My fifteen seconds of fame... :) "Around The World in 180 Days" : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From Cory Hamasaki's WRP 110:-

"Around The World In 180 Days"

"Let me preface this rather gloomy scenario with a little about my biography. I have over 21 years mainframe IT experience specialising in realtime computer operations, and assembler coverage programming, in both airline, railway and banking TPF/VM/MVS systems. I have worked extensively with mainframe heavy iron in the UK, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and the USA. Companies include British Airways, SNCF, Amadeus, Saudia, Continental, American Airlines and VISA. I believe my extensive experience, both internationally and domestically, gives me the necessary background to feel comfortable with the accuracy of these figures, very disheartening and alarming that these conclusions admittedly are.

Around The World In 180 Days

As a young boy growing up in England I remember reading and being enthralled by "Around the World In 80 Days", and it certainly acted as one of the catalysts for my love of travel and adventure in later life. I have subsequently managed to see many of those places and cultures that Phileas Fogg and his loyal French valet Passepartout saw, and am thankful for those wonderful experiences.

Unlike our hero Phileas in Jules Verne's classic novel, we have a little more than 80 days to fix all our systems around the world. Unfortunately, unlike Phileas, who wagered twenty thousand pounds that he could circle the globe in 80 days or less, we have left The Reform Club too late to complete our own vital world mission before the clock strikes midnight. You can wager on it.

We have run out of time to fix this mess.

The US will not make it in time. The "rest of the world" has no chance. None whatsoever.

Don't believe me???

By my reckoning, as of the 1st of February 1999, we have approximately 220 working days left to get every single entity on earth up to speed. Let's take the USA, for example, as it historically has the lowest amount of vacation days in the world. (I'm purposely not addressing other countries as they will be substantially worse in many regards than the USA. e.g. Saudi Arabia takes circa 3 months off per year, Ramadan plus regular vacation. France takes the month of August off every year plus 15 public holidays, plus strikes (their national sport...) - you get the picture...)

220 days. Factor in public holidays. 210. Factor in sickness. 200. Factor in vacation time. Two weeks in the late summer and a week or two at Christmas. This at precisely the worst time from a remediation and testing viewpoint. Call it 20 days vacation per year. This leaves us with 180 working days. You could also factor in Monday mornings and Friday afternoons in most shops, and water cooler and fag breaks and long lunches and burn-out and, and, and... the unknown factor if you wish...

So - about [less than] 180 days is all we have left to fix everything in the USA. Oh boy.

I thought this was quite bad enough until I received an e-mail from Paul Milne, and I quote:

"You need to add one more thing. Productivity. You are assuming 100%. Think about Monday morning post mortems of football games, meetings, funerals, hand waiving sessions, other ancillary down time. If you factor in an 80% productivity factor then you really only have 144 days left instead of 180.

The remediation has already failed. It is not conjecture or speculation. We are going down and we are going down hard."

Thanks Paul, ever the eternal optimist :)

On the plus side - there may be overtime and death marches for geeks. Contract geeks may not take a vacation. Never underestimate the power of contract rates, overtime rates and a positive work ethic! However, a tired geek is not a good or careful remediator. It will not work. Entities have seriously underestimated the scope of the problem. Testing has all but gone out the window for many of them. Some have yet to start on anything, they have not the Fogg-iest clue. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

We have a finite deadline. As that deadline approaches and it dawns on the grunts in the trenches that they are not going to make it, self-preservation instincts will inevitably kick in. And that all-American work ethic and company loyalty (if it was ever there) will vanish in an instant. There will be geek epiphanies en masse.

So you must also factor in the great geek exodus from the cities (for I am one) late next year. I will NOT be at a mainframe site in a big city at rollover unless there is a helicopter standing by to fly me home and I am paid in advance in American Eagles. Of course here I'm being facetious. What company will provide a Bell JetRanger for a bunch of tired, worried, scruffy geeks? Who would want to be in the air after rollover anyway other than John Travolta? Can you eat gold coins? Would you trust ATC computers? Do JetRangers have embedded chips?

I therefore believe we are in a very realistic band of 150-180 working days left for remediation in the USA. It could be more, just, but realistically you have to look at the lower end of the spectrum. The situation will constantly fluctuate throughout '99, this will further erode the 150-180 working day paradigm I suggested - just wait and see. I have no doubt that this band will be adversely impacted by factors yet to emerge.

Unlike Phileas Fogg, our time, alas, will have expired.

There will be no happy endings at The Reform Club...

We will have failed world-wide to reform those two digits...

Only one byte at THIS apple...

Less than 180 days. Maybe much less. Face it.

(c) 1999 Andy Rowland

This article is published as part of Cory Hamasaki's DC Y2K Weather Report and may be reproduced under the same terms and conditions. All other rights reserved to the author.


Two digits. One mechanism. One byte. 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 (, February 11, 1999


Saw that. It's a bit like Churchill quoting somebody. Sort of. Sorry you cleaned up your act, though--your occcasional ranting is done well.

-- Impressed Old Git (, February 11, 1999.

Congratulations, Andy!

-- Leo (, February 11, 1999.

Andy, Will you send a personalized email with your signature line that I can preserve in my inbox?


-- ... (...@.....), February 11, 1999.

Bravo, Andy.

Now if we can only get Paul to submit something to Cory. Perhaps "Y2K, a 7-11 clerk's perspective" ?

-- Bill (, February 11, 1999.

" I believe my extensive experience, both internationally and domestically, gives me the necessary background to feel comfortable with the accuracy of these figures, very disheartening and alarming that these conclusions admittedly are. "

[There is nothing in your essay that has anything to do with your experience with computers.]

-- what tripe (blinded@by.pride), February 11, 1999.

We have between 150 and 180 days left to remediate code. Further, we Americans (not clear if you included other countries) can't think straight on Monday so we are only 80% productive (let's just ignore the very dedicated ones who work 60-80 hours a week). These facts lead you to concluded that we're all doomed. Great work! Never have seen such a logical well-thought out piece of crap.

-- Lucy (, February 11, 1999.

TRIPE :) I love that word, very evocative.

Hey Lucy, I'm sorry to have upset your delicate sensibilities, the days refer to working days left to fix and test code. Thats all. I said nothing about us all being doomed - I simply pointed out that we have run out of time. We are all under the false illusion that we have ten months left. This is just not true. Lastly I have been contracting all over the place since 1986 and am still working on a y2k contract in the USA. I could tell you a few stories about contractors and loyalty :) If it's any consolation American contractors are amongst the very best. Much of our (the USA) code remediation is done in third world countries. You get what you pay for. Fair warning.

Hey Lucy I wish this all was not the case - we all do. However, this is the reality we are facing...

The whole thing is a STRAMASH :)

-- Andy (, February 11, 1999.

Hey, Andy, your resume suggests you've monkeyed with HP 3000s..true? (That's my brand of iron)

-- Lisa (lisa@same.boat?), February 11, 1999.

Fraid not lisa, maybe just HP PC's :), the rest all plug compatible and/or IBM.

-- Andy (, February 11, 1999.

Andy: Great Job and well deserved for this post and all the other great ones you have given us over the months.

cond code: 0000

-- Rob Michaels (, February 11, 1999.

Sorry to confuse you Andy. I know that you said "nothing about us all being doomed" but that you pointed out "that we have run out of time". But what does one conclude from there? That everything will be fine. You state that "great geek exodus from the cities". Is that because everything will be fine or we're all doomed? I don't mean to put words into your article, Andy, but your conclusion about no time left leads to what?

We all are not under the assumption of ten months left. We all know what goes into a work week and for some it's more than Monday thru Friday. Thank you for your enlightening article.

-- Lucy (, February 11, 1999.

Lisa said "but that you pointed out "that we have run out of time". But what does one conclude from there?"

I know what I've concluded NOW - this conclusion no doubt will fluctuate (oxymoron I know:) )as the year progresses and more information becomes available.

"You state that "great geek exodus from the cities". Is that because everything will be fine or we're all doomed? I don't mean to put words into your article, Andy, but your conclusion about no time left leads to what?"

Because I believe contract programmers have no loyalty to a company - they will preserve their ass if given the chance... Because they will be worried about their families and will want them in a safe place. I am single and more of a risk taker. If I was married with children :), I would not take any chances and my preparations would be complete by now. Again, my conclusion is that there will be no "bump in the road", far far from it.

Consider : Late summer '99. Stock market crash. Major entities failing. At this point we will all re-evaluate what we're individually going to do. As new factors emerge we will react accordingly. For example if things look particularly bleak I don't think I will want to be in a cold area of the country (which is where I am now) - I think you'd be surprised at the number of IT pros. who are making plans to bug out if the situation warrants it - in a recent survey 61% said they were intending to take all their money out of banks. I still don't think a high percentage will ultimately bug out but it will be a significant percentage. Of course it may not happen, there IS a lot of manipulation going on so it's hard to make these kind of predictions.

It will be an interesting year - no question :)

-- Andy (, February 11, 1999.

Where did I see that "Government Days" remaining site? <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 11, 1999.

Lucy said/asked that, not me.

-- Lisa (lisa@not.lucy), February 11, 1999.

Hey Andy.. maybe you can sell your autograph on E-Bay

-- Mike Lang (, February 11, 1999.

Sorry Lisa, - my asbestos suit has proved invaluable over the last day or two :)

-- Andy (, February 11, 1999.

Andy, I've been meaning to read your Sufi prophet's quote to my husband for some time and just now got around to it. He was impressed. Can you tell us where you found it?

-- Pearlie Sweetcake (, February 11, 1999.

Yes Pearlie, I think I first saw it on this link:-

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

also thought you might be interested in the following - Nostradamus and y2k...


and finally this one - Mother Shipton - written in the 14th century...

Mother Shipton

Cheers, Andy

-- Andy (, February 11, 1999.

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