Recovering Y2K'ers: Un-Got-It Epiphany Stories ?greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
We GI's can all describe our "Got It" moments. Like where you were when you heard about Kennedy.
Are there any recovering GI's out there yet, who have experienced a genuine Y2K "Got It" moment, and subsequently experienced a self-deprogramming ? A moment of feeling: "It just ain't gonna happen" ? If so, what triggered that ? What I want to know is, is this an emotional one-way street ?
Or shall we just wait for a meltdown next January to settle the question ?
-- Blue Himalayan (email@example.com), February 05, 1999
Don't put "-RCat" on your notes please. ???
-- Runway Cat (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 05, 1999.
I began to doubt my gloom and doom outlook when there were no catastrophies related to the JAE. Then,when the Euro was a resounding sucess I KNEW. Add to that Dejager's outlook, the fact that most are working diligently on the problem, and common sense tells me that although we will have some problems it certainly won't be TEOTWAWKI....or even close. I doubt that we will ever use the well we had drilled, or the generator we bought, but I'm okay with that. I do believe that it WAS a serious problem a year ago. So now I am officially an UGI.
-- I'm Over It (Finally@Peace.com), February 05, 1999.
Dear UGI, A prediction:
Around October/November you are goig to be a GIA (Got It Again). If you read the original JAE predictions by JA you would never have expected anything dramatic in the first quarter of 99 (and probably nothing publicly noticeable until July). As for the EURO, that is a very narrow effort that amounts to adding one more currency conversion to systems that handles dozens. It IS a huge effort and its way to early to say whats going on behind the scenes. The Euro is being phased in over several years (unlike Y2K conversions). This January was just the start of that effort. However, the Euro software requirements have left the European nations 18 months to two years behind the US on Y2K.
-- RD. ->H (email@example.com), February 05, 1999.
I second drherr - the JAE according to Gartner will kick in towards the end of '99 - see a previous posting on this - the Euro just means that Europe will not make it due to a waste of resources.
Personally I keep wishing that things would not turn out the way I've been seeing them, for a while now - I have a day or two when I think that things will work out OK. Then I look around and see the waste and greed here in America and I think - something's got to give, this is all too easy, too fragile by far.
The domino effect will kick in HARD I predict, I keep remembering 1973 - that was just one industry. Multiply that by potentially EVERY industry... at the same time... worldwide.
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)
-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), February 05, 1999.
I don't recall an instant awakening but rather an erosion of the pillars supporting my Y2k catastrophe castle. Two things come to mind.
First, this old data processing programmer has the unusual task of supporting SCADA systems as well as data processing applications. In doing my due diligence I did extensive research on the embedded systems problem and satisfied myself that it was being greatly exagerated. If you look at what some of the most often quoted embedded systems experts were saying a year ago versus the current estimates of that problem you have to wonder why these folks are still considered experts.
Second, I began to notice that there was no reduction in the number of head hunters calling me trying to place programmers in jobs. Ditto with the contract services companies. So I began to ask them how they could still have people when all of us GI's knew that there was this huge programmer shortage. Their answer then and the answer I got from the one I talked to today was that the market is tight but they can still supply competent programmers. Questioning them further I have also discovered that they have experienced programmers coming off Y2k projects which are complete and this is easing the staffing burden for the projects still underway.
Third, I kept hearing myself telling people that we were Y2k OK but I was concerned about everyone else. After hearing myself repeat that assessment dozens of times it finally occurred to me how arrogant that position was. I said to myself: "Self, where do you get off thinking that yours is one of only a few organizations capable of solving this problem?"
Fourth, once I came down off my high horse I began to hear other IT directors tell me that they were in good shape but they were worried about everyone else.
Fifth, the organization I work for is one of the everyone elses that people are worried about. Yet, we have not made any public announcements regarding our readiness (that's not my call). I have begun to realize that many organizations are just not willing to take the legal risk of announcing their degree of confidence.
Sixth, There have been so many false predictions by the leading doom and gloomers that they have lost all credibility. Oh, I know their apologists are attempting to explain those away on this forum but those of us who were Y2k before it became fashionable will not buy any revisionist history.
-- Woe Is Me (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 05, 1999.
I Un-Got it after I found out that GN is a big fat idiot.
Seriously, I have fleeting moments of UGI, but I always return to GI. Either an E Coli post, or Milne, or a bad news story, or prudence, whatever...it always leads me back to pessimism. But in all fairness, I will say that I am never optimistic when it comes to computers and complexity.
-- a (email@example.com), February 05, 1999.
I knew about Y2K years before most - 1986 was about the first time I heard anyone speak of it with real concern. But I was first worried about it about August of last year. Well, I actually spent about ten days absolutely immersed in the subject before I decided that most of the writers did not know what they were talking about. And many of the rest only spoke in generalities, with no real examples of any Y2K problem that caused any real hardship. And I knew that many programs and machines project two or more years ahead - so problems of major proportions should have already been occuring. Of course, a degree in CS helped me reach that conclusion that quickly. And I do expect some problems here in the US - but not TEOTW by any means. Other countries are a concern - but impossible to get a real handle on. How much work is needed in Caracas? I have no idea. But the US will not starve due to shortages of imports - problems aplenty, yes indeed, if imports run short, esp. imports of fuel. But just what will happen overseas, and its impact on us, remains to be seen.
-- Paul Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 06, 1999.
Can you please supply us with specific *names* as to who the embedded systems experts are who were so wrong?
-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (email@example.com), February 06, 1999.
If you search the news archives back to early 1997 you can find predictions from some of today's big name embedded systems' experts. You can easily determine who hit the "rubber chicken circuit" first, what they were saying and what the current assessments are. No names, but here's a clue - look first for the initials D. H. Then, unless you think mankind is best served by only reporting worst case scenarios, you might report specifically how flawed the reasoning of these pseudo-experts was! Heck, some of them have made serious money billing themselves as experts so why should'nt they have to answer for the quality of their product before they profit from sales of the new, improved version?
-- Woe Is Me (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 07, 1999.
Woe, I have a problem with the notion that companies are putting themselves in legal jeopardy by making compliance statements. There are too many ways to let the public know you have done the work incorporating caveats regarding suppliers, etc. The stance of saying nothing is as bad as not doing the work, especially with the high probability of panic. Either these company execs. aren't GETTING IT with regard to this problem or they are being advised by a very paranoid legal department.
-- K Golden (email@example.com), February 07, 1999.
I can do better than that and since I admire your work its worth the time.
Two points to drill down on in the embedded systems area:
1. The impact of bogus dates on RTU's (remote terminal units). The statistics which have been used to support the worst case scenarios have been based on the premise that a bogus date in the RTU (or PLC) will affect the functionality of that device. FACT (are you listenin' Big Dog): The vast majority of applications don't care about dates at this level in the SCADA systems' heirarchy. If the application software that causes the RTU to be more than a dumb piece of metal and plastic does not access the date in the RTU then the faulty roll over will not likely cause a problem. Proof: My SCADA system is currently running PLC's from Motorola which we intentionally post-dated and allowed to roll over. They are online today in a production environment. This is not as risky as it sounds because we first bench-tested offline and when we went live it was in a closed-loop, fault-tolerant environment that can sustain the failure of many individual nodes.
2. When you drop further down SCADA systems heirarchy to devices such as variable speed pumps which contain chips you find virtually no instances of Y2k eposure. Proof: Remove the power source from one of these devices and then restore power. If it has no battery back-up and no non-volatile memory then this exercise will have wiped out the date information. When you restore power the date will probably be some delta date like 1980 but it won't be today's date. If this device continues to perform its function then it is oblivious to the date. You will find that the results of testing most digitally controlled devices dumber than RTU's will produce these results. Then you will begin to wonder how many of the gazillion embedded chips in the world are in such devices and what this experience says about the magnitude of the embedded systems' problem.
In researching the embedded systems' in 1996 and 1997 I found that the the information on the Internet was a mile wide but only an inch deep so I sought the council of many learned individual thru both cyber and eyeball-to-eyeball dialogues. When I began to pull on these two threads I saw the fabric of the embedded systems' hysteria unravel before my eyes! Please keep up the good work Drew, you have a special talent for presenting balanced reporting without being labeled as a Polyanna.
-- Woe Is Me (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 07, 1999.
I left out an important piece of information. The Motorola PLC's which we allowed to roll over rolled over to 1980 not 2000. Again, no problem because our PLC programs don't care what date the PLC has. This is consistent with what has been reported by others whose real world experiences are much deeper than some of the self-proclaimed experts who talk the talk but have never really walked the walk.
Another bit of information. The programs on our SCADA systems' central computers were Y2k challenged. However, in our case, the problems only occurred in the storing of historical data and would not have caused any operational interuption. I have seen reports from the trenches that others have experienced similar results.
Conjecture: Y2k-challenged SCADA systems might cause problems if the historical data is flawed AND it is being used in real-time to adjust the functionality of the system based on date-related trends. I have no personal experience with systems that do that so this SWAG is just a gratuitous piece of red meat for the die hard doom and gloomers, if it is helpful to objective researchers like yourself all the better.
-- Woe Is Me (email@example.com), February 07, 1999.
Another source of information on embedded systems:
-- Kevin (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 07, 1999.
I am in total agreement with your remarks. If you think you have a problem then let me cry on your shoulder for a moment.
One reason I post anonymously to this forum is that many executives in my own organization DON'T GET IT! My team is real proud of the fact that we jumped on Y2k early and diligently and solved our internal problems before most of our peers had even begun assessment. Yet our lips are sealed due to the fact that our employer has heeded the advice of lawyers to say as little as possible.
In the coming months we will endure attacks in the local media that could have been avoided if we had been more open and specific in reporting our Y2k efforts. I know this will happen because we are a major infrastructure provider and the national spotlight on infrastructure issues is justifiably beginning to be focused directly on the individual players.
I wish I could suggest a solution to this problem but since I can't solve it here I am definitely not qualified to advise others on this issue.
Please complain loud and often about this issue. Even in this litigious sociey of ours we should be able to do a better job of sharing information in our communities. Perhaps some lawyers can suggest some non-legislative solutions to this problme.
By the way, I am not totally unsympathetic with the pressures that have brought us to this point. Our company is constantly victimized by lawsuits from people looking for an easy buck. We have experiences which were nearly as outrageous as the lady who was awarded millions of dollars for spilling coffee in her lap.
-- Woe Is Me (email@example.com), February 07, 1999.
It really took a lot of back-and-forth, over a period of many months, before I pretty much "converged" to being a full doom&gloom "got it". Like just about everyone, initially I could not believe that such a seemingly simple if not trivial problem could endanger our life sustaining systems such as electricity, clean water, food supply, etc. I think that the real key is understanding the systemic nature of Y2K, and how the "good news" reports are always making the assumption that everything else will be ok. (Like when the power industry says that they can run in a manual mode, but they assume that telecommunications will be working. Of course, telecommunications needs electricity. And it goes downhill from there....)
We have never seen anything like Y2K -- multiple simultaneous failures that will happen in a relatively short amount of time. Thus, thinking that existing fall back plans and redundant systems will somehow save us does not understand the problem -- backup systems could just as well have the Y2K problem, especially if such systems use identical components!
In summary, for me, once I "got it", I got it. Yes, clearly progress is being made, but its also February 1999, and we will not make it. Maybe things will somehow turn out OK, but there is absolutely no reason to believe this, its way more logical to prepare for the more likely event of TEOTWAWKI.
-- Jack (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 07, 1999.
Hmmmmmm.... If someone was a genuine UGI, why would they still be coming here? Something like "I'm sure there's no God, and I pray that I'm right." I think.
I can't help believing that the phrase "I'm confident that our organization is going to be fine, but I just don't know about all the others..." is often used as something of a sidestep. I mean, if I say my company is in good shape, but I can't deliver because my suppliers are belly up, who's going to check to see if my company was REALLY okay?
Just a thought...
-- Arewyn (email@example.com), February 08, 1999.
Well, first, sorry for the delay in replying. Been very swamped. (I posted 27 stories in 24 hours on our site from late Sunday night through early this morning, Tuesday) Second, thanks for the kind words about my efforts. They're very much appreciated (and unexpected).
Now, on to your replies: you gave me what I wanted, which was specific examples. I have heard similar stories from others involved in Y2K work, and what you say makes sense to me (although I'll be the first to tell you I'm not an expert on SCADA). OTOH, one thing I'm not sure of is how widespread the lack of Y2K problems may be in SCADA systems, partly because I don't know how many flavors of such systems exist, or how prevalent the key systems may be (ie, are there a limited number of systems in wide use, etc, and a broader number of systems scattered all over the place, so to speak).
I do think it is also possible that experts were not necessarily intentionally misleading people in the past; they may not have known themselves how serious the problem really was, or wasn't. For that matter, I'm not sure anyone really knows today, although we do have a better idea. From what I can tell- and Rick Cowles said the same thing in my interview with him- the embedded situation is not an all- or-nothing type of deal. Some plants/organizations are far more vulnerable than others.
One other observation I would make- and I'm sure you would agree with me- is that engineers & other technical types don't always agree with each. Most people might be surprised to learn this, but it is interesting that texperts, so to speak, will often offer differing interpretations of the same general situation. Hence my desire to obtain information from a wide variety of sources (which is something I normally do anyway).
On the subject of your legal situation: I do empathize, and I think it's more widespread than we realize, ie, that some businesses are in good shape, but lawyers have gagged them. OTOH, I have talked to some people in the trenches who tell me a far different story than what their CEOs or other upper level creatures are proclaiming publicly. So some businesses are probably using the legal excuse as a dodge. In any event, the next meeting of the Washington DC Year 2000 Group is going to have 3 Y2K lawyers there; I hope to go, because I consider the legal issue one of the key information bottlenecks in the whole mess, and it's a question I'd like to bring up.
I recently had a long conversation with one of the top lawyers in the country on the subject, and I offered my guess that one reason the legislatures are hesitant about passing Y2K legal protections for businesses is because the lawyers are *right*- a lot of these brain- dead execs were just negligent, either in ignoring warnings from the trenches or in some other way. The lawyer agreed that that was the "case," (so to speak). So we will be seeing Y2K lawsuits, much more likely than not. That in turn gives more ground to the lawyers, which in turn then makes the overall situation more difficult for everyone.
I will say that, as I'm sure you know, there's a lot of private conversations going on among key business partners, so people can figure out who stands where. That's the good news. The bad news is that after some of these meetings, at least some businesses and other organizations are going out and buying generators. I kid you not. They may be doing it only for insurance, as it were, but they are doing it.
Thanks again for your kind words about my work. It does help make the insane hours worthwhile. In fact, I wish I could do more, but my body has this silly idea that sleep is a good thing :)
-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 09, 1999.
Gee, Woe- no response?
-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (email@example.com), February 12, 1999.
Woe, I admit I am completely ignorant on the embedded systems score and have been very encouraged over the past year by the apparently reduced scope of the problem. That said, people I respect (Frautschi, Cowles and, yes, Hall) still raise legitimate grounds for deep concern. We won't know until next year whether the lowered percentage of system failures is low enough to prevent still-way-too-many diastrous business failures.
I believe myself that there are many successful Y2K remediation projects that are going unreported for legal reasons and have said so on this NG when relevant. I also believe that the compliance reporting is so messed that it is possible we are much further ahead than anyone knows.
OTOH, as Drew points out, the record also seems to indicate many corporations hiding behind lack of progress and lawyers. After all, Woe, I believe you, but you could be a troll. Why should people bet their families safety on you? Remember: being a GI is eminently about preparation, not being right. I'm looking forward to being wrong next year, Mr. Woe. And I'll spend 10-15K a year for the privilege without squawking, except that your company's silence is one of the reasons I'm having to spend it .....
My position is painfully simple:
With few exceptions, only mission-critical systems are in view worldwide.
Let's assume 100% of mission-critical systems are remediated, to be positive about it.
With IT history in mind (yeah, I've been there in the big international shops), this leaves x% of these systems that will fail anyway, some with easy fixes, some not.
The unknown consequences of not fixing the other 70% or so non mission-critical systems remain.
The unknown consequences (which I'll treat here separately) of reduced or cancelled acceptance testing, especially across industry partners and between industries themselves remains, due to lack of time. IMO, this will prove to be the undoing of Y2K remediation for those industries who lag (hopefully, the banks will make it).
The unknown consequences of embedded system failures on the above.
To me, these facts amply justify GIing it about Y2K and preparing to the max, while one obviously may continue to hope that Y2K will be just a bump.
Point: of course many Y2K projects will conclude successfully this year, even if late in the year. But how does this change the above, Woe? Others?
-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), February 12, 1999.
City of Chicago and embedded systems concerns:
-- Kevin (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 13, 1999.
To GI and then to UGI is an oxymoron. If you "un-got-it", you never really got it in the first place. You're bying into spin, and you haven't understood the whole picture and/or done your research properly.
As the spin momentum picks up, we'll see a lot more "UGI's".
-- Chris (email@example.com), February 13, 1999.
Right...I should back up any claims I make, forgot.
Feds plan Y2K spin control
"Promoting the Safety of the Currency Supply
As we count down to the year 2000, one of the issues being reported in the media is whether the U.S. currency supply is adequate for the century rollover. Media speculation that cash reserves might be depleted can lead to reactions we would like to avoid - public concern and hoarding of cash. As part of the industry's proactive stance on year 2000 issues, financial institutions can play an important role in reassuring customers that the nation's money supply is not in jeopardy. All financial institutions may want to consider a communications campaign that focuses on the safety and soundness of money deposited in banks, credit unions, and savings and loans. An important component of that message is that customer deposits are insured to the legal limit by the FDIC and NCUA and will be fully accessible during the transition."
That's for the spin. As for getting it, well...you do or you don't.
-- Chris (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 13, 1999.