribution to model remediation success (or system failure) is that it presumes the amount of effort being applied and the level of difficulty is constant over time. The amount of y2k work is only going to increase in 1999 (up to a point) and the amount of difficulty will go way up post-y2k. However the curve does resemble a bell in the way it starts out near zero, goes up, then drops back down. But it's more complex than flipping coins.

    -- Jon (, January 05, 1999.

    Similar idea brought out some time ago by Michael Hyatt:


    -- Runway Cat (, January 05, 1999.

    Arnie Rimmer wrote:

    "I will try to keep this as simple as possible. For those unaware, normal distribution refers to a 'bell curve' shape that is seen on an X/Y graph when data values are plotted on the X-axis and the number of data points assuming that value are plotted on the Y-axis. This could be something as simple as test scores where the score is plotted on the X-axis and the number of students receiving that score is plotted on the Y-axis. (Remember 'grading on a curve'?)"

    Yep, I do remember grading on a curve. In that instance, however, the teacher had hard data in the form of a graded test from each student.

    In the case of Y2K, however, I'll bet 99.9 percent of all Y2K disclosures are filtered through company lawyers. Now, what would the "grading on a curve" look like if each student had a personal lawyer to "filter" the data and then hand the "data" (not the tests) in to the teacher? Hmmmm....

    -- Ted Markow (, January 05, 1999.

    Let me rephrase what Jon said, hopefully in terms Jack finds less intimidating.

    (1) Y2k is basically a code-maintenance effort. These efforts are 'complete' only when the code being maintained is retired. Over the useful life of the code, the number of remaining bugs diminishes, rapidly at first, then more and more slowly, probably never reaching zero. I say 'probably' because we can never know if we fixed the last bug, we can only know how long it's been since we found one. You may have fixed every last y2k bug (and every error introduced in the fixing process), but you cannot know this.

    (2) On top of this, one of the critical y2k issues involves inter- computer communications, both within and between organizations. Two perfectly remediated systems can still fail to communicate properly due to y2k-related reasons if the remediation techniques used were in some way incompatible. Which they often are, we know this already.

    (3) Furthermore, there always remains the danger of lawsuits. Companies legitimately worry about being found liable for problems they in fact didn't cause and had no control over. If y2k lawsuits succeed, it's also likely that all computer bugs for many years will be blamed on y2k, whether this is the case or not. In cases of incompatibility, it may never be clear exactly where to place the blame. Where there are no standards, there can be no clear violation of standards.

    (4) About the only clear milestone in the process is when remediated code is returned to production. This is happening worldwide, but it happens in large numbers of tiny, often unrelated bits and pieces. And often, the nearest we can estimate the importance of a given piece isn't really more than just a gut feeling. There are companies today who have remediated all their code, and are running it on time machines in parallel with their day-to-day operations. Even they cannot be sure it will all work correctly when the system of systems goes live. At that time, horrible things can still happen, and they know it.

    It should be clear that the remediation process can *never* be 'complete' even in theory, and it would be foolish to declare completion in practice. The whole bell curve argument is irrelevant, since it assumes there is a point in time, known to the organization, when 'completion' has been achieved. A false assumption has led to a useless model of the process.

    The best any organization can do is to allocate as many resouces to the process as they deem reasonable, monitor whatever aspects of the process they have any way to measure, and hope that they can survive the direct and indirect predations of the host of residual bugs guaranteed to strike. In the meantime, the best strategy is to express official optimism, without making any guarantees. And this is what's frustrating about the whole issue. What matters isn't whether someone is 'complete' (which is meaningless), or even if they're 'close' (which is largely undefineable). What matters is the detailed nature of the actual failures, and we can't know this until they happen (and we may never know the actual causes of many of these failures).

    -- Flint (, January 05, 1999.

    Thanks for the effort, Flint, I'm still intimidated, though maybe someone else got illuminated. Let me try to bring this all down to earth. Today, on North's website (, it was reported that Wachovia Bank -- which just happens to be my bank currently (i.e., before I make my complete flight to cash) -- has revised (for lack of a better word) their stated completion date for Y2K remediation. Instead of the end of 1998, which they repeatedly claimed would be met, they now claim it will be "by the end of first quarter 1999".

    We can argue up the ying yang whether or not certain probability models do or do not apply to Y2K phenomona. Or we can use common sense. My common sense tells me: Y2K cannot be fixed.

    For anyone interested, here is the link to the North's commentary and link to the Wachovia website.

    Wachovia Y2K Readiness Revision

    -- Jack (, January 05, 1999.

    from c.s.y2k Paul Milne yesterday:

    In article , (Bradley K. Sherman) wrote: > In article <>, > KJ Ayau wrote: > > > >You really are a piece of work, Sherman. After all you tore apart in the > >original post, this is all you have to say? I've read your responses with > > Sorry, back at work and don't have as much time as I did the > last few days , but to make you happy: > > It is pretty telling that the an independent Power Plant that > is *not even working most of the time* is being remediated. > (Bobbi, when was the last time this vaporous plant ran? What > is the output of the plant at peak operation?) Very good news. > We still cannot confirm one single fact of the story, now can we? > > Bobbi now admits that the number of people dependent on the > power plant in question is 0, but refuses to tell us the name > of the village with a clueless municipal power operation. I > know the winters in upstate N.Y. (I grew up outside Rochester) > and it would definitely be a public service to blow the whistle > on these criminals who scoff at Y2k. If Bobbi would send > the name of the Municipality to, say, Rick Cowles, or to Y2kWhit, > or to Paul Milne, they could repost to this newsgroup and we > could put their feet to the fire and maybe save some lives > in NY. >

    Never happen. You really are in a dream world aren't you?

    What goons like you do not understand is that from this day forward we would have to average more than TWENTY Utilities PER DAY announcing compliance all the way to Dec 31.

    Not gonna happen butthead. Even when those numbers are broken down for you , simply, like that, you still can not deal with them. TWENTY utilities EVERY DAY ***MUST*** announce compliance . And each day that Twenty ulitilties do not announce compliance we would need forty the next day just to catch up, butthead. Just think of this. In the next three days, not ONE utility will be announced compliant. That means that JUST TO CATCH UP, we would need A HUNDRED AND TWENTY to announcee that they were compliant on Friday.


    Now we know that you are very very very bad with numbers in that you think that tens and tens and tens of millions of checks could be done manually each month.

    Try these numbers foolish one. We have over 8000 utilities that need to be functioning. More than twenty per DAY must spring up fully remediated and tested.


    You are such an asswipe Pee Wee. Not only is it not possible to be done. It has always been IMPOSSSIBLE.

    > --bks

    Soon, very soon, most of the pathetic asswipes will be gone. They did not pass the Darwin threshold. They did not prepare. They will be unfit to survive. They will not survive.

    In as much as most of the pollyannas are atheists they will have to admit that it is a 'GOOD' thing for the unfit morons to be wiped out by natural selection, just as a weak and diseased gazelle is plucked out of the herd by the lion.

    The less fit inept morons gone, and the more fit prepared ones will carry on. In this case preparation is the sole determination of fitness.

    I am sure that in their atheism, they will see the benefits and natural justice of that.

    -- Paul Milne If you live within five miles of a 7-11, you're toast.

    For all you smart ass pollyanna, that TWENTY per day. What's that? None today, or yesterday, or the day before? OH! None yet this year! OK make that 120 needed tomorrow -- JUST TO STAY ON SCHEDULE. Oh yes I know, fools like Paul Davis John Howard will tell you

    "They will all start finishing any time now" as Milne says, like mushrooms sprouting afetr a sroing rain.

    Get a clue. The power grid is going down.

    -- a (a@a.a), January 05, 1999.

    a: Now, thats what I call common sense!

    -- Jack (, January 05, 1999.

    Yes, all too true, sad to say.

    What 'a' doesn't mention is that about 200 power plans supply about 80% of the power in the US -- the rest are brokers and distributors for the most part.

    'a' also doesn't mention that several of those 200 are already operating with all dates set past 2000.

    'a' also doesn't mention those (like Hilo and Springfield) who have successfully tested with dates turned ahead.

    'a' also doesn't mention utilities (like mine) that have completed remediation and testing but are prohibited by their lawyers from saying anything specific for fear of the unknown.

    But I guess if you have common sense, you don't need data, nor do you need to bother mentioning anything nonsensical like critical details.

    -- Flint (, January 05, 1999.

    Flint: URLs please.

    -- a (a@a.a), January 05, 1999.

    BTW you'll find plenty of "critical details" in grid expert Rick Cowles latest interview:

    Cowles interview

    and there is plenty of room to argue that even he is way too optimistic.

    -- a (a@a.a), January 05, 1999.

    "" Look, what it takes to get electricity to my house involves all these players, so they all need to be ready for Y2K. If it turns out that some number do not need to be, then they (as well as NERC, Rick Cowles, Dick Mills, etc.) should say so, then we could just worry about the 200 or whatever that we really depend on.

    "'a' also doesn't mention that several of those 200 are already operating with all dates set past 2000." You can't set dates forward in embedded chips, which is potentially where a lot of the risk is. If truly setting dates forward on systems that you could do so constitutes Y2K readiness, then these utilities should indeed declare themselves as ready for Y2K. (It doesn't; they don't.)

    "'a' also doesn't mention those (like Hilo and Springfield) who have successfully tested with dates turned ahead." Same as preceding.

    "'a' also doesn't mention utilities (like mine) that have completed remediation and testing but are prohibited by their lawyers from saying anything specific for fear of the unknown." Those lawyers need to read the "Year 2000 Information and Readiness Disclosure Act" that was signed into law on 10/19/1998, which allows disclosure of Y2K status without liability (unless information provided is knowingly false).

    "But I guess if you have common sense, you don't need data, nor do you need to bother mentioning anything nonsensical like critical details." Data, details, analyses, etc., have their place, but so does common sense. Many of the more optimistic Y2K arguments seem to get lost in the details, but fail to see the big picture. (The proverbial "Can't see the forest because of the trees.")

    -- Jack (, January 06, 1999.

    What worries me aren't the trees I can see, but the thousands (or millions, or billions) of termites I can't see that might (or might not) be eating some of (all of) those trees....

    -- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw GA) (, January 06, 1999.

    Here is the most current Y2K statement from one major generator/supplier of electricity, PECO Energy Co. in Pennsylvania, taken from thier 10-Q as of Sept. 30, 1998, posted on Nov. 2, 1998. 22.txt

    I will abstain from any comments, I believe the whole report speaks for itself. --Chris


    The Company's Year 2000 Project (Project) is proceeding on schedule. The Project is addressing the issue resulting from computer programs using two digits rather than four to define the applicable year and other programming techniques that constrain date calculations or assign special meanings to certain dates (Y2K Issue). Any of the Company's computer systems that have date-sensitive software or microprocessors may recognize a date using "00" as the year 1900 rather than the year 2000. This could result in a system failure or miscalculations causing disruptions of operations, including, among other things, a temporary inability to process transactions, send bills, operate generation stations, or engage in similar normal business activities.

    The Company has determined that it will be required to modify or replace significant portions of its software and embedded technology so that its computer systems will properly utilize dates beyond December 31, 1999. The Company presently believes that with modifications to existing software, conversions to new software, and replacement of embedded technology, the effect of the Y2K Issue on the Company can be mitigated. If such modifications and conversions are not made, or are not completed in a timely manner, the Y2K Issue could have a material impact on the operations and financial condition of the Company. The costs associated with this potential impact are speculative and not presently quantifiable.

    The Company is utilizing both internal and external resources to reprogram, or replace, and test software and computer systems for the Project. The Project is scheduled for completion by June 1, 1999, except for modifications, conversions or replacements that are being incorporated into scheduled plant outages between June and December 1999.

    The Project

    The Project is divided into four major sections - Information Technology Systems (IT Systems), Embedded Technology (devices used to control, monitor or assist the operation of equipment, machinery or plant), Supply Chain (third-party suppliers and customers), and Contingency Planning. The general phases common to all sections are: (1) inventorying Year 2000 items; (2) assigning priorities to identified items; (3) assessing the Year 2000 readiness of items determined to be material to the Company; (4) converting material items that are determined not to be Year 2000 ready; (5) testing material items; and (6) designing and implementing contingency plans for each critical Company process. Material items are those believed by the Company to have a risk involving the safety of individuals, may cause damage to property or the environment, or affect revenues.

    The IT Systems section includes both the conversion of applications software that is not Year 2000 ready and the replacement of software when available from the supplier. The Company estimates that the software conversion phase was approximately 48% complete at September 30, 1998, and the remaining conversions are on schedule to be tested and completed by June 1, 1999. The Company estimates that replacements and upgrades will be completed on schedule by June 1, 1999, although some vendor software replacements and upgrades are behind schedule. Contingency planning for IT Systems is scheduled to be completed by June 1, 1999. The Project has identified 343 critical IT Systems. The current readiness status of those systems is set forth below:

    Number of Systems          Progress Status
    - -----------------          
    26 Systems                 Year 2000 Ready
    87 Systems                 In Testing
    191 Systems                In Active Code Modification, Or Package 
    39 Systems                 Scheduled to Start after September 30, 1998

    The Embedded Technology section consists of hardware and systems software other than IT Systems. The Company estimates that the Embedded Technology section was approximately 61% complete at September 30, 1998, and the remaining conversions are on schedule to be tested and completed by June 1, 1999. Contingency planning for Embedded Technology is scheduled to be completed by June 1, 1999. The Project has identified 119 critical Embedded Technology systems. The current readiness status of those systems is set forth below:

    Number of Systems                           Progress Status
    - -----------------                           -------------------
    25 Systems                                  Year 2000 Ready
    94 Systems                                  In Active Upgrading

    The Supply Chain section includes the process of identifying and prioritizing critical suppliers and critical customers with common equipment at the direct interface level, and communicating with them about their plans and progress in addressing the Y2K Issue. The Company initiated formal communications with all of its critical suppliers and critical customers to determine the extent to which the Company may be vulnerable to their Year 2000 issues. The process of evaluating these critical suppliers and critical customers has commenced and is scheduled to be completed by June 1, 1999.


    The estimated total cost of the Project is $75.4 million, the majority of which will be incurred during testing. This estimate includes the Company's share of Year 2000 costs for jointly owned facilities. The total amount expended on the Project through September 30, 1998 was $7.3 million. The Company expects to fund the Project from operating cash flows. The Company's current cost estimate for the Project is set forth below:

                                            $ Millions
                      1998              1999             2000             
                      -----             -----            -----            
    O&M               22.3              37.5              9.3             
    Capital            1.4               4.9               -              
                      -----             -----            -----            
    Total             23.7              42.4              9.3             


    The Company's failure to become Year 2000 ready could result in an interruption in or a failure of certain normal business activities or operations. In addition, there can be no assurance that the systems of other companies on which the Company's systems rely or with which they communicate will be timely converted, or that a failure to convert by another company, or a conversion that is incompatible with the Company's systems, will not have a material adverse effect on the Company. Such failures could materially and adversely affect the Company's results of operations, liquidity and financial condition. The Company is currently developing contingency plans to address how to respond to events that may disrupt normal operations including activities with PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.

    The costs of the Project and the date on which the Company plans to complete the Year 2000 modifications are based on estimates, which were derived utilizing numerous assumptions of future events including the continued availability of certain resources, third-party modification plans and other factors. However, there can be no assurance that these estimates will be achieved. Actual results could differ materially from the projections. Specific factors that might cause a material change include, but are not limited to, the availability and cost of personnel trained in this area, the ability to locate and correct all relevant computer programs and microprocessors, and similar uncertainties.

    The Project is expected to significantly reduce the Company's level of uncertainty about the Y2K Issue. The Company believes that the completion of the Project as scheduled reduces the possibility of significant interruptions of normal operations.

    -- Chris (, January 06, 1999.

    Chris, for what it is worth, last Oct 1, I attended a seminar sponsored by George Washington University in D.C. (at the Washington Post building): "Potential Impacts of Year 2000 Technology Proglems on the Electric Power Grid". Ken Cohn, General Manager, Computer Services, PEPCO, was one of the presenters. Needless to say, the picture that he presented seemed much more positive to say the least! Additionally, he also said that PEPCO was in the process of stockpiling three (3) months worth of coal by 1/1/2000.

    -- Jack (, January 06, 1999.

    Jack, do you mean PECO or PEPCO? Are we talking the same company? I wouldn't be surprised that PECO's representative would have painted a much rosier picture live and in public. I suspect Joe Public doesn't read 10-Q's, it's not an information easy to find, and the Y2K report is tucked in at the very end of a long boring report.

    Oh shucks, I can't help it, I have to comment on the report.

    - Out of 343 CRITICAL IT systems, 26 were ready Sept. 30. That leaves the rest to start working on/modify/test before the deadline of June 1, 1999, 8 months away. NOWAY!

    - Out of 119 CRITICAL embedded systems, 25 ready as of Sept. 30. That leaves 94 to find/fix/replace/get-replacements-from-iffy-supliers in 8 months. NOWAY!

    - Out of (optimistic for stock holder's sake?) ESTIMATED $75.4 million total y2k budget, only $7.3 million spent as of Sept. 30. What?, throw the rest at the fixing crew in 8 months and it will be ok? Throw 10 times that money and they will work better and faster? Employ 10 times more fixers out of... thin air? From other electric companies? Give them the whole 15 months till Dec. 31?...still NOWAY!!

    Flint....I'm begging you...debunk me on this, it's MY electric company!

    -- Chris (, January 06, 1999.

    Chris, my mistake, big time, sorry. Thanks for catching it!

    -- Jack (, January 06, 1999.

    chris: Good post. I think Flint is in the huddle with Paul Davis and John Howard right now, thinking of ways to put positive spin on your dismal news.

    Unfortunately, these guys pure pollyana crap will be diminishing sharply very soon now.

    -- a (a@a.a), January 06, 1999.

    Chris, I'd love to help but that 10Q sounds just awful. 343 critical systems seems a large number, but hey, if they say they're critical, who am I to disagree. It sure sounds like they have no hope of finishing or even coming close in the time left.

    Also, it isn't clear if those 119 embedded systems represent the total, or just the total with known y2k issues. In either case, they have their work cut out, and moreso.

    In your position, I'd give very serious thought to relocating. Failing that, I hope you have a good wood stove and lots of candles

    -- Flint (, January 06, 1999.

    Back to my real point for just a moment... Let's put the math aside. I would contend that no matter how you slice it (you say compliance, I say continuity, you say finished, I say done...), that a great many companies should have announced their readiness by this time. At a great many companies, world-wide, the Y2K staff should be wrapping things up, sweeping the floor and locking the door on their way out. Projects should be winding down. Programmers should be getting reassigned to other duties and contract workers should be seeking new clients.

    The company PR and marketing staffs should be having a field day with the successful completion of the project ("XYZ Corp! We came, we saw, we acted! We're miles ahead of our competition. No need to worry about your widgits - they're safe today and safe tomorrow with XYZ Corp. Gosh, Bob maybe we should move our widgits to XYZ - they're great! XYZ - we take a ticking and keep on clicking. Tomorrow is here today at XYZ. At XYZ we do our homework, because tomorrow is sooner than you think. )

    Admittedly, there are a few like this scattered here and there but nowhere the number there should be at this point in time. Instead, we see thousands upon thousands of statements say "XYZ will be there, everything is OK, we're really working hard, no we're not finished yet but we're on schedule and making significant progress and have full confidence we'll be here tomorrow. Our vendors? Sure that could be a problem but we're really confident, really, really confident."

    No, sorry. You must look closer. What we see is the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) claiming that they, as a group, are Y2K-ready on the one hand and on the other hand they are moving to block release of their members' Y2K status information under the Freedom of Information Act. ("Sure! We're ready, we just can't show you the hard exculpatory evidence. But trust us, it's there. Really, it is.")

    We see banks quietly changing their web site to reflect a brand new "we'll be done real soon now" date. "December 31, 1998? I don't remember seeing that anywhere. Are you certain you saw that on our web site? Hmmm. Must have been a typo because we'll right on schedule. Making great progress. Leaps and bounds. Really. Yep, just spoke with John in IS and that December date was an unfortunate typo. Fixed it now though! You see! No need to worry. We're all over this."

    Suspicious? Yes, I'm suspicious. And for several very good reasons. First and foremost is my experience as a programmer. I see 3-minute omlets being promised in 17 seconds. There are other, more personal experiences as well. My sister-in-law sat on a federal grand jury for 18 months investigating the savings & loan fraud that resulted in one of largest thefts of money ever from the American people (I think we called it a baleout). I'm not so naive as to believe that something just as big if not bigger couldn't possibly happen again. When you bail someone out of trouble, you frequently just delay the inevitable.

    Bottom line: Trust and respect is something that is earned. It should never be afforded to someone because of their title, name, money, social class or position in life. Trust is earned...and so is mis-trust.

    If it turns out that large numbers of business have indeed lied and falsified their Y2K status, then mistrust has been duly earned and the consequences must be accepted by those who committed the deed. There should be no bailout. Not this time.

    -- Arnie Rimmer (, January 06, 1999.

    You know what's scarier Flint? That electric company is huge with many million customers, and has several nuclear plants. And if they go down, what of the others in the grid?

    You bet I've got my y2k retreat and plenty of candles and beans here too.

    -- Chris (, January 06, 1999.

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