Cory Hamasaki: Y2K to be "Worse than I expected" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

from c.s.y2k today:


This is exactly what I would have expected. However the story has an inconsistancy.

I have a number of questions.

1. What is the nature of the production failures? Are these hard downs, computational errors, or lost data?

2. What part of the company is experiencing the problem? Investments, Underwriting, Claims, Renewals, Actuarial, or ??? From this, Bill Hoyt or Stormhound can infer the nature of the software logic error.

3. What was the quality of geek combat team? How many guns? Were they hardened gunfighters or bar sweepings?

On Tue, 26 Jan 1999 09:24:22, "D. Scott Secor - Millennial Infarction Mitigator" wrote:

> Insurance companies have been working on Y2K issues for the past decade. It > has been intimated to me that two formerly "compliant" companies > (self-assessed you can be certain) began experiencing failures in production > code immediately after the first of the year. Both companies intend to yank > the code out of production and put it back on their Time Machines for > further testing and remediation. If those who have spent that amount of > time massaging their code are experiencing difficulty at this late date, > what chance does a Johnny-come-lately, who may have just begun work a year > or two ago, stand of making the grade? Here's the problem. If they are experiencing production failures, they don't have time to cycle back to the Time Machine for remediation. They are living on borrowed time, much like Windows NT now that Compaq is preloading Linux, and there are two office suites for Linux.

The term "remediation" brings up visions of the CEO's babe cheerleading the wannabe programmers, of leisurely code scanning, and long, warm sunny afternoons, playing at software engineering. Siesta, Amigo?

If production takes a hard down, the seconds are ticking on the life of the company. It's game over, man. They're burning through the bulkhead with molecular acid. They've shut down the main reactor. R2, I never should have listened to you, where do you think you're going?

I have seen production failures. This isn't about luck, wishing, wanting a specific outcome. This is about knowing how brittle software is.

It's tricky, it doesn't wear out but sometimes it just decides to stop working.

It's the complexity, unless you respect software, respect it like you would a shark, unless you do that, you can't work with it and it will get you.

The indications and warnings in mid-December were that this will be worse than I expected. If Scott's report is accurate and if the companies do not treat this as a crisis, then I have seriously underestimated the scope of the problem.

Sometimes you have to know when to walk away from the game.

cory hamasaki 339 Days, 8,140 Hours. 

-- a (a@a.a), January 27, 1999


Ughh! Corymagic

-- Chris (, January 27, 1999.

I met Cory a couple of months ago at the WDCY2K users metting. He is a very charming and likeable guy.

However, form the very start, I told him that he was grotesquely underestimating the consequences of Y2K. I gave him specific reasons. This only goes to show, that even a very intelligent and heavily experienced Big Iron guy can massively miss what is happening. And little by little evey month for the last six months he has been recanting this and that and this and that. Not like he was a gross Pollyanna. But just grossly underestimating what had to be done and overestimating not only the 'ability' to get it done, but missing the sgnificance of the actual evidence that it HAS NOT been getting done.

The 'technical' end of understanding Y2K is nominal. It is the economic and social issues that predominate my thinking.

You don't even have to know how to use a 'mouse' to fully understand Y2K.

You just have to recognize PR flaks, Happy faced baseless optimism and be able to read the reports and see through the specious statements on alleged progress. It is not getting done, It never HAD a chance to get done. And it will NOT be done in time to avert a calamity.

Before any 'industry' can be 'compliant, a major segment of it would have to at least claim compliance. Before a major segment can be compliant, a minor fraction would have to be compliant. And before a fraction can be compliant at least ONE MAJOR company would be compliant. Yet with eleven months to go there is Not ONE fortune five hundred company ready. NOT ONE.

If you want to believe in fairy tales, that they will all spring up compliant like the Seventh Cavalry coming to the rescue. Be my guest. It's your funeral, not mine.

No matter what happens, I am prepared as best that I can be in a relatively safe location with plenty of food. No thousands of unprepared people at my doorstep.

If you want to stay in a populated area, knock yourself out. Like I said, it's your funeral.

-- Paul Milne (, January 27, 1999.

Wasn't the Seventh Cavalry the unit that, under Custer, got itself obliterated at Little Big Horn?

-- Leo (, January 28, 1999.

I agree that Paul Milne is correct when he writes that the technical aspects of y2k are now almost superficial to the analysis. The subject is now multidisciplinary. The technical aspect becomes less important every day. Economics, psychology, religion, logistics, leadership (real), courage, and other topics now rule the show.

At this point we'd face a massive problem even if every line of code on earth were remediated. There is a confidence problem now. It could develop into a crisis at some point in the next 11 months. Corporate and government upper management fomented this predicament through short-sighted decision making. First, they insisted on the abbreviated date, and then they waited until the last minute to attempt solutions. Only those most slavishly dedicated to idiocy would now be placing their money on management's "plan" to extricate us from this problem.

In a sense, you and I are merely spectators to a battle of Titans. The UN and the GAO and industry leaders hold their closed-door meetings and the PR flaks can spout their unsupported nonsense all they want, but you can rest assured that the Top Brass in industry and government have a good idea of where remediation stands. If Top Brass fails to prove to this nation that the problem is going to be very contained, then I don't see how crisis can be averted. Indeed, if Top Brass is not convinced of the solution, then the Titans will lead the exodus. We can only watch and make humble preparations for our future.

-- Puddintame (, January 28, 1999.

Hey "a" or, better, Cory: update us ASAP on the actual cause (hard down or not)? Won't know how serious until we know that ....

-- BigDog (, January 28, 1999.

Thanks. You guys always cheer me up.

-- depressed more than usual (now@really.down), January 28, 1999.

Depressed, I hope nothing I write depresses anyone. I'm not depressed. I am concerned and I'm going to do more than put 72 hours worth of food in the pantry, but I'm not bugging out or anything like that. I am going to have a least one neighborhood meeting in an effort to make sure that the elderly people in the neighborhood have some heads-up. I've already lined-up the speakers. There are lots of challenges we face every day and this issue is one more. My take on this thing is not doom and gloom, but it might call for more resiliency than most of us have built in to our lifestyles. Be prepared and be happy.

-- Puddintame (, January 28, 1999.

puddintame, I'd like to be upbeat & optimistic, but... If Milne & Infomagic are correct, then ... I keep thinking, they MUST be wrong, they MUST. The scenario they describe simply isn't survivable, at least not by the vast majority of the world's people, regardless of how much food they store. Milne's scenario is not an interesting challenge, it's a global calamity. Those elderly folks are not going to make it, whatever you say to them. And to hear Hamasaki gradually sounding more & more Milne-esque (Milnian?) .... that doesn't get you down, just a bit?

-- It's just so (sad@sad.sad), January 28, 1999.


Your concern for the elderly is probably very true for urban and suburban elederly person. But out here in the countryside, the senior citizens who've lived the lifestyle we're seeking to re-create are going to do much better than most of us relocators. These elders have been leaders throughout thier lives and Y2K will be their shining moment, far brighter than even their actions in WWII.

Yes, there will be deaths among the elderly in locations that aren't survivable. But many children, middle-aged and young adults will perish in unsurvivable urban and suburban locations. And there will be deaths among young and old in "safe" rural locations too. Location doesn't replace knowledge of what to do with what's available in any location.

At the same time, if there are people who are in those locations that might hold the "secrets" to surviving urban breakdown, it is the people who lived through the Depression or WWII in such an urban environment. Just imagine what a survivor of one of Germany's devastated cities has to offer to urban residents looking to stand in a city.

But your point is well taken when your concerns bring to mind the thoughts of elderly persons confined to medical and nursing facilities. We've taken the action to prepare for the wife's grandmother. We know that with her being over ninety, there will certainly be problems somewhere down the road. But at the same time, she was an adult during the Depression. Neither my mom or my wife's were in their teens at that time. The differences in perspectives are priceless.

And if things are really bad, we're preparing to be able to take in additional elderly persons. If you figure that they "earn their keep" by providing vital information then the cost of stocking for them is cheap compared to the gains in everyone else's survival. Quite honestly, I expect that in our church congregation there will be lots of these types of "elderly adoptions" as younger families realize that they have the spiritual responsibility to help the elderly and the practical advantage of getting amazing sources of information that will help during Y2K.


-- Wildweasel (, January 28, 1999.

Hi Cory, I was very impressed by your analysis on the Devolution of Society; and suspect it will prove to be more accurate than not.

If in fact you expect the world's carrying capacity to drop to the level that matches 1800's technology, why do you only expect two billion deaths? I should think it would be more like 5 billion, which also agrees with most ecologists estimate that a total population of 1 billion is about what the sustainable carrying capacity of the planet seems to be.

I also want to mention that I too see the y2k problem as a social problem rather than a technical problem. The technical problem has been known and the solution well understood for years. The real problem is that we humans have yet to learn to create organizations that make ethical decisions; so we try harder and harder to reach ethical ends by unethical means.

As soon as two average folks try to work together in a setting where one has authority over the other (like boss and underling) the risk of bureaucratization appears. Try defining bureaucracy as "the systematic elimination of corrective feedback". If you can't tell your boss that that little y2k thing is more important than next quarter's profits without fearing that you will get fired, your valuable feedback has been destroyed. In my opinion bureaucracy by this definition is the greatest source of evil on the planet. It destroyed the Roman Empire. It destroyed the Soviet Union. And soon it will destroy modern civilization globally.

What do you think?

Cordially, Bob Podolsky

-- Bob Podolsky (, January 28, 1999.

Bob: you're confusing cory with infomagic.

In regard to your comment on the fall of the Roman Empire, I think that the parallels we are seeing unfold today are very frightening.

-- a (a@a.a), January 30, 1999.

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