Is Ed Yourdon really an expert in Y2K? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

This appeared in The Cobol Report, December 23, 1998



An Open Letter to Ed Yourdon

Editors note - Ed Yourdon was sent a copy of this column to provide him an opportunity to respond. He declined, citing a lack of time.

How long does a community of programmers stand by and listen while their professional accomplishments, reputations, and very intelligence are disparaged and attacked? How many inflammatory statements does it take to cross the line before saying enough is enough?

The time is now. Enough is enough. This column usually takes an impartial third-person tone: the gentlemanly approach to editorialize. Not today. It is time to replace the "We" with "I" and get into the fray on a first-name basis. It has gotten personal. Although never much of a fan, I was, nonetheless, reading Ed Yourdons Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer when his constant harangue on all things Cobol finally took their toll. It was not that Yourdon simply has negative things to say about Cobol, I appreciate honest criticism of Cobol, it is that his criticisms are without merit and groundless.

Originally entitled "Ed Yourdon is a ****" I restrained myself, and toned down the columns title. As tempting as it is to respond, in kind, to Yourdons mindless attacks I will instead concentrate on some of his statements concerning Cobol from Rise and Resurrection.

Yourdon - "... then it's only a matter of time before all the existing COBOL programmers die of old age. Hopefully, the legacy COBOL code which has been estimated at 18-200 billion lines of code will die with them. Or, if it must be kept alive, maybe it will all be outsourced to some part of the world where COBOL maintenance programming is considered a pleasant alternative to growing rice or raising pigs."

Ed, Ed, Ed. In only three sentences you manage to insult a group of over two million Cobol programmers, and much of the third worlds population. I doubt there are many pig or rice farmers who could maintain, or enhance a Cobol application. Perhaps you should share your thoughts with the Human Resource departments who are paying premium finder fees to locate Cobol programmers.

Although you may wish for the demise of Cobol the Gartner Group estimates that 2-5 billion lines of new Cobol code are added to the base each year. Were not talking maintenance, or enhancements - this is new code, Ed. In addition, the Gartner Group found 65 percent of all new mission-critical applications in 1995 were written in Cobol. A 1995 study by Dataquest found Cobol for Windows based machines growing at 75 percent a year. A study by Sentry Market Research in 1996 found Cobol to be the second-favored language for developing client-server applications. Sentry Market Research, in 1996, found Cobol to be the only language rated more positively today than in 1993.

Yourdon - "The American (COBOL) programmer is dead; long live the American (Internet) programmer."

Ed, you can code Internet applications using Cobol. Micro Focus has extended the capability of the Accept and Display verbs to receive and present HTTP data. Parsing and deciphering HTML name/value pairs is no longer part of the business programming equation - it is accomplished behind the scenes where it belongs. Cobol as the interface language relieves managers who no longer need to deploy Perl scripts of questionable security. The ability to use Cobol as the CGI language almost immediately allows legacy code to be Web-enabled, scaling up to a potentially limitless user-base overnight. Cobol as the gatekeeper brings the power of Cobols preeminent data-manipulation features into play; allows the gateway program to talk to other programs, databases, and transaction monitors; and leverages existing skill sets. Other Cobol vendors are working on similar solutions.

Fujitsu markets NetCobol, a compiler that translates Cobol code into 100% pure Java bytecodes. The Fujitsu solution is the realization of the one suggested by James Gosling (the creator of Java) when he stated, "I think COBOL is a fairly reasonable bet for the Java VM." The reality is the American Internet programmer is, quite probably, a Cobol programmer. I hope I didnt frighten you Ed.

Yourdon - "The hundred person COBOL projects are being replaced by five-person Visual Basic projects that renders our Cobol programmers expertise in MVS, JCL, CICS, and IMS utterly irrelevant."

That means one Visual Basic programmer can do the work of twenty Cobol programmers. I program in Visual Basic, and I had no idea I was doing twenty times more work than when coding in Cobol. The Cobol application I was going to write in about eight months, I will now write in Visual Basic. With my new Yourdon (1=20) math skills it should only take me about a week and a half. Thanks Ed.

MVS is becoming OS/390, mainframes are morphing into safe, secure servers, and IBM is actively developing middleware to complement and extend CICS, as well as introduce other transaction servers, across a sea of platforms. Cobol fits right into the picture with CORBAs recent standard for distributed Cobol objects, allowing Cobol to interoperate with other distributed objects around the Web and around the world. Your fixation with the past, Ed, fails to recognize the work accomplished by the Cobol community over the past ten years.

Yourdon - " could make the same Darwinian argument in favor of wholesale sacking of COBOL programmers and their replacement with younger, cheaper C++ programmers."

Here are the facts Ed. A study by IDC Technology in 1993 found C and C++ programmers to be among the most expensive in the market. The study further found, "The typical C programmer gets bogged down in a myriad of detail that a more business-oriented language, such as, Cobol, has been taking care of automatically during the 30 years of its existence."

A few other highlights of the study found the following:

 "Neither C or C++ is well suited to the requirements of IS organizations developing business applications."

 "Most experts today consider the Cobol language to be far more portable, and standardized, than the C/C++ languages."

 "Cobol compilers now achieve performance levels that are on a par with, or even better than C compilers."

 "C code is almost impossible to maintain."

 "Although many IS organizations use C to develop business applications, no vendor believes this is a wise direction."

Companies are always anxious to save money Ed. How about if you and I go see a Fortune 500 CIO whose companys existence depends on their information technology, and propose saving the company money by firing every Cobol programmer and hiring recent C++ college graduates? I bet we get thrown out, and rightly so, within a minute.

What is there to conclude about Yourdons criticisms on all things Cobol? One must first look at Yourdons agenda. As Robert L. Glass so delicately puts it in Februarys IEEE Software, "... Ed is selling solutions in some form or other, and it is much easier to sell them to people who have come to believe that their practitioners are indeed sloppy, undisciplined hackers..." Pure and simple Yourdon is a salesman. When Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks he replied, "Because thats where the money is." The biggest banks on the block use Cobol. The key is picking the Cobol lock. Cobol doesnt release new updates every six months, obsolescing everything from before. To make a living, the Yourdon-way, you need to convince people Cobol is no good and get them on the upgrade treadmill. Divorce them from proven technology. Different technology demands new processes, controls, training, and a host of other billable services. Enter Ed Yourdon.

Yourdon fancies himself a software clairvoyant. Someone who can perceive the twists and turns of the industry and advise its practitioners when to bob and when to weave. At least that is what he would like you to believe. A delicious irony, the Year 2000, and its soaring appetite for Cobol coders, makes short shrift of Yourdons self-ordained guru status. As far back as the early 90s, Peter deJager, Bob Bemer, and others were warning business of the looming millennium obstacle. One only needed to look at the supply of Cobol programmers, the inventory of legacy code and conclude the obvious - rising wages. Yet Yourdon couldnt see past his own biases to advise programmers to stay with Cobol and reap the coming financial windfall.

Consistent in promoting himself, and not just wrong, but dead-wrong, for almost 25 years, Yourdons legacy is in keeping with one of Americas finest traditions: snake-oil salesman.

Edmund C. Arranga


-- Doubter (, February 07, 1999


Indeed, we have to admit that Yourdon was dead wrong in many predictions made in his earlier, professionally apocalyptic book Decline & Fall of the American Programmer.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), February 07, 1999.

Haven't MANY said that all along?

-- Mutha Nachu (, February 07, 1999.

Hmmmm... let's see - Ed Yourdon believes that Cobol is outdated, and should be replaced by more contemporary programming languages. A trade journal for Cobol programmers think they should keep their jobs, and question Ed's judgment. Hello? Does this really surprise you?? In the 60's General Motors questioned Ralph Nader's judgment about the Corvair too........

-- Ralph Nader (, February 07, 1999.

Yeah Ralph, and the Army questioned CNN's "reports" on the Army's use of nerve gas on our own people (deserters) in Laos during the Viet Nam war, too. And rightly so, as we found out. An organization that engages in defending its integrity, and that of its members, is not necessarily wrong, now is it.

In the 60's GM was wrong and Nader was right. That doesn't translate into, "every time someone makes an accusation, that accusation is right". Duh.

-- Doubter (, February 07, 1999.

This editorial really doesn't have anything to do with y2k at all. It's part of the decades-old "My favorite language is better than your favorite language" argument that never seems to die. Any programmer can tell you that ungodly spaghetti can be written in any language. Things like structure, re-usability, maintainability etc. aren't things a language has, these are things the programmer understood and built into the code or not. Speaking just for myself, I can understand what most COBOL programs are doing by reading the source; I have more success understanding C++ programs by disassembling the compiler output!

I notice in his 'deja vu' article that Yourdon used Capers Jones' function points in an effort to be language-independent. It's generally true that the complexity and duration of a programming project rises much faster than the project size -- a project twice as big (in function points) takes much more than twice as long to complete, and almost always has more than twice as many bugs.

Large projects like y2k find their main difficulty in aspects independent of the language in any case. Things like finding the source, finding (or creating) the documentation, coordinating the effort, controlling versions, creating time machines, interrupting normal operations, attending meetings etc. are more important.

One little point: Arranga admires COBOL's stability, not requiring constant updates. Arnold Trembley says the single most time-consuming technical portion of Mastercard's remediation was in modifying COBOL programs to work under the latest version of COBOL, which in turn was required to run under the latest (y2k-compliant) system software versions. No language is anywhere near immune from the need for upgrades because operating systems change, which happens because the hardware keeps changing. This won't change.

Yourdon is as much a y2k expert as anyone, but like all of us he must filter his information through his experience to arrive at conclusions. To the degree that his experience doesn't apply very well, his conclusions are dubious and his predictions faulty.

-- Flint (, February 07, 1999.

I smell a DISINFORMATION thread a brewin !!

Funny how all you folks seem to be right there to lap this one up.

Better luck next time.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.comm), February 07, 1999.

You are letting your love of COBOL overlook the obvious.

01 Transdate.
   03 TRan-mm  Pic 99.
   03 Tran-dd  Pic 99.
   03 Tran-yy  Pic 99.

The above is the problem and there is no easy answer in any language. You also failed to mention (directly) the many variants of COBOL, the poor documentation of many COBOL programmers, the missing source code, the problems inherent in recompiling with subtly different source libraries and so on. Many of the old (re:original COBOL programmers) are gone - downsized, right-sized, retired, dead etc. So whats your point? Yourdon offending your advocacy of COBOL as a 'do it all' language? (Actually, family of related languages!) Look up because you are about to get flattened by all that legacy code that is being "remediated" by COBOL 'programmers' in India, Russia and Asia.

-- RD. ->H (, February 07, 1999.

So>>>>Do we have a Y2K problem or not?????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

-- Novice (onY2K@what', February 07, 1999.


Yes, we have a y2k problem. It started out very big, nobody disagrees there. It is shrinking, nobody debates that either.

The rate at which it's shrinking appears wildly variable, from almost gone in some places, to almost no improvement in others.

What will this mean to you and me? No agreement at all. Be prepared, it can't hurt and can save your life. Do this NOW.

-- Flint (, February 07, 1999.


Speaking of "Duh".... looks like you missed my entire point. Of COURSE a trade journal for ANY profession will cast doubt on their detractors. Sometimes the detractors are right, sometimes wrong, but ALWAYS the industry/profession will first cast doubt on the critic.

-- Ralph Nader (, February 07, 1999.

This has been an interesting discussion. How about thanks to the site provider? It is one of the best. Thanks to Ed Yourdon and his "family" of communicators includ ing you folks that are scrapping with him.

-- Watchful (, February 07, 1999.

"Consistent in promoting himself, and not just wrong, but dead-wrong, for almost 25 years, Yourdons legacy is in keeping with one of Americas finest traditions: snake-oil salesman."

Gee, there's a rational conclusion .....

Yourdon has a well-deserved reputation for promoting software engineering processes for two decades (or, at least, that's how long I've been benefiting from his work), usually in the face of irrational opposition.

Not all of his predictions have been dead-on, but most have been right-on (e.g., correct about the trend and its implication).

Like all of us, Yourdon's arguments about Y2K have to stand ON THEIR OWN. He himself makes that plain in his own writing.

His recent article, "Deja Vu" (read it), stands on its own, even if it was written by me :-) as the best single statement yet as to why Y2K remediation is (likely) a disaster in the making.

-- BigDog (, February 07, 1999.

I agree with the observation about Y2K: it wasn't in this diatribe against Yourdon's opinions about the editorist's preferences for COBOL - h**l, I prefer DOS over windows anything, and windows over any Mac I've used. If the program fails in year 2000, it doesn't matter what langauge it is written in.

His comments about Yourdon are meaningless w/r to y2K, so why are our favorite trio of trollsome fellows so ready to immediately jump in and immediately make favorable comments about irrelevent things - how did they know this was going to get posted?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 07, 1999.

Expect to see more and more of this. Can't permit the message? Discredit the messenger. Those on the fringe -- the Norths and Milnes -- were easily jettisoned months ago. Now we go up through the mainstream credibility hierarchy, containing all appeals to reasoned analysis, one by one.

-- Nathan (, February 07, 1999.


-- Andy (, February 07, 1999.

First, while Ed was not entirely accurate with "Decline & Fall of the American Programmer", at a basic level, he was correct. Ed mistakenly thought that work would be sent overseas. What happended was that highly trained people in the US were "downsized" and people from overseas were brought to the US to work for 1/2 the pay. In my opinion, he was wrong only about WHERE it would happen. Not WHAT.

As for "Ed vs COBOL", Ed made a (big!) name for himself in the '70s with high-level software design techniques. The best & the brightest used his techniques, but most folks just kept coding the old way. Although sophisticated software engineering techniques (which Ed helped pioneer) *can* be used with COBOL, owing to the culture surrounding COBOL programmers, it generally is not. COBOL programmers generally "code first, and ask questions later". This, BTW, is the language/culture typically used on big mainframes in business applications.

For those of you outside the computer field, the saying goes:

"If architects built buildings the way programmers write programs, the first wood-pecker to come along would destroy civilization".

People outside the computer field have no idea what a DISASTER most programming shops are. Ed helped provide high-level design tools to overcome this problem. Most people refused to change, and continue (to this day) to write programs without any design before "coding".

By analogy, this would be like the carpenters for your house working without blue-prints - only a vague "vision".

-- Anonymous99 (, February 07, 1999.

This really has very little to do with Y2K. This guy obviously has an ax to grind as far as Ed Yourdon is concerned. OK. So what? I usually begin to part company with someone, anyway, when that person whines about someone else promoting himself or herself. I happen to believe in promoting myself, particularly if I can improve my bottom line. Get a life, Edmund.

-- Vic (, February 07, 1999.

Nathan commented:

Expect to see more and more of this. Can't permit the message? Discredit the messenger. Those on the fringe -- the Norths and Milnes -- were easily jettisoned months ago. Now we go up through the mainstream credibility hierarchy, containing all appeals to reasoned analysis, one by one.

What a bunch of jiberish. You folks are pros. Spinning, spinning spinning .................


-- Ray (, February 07, 1999.

Funny Flint, I learned ASSEMBLY from looking at compiled COBOL I had written. Taught me to write optimized and better COBOL! Still my second favorite language I think. Next to ASSEMBLY, any kind, which is my life mate! Why are we discussing this? It ain't a COBOL problem, It's a LANGUAGE, and DATA, and HARDWARE problem, all tied together! Let's move along here... <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 07, 1999.

hmmm...could it be that the COBOL programmers guild is getting a little paranoid about getting all the blame come 2000?

-- a (a@a.a), February 07, 1999.

Boy it's fun seeing all you folks get your undies all up in a bunch.

Some replies --

To Flint and Vic:

Yes indeedy, this has a lot to do with Y2K. It has to do with the motivations of people like Ed Yourdon who use their influence to try and make people believe certain things about a situation which affects all of us. The Cobol Report editorial quoted is not directly pertinent to Y2K, but the subject of the editorial has, by his own choice, made himself an issue in the Y2K debate. So any of his actions or opinions in other closely-related areas are definitely germane here. (And COBOL coding is a closely-related issue, eh?) They come from the same brain which says so-and-so about Y2K, and so are pretty closely related, by any measure. If you disagree, well, we just disagree.

"There ain't no good guys...there ain't no bad guys...:::...we just disagree" -- Dave Mason

To Ray and R. Cook:

A friend (who has not yet appeared in this thread) sent me the link to the Cobol Report editorial, and I just decided to post it here, in the interest of public debate. No conspiracy here, Agent Mulder. I've certainly seen multitudes of gloom/doom posts which were quickly replied to by those of that persuasion, but I didn't conclude that there was any collusion present. Just people who regularly check up on what's new on the forum, and who respond to things that pique their interest.

"Believe it -- or not." -- Robert Ripley

RD: yep there will be problems a-coming our way from "over there". No doubt about it. And that's a BIG issue for sure. We'll see more as TwoKayTime approaches, huh. And afterwards.

To Ralph again:

Well duh. Who cast the first aspersions, the Cobol people, or Mr. Ed? If someone gets shot at, don't they have the right to shoot back? The industry/profession didn't first cast doubt on the detractor here. The detractor first cast doubt on the industry/profession. Look up 'detractor' in the dictionary. Get your horse in front of the cart. Duh.

To Watchful:

Good thoughts, and well taken. Mr. Yourdon is good to provide this forum, and so is Mr. North with his information service, no matter how much I and others may disagree with their conclusions. But those who provide such forums had best be prepared at the outset, and afterwards, for those who disagree with them; same as a newspaper editorial editor had better be ready to field and print letters from those who disagree with the editorial stance taken by that newspaper. Comes with the territory. It's all in accordance with freedom of expression and of the press in a free America; indeed, with a free worldwide internet (so far).

To Nathan and Andy:

Discrediting the messenger? Are you serious? What are you smoking? How many thousands of times have we seen you doomer-gloomers attempt to completely discredit those who have revised their stance in favor of a not-as-bad-as-previously-believed Y2K scenario? People you formerly swore by? (i.e. deJager, Yardeni, Bennett, Westergaard, et. al.) That's the pot calling the kettle black. Or, how about the blue whale calling the rhino large, that would be more accurate.

Keep those cards and letters coming, folks.....

-- Doubter (, February 07, 1999.

For years there has been the "COBOL v. the rest of the world" language debate. Ed simply belongs to the "rest of the world" camp, and it drives the COBOLers nuts, especially since he quite literally wrote the book on Structured Programming in COBOL.

As for the criticism that Ed is promoting himself, well, DUH! Let's see, an independent, self employed consultant who has no other product other than himself to advertise spends some time and effort promoting himself. Last time I looked that was not only allowable under the free-enterprise system but was actually encouraged. It certainly makes since if Ed likes to eat on a regular basis, which I presume he does.

Lastly, as for the statements about Ed being wrong in "Decline and Fall," well, yes, he was wrong about some things. First, name any mortal human attempting to fortell the future who isn't from time to time, even the so called "experts." Also, it isn't exactly the first time Ed has been wrong about the direction of the industry. Ask him how CASE (Computer Aided Software Engineering) worked out sometime. He was sure that CASE tools were going to revolutionize the practice of programming. They didn't, and nobody uses the term anymore, much less the systems. I would point out that Ed was one of a LOT of experts who preached the CASE theme, and a lot of companies poured millions down that dry hole over the years. His theories on CASE were wrong and didn't hurt his reputation any. It's been several years since "Decline and Fall" came out and his wrong guesses there didn't hurt him any. My guess is that if he turns out to be wrong about the seriousness of Y2K, well, it won't hurt him much then either. He's right more often than he's wrong, and he can simply go back to being one of the industry's foremost authorities on Object Orientation, which is the horse he was riding before Y2K came along.

-- Paul Neuhardt (, February 07, 1999.

Hey Doubter, Are you an old time COBOL programmer? If so, did you ever write any code using 2 digit dates?

-- Sysman (, February 07, 1999.

Nope Sysman. And nope.

But I know better than to believe when someone's peeing down my neck, than to think it's raining. (^_^) And some folks are peeing mighty hard regarding this Y2K stuff.

-- Doubter (, February 07, 1999.

To answer the original question, though not the hatred in which it was written,

"No, none of us is an expert in Y2K."

It hasn't happened yet, and at best we can only make guesses about the future. Some of those may be correct, others will approximate the true events, others will be overtaken by events and the guess ends up being correct - but only in one location or at one period in time.

The Y2K expert is the one in 1972 who predicted the outcome of the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of the shah, the oil crisis (and world wide depressed recession) in 1973-74, Watergate, and Afaghanistan. The one who foresaw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the temporary fall of Russia under a dictatorship, the specific crisis(es) in Asia that will cause WWIII, and the resulting Indian-Pakistani-Afghanistan nuclear war. The rise of the dictator-martyr-emperor governing the world, .....

What, you know the future too?

You believe the government's predictions about next year? They can't even predict how money they were going to receive in taxes the past two years!

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 07, 1999.

I've seen Ed in person. He treated all who came to him with respect and attentive concern. He seemed like a genuine man. He's a consultant who, yes, has made money on Y2K. He walks his talk. He has written his best guesstimates of what he thinks may happen. He says we have to do our own homework and evaluate our own situations. Ed derives benefits from this Forum, and in turn shares his knowledge with his audiences. Through this Forum, and thru Ed, we have a chance to reach out and help ppl see the need to prepare. I'm glad Ed has the courage to stick his neck out and take positions, even if he is not an infallible Seer. He does not claim to be Nostradamus. His presence on the planet has enriched my life in many ways and may save some people's lives. Thanks, Ed Yourdon.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxx

-- Leska (, February 07, 1999.

Rob, Rob.

You should know better, with your superior intellect, than to ascribe motives.

Hatred? Nah. Questioning of motives? Yep.

I guess that Time magazine cover story of a few years is valid after all.....IQ (intelligence quotient) doesn't translate into EQ (emotional quotient). You can't reach through the computer screen and divine my motives and emotions, no matter how hard you try. If you wanna know, why not ask, before ascribing hatred motives to what I have posted.

-- Doubter (, February 07, 1999.

Well Doubter, I'm not here because I'm am a member of Ed's cult, or any other. I'm here because I am one of those old COBOL programmers. I'm neck deep in converting systems. We are throwing away stacks and stacks of COBOL and ASSEMBLY programs AS A DIRECT RESULT OF Y2K. We are throwing out stacks of CLIPPER, BASIC, and ASSEMBLY programs on our LAN, AS A DIRECT RESULT of Y2K. And we will be throwing out stacks of all the above and more, systems that DON'T HAVE A Y2K PROBLEM, but since we won't be running that hardware, this too is a DIRECT RESULT OF Y2K. I'm here to find any news I can, be it good or bad. What I'm discovering here and elsewere is that there just isn't that much good news. I'm hoping to see that change. I'm hoping all the work that has been done will be enough to at least keep us afloat. Then I see things like the NERC report, just posted here. This has nothing to do with Ed, or COBOL. News like this pushes my number up, just when I thought things being done would push it down.

-- Sysman (, February 07, 1999.

Well kind sir, I don't know my IQ, so I guess I can't figure out my EQ. Drat.

But you see, your rancor and snide remarks are not justified by any actions I've seen to date by Yourdon. Motives - his motives are clear - write about a future he sees in such a way as to alert others to a coming danger - one you choose not agree to (your right to disagree) - so others can prepare for uncertainity.

Now, what are your motives at discrediting him? We who have chosen to listen, and research elsewhere, and have seen (most) of our concerns verified by other facts, trends, and indications that appear to be systematically being debunked by (in)credible denials from people in authority who are proven liars and manipulators.

So why do you believe the liars and manipulators and propagandists, rather than let us alone to spend our money as we see fit? What is your motive? On the surface, and this based on what I see based on your words and actions to date, your motive is either hatred and envy (at someone's making a legitimate profit in the marketplace), or is something far more despictcable - a deliberate effort to discredit a person who is trying to get America ready for an uncertain future without causing panic, fear, or harm. Why?

The government, by the way, appears to be deliberately spreading panic, fear, and bombastic harm. Outright hatred is what I hear from them - and from you.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 08, 1999.


yet another silly attack that fails to note the huge amounts of money currently being spent to deal with the problem, and with even larger amounts still in the offing. Nor does he deal with the vast number of manhours currently being spent to even partially remediate the issue, nor does he deal with the concerns expressed at the highest levels of government concerning fallout from unremediated systems around the world. In short, Mr. Arranga fails to demonstrate any real grasp of the spectrum of y2k related issues.

Mr. Arranga needs to dissociate his personal differences of opinion with Ed Yourdon, from his, er, mistaken attempts at analyzing the issues surrounding y2k.

Arlin Adams

-- Arlin H. Adams (, February 08, 1999.

"Is Ed Yourdon really an expert in Y2K?"

Answer... I don't care. I, as well as most of the people here, have come to their decisions by researching the subject on their own. There have been a few people that have lead the way, Mr. Yourdon is one of them.

Having said that, I like the guy. He has stuck his neck out for what he believes is an important issue. He seems to be to be a genuine and honorable gentleman. Sure, he wrote a book and made a few bucks, but what's wrong with that?

I've put my time in searching the Gov's web sites for information. I've read everything that I have the energy to read. I don't need anyone to tell me what to think. If Yourdon is completely wrong on an issue dealing with COBOL, it makes no difference to me.

If you, Doubter and the others, feel that this is your holy grail you're wrong. You still haven't done anything to dispute the facts about Y2K. You've only found one source that disputes one issue with one person involved with Y2K (not even the issue we're here to discuss). If Mr. Yourdon was the only person warning us about this problem, then the post would cause me to question the validity of the whole issue. Of course if that were true, I would have never have become involved with the issue in the first place.

I don't want to be right about this. This has caused me too many sleepless nights. I would much rather be spending my time and money in drastically different ways. I am sure that most of us that frequent this forum feel the same way.

I have no idea what a person who doesn't believe in the problem would be doing here. Why? I don't believe in Christianity, but I certainly don't head to church to heckle those who seek comfort there.

We aren't doing anything wrong. If you're right, the worst that we've done is spend our own money on something that we feel is important. Why does this concern you so much? What are you afraid of? I'm just a graphic artist. There are lots of programmers here and other professionals. What harm can we possibly be doing? I'm not a radical, I'd like nothing more than to continue to do what I'm doing. I love my work.

Why do so many of you have such a problem with us? We're just trying to prepare for what we see as a potentially devistating problem. What could possibly be wrong with that?

-- d (, February 08, 1999.


Simply claiming another's assertions to be gibberish -- or as you like to call it "jiberish" -- without any reasoned discourse is itself, in fact, gibberish.


I am most serious.

-- Nathan (, February 08, 1999.

Mr. Cook,

Your last post is probably the most incredible denial of all common sense and sensibility that I have seen from the doomer camp in all the months I have monitored this problem.

You say that the government is spreading panic, fear, and harm. I thought the doomer position was that the government was doing basically nothing -- how then can they be spreading panic, fear, and harm? Make up your mind. Which is it?

As far as I can tell, it's the doomer/gloomers who are spreading panic, fear, and harm. 99% of the intelligent people I know who are acquainted with the Y2K problem feel the same way. And that's a bunch of people.

You speak of manipulators and liars. Who are these people? What have they done? Where are your specifics? I can speak in the same general, vague terms about inaccuracies that have been propagated by Messrs. Yourdon, North, Milne, Hamasaki, and 'Infomagic'. They know it, and you know it.

My motive? To expose as fluff the overblown hyperbole that passes for fact in the doomer/gloomer Y2K circles, in the hope that those new to this problem will not buy into unwarranted hysteria. You call it preparation. That's fine, if you don't try to indoctrinate others into your misguided way of seeing things. But when you try to get those who otherwise would take a common-sense approach to get into your worst-case club, that, to me, is irresponsible, given the COLD HARD FACTS that indicate that the worst-case scenario is no longer valid. And yes, there are a multitude of programmers who now say this is true. They just don't show up on this type of forum, because they are too busy fixing the problem they were assigned to.

The liars and manipulators are those who claim that "programmers are quitting and heading to the hills". Bullpoop. Show us some verifiable figures. (Oh, you can't? Well, that's because they don't exist.)

If you choose to call indignation "hatred", Mr. Cook, go right ahead. That's your prerogative. I would encourage you, however, to look up the definitions of those two separate terms in whatever dictionary you use. You will see that they are not the same. I'm indignant at the doom & gloom hoax being perpetrated on people by Y2K doom & gloomers. I hate no one.

-- Doubter (, February 08, 1999.

I've read Ed's "Time Bomb 2000" book. What impressed me so much about it is that it has no political, no economic and no religious agenda to it.

Enough said.

-- Kevin (, February 08, 1999.

Interesting response - and there are now some 130 plus answers on one FEMA thread alone that indicate the fed government is trying to take over!

Liars and manipulators? Who do you trust in the executive branch? Seems like the Democrats are bending over backwwards calling Clinton a liar - I just recognized the fact earlier than they did - they, the Congressional democrats, the media, and the education and entertainment elite have been manipulating facts since the Tet offensive - longer if certain events in the fifties are included. Or do you believe explicitly that government is not covering up things? Lying about readiness now, before about tax and budgets, before that about school lunch programs (remember that "the republicans wanted the poor and elderly to starve", and planning what even they want to pay for now for the media?

Have you followed 6 years of outright lies from Clinton and left unchallenged by every Democrat - or exaggerated further by every one of them? Have you read the lies and exaggerated threats you now imply about terrorism spread by the "right wing Christian fundamentalists racist survivalist kooks" - that you are now beginning to echo? That the FBI wants to investigate? That the adminstration (and media) are bluntly now discreditting by spreading the "They are causing the panic" - by trying to prepare - "they are profiteering, evil money grubbing people running Y2K scams" in the same ik you suddenly begin venting.

Again, why are you worried about me storing food, clothing, shelter for my family? Why is that a threat to you? Why do you accuse me (and others) of spreading panic when you can find no person here who wants panic - and only those here who are trying to get ready for unknown occurances to PREVENT panic. So others around them won't panic.

Do you honestly think that the 30% of the American people who have expressed their concerns about Y2K as extremely serious, potentially devestating, or any other terms they choose will believe Clinton - or yourself?

Do you understand it doesn't matter what you think will happen - it will occur despite you - and despite the whitewash being spread by the media who silently have followed the administration's every beck and call. Who have replayed every lie told - and admired the fact that they were being lied to! There is no credibility in Washington now.

Clinton had six years to get the federal government to fix its problems - he failed. Clinton had si xyears to get the problem raised to some level of national attention so the infrastruture would not face probable shutdown. He failed. He had six years to get the American and world businesses to get their programs fixed. He failed. Clinton had two years to prepare the American people for possible infrastructure shutdowns - so they could be ready IF the power, water, 911, heat, phones, and sewage systems fail for irregular periods. He failed.

Now, he is panicking because he failed - because he (collectively) knows that there is no way to keep all the inter-related structures running - because he failed. So, now he is using you (and the FBI, and the media, and every official he has appointed) to conceal his failure by creating a scapegoat among htose he and his executive branch hate.

You claim now - rightfully, at last - that you specifically want to turn away "new readers" who are trying to learn about Y2K and its potential troubles. Problem is - it isn't the programmers who are causing the troubles, (the people here - the programmers - are among those fixing the problem), and the problem is now "past" the ability of programmers (what "majority of programmers" are you talking about - the ones who fixed the 40 power plants already, or the ones at the approximately 8960 left to fix?) to even analyze.

It has become a system-wide problem because Clinton did not get enough people working on it early enough. And, as a system wide problem, it cannot be solved easily, readily, or by any one group. You have shown me no reason to believe any prediction you have made - no single fact that goes against my twenty plus years of trying to keep complex inter-related systems (like power plants, electric power networks, program and controllers, and electronic communication devices) running.

Every comment and argument you raise has further shown me that the adminstration is indeed trying to again silence its critics by citing public opinion polls and vague generalities endlessly repeated by its stooges in the media.

Guess what?

As said previously, it doesn't matter what Clinton (or you and I) says, what the media says, or what Clinton (and you and I) so desperately want to happen - tht y2K will be meaningless and only consist of minor inconveniences. The system may be repaired in some, many, most places (your choice). But the loose threads you want to cover up will remain broken. Those who choose to prepare - to ignore you (and Clinton) because they choose to trust some one else, some one more reliable, or at least some one who is willing to express the truth, show where the doubts and uncertainities are, rather than spread whitewashed blather not based in any facts - will probably be okay.

At least, they have a better chance than if they believe you and do as you wish - that they do nothing but sit and wait. And hope. Are you willing to trust Clinton and the media? Why? Are you willing to take person responsibility for any hungry children that may suffer because you personally convinced their parents NOT to prepare? For any elderly who is cold, hungry or thirsty because they believed you? Any person who drinks contaminated water and suffers cholera, typhoid, or stomach poisoning.

I'd rather teach people to look, learn, gather information, prepare for the future they are willing to take a personal choice in deciding, and being able to manage for a few days if needed. Is that panic inducing? You appear to claim so! Why? Does that not reduce the chance for panic?

The people who listen to you may have reason to panic - if problems occur. And nothing you have said (screamed) shows me you have any information to convince me otherwise. If any person chooses to listen to me (or any others much more qualified than I) he or she will not panic, will be ready to help others, and will be ready to manage for a while without panic. If they listen to me (or others, they have made a free choice to spend their money as they see best fit - without the government interfering and manipulating things. Isn't that still legal here?

Returning to the question you correctly answered by your diatribe: isn't it the government spreading panic by its actions of deception, manipulation, and misinformation? If it told the truth - as it knows it, and with the guesses and best assumptions identified - the public might listen, might learn, and might avoid problems by being ready to manage without services. (Except Clinton is a known liar - but maybe they will listen anyway.)

But it hasn't. And won't. It doesn't have the courage to promise "blood, sweat, toil, and tears" as Churchill did during Britain's finest hour. Instead it is reading Hitler's chapters about mass deception and willing media manipulation of mass emotions.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 08, 1999.

To the other readers: Did I come across kind of "testy" there?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 08, 1999.

"Feds Plan Y2K Spin Control" =all

-- Kevin (, February 08, 1999.

"Testy" ? Maybe. But not unwarrantedly so.

Just my NTBHO.


-- Chuck, night driver (, February 08, 1999.

Nathan, In the interest of TIME please refer to this site:

"Feds Plan Y2K Spin Control" =all


-- Ray (, February 08, 1999.

Doubting Thomas at rattling cage,

You asked if EY was a y2k expert - I replied "Yes" as I rather believe he is.

I've read his posts, his site, his book, and heard him on several radio shows.

He is as much of a y2k expert as you're gonna get.

So, in actual fact, is de Jager - the difference is Yourdon (and Milne and North and Hamasaki for that matter) wasn't bought off, and he has the integrity and balls to expose himself to the ridicule of his wannabee peers (that's YOU, DT).

Don't be a bore DT - those with intelligence and commons sense who have done their homework, not on the net, but at work, at home, travelling around the world, with knowledge of interdependencies, economics, supply chains, history etc. etc. can see perfectly clearly the writing on the wall old chap.

Get your sorry ass out of the code old bean and look at the bigger picture.

You know it makes sense.


-- Andy (, February 08, 1999.

Robert, testy 'yes' and thank you for it.

And you made an interesting point in referencing Mr. Churchill. The ability of a nation to survive and overcome a crisis is frequently rooted in the character of it's leadership. Often, it is said that different leaders are needed for different times. Britain discarded it's great leader following WWII, but the world would be a different place today if he wasn't there at the time.

Do we have leaders today who we are willing to follow through a national crisis? Do we trust and have confidence in our leaders? Did we elect our present leaders based on their ability to lead in a crisis or because they delivered a strong economy?

When you overlook and even accept character "flaws" like deceit, adultery, and perjury, in matters of little consequence, don't be surprised when they later impact matters of grave consequence. Shakespeare once wrote, "This to thine own self be true". Unlike leaders from our previous generations, today, we have elected leaders whose character and integrity leave them ill-equipped to handle a national crisis.

-- David (, February 08, 1999.

Robert Cook,

Shortly after I joined this forum I made comments to the effect that I sincerely hoped that you would be one of the men around to help in the rebuilding of our society should Y2K (or any other cause or event for that matter) require or allow it.

Each time you have posted, you have reconfirmed my original opinion and wish.

My opinion is no more humble than Chuck's and I wholeheartedly second your comments in their entirety.

As far as the "testiness" of your reply, it seemed to me to be testy enough to demonstrate your passion, but far less testy than my own lack of control would have allowed.

I would expect nothing less from a Texas Aggie!

-- Hardliner (, February 08, 1999.

What's all this crap about worst case? There may be a few here, but I think most of us are in the middle. Whatta ya say guys, should we start a poll here?

Sysman 6.5

What if only a few things go wrong? But what if it IS something big, like refineries. Is this worth preparing for? Are you going to GUARANTEE that refineries will be working come 1/1? I've heard, true maybe just a rumor, but I've heard that it's easier to build a new refinery than it is to track down, test, and fix all the chips there. See any new ones going up?

-- Sysman (, February 08, 1999.

I'm stuck right there at a 6.5 too Sysman.

Doubter, I'd like to hear your position regarding the fact that Ed opened his book and posted it free of charge to the web viewer before the book was ever published.

Also, can you give us your position regarding the global ramifications of this non-problem? Did Yourdon manage to sway opinion overseas as well? Is that why, just recently, many countries abroad have realized they have a problem and are just now coming to grips with the problem? Does Ed Yourdon have that kind of snake-oil selling capacity?

Perhaps you can explain how Ed Yourdon managed to sell this "snake-oil" to the biggest corporations worldwide and then talk them into spending billions on a project which only serves to keep a corporation alive and not to grow its position in their respective market? Wow, that Ed Yourdon snake-oil is powerful stuff. To think, all those billions that could have been spent on growing a business were spent on keeping a business alive just because of this "non-porblem".

Doubter, perhaps you can give us some information on your source, Mr. Edmund C. Arranga. After all, he's equally as prominent and credible as the Senate, the Congress, the GAO, the CIA, the FBI, FEMA, the Red Cross, organizations such as CSIS, etc. The testimony I have heard directly from our own government has had the most impact on my own position regarding y2k.

Who the hell is Edmund C. Arranga? Sorry, it just doesn't ring a bell.

Yet, I know exactly who Ed Yourdon is. I know exactly who Jennifer Yourdon is. I know exactly who Senator Robert Bennet is. I know exactly who Senator Sam Nunn is. They don't hide behind some anonymous name like "Doubter ( They put themselves out there and speak and educate and take the heat without the protection of remaining a faceless, nameless ghost in cyberspace.

I don't give a rats ass about the minute details in the world of computer language politics.

That kind of political infighting has absolutely no relevance to fact that we rely heavily on huge, worldwide, interdependent systems that have been cut and pasted together over the last few decades to bring us everything from toothpaste to power to the food on our supermarket shelves.

Wake up and smell the coffee Doubter.

That is, before that supply of your favorite special brew runs out. After all, what might happen if the Columbian bean grower runs into bad weather or an earthquake? What if that bad weather or earthquake causes the ports to run into glitches and they can't keep track of exactly where that scheduled shipment is on their docks? The ships don't get to leave and the delivery of your special brew rots there dockside never making it to your local supermarket shelf.

JIT manufacture and delivery. It's here. It's now. It isn't wholy reliant on COBOL or any other computer language. It's reliant on a web of interdependent systems. It suppies you with everything from power to food to cars to even this "thriving economy".

That isn't snake oil. Too bad, even snake oil may be tough to get a hold of soon. You might like to have a little to heat your home.

Mike ================================

-- Michael Taylor (, February 08, 1999.

Having read Yourdon's Y2K writings, I'll make a point obvious to anyone else who's read them: Ed never once says, "It can't be fixed because it's written in that nasty old COBOL." The argument is entirely based on the size and complexity of the systems, extensive data on bug rates and project schedule histories, etc. These are cut- and-dry facts, and impugning someone's motives do little to refute them.

As an aside, it's worth pointing out that Ed acknowledged his mistakes in "Decline and Fall" with a whole new book, "Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer."

-- Shimrod (, February 08, 1999.

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