Text of ABC-Ed Yourdon chat

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Moderator at 11:46am ET Ed Yourdon joins us today at 1 p.m. EST. Please send us your questions.

Moderator at 1:01pm ET Ed Yourdon now joins us. Welcome!

Ed Yourdon at 1:03pm ET I foresee a global economic depression as a worst case scenario.

Sterling Hill from dialup.mindspring.com at 1:04pm ET Please explain the difference between Y2K ready and Y2K Compliant.

Ed Yourdon at 1:04pm ET Every is inventing their definitions for Y2K ready and Y2K compliant. It's important to ask the companies what they by these terms since there is universally accepted definition.

Brent Larson from mnext.umn.edu at 1:05pm ET With all the computer technology available, why can't these situations be simulated in the critical environments we hear so much about so we know what is going to happen?

Ed Yourdon at 1:06pm ET The difficulty with simulation is that there are so many interconnections between components of any system. So that it's impossible for example to simulate the behavior of the entire international telecommunication system or the behavior of the entire national power grid.

nglover from [], at 1:07pm ET Don't you think the Y2K problem is really over blown and meant to be a money pit for the ignorant people who just don't understand the problem completely?

Ed Yourdon at 1:07pm ET No, I don't think it's overblown. There are some areas that have been exaggerated, but in general it's a potentially very serious problem. Most people have under appreciated that.

Al Conger from [], at 1:08pm ET Does the average person need to make special preparations for Y2K? If so, what?

Ed Yourdon at 1:10pm ET The average person needs to assess where he might be vulnerable to Y2K problems and then needs to decide whether to prepare for a disruption of a few days, or a weeks, or a few months. For most people, this would usually involve a modest amount of stock piling for basic supplies. For example, the Red Cross recommends stock piling a weeks worth of food.

Shedel from [], at 1:11pm ET Mr. Yourdon, My big question is this: What do you really think the odds are that the power grid could go down for a significant period of time? In my opinion, this is the one big factor that could lead to a doomsday scenario. Everything else, we'll recovery from it... eventually.

Ed Yourdon at 1:11pm ET Most experts now believe that we will not suffer a nationwide power failure. But we experience localized power disruptions in various cities. Perhaps lasting as long as a few days or a week.

Dan Campanelli (dkc114@technol from [], at 1:12pm ET Mr. Yourdon,

Do you believe the fall out from the Y2K situation will be seen before Jan. 1. 2000? I have heard that the markets will take a tumble in the last half of the Year.

Ed Yourdon at 1:14pm ET The Wall street reaction to Y2K will probably depend upon the outcome of certain Y2K "Trigger Dates." These include April 1st (beginning of 1999-2000 fiscal year for New York State and Canada), and July 1st(beginning of 1999-2000 fiscal year for 46 additional).

Brett Dalrymple from sugar-land.omnes.net at 1:14pm ET How have your views on the Y2K problem changed since your book on the subject was published?

Ed Yourdon at 1:15pm ET My opinion about Y2K has become more pessimistic since the original publication of my book. The reason is that we have more evidence now that small companies are not preparing for Y2K. Similarly there is more evidence now that small town and small countries are not preparing for Y2K.

Mike McKulka from [], at 1:16pm ET After reading the world bank report about non-industrialized nations, and realizing that 3/4 of them will never come close to being Y2K compliant, what are your thoughts on how this will affect the rest of the world and the global economy. How can we support contingency planning for these masses of humanity?

Ed Yourdon at 1:17pm ET Most recent studies agree that developing nations are far behind schedule with Y2K. This will almost certainly cause a massive disruption in global economy. The United Nations discussed this problem in a Y2K Summit Conference on Dec. 11, 1998, but there is no obvious solution to the problem.

Timothy G. from [], at 1:18pm ET Mr. Yourdon, With the number of embedded chips in computer systems - estimated as high as 70 billion, only a small percentage of some reportedly will be affected by the millennium bug. But this small percentage is still a very big number. How will these rotten eggs spoil the meal?

Ed Yourdon at 1:20pm ET The concern about embedded systems is that they are used to control critical manufacturing processes. It's often difficult to locate and identify the non-compliant embedded systems, and there is often significant delay in obtaining a compliant replacement. Thus, if a problem does occur it may be possible to fix it quickly.

Ray from [], at 1:20pm ET Can we take some "comfort" in the fact that the Gartner group has stated that only 8% of y2k-related problems will occur at the "witching" hour? The rest of the problems are already starting to happen now and will continue to happen well past the year 2000.

Ed Yourdon at 1:22pm ET There is some comfort from the statement, because we may have an early warning of Y2K problems that would otherwise have ignored. And it may give us more time to fix the problems rather than confronted with a need to fix all the problems at one instant in time.

Kelly Moore from [], at 1:22pm ET What are you planning to do to prepare for Y2K, and what do you suggest families on a strict budget do to prepare?

Ed Yourdon at 1:24pm ET I have moved to New Mexico and have installed a solar panel on my roof to generate electricity as well as making any other plans. For families on a tight budget, you need to begin making modest preparations as soon as possible, a little at a time. Buy a little bit of extra food each week and set aside a little bit of extra cash each week.

Emily Turrettini from zurich.ch.pub-ip.eu.psi.net at 1:26pm ET Dear Mr. Yardeni,

I follow Y2K news daily and I have never come across an article with regard to the automobile industry. I know cars have many embedded chips but not if they have dates in them. Will we be able to open our car doors, use our breaks?

Ed Yourdon at 1:26pm ET The vast majority of consumer automobiles should be safe. A few models of high-end sophisticated automobiles may have problems with GPS Navigation Systems and other embedded chips. But most of the problems will occur in industrial vehicles such as buses, fire engines, and heavy-duty trucks.

Amy from atlanta-05-10rs.ga.dial-access.att.net at 1:27pm ET How likely are we to experience a disruption in supply of food and gasoline, and to what extent?

Ed Yourdon at 1:29pm ET Food disruptions could occur in many different areas. For example, most grocery stores are re-stocked every 72 hours. So if there is a disruption in transportation, that could cause a disruption in availability of groceries. And if there is a disruption in shipping, it could cause a disruption in imported foods. For example, 60% of the fish consumed in this country is imported.

Ed Yourdon at 1:30pm ET Regarding gasoline, there are potential disruption in oil wells, the oil tankers, refineries, and the distribution of refined gasoline to the gasoline stations.

Inman (thinman@digisys.net) from [], at 1:30pm ET Mr. Yourdon: Are the large cities more vulnerable to extended power, and other utility problems, than the rural areas? If so, how are the police, and other agencies, gearing up ahead of time, to prevent wide spread looting?? In my opinion this will be catalyst, for the breakdown of society.

Ed Yourdon at 1:34pm ET Large cities and rural communities are both vulnerable to power disruptions. However, residents of the suburban or the rural community usually have the option of buying their own generator or providing some other form of alternative energy (such as solar panels). Residents of an urban city usually have no control over there basic utilities. A long-term disruption in power or water or other basic utilities certainly could to civil unrest. There are rumors of plans being made by the National Guard and other government agencies to provide emergency services in the event of a Y2K breakdown, but none of this has been confirmed by government authorities.

Gary Hansbrough from mix1.sacramento.cw.net at 1:34pm ET When I talk to computer industry insiders, most of them seem to think Y2K is mostly hype that a lot of people are promoting to make a buck off of. Honestly, how much are you profiting from it and why should I believe this doesn't skew your views on it?

Ed Yourdon at 1:37pm ET I am a making no more of a profit for my Y2K activities than I was in the past with my other computer activities. Regarding the question of hype, you should ask why the IRS is 1 billion on Y2K repairs. Why is AT&T spending 500 million on Y2K and Why is Citibank spending 650 billion on Y2K repairs? If Y2K is so simple, why has the federal government budget for Y2K tripled within the past 18 months.

Arnoldo Rodriguez from [], at 1:37pm ET Who is responsible for the Y2K bug? Should we press for further action against them?

Ed Yourdon at 1:40pm ET The best history of the Y2K bug was published in an article in the Jan. 1999 of Vanity Fair Magazine. Historically, almost every programmer created Y2K bugs deliberately in the 1960's because we had such limited computer memory available. So the question is not who created the problem, but why we did not start the problem sooner. The answer is that procrastination is a universal American habit.

Leslie W. Elaine,AR from [], at 1:41pm ET How and why do you think that there is going to be a global economic depression as a worst case scenario?

Ed Yourdon at 1:43pm ET We are likely to see failures of some international banking systems. We are likely to see bankruptcies of industrial organizations around the world because of Y2K problems. And we are likely to see air transportation problems in air transportation and maritime shipping which will disrupt global trade.

Melissa from [], at 1:44pm ET Mr. Yourdon do you see any real possibility of threat to our national security as a result of Y2K on nuclear tracking devices?

Ed Yourdon at 1:45pm ET There are potential threats caused by terrorist who might try to take advantage of Y2K disruptions. And the military has expressed concern about possible Y2K problems in early warning systems. But they express confidence that nuclear weapons themselves will remain safe.

Karen from [], at 1:46pm ET In your opinion, what, if anything, should the govt. be doing differently in the way they are handling the Y2K problem? Especially with regard to what they are telling the public?

Ed Yourdon at 1:48pm ET I believe the government should be much more candid and forthright about potential Y2K problems. And I think the government should be publishing recommended Y2K contingency plans much like the Red Cross has done on their website. Unfortunately, government is likely to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Jason Brittain from [], at 1:49pm ET Mr. Yourdon: I have read several news stories on the Net about the potential for Y2K nuclear disasters such as nuclear reactor meltdowns and Y2k-triggered nuclear missile launches from around the world. As a software engineer, I see this as a very real possibility, and I worry about it. What (if anything) have you heard about serious government effort to prevent these life-threatening Y2K problems?

Ed Yourdon at 1:50pm ET As you might imagine, most of the information about nuclear weapons is highly classified. So we can only hope that military officials have had the common sense to carefully check potential Y2K problems in nuclear weapons.

Prasad Ram from [], at 1:51pm ET Would Y2K bug affect Bio-electronics, like Heart monitors and so on? If so, will the liability to correct fall on the manufacturer? Lastly, how will Y2K bug affect such equipment sold to third world countries? Thanks.

Ed Yourdon at 1:53pm ET Most hospitals have discovered that they have hundreds of medical devices that contain embedded systems and each of these must be checked to see whether a Y2K problem might have life-threatening consequences. Pacemakers for example, will not stop or explode if they have a Y2K problem, but they might record erroneous about a patient heart condition. This could to faulty diagnosis on the part of the doctor.

michael from [], at 1:53pm ET It seems inevitable that some sectors will try to take advantage of a global crisis. Which businesses or people in power do you see benefiting the most in the Y2K fallout?

Ed Yourdon at 1:55pm ET Some companies may achieve competitive advantage simply because they are Y2K compliant, while their competitors experience Y2K problems. On a global scale, the United States might gain an advantage because we have taken the Y2K problem more seriously most other countries around the world.

Brent Sundberg from kellogg.com at 1:56pm ET What risk do we have of losing money in the financial institutions at the turn of the century? Are there good alternative havens during that period?

Ed Yourdon at 1:58pm ET Of all the industries working on Y2K, the banking and financial industry has the greatest sense urgency and has made the most progress in achieving Y2K compliance. But there is absolute guarantee that every bank will be safe, or that the American banking system will remain unaffected by Y2K problems that might occur in international banks. On the other hand, there may be a greater risk caused by panic and bank runs than the risk of actual Y2K problems.

Dennis Chimelis from [], at 1:59pm ET Aren't we creating a potentially dangerous atmosphere by over-hyping the so-called Y2K bug? Making the public aware is one thing, causing the public to panic with a run at the bank in 12/99 is quite another.

Ed Yourdon at 2:01pm ET There is a fine line between awareness and panic, and the best way of preventing panic is to provide detailed credible information that can be verified by an independent third party. Unfortunately, none of the banks have provided a detailed description of the state of their Y2K compliance that has been subjected to a third party audit. They are simply asking us to trust their assurances of Y2K progress. There is a fine line between awareness and panic, and the best way of preventing panic is to provide detailed credible information that can be verified by an independent third party. Unfortunately, none of the banks have provided a detailed description of the state of their Y2K compliance that has been subjected to a third party audit. They are simply asking us to trust their assurances of Y2K progress.

Moderator at 2:07pm ET Any final thoughts, Ed?

Ed Yourdon at 2:08pm ET I'd like to offer my best wishes for whatever Y2K plans you might be making. For more information, feel free to visit my website at www.yourdon.com.

-- Brett (savvydad@aol.com), February 12, 1999


Thanks Brett. I have it too, and was going to ask someone how to post it. And thanks, Ed!!


-- Mercy (prepare@now.com), February 12, 1999.

>Brett (savvydad@aol.com), February 12, 1999<

Thanks for the copy Sir.


-- sweetolebob (buffgun@hotmail.com), February 12, 1999.

"But there is absolute guarantee that every bank will be safe" 1:58 ET

I assume that's a misquote or a misstatement.

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), February 12, 1999.

Probably quoted right but it's difficult to see the tongue in his cheek or his fingers crossed when reviewing it on the net.

-- Lobo (hiding@woods.com), February 12, 1999.

I'm more inclined to think that Ed left out the word "no" between "is" and "absolute". I've used that chat system that ABC supplies and I often had a heck of a time typing my replies as quick as possible. Ed was fielding some pretty tough Qs as they came in and trying to formulate decent replies in a timely fashion, so typos were pretty much guaranteed. Just my $.02.

"Blast it, Spock, Ah'm a software professional, not a typist!"

-- Mac (sneak@lurk.com), February 14, 1999.

It happened elsewhere - see his comments about embedded chips - what he meant to say was "being difficult to replace."

Print this - show it to those who are only getting the propagandist hype from the fed's.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 15, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ