Some Thoughts on the Millennium Buggreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Some Thoughts about the Millenium Bug
Written by Simon Richards
I've known for a few years now that the Year 2000/Millenium Bug is a potential problem, causing anywhere from minimal disruptions to global catastrophe. However it is not until recent weeks that I decided to check more into this problem, my conclusion has pointed me into a direction that if the problem is not fixed (and they are fixing parts of it now) we will be in big trouble as a global entity.
Following are some of my thoughts about various parts of our society. I will try to add links to relevant information if I am able, and those that are rumours I will try to note as well. But don't take my word for any of this, do your own research and make up your mind if the millenium bug is a real problem or not (and some problems have already evidenced themselves, but more on that later on.). For those who are wondering if I'm a religious zealot, I'm not, I am actually an atheist. I have 15 years experience amongst computers, 12 of those in the Industry. I have also managed to crank up 8 years experience on the Internet, I code, I design web pages, in fact I'm a Network Administrator for an smallish Internet Service Provider. I can put computers together, repair them to a certain degree, diagnose and troubleshoot most problems. I've got extensive experience in MS-DOS, Linux, Solaris, Win 3.xx, Win 95, Win 98, Win NT, AmigaDOS and other lesser known operating systems. I can code in C++, Perl, CGI-Bin Scripting, Java, Basic (Various Flavours), Amiga E and a smattering of others.
Now onto the thoughts themselves ...
Most second-hand goods that get sold by private citizens, at pawn brokers, swap meets and simply thrown out are because the item is no longer useful for their purposes and are more often that not, old. There is a huge business in second-hand computer components and also other electronic goods, as in VCR's, TV's etc. Some of these are probably not Y2K compliant, will fail on the fateful day or give erroneous data.
For the first time in human history we are going to have a massive glut of non-compliant electronic products in the marketplace that people will be trying to get rid of, and no one in their right mind will take the risk of purchasing a product even if it is a $500 multi-purpose video card that is selling for the bargain price of $10. Also because a lot of people will be seeking to replace their parts everybody will be after those $500 multi-purpose video cards but due to lack of supplies you will be probably looking at double that price.
Pity the second-hand shops, those that are unaware or believe that the Y2K problem is a hoax will probably find that on the 1-Jan-2000 that they have thousands of dollars of worthless stock, probably sending a few of them bankrupt.
(References: Year 2000 Compliant Hardware & Operating Systems)
In a proposed article Y2K - Just the facts the author states the following about VCR's:
"Therefore, even if you HAVE a Y2K vulnerable chip in your VCR or Microwave or car, chances are good that it has reverted at least once since you got the appliance. If not, unplug it, wait for a couple of minutes, and plug it back in. There. You have just reset the date back to the date of manufacture. You now have random number of extra YEARS before you have to worry about the pesky embedded chip, and if the appliance or chip stays powered long enough to cause problems, unplug the thing, wait a moment or two, and plug it back in. The embedded chips' dates revert, and you have years of use before you have to worry about that problem again. Unlike computers, there are no BIOS batteries to keep date on an appliance. If the date resets after you unplug the thing, its onboard-embedded chips will not fail on Jan 1, 2000. Period. " (C) 1999 by Jonathan Latimer
Fine, I'm glad he is happy with that solution. Personally I like to see my devices displaying the correct date. I've already lived through those periods of history once, I don't want to do it again. As for worrying for an unspecified amount of years about that pesky chip, well that is actually what got us into this mess in the first place. People got complacent and said there was enough time to fix it all.
As a sidenote has anyone ever considered your everyday digital wristwatch ....
The majority of companies, etc are not actually converting their systems totally from a 2 digit format for the year to a 4 year digit format. Instead they are using a technique called Windowing, this is where within the system they will regard (as an example) anything above a 50 as in the 1900's and anything below 50 as in the 2000's. Some have stated that after the new year they will actually go through and fix the problem properly, what they are doing at the moment is the quickest to ensure a higher rate of success of being able to function at the turn of the century.
I can see it now, company directors will probably be saying:
"Well we got through that, we now have another 50 years to fix the problem before the windowing patches we made cause us problems. Plenty of time to get it fixed, in the meantime let us work on raking all those profits in and not worry about it shall we?"
My mobile phone has a date function, it is a NORTEL. I'm personally not game enough to set the clock forward to see what happens. Has anyone got details about Y2K compliance for Mobiles?
NEW YEARS EVE PARTIES
While I am either going to be at home (I do live in a City) or out lurking out in the countryside somwhere, there are a multitide of others who will be out partying. As the Year 2000 gets closer more and more people are becoming aware that there is a real problem that can affect our every way of life.
These people will be drinking, a portion will also be on drugs (some of these drugs can cause bizarre thoughts and hallucinations) and most will be aware of the potential problems of the millennium bug and if your power goes out in your neighbourhood and there is 1000 irrational drunk or drugged people outside, where are you going to hide just in case?
Yes I sound alarmist, yes I sound like a doomsayer, yes I've seen how things can explode at a drop of hat and for no apparant reason. Hell I've seen people running around in a crowded place shouting that there is a fight ensuing, a few seconds later you see a sea of humanity starting to travel in one direction to check out the fight, then soon afterwards everyone gets involved in a massive free for all.
THINGS SHUT DOWN.
There are plenty of skeptics out there saying that the millennium bug is a hoax, a non event, nothing will happen. Well they may be right after all THE GOVERNMENT, COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS HAVE SPENT BILLIONS ALREADY TRYING TO FIX THE PROBLEM. If they fix the stuff in time, which is highly unlikely, of course nothing will happen. If you gloat in the New Year and say all the people that are worried about Y2K are nuts, then I'll personally ring every company and government agency in the damn world and get them to send the Year 2000 compliancy bills to your doorstep. Don't worry you'll only be up for $500 billion plus. I'll also get them to send the list of the stuff they had to fix and what would have happened if they had not fixed it. You'll have enough paper to build a mountain.
If you want some information on failures that have already happened then you can find it at Year 2000 Sightings.
I salute you. I've heard that some of you are working 80 hour weeks, or even 7 days a week. You are our soldiers in the war against the millennium bug, thankyou very much for devoting your time and your energy to fix the problem.
Those are just some of my thoughts, constructive criticism and comments will be most appreciated. As everybody else says, no one knows truly what will happen, but thanks to those people who badgered the government, those who are raising the awareness level of people and a horde of others, we have solved a part of the problem. Sadly it is a very remote chance that everything will be ready in time and that everything will be ok. I shudder to think of the consquences if nothing at all was done.
Regards, Simon Richards
-- Simon Richards (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 20, 1999
Need to nail this one down and use it as a refernce for newbies who have half gotten it. NICE NUTSHELL!!!!
Now, who do I know that can get it published on the front page of everything??
-- Chuck, night driver (email@example.com), February 20, 1999.
Hi Simon. Do you have a long lost big brother? If so, it could be me. I've been doing this stuff for 31 years, and have a similar resume, plus 3 decades of 360/370/390 ASSEMBLY and COBOL, CICS etc., and a big time x86 ASSEMBLY freak. Many other pros lurking here also. I must keep this short, but I think this is a good post. Please, keep it up. We need all the info and help we can find here! We'll chat later, gotta go for now, but thanks for your input! <:)=
-- Sysman (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 20, 1999.
Simon - ever notice how almost everyone seems to think everything will slide by in their area of expertise? It is always 'those other guys' who are going to cause trouble. Mainframers talk about embedded systems causing trouble, hardware engineers talk about the banks. Human nature I guess.
-- Paul Davis (email@example.com), February 20, 1999.
Not all aspects of devices like a VCR reset when you unplug it. Things like pre-programmed channels stay programmed-in in most models. Devices like VCRs have a rechargeable battery on the main circuit-board that charges while the unit is plugged-in.
To reset to "factory-date", you need to unplug the battery, or find the unit's "reset" switch.
-- Anonymous99 (Anonymous99@Anonymous.com), February 20, 1999.