USA Today - Hmmm - Gartner Psychic Friends Group stick their oar in again... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

A Miami Beach woman insists on installing a wood-burning stove in her high-rise condo. A San Francisco man is storing $1,000 under his mattress in case the banks fail. A grandmother in Florida is canning chicken and potatoes. They've all caught millennial fever, Y2K strain. Programmers have long been concerned that computers may fail when their digital calendars stumble over the last two zeroes in the year 2000. Predictions of society's vital systems crumbling under the weight of these failures have been a staple of late-night radio talk and survivalist gatherings. But as the date approaches, these worries are migrating to the mainstream. Despite reassurances from experts that the world won't stop spinning, and even polls that show fewer people are worried, the Y2K bug is sparking suburban cocktail chatter. It's selling books, videos and provisions from freeze-dried foods to hand-cranked radios. lists no fewer than 62 books on dealing with potential problems. ''We're starting to see the average person start to understand it,'' says Tim Wilson, publisher of Y2K News Magazine. As that wave of awareness spreads throughout the general population, he predicts ''it'll be like a light switch has been tripped.'' ''The real disruption is not from computers,'' explains professor Stephen O'Leary, author of several books on millennium fever. ''It's from peoples' panic.'' It's just that mental hold that threatens to overwhelm Galen Lehman's hardware and appliance business in Kidron, Ohio, where everything he sells is electricity-free. New customers fearful that the millennium bug will interrupt the comforts of modern life are descending on his small shop in such numbers that his business is near the breaking point. ''I've done nothing to promote this,'' Lehman says with a sigh. Lehman took pains to explain in a phone call with the Miami Beach woman that a wood stove was too dangerous for where she lived - an apartment. But she insisted. ''She told me someone on the Internet told her she needed this item, and she felt she had to have it,'' he says. Not everyone is hoarding provisions. Stu Rasmussen, a software engineer in Silverton, Ore., anticipates ''tiny glitches' here and there. But he sees misinformation about the extent of the problem, and an almost willful refusal to accept the facts. In Silverton, the water system is gravity fed from the Abiqua Creek. ''Even if the sun stopped working we'd have water. But there's still people in town saying you need to stockpile water,'' he says. Just to be safe Still, a December USA TODAY/National Science Foundation poll found that 65% of Americans say they're worried enough to probably get copies of their financial records in case bank computers fail. Thirty-one percent say they'll probably withdraw and set aside a large amount of cash; 26% will probably stockpile food and water; 17% will probably buy a generator or wood stove; 16% say they'll probably withdraw all their money from the bank. Y2K worries are also bringing communities together to talk about what they can do to help each other if problems develop. A three-day conference begins Thursday in Ogden, Utah, in the hopes of dispelling anxiety. Jennifer Mueser Bunker, an adjunct professor at Weber State University in Ogden and chief organizer of the Northern Utah Y2K Community Preparedness Group, a grassroots organization co-sponsoring the conference with Weber, says all 250 seats to the free conference were quickly filled. ''We must have turned away at least 1,000 people,'' she says. Real Goods Trading Corp., which used to sell mainly to the granola and Birkenstock crowd, has been seeing sales shoot up since last summer. The Ukiah, Calif., company, which sells products for ''sustainable living,'' is having short-term problems keeping products in stock. Sales of radios and flashlights powered by hand-cranking are way up, says president Ron Zell. Aladdin oil lamps are already out of stock, and ''we won't get any more until April,'' says Zell. A run on oil lamps Oil lamps fit well some of the concerns people are expressing. ''I've heard it said that if the computers think it's 1900, we'll have to live like it's 1900,'' says Violet Saltsman, a retired school teacher from Hernando County, Fla., who's been using the Internet to study Y2K issues. She isn't anticipating chaos, but Saltsman, 64, and husband Dan, 65, a retired lawyer, plan to be prepared on Jan. 1 with extra food supplies. Already, she and her family have gone to the local food canning plant to can chicken and potatoes. ''Even those who pooh-pooh the whole thing, the bottom line is they say we may have problems. I'd rather be prepared, have some food and water, and have that left over than be caught with nothing,'' she says. The basis for all this concern is a decades old programming shortcut in which the year is represented in two rather than four digits. When Jan. 1 comes, machines running older programs might think 2000 is 1900 - causing no end of trouble. But money's being spent and code is getting fixed, says Lou Marcoccio, a Y2K expert with the analyst firm Gartner Group of Stamford, Conn. While there are small areas of concern, Marcoccio believes most are being addressed - and addressed well - in the United States. ''Someone should be keeping score and getting the word out publicly about how wrong these people are,'' says the analyst. Anxiety not surprising All of this anxiety and worry comes as no surprise to historians and sociologists. Potential catastrophe carries with it a sense of excitement and even pleasure, says O'Leary, associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California and co-founder of Boston University's Center for Millennial Studies ( Link at;-

-- Andy (, January 29, 1999


S'funny, when a hurricane or bad winter storm hits, those who didn't prepare are criticized, the few who did are praised. Why are all these people so critical of Y2K disaster preparations? Even if Y2K turns out to be relatively trouble-free, there are plenty of other potential disasters, natural and man-made, lurking about. Oh. It just hit me. (Slaps forehead with heel of hand.) My goodness, if we get supplies together and become more self-reliant, well, we won't be quite so dependent on government hand-outs, will we? If we have our own food, water and power, we won't be quite so grateful for government relief, will we? Might dilute the power of the politicians. Can't have that. FEMA has recognized the mind-boggling scope of the problem, realizes it's beyond their capabilities, and is encouraging people to lay in supplies. Meanwhile, those who run for office and their minions are tuning up their propaganda fiddles and composing the music.

-- Old Git (, January 29, 1999.

..... But he sees misinformation about the extent of the problem, and an almost willful refusal to accept the facts. In Silverton, the water system is gravity fed from the Abiqua Creek. ''Even if the sun stopped working we'd have water.....

Been lurking for months, but can't let this supremely clueless statement go by without uncomment.....What is this guy talking about? Is he suggesting that all that is necessary to provide water is that it flow downhill? I guess we don't really need to filter it, chemically treat it, ionize it, pump it, store it, distribute it, meter it, treat it afterwards (yuk) or any of the other 1000 things we have to do to water to make it safe and drinkable. Many of these things, btw, are heavily dependant on hardware w/ embedded chips and power. I agree with Mr. Rasmussen - there IS a willful refusal to accept the "facts".

.....'Someone should be keeping score and getting the word out publicly about how wrong these people are,'......

Somebody is keeping score. Go have a gander at the "Promises Kept" secion on de Jaegers site - last count - 11 (mostly self-assessed) with 335 days to go. Hats off to these eleven. We hold you in high regard. Where are the rest of you million or so critical businesses? If they want us to not raise the issue, then give us the info. Don't hypnotize us with unfounded statements about "Lawyers are supressing good news-and there are really many more done-and you should believe it with no evidence, your getting sleeeepy...very sleeepy...". A well reasoned response given the potential downside is to act as if this weren't true until proven otherwise. No insult intended to any group, not trying to get anyone to change their mind, just stating the obvious.

..... But money's being spent and code is getting fixed, says Lou Marcoccio, a Y2K expert with the analyst firm Gartner Group ....

Is this the best argument he can make? We KNOW that. We want to know how much, how well, how soon, how well tested, how come? How about all that stuff in firmware? In the midst of the intellectual battle of the century this guy pulls out this ideological wet noodle and slaps his oppenents face? This is supposed to make me feel better? "Oh, I see. Money is being spent. Code is being fixed. Guess I'll go home".

I'm not asking that everyone believe as I do. All I'm going to assert here is that the first casuality of this whole thing is logical, rational analysis. May she rest in peace....

- abcdGoldfish

-- abcdGoldfish (, January 29, 1999.

History is riddled with examples of people who issued warnings and collapsed strong healthy societies....

(Hmmm... It has a nice ring. It get's me off the hook. I'm not so sure it's true though.)

-- Reporter (, January 29, 1999.

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