it took 5 longs seconds to understand the y2k problem..... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

It took me 5 seconds to understand the ramifications of the y2k problem. What the hell is the matter with all those pollys out there? Are they terminal idiots? This isn't rocket science. Computer no work, society no work. Simple! Get ready to rumble....


-- shadow (, January 19, 1999


Congratulations shadow! Another proud owner of the "GI" gene.

-- a (a@a.a), January 19, 1999.

Ya know, I must admit, that when I first ran across Y2K, I was struck the same way. It id not take me weeks or months of puzzling. It clicked right away. Now, i had not yet had a chance to think of all the consequences and repercussions, much less 'want' those repercusions, but right away it clicked that this was a vsery serious systemic problem which threatened dependencies.

I do not know if I would go so far as to make a 'genetic' link, but in a humorous vein, that is akin to what it boils down to. Kind of like being able to roll your tongue or not.

-- Paul Milne (, January 19, 1999.

Now that I think about it, it clicked right away for me also. I first heard about it while listening to a call-in program on C-Span in July. I got very nervous and panicky the more I thought about it. I remember going to work that day and mentioning it to my co-workers who just blew me off by saying that it wasn't anything to be worried about and that it would be fixed. It is interesting that it "clicks" with some and it doesn't "click" at all, no matter what for DGI's.

-- shivermetimbers (, January 20, 1999.

Maybe it doesn't matter anymore who get's it and who doesn't get it. It's pretty much planned out what the government is planning to do if TSHTF. The question really is, what are your backup plans? Throughout many of the posts that I have read, even the pollyanna's have fear intertwined among them. What are your plans? I'm not waiting on anyone or a sign to tell me to be ready. It is my assumption that when martial law hits, those of you planning to bug out of the city will be met with road blocks sending you back where you came from. But don't worry, the government is there to protect you, isn't that what we pay them to do? NOT!

-- Woesyou (, January 20, 1999.

I didn't fully GI when I first heard about Y2k. Even when working on an early Y2k project I didn't think about the implications of all the technological interconnections in our society.

Finally I read an article explaining those interconnections and how they made Y2k dangerous. By that time, I'd worked for an oil company, an electric company, two computer manufacturers, and an electronic funds transfer provider, and -- I SAW THE RELATIONSHIPS!

For me it was about 15 years after my first look at a real Y2k bug that I fully GI'd, so I'm inclined to think the average newbie will need a little more than 5 seconds even with the advanced explanations and documentation available nowadays.

-- No Spam Please (, January 20, 1999.

Milne: I do not know if I would go so far as to make a 'genetic' link, but in a humorous vein, that is akin to what it boils down to. Kind of like being able to roll your tongue or not.

I would call it the GI (Grasps Integration) gene. Some of us have a systems mindset that intuitively understands integrative complex systems with all their interdependencies (and vulnerabilities)- at first glance. Some are irretreviably stuck in linear, sequential perceptions. Interesting that coders are sometimes the last ones to GI.

-- (, January 20, 1999.

I more or less "got it" when I saw an article by Rick Cowles on how non-compliant equipment was still being sold that's used to link the power grid together. I wanted more confirmation, though, and read and heard enough info the the following two months to completely convince me.

This was in the spring of 1998.

-- Kevin (, January 20, 1999.

I became a GI immediately after reading Wired Magazine's article on programmers who had bugged out. I made a call to my parents twenty minutes later and they were GI's the next day. That's why it is so hard for me to understand why so many people just can't wrap their minds around this, especially with all the new information. It's just not that hard to understand. I guess if a person refuses to get off of the tracks after someone tells them a train is coming...

-- d (, January 20, 1999.

I too realized the implications very quickly. THANK YOU GOD. This has been discussed here before, some sort of 'special gene' is involved.

As for my tongue, Mrs. D is very happy, thank you

Although, it does get me in trouble from time to time. ;)

-- Uncle Deedah (, January 20, 1999.

thing I've noticed is that the majority of the folks who GI don't have an overwhelming dedication to maintaining the yuppie lifestyle, while those who DWGI almost inevitably do, either consciously or subconsciously.... As for the straight GI's...folks most people don't even understand how their flush toilet works, and where the drains go from the sinks and expect them to understand PLC's?

just my 2 cents' worth, Arlin

-- Arlin H. Adams (, January 20, 1999.

Shadow - me too :)

But, I am a 21 year computer pro. so I should have an advantage??? Not at all. Many of my colleagues DO NOT HAVE A CLUE - however once I heard about the problem, I thought uh-ohh, we're in trouble...

I'm a really good soccer player - play now at 40 and still run rings around far fitter, younger, but less "natural" players - I don't have to think - I just "do" - and make passes, intercepts, tackles and score goals. Easy for me. Not easy for many more athletic individuals, who are - maybe - thinking *too* much?... - perhaps this is a bad analogy, but in many respects the bit about getting it in a simple, flowing, *KNOWING* way are much the same.


Two digits. One mechanism. The smallest mistake.

"The conveniences and comforts of humanity in general will be linked up by one mechanism, which will produce comforts and conveniences beyond human imagination. But the smallest mistake will bring the whole mechanism to a certain collapse. In this way the end of the world will be brought about."

Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan, 1922 (Sufi Prophet)

"We're doomed I tell ye, doomed!"

Private Frazer, Dad's Army, Walmington-On-Sea Home Guard, 1939 (Undertaker)

-- Andy (, January 20, 1999.

"I'm a really good soccer player - play now at 40 and still run rings around far fitter, younger, but less "natural" players - I don't have to think - I just "do" - and make passes, intercepts, tackles and score goals. Easy for me. Not easy for many more athletic individuals, who are - maybe - thinking *too* much?... - perhaps this is a bad analogy, but in many respects the bit about getting it in a simple, flowing, *KNOWING* way are much the same."

What a maroon.

-- Andy (, January 20, 1999.

Andy: Do you mean moron?

-- bardou (, January 20, 1999.

No Bardou - I just read my post and I sound like a Pele wannabe (in my dreams!) - sorry - football mad... maroon is Bugs Bunny-speak for moron - of which I am proudly represented every now and then.

But I did get it (y2k) pretty dang quick!

Now I'm being a macaroon again :)


Andy the doombrooder :)

"We're doomed I tell ye, doomed!"

Private Frazer, Dad's Army, Walmington-On-Sea Home Guard, 1939 (Undertaker)

-- Andy (, January 20, 1999.

The "Wired" article did it for me. Read it at the local library, made a copy to take back to work and re-read it. I went on the Internet that night and haven't been off a day since.

Bad news is hard to comprehend when it will directly effect you, that is the main reason most people don't want to get it. Short term focus is another problem, bill to bill, paycheck to paycheck, the future is tomorrow.

-- Bill (, January 20, 1999.

Can someone give me a URL or a date on the Wired article. I couldn't find it through Wired's home page search engine. Thanks.

-- Puddintame (, January 20, 1999.

I don't even remember what it was I read that made me a GI, I think it was something on the internet...not this was early 1997 and I GI'd IMMEDIATELY. My husband? Same exact thing. Took us about 5 seconds, too. I think that is what makes it so frustrating with my family who have been beat over the head with this (by me) for months and months and are just now saying they might MAYBE buy some extra Ramen noodles next time they go to the store. Then they chuckle. Crazy ol' Bill and Kellie is what we are.

I think whoever said people who aren't as commited to the yuppie lifestyle get it faster was onto something. Hubbie and I just went from two cars to one (we work at the same place) and we LOVE it (and we live in Dallas--unHEARD of!), we decided to chuck cable about two years ago (our family thinks we are freaks of nature), we got rid of the cell phone, pagers, and second TV in the master bedroom, and have never even OWNED a CD player. In-laws gave us a Nintendo 64 for Christmas and my first reaction was "Oh, now that's useful..." and hubby's was "What the heck do we do with this?" (He learned quickly, though....)

We live in a 7 year old 1800 square foot house but don't own much furniture, jewelry, electronics, etc and have been quite happy!

"Freedom is having nothing left to lose..." Janis Joplin


-- Kellie (, January 20, 1999.


Here's the URL for the Wired article:

This is what did it for me too...knew about it for years, but didn't really worry too much about it until then.

-- Tim (`), January 20, 1999.

My spouse, Sweetie, and I were sitting down to dinner one night last June.

Sweetie: Do you know anything about the Year Two Thousand Bug problem, dear?

Me: Yeah, some. They're gonna fix it, right?

Sweetie: I think there might be trouble. I was modifying some stuff in the *** program at [state agency] today and I noticed a Year 2000 glitch in a line of code. I looked on the list and it was checked off as OK. [Sweetie isn't involved in Y2K remediation.]

Me [having done a paper on Just in Time deliveries and "getting it" in less than five seconds]: So what would you hate to run out of most?

In unison: Cat litter! And toilet paper!

Thus, we went out that weekend and bought loads of cat litter and toilet paper. (We've diversified our stash since then.) Moral: don't believe them when they say it's fixed.

Andy: you are NOT a macarena.

-- Old Git (, January 20, 1999.

It looks to me that there are two possible ways to "get it". You can understand it or you can take it on faith.

If you know nothing about air conditioning and you're told that the fan blade slipping a half inch on it's shaft will cause the whole system to fail and your house to get hot, you'll likely not believe it until it happens. On the other hand, if you know A/C, you'll take action to ensure that it doesn't happen.

If you're five years old and your father tells you so, you'll "take it on faith". If you're "grown up", it'll take someone that you trust completely (unless you have enough understanding of the mechanisms of the system) to allow you to "get it".

FWIW. . .

-- Hardliner (, January 20, 1999.

Paul Milne and Hardliner:

"I do not know if I would go so far as to make a 'genetic' link, but in a humorous vein, that is akin to what it boils down to."

"it'll take someone that you trust completely (unless you have enough understanding of the mechanisms of the system) to allow you to get it."



-- Critt Jarvis (Wilmington, NC) (, January 20, 1999.

Arnie here. Computer professional. 20 years experience.

The Wired article did not do it for me. I'm generally a skeptic of most extraordinary claims. ("Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence" - David Hume)

What really got my attention was Ed & Jennifer Yourdon's book. Even then, I didn't take it at face value but I did have a high degree of respect for Ed's work in information sciences and it did prompt me to get serious about researching the issues further. (Ed's textbooks were used extensively at the university where I received my undergraduate degree. My professors all had a high regard for Ed's work.)

It also took me a while to look at the '40,000-foot view' - the 'shrinking windows of opportunity' factor, the lack of addressing the problems seriously early enough, and the interconnectedness of our modern civilization.

For me, it took an enormous amount of research to become convinced of the serious potential of Y2K. I would have never began this research with the kick in the butt that Time Bomb 2000 gave me. For that, I am indeed thankful. Wired tried, but Ed had more personal credibility with me than the writers at Wired. Even then, I had to go further on my own.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, January 20, 1999.

I'm another GI from the Wired article. I graps instantly the implications and I only have minimum experience in programing COBOL, an 8 month course I took 6 years ago, and dabble a bit in some self-taught languages as a hobby. I learned about Y2K in this COBOL class, but we didn't discuss it much, and I thought then, like the masses seem to think now, that government and the world was responsible and would fix everything in time.

The "epiphany" came to me in a big flash, literally represented by a picture in my mind of a ball of weblike interconnections, suspended in air by an electrical wire, collapsing and shattering on the ground when the wire is cut. I knew by then that it was too late to fix it all in time.

The next two weeks I was in a mealstrom of negative emotions, agravated by lack of sleep and screen radiation from the computer during my intense and panicky net research. My husband was conspiring to send me to the white coats during that time.

I'm a nurse and a mother, no rocket science diploma. But I believe like many do, that most people either have the ability to grasp in a big picture, or they don't. The brain has two emispheres, the right and the left. Each person has one side that is more active and predominent than the other. Each have their strength and weaknesses. The creative right side is the side responsible for "multi-tasking", needed for creative thinking, complex problem solving, visualizing/inventing new concepts etc. Grasping in "big picture" ways is a function of that side. The left side is the more linear, but more logical oriented side. Science, math, detail oriented tasks etc. As each person is unique, each person has a different level of right or left lobe predominence, a very small minority of people have an equal predominence, that is both sides equally as strong or weak. Both sides are needed and support each other in their functions.

This is what I remember and understood from my psychology/anatomy courses. I hope I have my right and left lobes right ;-)

-- Chris (, January 20, 1999.

Though reading this paper took me a little longer than 5 seconds, I think I "got it">

The Year 2000: Social Chaos or Social Transformation? Petersen, Wheatley, kellner-Rogers

Posted at: /articles/y2k.html.

Does the following excerpt "get it"? a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=000P3V#critt001


-- Critt Jarvis (Wilmington, NC) (, January 20, 1999.

y2k? That's old news. President Clinton said Social Security is fixed. Now, if those other countries would get off their butts and fix their Social Security (and invest in the stock market) then they wouldn't have to worry either.

-- PNG (, January 20, 1999.

For me, the awareness came in a series of stages over the course of a month or two, late 1996 and early 1997:

1) Yes, I know that we've computerized an incredible number of functions, we do crucial things that would otherwise be impossible, compters talk to one another every which way, they use lots and lots of dates, and the dates are almost all wrong. Sure is a problem.

2) You know, if these computers don't work right, there are few feasible substitute ways of doing things. We've lost the equipment, we've lost the knowledge, and most important we've reorganized ourselves around computers to the point where we can hardly address any other method.

3) Wait a minute! This could affect me! I may need to be able to live for maybe quite a while with no source of power, water, food, income, essential supplies, what did I forget, oooh, this is gonna cost!

4) (much later) OK, I'm ready to live 'on Mars' for at least a year. I feel a lot better now. So how bad is this going to be anyway? I'm deluged with soft information and hard spin. Have I overprepared, underprepared, or misprepared? If I prepared wrong, how? Forums used be good sources, but lately the spin is getting thicker and real, clean analysis has dried up. Nutballs have hihacked the bandwidth, and insults have replaced insight. Point this out and get flamed, as useful value approaches zero.

5) OK, keep preparing, keep reading, correlating, assessing, estimating. I'll know pretty much how well I did in a year. Best I can do.

-- Flint (, January 20, 1999.

5 seconds to get the possible least a year to figure out that what is possible is not necessarily probable.

-- sunlight (.@...), January 20, 1999.

I got it back in 86 on a visit to chicago, just going trough that town was enough to know someday its going down! Or as I hear now ..." Toast " Anyway about 6 months ago I seen y2k on PBS it didnt take long to see this was the key to the end.....Good luck! But good bye to most):

-- Caveman (, January 20, 1999.

I first saw A Y2K failure back in October 1987. If I had "got it" back then I could be a whole lot better prepared and maybe rich from a Y2K book, too. Problem is I didn't get it until early last year, when I read a discussion of Y2K and the country's electrical system.

Up until then my 1987 experience with a "century date rollover" computer failure was another "something odd" that happened while I was in the military. Odd like seeing a UFO or "mystery aircarft" before people knew what stealth was. The usual military "GI" bar room conversation item everyone in the military has heard of. Over the years I've learned that many of those items have serious bits of truth to them. I should have thought that my personnal offering did, too.

I never made the connection with society as a whole, until reading that one article. Then I realized that the same model computers that suffered hardware failures doing my test year 2000 transition were being used by the same systems vendor for power company projects.

At that point I GOT IT and I got scared. Been busy ever since. Busy trying to get ready and kicking myself, too. The point of this: If you can't recognize what you're looking at, you can see the problem and never realize what it is that you're looking at.

For ten and a half years, all I saw was one computer system that failed when it reached 01/01/2000. It never dawned on me that not only would the system I was involved with would have problems, but every user of that line of computers. How many other folks with such personal examples are out there?


-- Wildweasel (, January 20, 1999.

Thank-you for sharing that Wildweasal. You have given us a very important concrete example, that hardware drives seize up, and that power companies are using those hard drives. Is anybody that hasn't GI yet listening?


PS buying 250 lbs of rice and 50 pounds of beans tommorrow.

-- shadow (, January 22, 1999.

I GI (got it) .. in 94... after years of wondering about how the code I and many others were writting would handle the year 2000 ( now known as y2k) ... I tried to discuss it with many other computer geek types .. after a while I felt like I was in the middle of a bad sci-fi movie.. the twighlight zone, they looked at me like I was nuts.. the year 2000 was sooooooooooooooooooo far away .. I tried to find information on this then and couldnt find *any* ... that's when I *got it* ... that is also when I bowed out of the computer industry. We all will owe a great deal of thanks (even if it's *that* bad) to those who didnt bow out then ..who got folks working on this in 95..96...97... if it werent for them.. if they had bowed out as well ... who knows where we would be Jan 1, 2000. Trying to get anyone, even other computer geeks to "believe in a y2k problem" in 1994.. was akin to trying to convince them in alien abductions... there are a few who were willing to fight the odds and do so.. we as a society will owe them a great deal of thanks.

-- Whitney (, January 22, 1999.

Declan McCullogh wrote an article in Time-Pathfinder online in the summer of 1997. (Had a nice feeling about Declan until recently.) Read Ed's book online. I thought it was interesting; but not nearly as interesting as the environmental crisis research in which I was involved at the time. Couldn't understand why my eco-friends weren't at least intrigued. As an inveterate computer-hater (cost me a fine career; I was replaced by a machine), I enjoyed the irony and promised to keep an eye on Y2K.

Looked into it more seriously a year later and found this NG. These people made too much sense for me to ignore. Read Yardeni's book online. Oh Ohh... Found csy2k. The geeks ought to know. Very scary. Not as scary as the Ross ice-shelf melting, but there was that deadline.

Came back here and discovered that many Y2Kers were as deep and philosophical as my eco-friends. Systems-thinkers, they saw the same "big picture." Started saving bookmarks. Found out what real on-the-street ridicule felt like. Realised that one of my more arcane worries, "poisonfire" (the threat from uncontained radioactive materiel and toxicants), was more conceivable.

Y2K is still not as complex and intertwingled as Earthcrisis, but there is that deadline.


"We have put the egg of civilization in one basket, woven from the fibers of virtual reality, and suspended it by an electrical cord." --- Allen Comstock [for you, Chris]

-- Hallyx (, January 22, 1999.

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