Idiotic Mis-Information : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Ages ago when I had a Packard Bell I subscribed to an email newsletter and never bothered to unsubscribe. Anyhow, I just got the latest issue. I can't believe the garbage printed in it! I can't find the name of the author, but the email given for comments and replies is This stuff makes me furious!

Here is the text:

1999 and Y2K ------------ Rather than getting better, the whole Y2K thing just seems to get worse and worse. And it is YOU caught in the middle!

A previous issue discussed Y2K from the PC point of view. This time we'll try to get at the real meat of Y2K from a more universal perspective.

DEFINITIONS - Y2K - Goofy acronym for Year 2000 Y = year, 2K = 2000 Y2K Bug - apparently the media term for any problem relating to or resulting from the year change from 1999 to 2000. comply - to act in accordance (agreement, harmony, conformity) with aware - knowing or realizing; conscious of; alert to ICBM - intercontinental ballistic missile. Revelation - The last book of the New Testament (The Revelation of Saint John the Divine) - the bible's account of the Apocalypse (end of the world).

Last year El Nino was the cause of everything bad in the known universe, this year its these Y2K bugs. I guess the "killer" bees have been a tragic disappointment to newspapers and television everywhere, and that La Nina crap is just not going to fly. No one is too excited with weather or insects this year. Global warming is a dead horse. Ozone layer problems might encourage Australians and Argentineans to buy a little more sun-block, but no one is going to sell papers or keep people glued to the TV with that.

So what to do, what to do? Everyone with a calendar can see this is the last year for our little planet. Come on, you know we were just lucky when Earth made it from the year 999 to the year 1000. What moron really believes THAT could happen again? Back then, there was no technology to protect you from the wrath of God. If it weren't for all the believers falling on their knees, begging to be spared, things would have ended right there in 999. You think that's going to happen this time? Ha! We're a full thousand years overdo.

We all just figured the world would be blown away by nuclear weapons. Back in the 70's we had everything all planed out. Aim a few thousand ICBM's this way, a few thousand more that way... It was all so simple. And it fit so well with the book of Revelation.

Ronald Reagan and his "tear down this wall" malarkey. We need nukes! India and Pakistan almost got the ball rolling again. But then they both caved under some kind of international pressure. I guess they don't read the New Testament much over there.

Still, we all know that the world is going to end. We all know there will be famine, disease, war, sign of the beast, and so on. Right?

Still reading? Good. First, I hope that didn't offend too many. I only poke fun at Christians because it is the Christian calendar. The Aztec calendar ended a few years ago (if I remember right) and there were lots of people out waiting for the world to end then too. I sort of respect them more though. They didn't pretend there was some pseudo-scientific reason for the world to end. They had the courage to stand up and believe the world was ending because the calendar said so.

I'M NOT SAYING THE BELIEVERS ARE WRONG. I'm not saying the world won't end. I'm just saying you should have the courage to admit that the world is ending because the calendar is ending and not pretend there is some other reason. In the year 999 there were a whole lot of worried people running around Europe, and I don't expect much less from the western world this year.

Those people who are planning to run for the hills? They may say they are afraid of Y2K bugs, it is a good cover story, but really they believe the world will end with the calendar. Or maybe they just assume that the already unstable element of society is going to go psycho or something. I can respect that, either way.

Those people who think they need a 6 month supply of food and water? I don't know what the heck these people are worried about, but it certainly isn't Y2K!

Those software packages that "protect" you from Y2K "dangers"? Well, a hundred years ago there were companies who would buy your house for 20% of its value, pay you all the cash up front, and let you continue living in the house until 1902. Just sign here and party it up until the end of the world. Its illegal to do that nowadays (I hope). But the sentiment lives on protecting consumers from problems they don't have.

I have written software that protects your computer from shark attack, snake bite and tigers (offer void in India). But I still have something of a conscience left so I don't sell it. And I cling to the hope that most people wouldn't buy it!

Don't feel too bad if you've already purchased some kind of Y2K protection. Remember buying cootie insurance in grade school? Trust me, it was worth every penny. I survived several cootie outbreaks, and life was much easier with that worry behind me. If you already have y-coo-tee (uh, I mean Y2K)protection you can at least rest easy knowing the other school kids can't infect your computer. Worth every penny.

Some Y2K packages even have some kind of function. I saw one just the other day that would actually look through your spreadsheets for places where you typed in a year rather than a full date. That might be worth $40 to someone. Most packages, however, just say "protects your computer from Y2K Bugs." Those are strictly cootie protection a la grade school. (I hope people find actual instances of Y2K problems just so the lawyers, courts and "justice" can properly handle these software publishers.)

Getting back to the point, what the heck is the whole Y2K problem then?


Of all the machines (and robots, computers, software, chips, cars, microwaves, and so on) in the world a small percentage of those are DATE AWARE. This means they know, use or show the date somewhere. Your car probably has a clock and probably keeps the date, if so you might say your car is DATE AWARE. The car maker would say, "no, no the clock is date aware" because if you put something in the DATE AWARE category someone will want a detailed report showing Y2K compliance. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

Your computer is date aware. It knows the date (or pretends to anyway). Lots of software on your computer is date aware. Windows(tm) is date aware. Much more software on your computer is NOT date aware. The windows95 CD-ROM player is not date aware. (Most software on your home computer is NOT DATE AWARE.)

A thing must be DATE AWARE before it can have Y2K problems. There is no reason why your toaster or refrigerator would have problems in Y2K. These things don't have any clue what day it is anyway. Get it? Things that are not date aware are IMMUNE to Y2K cooties.

Of all the things that are DATE AWARE, only a percentage of them are YEAR AWARE. That wristwatch you have with the month and day where the hour 3 should be? That isn't year aware and is also IMMUNE to Y2K cooties.

Of all the things that are YEAR AWARE, some are Y2K COMPLIANT and everything else has a Y2K "problem". To be Y2K COMPLIANT the thing must smoothly and flawlessly handle the transition between 1999 and 2000.

Now this is what no one is telling you, so pay attention: JUST BECAUSE A THING IS NOT Y2K COMPLIANT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THING WILL FAIL.

In my own software I recently discovered that a lot of my programs were not Y2K compliant! I had a routine in many of my Unix programs that would print out the date in the form 05-JAN-99 or 05/01/99. But because of the odd way Unix thinks of years, January 5, 2000 got printed out as 05-JAN-100. How embarrassing! A person who saw that could figure it out. But if some other computer program tried to make sense of it... no way. That's a real Y2K BUG.

Lots of things are not Y2K COMPLIANT. Very, very, very few things are Y2K DEPENDENT. If you see my 1/1/100 date its inconvenient and confusing but nothing stops working. Its only when that date is used as input for another computer that things start to break down. The other computer knows 1/1/00, the other computer knows 1/1/2000, but what will it make of 1/1/100?

Get it? I had all these programs that were not Y2K COMPLIANT. But, none of them would have failed. None of them would stop working. They just print the date wrong. The computer doesn't care if you call the year 2000 or 00 or 1984 or 337. If I wanted to, I could have the computer to print today's date as "The sixth day of the year of the rabbit." Its only when that program or some other computer program depends on the representation of the date that you have a possibility of failure.

This is the unpredictable "embedded system" thing that extremists say will end the world. That's all it is. One system doesn't understand the date from another system.

So if you are worried about a thing. Put it to the test

* Is it DATE AWARE? * Is it YEAR AWARE? * Is it Y2K COMPLIANT? (will it switch over to the year 2000 flawlessly) * Is it Y2K (YEAR) DEPENDENT? (does its function depend on the year, or its interpretation of the year.)

Nuclear power plant not Y2K compliant? Who cares? I can't imagine any vital part of any power plant that is year dependent, can you?

So what if they have to spend money to get their accounting system updated? That's not the end of the world. Its just another nickel in the "high price of Y2K."

Your favorite Aunt's heart monitor is not Y2K compliant? Again who cares? As long as its keeping tabs on her moment-to-moment condition, I don't care what date is listed on the screen or printed on the chart. I'm sure the nursing staff is perfectly capable of crossing out the wrong date and writing the new one in as needed.

The medical device makers SHOULD feel pressure to be Y2K compliant. The nursing staff shouldn't have to cross out wrong dates on printouts and write new ones in. But that doesn't mean all the Y2K non-compliant heart monitors will stop functioning. That doesn't mean they can't be used after 1/1/00. That doesn't make them dangerous.

So look around. Evaluate things for yourself. Try to find things that will actually malfunction in the year 2000. Unless you support COBOL programs it will bring you peace. No windows program is written in COBOL. (COBOL is an ancient programming language from the dark ages of monster servers in the basement connected to dumb terminals upstairs. Large companies, bureaucracies, and some telemarketing firms still use COBOL based systems. Those people that used to call for MCI's Friends and Family thing were using a system written in COBOL. And I hear the collections department for Discover Card uses a COBOL system, how sad.)

There is a Y2k problem. It is real. It will be expensive to get everything up to Y2K compliance. But it wont change your life, not even a little. Make sure the people you care about know this. The world may end with the calendar, but that has nothing to do with Y2K bugs.

A REAL Y2K TRAGEDY ------------------ A situation has come up where States have passed laws demanding all government agencies become Y2K compliant. This of course goes to the school districts and sadly down to the individual classrooms and computer rooms in schools. Teachers are very prone to worry about making those computers Y2K compliant.

Imagine a computer room in some elementary school with 20 Packard Bell 486 machines. The only way to get those systems Y2K compliant is to replace the actual bios chip with a new MR BIOS. That means $75 x 20 computers plus whatever it takes to get some certified geek with a chip puller down to replace them all. That school is very likely to spend $2000 to correct a bios problem that is really a problem in name only.

Or worse, imagine the school district buys 5000 copies of cootie protection.

Personally, I expect this type of dunderheaded activity from local government. I just imagine them wasting someone else's property taxes and it doesn't bother me so much. But we shouldn't let such things start affecting the schools.

Its going on right now, probably around the world. And its only going to get worse as the year continues. Make sure your school district has policies that prevent this type of thing.

You know... just in case the world doesn't end with the calendar.

-- Just Me (, January 07, 1999


This sort of moronic "disinformation" doesn't bother me so much anymore. Now that we have FEMA officially recommending to prepare to conteract them. Why don't you send a reply with the FEMA URL to this moron? ;)

-- Chris (, January 07, 1999.

Just Me,

I don't understand your problem with this. Just unsubscribe if you don't like it. The writing was pretty good. I like my satire to be funny but that's JUST ME.

He makes a good point. Everything doesn't NEED to be compliant. Even the programs that stop cold which according to the author, most will not. Do you think they can't be fixed? Ever? I've been thinking a lot about Denver's fix on failure. It seems like it could be the most economical and rational course in many cases.

It's like my old man and old man Jagger said. "There's a BIG BIG difference between what you want and what you need.

-- Jimmy Bagga Doughnuts (, January 07, 1999.

It's not misinformation or disinformation. It's someone's opinion. I happen to agree with his opinion and thanks for the post. There are minor problems, major problems, and failures. You need to learn how to distinguish between these. A majority of software (maybe even all software) goes into production with minor problems. That doesn't translate into FAILURE. These minor problems are fixed. When 1/1/00 comes around we will fix whatever problems pop up. Somehow we'll find a way to get to work, even though there's no gas and our cars don't work. Maybe we can jog or ride a bike. Oh I forgot my bike is not compliant--it shows the time! Anyway, we won't be sitting in our burned down houses with guns and ammo. We will be doing something positive to fix problems. Just my opinion.

Troll Maria

-- Maria (, January 07, 1999.

"Suffer fools gladly."

-- Tom Carey (, January 07, 1999.

(Troll) Maria: If you look at any How To Do Your Y2K Project type book, the first step after Awareness is Inventory. A big part of the inventory step, besides identifying items that are potentially susceptible to the Y2K problem, is indeed determining the level of severity, which as you have pointed out can certainly be trivial (e.g., incorrect date on something that noone cares about). Additionally, part of any decent Y2K inventory is also noting the impact of the item's function to the business, which could certainly mean that even if an item had a severe Y2K problem, nevertheless its impact in the day-to-day operation of the business could in fact be miniscule. (Obviously, this is the critical info needed for the next step: Triage.)

The problem is, this basic inventory step has not generally been done, so we are constantly arguing over the significance of Y2K failures, their level of severity, and the impact of them. From the standpoint of risk mitigation, often the most prudent interpretation that one can make is in fact to assume high severity, high impact, unless proven otherwise.

-- Jack (, January 07, 1999.

"this basic inventory step has not generally been done" What do you mean, generally. My company completed this step in Jan 1997. I know of a few other companies and government organizations that completed this inventory even earlier. What's the basis for this statement? Has not been done by whom?

"From the standpoint of risk mitigation, often the most prudent interpretation that one can make is in fact to assume high severity, high impact, unless proven otherwise." No you don't do that. Before you do risk mitigation you need to do risk assessment where you identify your risks. After that you develop a risk mitigation plan and perform risk management. That's where you continually re-assess risks (some may have popped up and other may have diminished) and update your mitigation plan. Now are you talking about the consumer's risk mitigation or a business? I've done the risk mitigation for my company and am working on risk management now. On a personal level, I have a 500 gallon water tank buried in my front yard and a six foot pantry to store extra food. I also have a wood burning stove and use a passive solar design on my house that works very well in winter. It cut my heating bill in half. Is that the mitigation to which you're refer?

Troll Maria

-- Maria (, January 07, 1999.

If enough Y2K inventories had been done, the way they supposedly should have been done, then half the speculation on this forum would cease. It would have to, because there would not be all the "nobody knows what is going to happen..." worries. That is what a Y2K inventory is supposed to answer -- it gives you these details. So, for instance, if you have a hospital that has a third of its equipment not Y2K compliant, you know whether that is a trivial problem or a major problem.

I am using risk in the most general sense. Like, if you had to have surgery, and the hospital that you were scheduled to go to on 1/1/2000 had one-third of its equipment fail Y2K testing -- but you had no other details as to level of severity nor impact -- would you want to risk having surgery there on 1/1/2000? (Why do I think that she is going to enthusiastically say Yes...?)

-- Jack (, January 07, 1999.

What he (the original writer) failed to notice is that "if there is no power" his refrigerator will indeed "fail" due a Y2K bug.

Will power fail? How long? Can the natural gas, power, and telephone national distribution networks recover if satelites and power failures are irregularly spread around, intermittent, or down completely for hours, minutes, days, weeks??

So will Maria's microwave and heater and light bulbs fail - even though they are not date dependent nor data aware? Maybe, maybe not. I don't know, and can't tell.

I do absolutely know that there is absolutely nothing Maria can do to make them work if they do fail. She can only sit the dark getting hungry, cold, and thirsty. Waiting for somebody else to do something.

But if I take some sensible precautions now, I can remain warm, fed, and dry.

To the original poster. Now, what will you do?

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw GA) (, January 07, 1999.

Gotta agree with the Troll Maria. We've been at this since 1994 (as many companies have) and those 'phases' completed some time ago. We've completed our testing (regression, unit and time-machine) all successfully (as many, MANY companies have). And if there are bugs, we'll fix'em when we find'em - hell, our production support people do that every night anyway. I think yall will see that Y2K was actually a good thing. Why? Because all these huge corporations with all this legacy code from the 60's and 70's had to go in and clean it up. Best exercise of the century! This is America folks - there aren't as many quitters as you think. Yeah, yeah, I know - what about the rest of the world?? Well, I'm pretty sure that if that kid in Malaysia can't make that pair of Nike's because his 'puter is down, we'll still be OK over here.

my .02


-- Deano (, January 07, 1999.

Robt. Cook,

Good to see you posting here again. I've been lurking for the last three months, watching the newbies argue over their PC's readiness, or if their toaster needs to know what year it is. I suppose they'll finally take in the big picture and realize that we really can die from a thousand pin pricks, and that the reliability of the power grid is actually the main Humpty Dumpty in this particular fairy tale.

TU Electric, a large company here in Texas, has been putting on low- key meetings to tell people about Y2K. They have a nice older engineer who assures us that even though there may be problems TU Electric will be ready (almost). Because they have twenty-five (25!) programmers and they started in 1996. WOW!

Seems I remember that a national testing institute estimated that a trained programmer could remediate about 200,000 lines of code in a year. Let's see, 25 programmers X 200,000 X four years = 20M

Twenty million lines of code. They're gonna fix twenty MILLION lines of code! No wonder they're confident. Only thing is, TU Electric has 113 million lines of code. They are going to fix somewhat less than 19 percent of their code, and they are confident. They are happy. They are prepared. They are .....Oh my, look at the time. I believe Sam's still has 20# bags of rice for $5.38 and I meant to finish preparing the garden expansion, and I need to order the new propane tank, and......

-- Lon Frank (, January 07, 1999.

Yes, its just amazing, everyone seems to be so proud of when they started, but nobody seems to be finished!!! And Deano, if your post had a title, it would be, "Riding On A Smile And A Shoeshine".

-- Jack (, January 07, 1999.

Just skimmed everyone's comments. This is certainly the most aptly-named of all the current threads.

-- chuckling (, January 07, 1999.

Jack - We are finished my friend - WAY ahead of schedule in fact. Been audited by all of'em several times. 'A smile and a shoeshine'?? I'm sorry, but I don't speak Geek. I've got HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of letters of certification from all kinds of companies from all over the country. They'll tell you they're ready when they're ready to tell you Jack.


-- Deano (, January 07, 1999.

Deano - So why was BB so concerned just last month? Note that I'm still maintaining confidentiality and all that. Sounds to me like everything's beer-and-skittles and we can all get on with watching the stock market make like a rocket...

-- Mac (, January 07, 1999.

Mac - Hope everything is going well. I recon that's just BB. Her take on it differs from mine. Plus she has the 'resources' to do lot more than yours truly. I'm not saying that I don't think there won't be problems. I've never said that. I just have faith (for want of a better word) that when the problems arise, we'll fix them. I also think that enough problems will surface during 1999, that 1/1/2000 won't be THAT bad.


-- Deano (, January 08, 1999.

I respect your faith that the lord will provide Deano. I myself don't rely on it.

-- Chris (, January 08, 1999.

Chris - I wasn't refering to my faith in the Lord. I was refering to my 'faith' in the industry. In my 20+ years in IT I have come across countless numbers of extremely talented and hard working individuals. These are the folks who will be there if/when 'something' happens. I honestly believe that. I'm sure the gloom and doomers got a good chuckle outa that, but I'd be willing to bet most of them are not in the IT industry and are not seeing firsthand what is actaully being done 'in the field'. I was just raised to 'NEVER GIVE UP.......NEVER'. You find out what you're made of in situations like this - you either run and hide or you get off your ass and make a difference. I chose to make a difference.

"No one ever said it was gonna be easy" - Dad

"Dadgummit" - Bobby Bowden


-- Deano (, January 08, 1999.

Deano, although I don't agree with you, I DO admire your tenacity. AND although I'm a UF fan, Bobby Bowden is tops is my book. GO GATORS!

MoVe Immediate (who wonders "..If I leave here tomorrow, will you still remember me?)

-- MVI (, January 08, 1999.


I agree with you as to the character of IT types (excepting those who "advance" to management). If those were the folks we would be relying on to fix this mess, I'd feel much as you do. The fact is, however, that the bean counters, the managers, the admin types and the politicians are still "in charge". I have no hope that they will deal with the situation any differently than they did when it was first brought to their attention.

It's like the tale of the young American Indian boy who found an injured rattlesnake and nursed it back to health. When the snake was healthy, it bit the boy who asked with his dying breath, "Why did you bite me after I nursed you back to health?" The snake replied, "Because I'm a rattlesnake."

-- Hardliner (, January 08, 1999.

MVI - I can certainly respect that. I'm suprised though - most Gator fans are not too fond of Coach Bowden (although he's one of the most genuine people you could ever meet). My wife's a Gator, my mom and dad are Gators, the whole family except me (dare to be different!). Wife gets season tickets every year so I usually attend a few games down there - Gainesville is a nice town. And I definitely have a good time tailgatin' with them Gators! Maybe next year one of us will whip them Vols - such a sloppy game the other night! Quite embarrassing in fact. Take care and GO NOLES!! :-)


-- Deano (, January 08, 1999.

Oh yeah - AND I LOVE LYNYRD SKYNYRD!!! Any form of the good ol' Southern Rock actually.


-- Deano (, January 08, 1999.

Deano, btw. I sent JEA an email on Jan 1, inquiring about the status of their remedition (web site says completion scheduled for 12/31/98). No response from them yet.

MoVe Immediate

-- MVI (, January 08, 1999.

Question. If this isn't going to be such a big deal, according to some, why all of the military mobilization? Why are we, those of us preparing, and others, being labeled (by the government) as a "Terrorist Threat"? Why did Mt. Whether (the W. Virginia bunker for the D.C. government) suddenly go back on line under FEMA control? Why all of the silence from the government to the public? Yet, they seem to be getting ready for something. Why all of the talk about taking our guns, or I should say, hindering the ability to purchase and the new law suits against the gun industry that could drive them out of business? No manufacturers, no guns. Why are mundane federal agencies arming personel? A BLM SWAT team? Why all of the executive orders? The unbelievers might want to look at these. What about the new "MILITARY ALLIANCE" forming between Russia, China, India, and Middle Eastern countries against the imperialistic Americans? I thought they were our friends? The y2k problem, does seem to be a real concern, possibly life and death. (I think) I also have to look at the above mentioned points. People, whatever you may think of y2k, something is happening here. There is more going on here than just y2k to warrant preparedness. Vigulance on all fronts is needed. Just because there are impeacment hearings going on, does not mean that all has stopped behind the scenes. In fact, some very troubling, and freedom robbing activities have happened while attentions have been on the dog and pony show we get from the "Controled Press" out of washington. Interesting Times Indeed. Michael I have a website with links to the above, y2k, and news. I update often. Check it out. It loads fast, no graphics or such.


-- Michael (, January 08, 1999.

MVI - Interesting. JEA tells us they are READY. Facility guys even have it in writing. Question - JEA is known as a coal-fire generating station. If there are problems with the power companies, will a generating station still be able to generate power? I've heard yes and no to that question - any experts out there?


-- Deano (, January 08, 1999.

Deano - I'm not sure how BB's having the resources to prepare has much to do with the reality of remediation. You do make an interesting point, however, since you note that your lack of resources influences your view of the situation. There may be a tendency to "hope for the best and don't even seriously consider preparing" when one is disinclined or simply unable to make that investment. This of course has no bearing whatsoever on the objective reality of remediated systems, but it does influence the work required in the creation of prudent contingency plans. Jusy my $.02.

Now, about FSU. I sat through the !@#$%^ Tomahawk Chop while my Padres dismantled Atlanta in the playoffs. Then I was subjected to it AGAIN while trying to watch the Tostitos/Fritos/Cheetos/Burritos Fiesta Bowl and I gotta tell you: it gets old in a hurry. 'Course, I'm sure Pac-10 teams feel the same way about the USC Victory chant, so I guess it all balances out...

-- Mac (, January 08, 1999.

Deano, my faith in the lord comment was a figure of speech. Having faith in your IT fellows amounts to the same thing. It's faith. The human factor is one of the big wild card that helps keep my hopes up.

But the way I see it, you're so much immersed in your hard work, and from your evident go-get-em/don't-give up optimism and atmosphere at work, that you probably don't see the birds-eye view that I've seen in my research.

I admire you for not giving up and I'm cheering you on.

-- Chris (, January 08, 1999.

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