Listen, a wind is rising... : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Here's a recent post from Cory Hamasaki that I thought you all might be interested in reading, especially in light of all the "not ready" news coming out of D.C these days. DEE CEE is Cory's turf. Just passing it on. _____ On Mon, 22 Feb 1999 15:40:59, wrote:

> Mr. Hamasaki my gut says you are correct on y2k,however virtually everyone I talk to about y2k acts like I'm crazy>

Response from cory hamasaki Date: 1999/02/23 Forum:


First of all, my expertise is *only* in enterprise systems. Strike embeddeds, power generation, midi-computers, etc. I've dabbled in other areas, spent 6 months hopelessly lost in the VMS file system. I've worked on S/360, S/370, and S/390.

Within the IBM mainframe world, I'm more a generalist than a specialist. Unlike the typical MVS systems programmer, I crank code a lot, much of it on PeeCees using C and C++. I picked up a little theoretical computer science too.

I was fortunate enough to have a wide range of experiences along the way. During the mainframe boom of the 1970's, I spent some time coding 8080 Northstar assembler. I don't do CICS or IMS but I have worked on the internals of a mainframe DBMS.

What I do know, and know with some certainty is that there are about 50,000 IBM style mainframes in the world. There are systems running that were written 30-40 years ago. The work has not been done to fix the problem on the enterprise systems side. These systems are at risk and will fail. The failures will not be of the nature that you can fix them in an hour or two.

A couple years ago, I surveyed a number of mainframe experts. Some of these people I have known for years. Most of them were gloomier than I am and even more certain that I am that the systems will fail.

Of the mainframe experts in my survey, there were a couple who did not anticipate serious outages. One of these pollys appears to have changed his mind. He's the IT director at a multi-national corp.

In the old days, people were appreciated for their skills and abilities. Somehow, this was lost in the 1980's. There was a decade of rightsizing and the superficial and clueless wormed their way into power. We had pop-biz-psych-jive, buzz-words, and management by magazine article and fad. This was followed by the 1990s, the decade of the quick buck, more flash, and mergers and acquisitions.

Beneath the fluff, handwaving, and powerpoint slides, the original systems have continued to run. As if every programmer who ever worked still toils for the company, still gets the bills out, still reconciles the books, still manages the information and advises the company.

Software doesn't rust and even the iron runs long after the its time is up. IT investments made decades ago, still pay a dividend and all it asks for is a little power and floorspace and nothing else until now.

Now, a bill for accumulated maintenance is about to come due. These systems should have been continuously made new, revised, rewritten every 5 or 10 years. We have 20 years of back maintenance to do in then next 10 months. This work should have been done by a generation of workers who were never hired or trained.

It must be done, it cannot be deferred. There are 312 days left. There isn't enough time.

Management has started screaming in the District of Columbia, hey, it's not 1992, wha happened? Along with the screaming, there is the clueless bickering for larger budgets, is this a real problem, who let this happen, we're going to make it (usually said looking firm and clenching a fist).

Sorry people, in every war, there are winners and losers but mostly there are losers on both sides. We're not going to win this one. It can't be resolved, cap'n, I canna hold her.

JT, tell your people to make their peace, there's not going to be a good resolution to this one.

I don't know what will happen. There's still a wall at 7,493 hours that I can't see past. I can hear sounds from the other side, like large animals growling and people yelling and I can't make out what they are saying.

I can't tell you how to get ready, gold doesn't ward off disease, food doesn't stop a riot, and walls don't keep unemployment out. I don't know if it's the Masque of the Red Death, a business opportunity, the Eloi, or the new golden age that awaits us.

This is the first time (other than that moment 65 million years ago) that so much has changed in so short a time. All computers transition to a new state at the same time and some, the majority perhaps, transition to an undefined state.

We can't fix this, there is no solution, time has run out.

Unfortunately, the press has run this story so much that every clueless bombastic pontificater thinks they understand enterprise systems, operating systems internals, and complex applications.

I've heard it all, "you're too close to the problem", "we're 'mer-kins","this is just hype.", and other droolings.

That's just clueless wishing. Whistling in the graveyard. This is one problem that cannot be solved, something wicked, this way comes. Listen, a wind is rising...

cory hamasaki 312 Days, 7,493 Hours,

-- FM (, February 23, 1999


150-180 working days.

Beam me up, Scotty

-- Andy (, February 23, 1999.

I'm definitely going to miss reading Cory's essays when TSHTF. He makes it all come alive in such an entertaining way... ;->

-- just (another@satisfied.customer), February 23, 1999.


Thanks for the post. It's convenient to have Cory's lack of qualifications expressed in his own words. He doesn't "do CICS" and he claims to be God's gift to Y2k prognostication regarding mainframes. That fact speaks volumes to anyone qualified to understand it. People like Cory have been "doing" so-called "enterprise systems" for more than a decade and yet they have not managed to move as much as 20% of online transactions off the old mainframes, yet the doomers think the opinion of someone like this regarding mainframe Y2k remediation has some value. Some people are just desperate for anyone who will validate their pessmistic views of life!

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 23, 1999.

Thanks FM, Cory's got a knack for bringing people back to reality.

While I still have Ed Yourdon's post from last march in my cut/paste clipboard (pasted it on another thread), I'm going to paste it here too, as I think his message then still holds true today, and it reinforces what Cory just said.

"Paul Neuhardt has been raising a number of interesting questions on this thread, and I apologize for not having had the time to respond to many of them (or, for that matter, lots of other interesting comments on other threads, too). I feel badly about this, because I know Paul and respect his ideas and opinions about lots of issues. But Paul, my good friend, you seem to be suffering from the schizophrenia common to many software engineers, to wit: yes, I know that almost every project I've ever worked on has been screwed up -- but nevertheless, I'm happy to accept the optimistic, positive statements that companies are making about their Y2K projects.

I'd like to focus on one item in particular -- namely, Paul's statement, in an earlier part of this thread, in which he said, "Also, I'm not worried about the power failing.They may screw up the bill, but I believe the juice will keep flowing. If that makes me an ostrich with my head in the sand, so be it. I'll take optimism over panicked fright any day. "

Okay... Paul, consider the following: there are 9,000 electric utility plants in the U.S., including 108 nuclear plants that account for approx 20% of the nation's power supply (and about 40% of the power on the East Coast). If you know anything about software metrics, you would immediately say, "Oh, I get it -- yup, we're doomed". That's because we have 30 years of software engineering metrics that tell us that, on average, 15% of ALL software projects are late (by an average of 7.65 months), and 25% of ALL software projects are cancelled.

But let's go on ... how many nof those electric utility plants are Y2K-compliant? It's important to emphasize here that I'm not concerned about their business IT systems, though it could eventually be a MAJOR problem if they don't get their billing and payroll systems running. But for the moment, I'm only concerned about the Y2K compliance of the embedded systems that allow the generating plant to function, and that allow power to get distributed through the substations and ultimately to your house.

How many of them are compliant? Answer: zero. None. Zip. Nada. Do you understand what I'm saying to you? Not a single power plant in this country, or Canada, can confirm that their power plants are capable of generating and distributing electricity 653 days from now.

Oh, well, not to worry: they're all working on it, right? And because they're all honest, competent people, we can trust them when they tell us that they'll be finished on time, right? Hmmm... well, how many of the electric power plants really HAVE NOT EVEN BEGUN the Y2K projects for their embedded systems? Answer: one third. Another one third have begun, but are seriously behind schedule.

Well, not to worry: all of the laggards will wake up tomorrow morning and begin earnestly working on their Y2K projects, right? Well, maybe (and maybe pigs can fly, too) ... but there's a small problem: the average Y2K projects for the embedded systems in a power plant takes 2 years and costs $20-40 million. In case you haven't noticed, we no longer have 2 years left. And most utility plants don't have $20 million in spare change lying around.

As for the nuclear plants: I've been told by experts who know how these plants operate that there are enough safety mechanisms that there is NO chance of a Chernobyl-style meltdown. But precisely because of Chernobyl and Thee Mile Island, there is an enormous collection of safety regulations that nuclear plants are required to follow, including reliable operation of various supporting systems that deal with security, radiation detection, etc etc. If a plant cannot demonstrate it is capable of running a safe operation, it is required to shut down in a safe and prudent fashion.

The Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC) posted a notice on the Internet in Dec 1996 indicating that all of the nukes had Y2K vulnerabilities. The NRC is now in the process of expanding its definition of "safe operation" to include Y2K-compliance. Thus, if a plant cannot demonstrate that it is Y2K compliant, there is a good chance that it will be required to shut down in Dec 1999.

Assuming that the Fear of God struck the CEO's of all these power plants tomorrow morning, we're talking about 9,000 large, complex hardwar/software projects being launched with a single, hard deadline of 12/31/99. Paul, your neighborhood is serviced by Commonwealth Edison; maybe they're an SEI level-5 operation with superprogrammers who can work 18 hours a day. Yippee for you; your power company might make it in time. Alas, Commonwealth Edison is on the power grid with Con Edison here in NYC, not to mention several thousand other power plants. If Con Edison goes down, NYC goes down first ... but Boston will shut down a few milliseconds later.

You may think this is a joke or an exaggeration, but I can assure you that it is not. I may turn out to be wrong, and indeed hope that that will be the case. But I'm putting my 35 years of software engineering experience on the line here, and telling you that the chances of 100%, or 95%, or even 90% of these power companies getting their Y2K projects done on time is wishful thinking.

The situation is compounded by deregulation that is currently hitting the electric power industry. Consider: if you're about to sell your power generating plant (as several utilities are in the process of doing), how concerned do you think you'll be about the Y2K compliance of your plant? You'll spin a good yarn, generate some nice documentation, and sell the whole thing to some other sucker who won't discover for another 653 days what a mess he's inherited.

By the way, if you want to keep up to date on this stuff, you should visit the web sites of Roleigh Martin ( and Rick Cowles ( who focus on this area exclusively.


P.S. With regard to the banks, which has been the main subject of this thread: all you have to know is that there are 11,000 banks in the U.S., and you can reach the same conclusion that I've discussed above. Yeah, probably Bank Boston will make it. So will Citibank, Chase, BankAmerica and the other big guys, maybe. But there are now serious predictions that between 5% and 20% of the small banks in the U.S. will fail because of Y2K. Well, to hell with the small banks, right? Well, okay, but what about the rest of the world? Europe is about a year behind the U.S., and is obsessed with the Eurocurrency project; Africa and South America are sound asleep vis-a-vis Y2K; and Asia has its own crises to deal with, which have diverted almost all attention from Y2K. So even if you assume that all 11,000 American banks make it (which would defy the odds of 30 years of software engineering history), the Bank of America could be dealt a fatal blow by a Y2K failure in the Bank of England or Deutschebank or the Japanese banks.

-- Ed Yourdon (, March 19, 1998."

-- Chris (, February 23, 1999.

Woe Is Me: Cory's "lack" of qualifications????? All he did was state where he clearly has a lot of experience to share (unlike other folks that tend to comment on stuff they barely seem to know anything about). Regarding mainframes, which is what Cory knows best, the outlook is dismal. And the reality is that these old systems are still the backbone of many organizations, regardless of the so-called "PC Revolution". Lastly, you seem to have missed it, but Cory points out that mainframe applications should have been replaced by newer ones (that hopefully would be Y2K compliant), but were not due to management inaction (you know, the folks that actually call the shots and spend the money).

-- Jack (, February 23, 1999.

Well, I DO have years of CICS exp. both apps and tuning. Funny thing about CICS, being an on-line system. Unlike "batch" apps that had an option of reading a parameter (a 4 digit year perhaps), CICS programs are usually stuck using the SYSTEM date, ie. a 2 digit year on 360 and 370 systems. Most legacy systems were developed on the 360 and 370. Any questions? <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 23, 1999.


It's always good to hear from you. I think you missed my point. Let's take another stab at it. Since Cory has establish himself as one of the shapers of public opinion regarding Y2k mainframe issues it is not unreasonable to question what qualifications he brings to this role. You say Cory is a mainframe expert, he says he spends most of his time programming PC's in C and C++. You say Cory is a mainframe expert, he says he doesn't "do CICS." I guess anyone who does anything on or near a mainframe can be called a mainframe expert but I will submit to you that no one can NOT "do CICS" and at the same time be considered a TOP mainframe expert.

Just the very humble opinion of someone who does "do CICS" along with most of the world's mainframe "experts." I think we should challenge the credentials of any and all self-annointed experts if we want to get to the truth - whatever that truth may be. You and I can say what we like on this forum and it will be rightly judged as opinion from someone with questionable qualifications, but when Cory speaks many people assume that he is speaking from a postition of superior knowledge of the situation - I am merely challenging that assumption in the spirit of separating facts from conjecture.

Some of the "GIs" like to talk about conspiracies with regard to unsubstantiated happy face reports but will not challenge any of the statements made by self-annointed experts on the gloomy side of the issue. The serious student of Y2k should question ALL so-called experts regardless of their positions.

I remain at a severity of 4.5 but hopefully after the mayor addresses our local Y2k action committee this week I can shave a tenth or two. Good luck and God bless.

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 23, 1999.


You didn't contribute much from which I could derive questions but here's one: What "current" mainframe operating system are you running which is not Y2k compliant? You say most applications were written on 360 and 370, is there a point there? Can you contribute anything substantive to the question at hand, which is: does Cory qualify as an exceptional source of wisdom regarding mainframe issues? I find Cory's writing entertaining and his management-bashing is sometimes amusing but he doesn't offer any proof of anything he says. You know that 360 and 370 are old versions of mainframes, so what? I know the model T came before the Ford Explorer but that doesn't make me an automobile expert!

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 23, 1999.

Woe, your point is well taken. I gotta ask: What city are you referencing regarding an upcoming pronouncement by its mayor? (Surely not D.C.!!!)

-- Jack (, February 23, 1999.

Hi Woe. First, true, the modern 390 OS is Y2K ok. My point is that the majority of existing apps were developed on older, non-compliant 360/370 systems, about 30 years worth of code. Making the OS Y2K compliant doesn't automaticaly make an app Y2K compliant, even if it is recompiled under the new OS. You still must dig in to the code to do date work on these programs. No matter if you take the short-cut and go with windowing, or do it the correct way and expand record, screen and report layouts. Either way, you must find, fix, and test. Any other questions? <:)=

-- Sysman (, February 23, 1999.

Can anyone tell mey why is it that whenever referencing Cory, the disclaimers from his site are omitted? Specifically there referencere to informattive and (inflamitory) and the need for a sense of humor: sCo.html

Cory is writing a series of informative (and inflamatory) Y2K newsletters, here are the current DC Y2K Weather Reports, enjoy. and ent.html

Caution, these are not for the faint of heart. Do not take the Weather Reports or yourself too seriously. If you do not have a sense of humor, turn back now. Shouldn't these be included so he's not being quoted out of context? jh

-- john hebert (, February 23, 1999.


Thankfully, I don't live in Washington D.C. but in a southern U.S. city of about half a million folks.


Your last remarks were true. I don't see any benefit to discussing the tecnical difficulties on this thread as that has been done quite a bit so I have no further questions other than the ones you chose not to answer.


I agree, we should be reminded of the disclaimers everytime someone post a prediction from Cory. If you had said that early then I wouldn't have felt compelled to post to this thread.

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 23, 1999.

Well Woe, since I haven't seen any of Cory's work, I can't speak for his expertise. However, based on his "summary" resume, I would say he is an experienced programmer, hence I value his opinion. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.cmo), February 23, 1999.

Quotes about Cory from this thread:


Let's see the proof.
I have not read every word Cory has written. Then again, I don't bash him (or anybody) with ludicrious remarks and blanket statements.

If you can find ONE direct quote from him that justifies slander such as "claims to be God's gift" or "established himself" or "self-anointed", then post it and I'll apologize handsomely.

Do that, or just shut your whiny, poisonous mouth. The serious student of Y2k should question ALL so-called experts regardless of their positions.

And let that questioning start with what they actually say, not with what you think they said or wish they said or think they were feeling.
I find it very hard to contemplate a meaningful and constructive discussion with those who come here and post character defamation. How about facts, and numbers, and direct personal experience instead?

-- Grrr (, February 23, 1999.

I always find it funny (peculiar, not ha ha) when people using fake names and e-mail addresses attack the credibility of people like Cory. (or Yourdon or even Milne) He has put his real self and his reputation out there on the line. He has told the world what and where his plans are for after rollover, and what he his doing to prepare. Maybe he doesn't "do CICS," or whatever, but he has made it clear what he does do. And he's willing to risk whatever consequenses to his reputation he may suffer if he is completely wrong. Can the chickenshit anonymous critics say the same thing? I don't trust people who insist on anonimity when attacking someone else's credibility...

-- pshannon (, February 23, 1999.

Grrr and pshannon,

This discussion obviously went way over your heads. Sorry about that. I don't promote an extremist's view of the future so I don't have one to defend. I don't get income from my opinions on Y2k so I don't have any value-add to prove. I was rather gentle with Cory when compared to the way he talks about people in management - the same people he sells his services to. Look back at your own words when you attack reporters from the other extreme view on Y2k and tell me you two folks have not occasionally citicized the messenger in refuting his message.

I have read a great deal of what Cory has written. If you like rumors, gossip and gratuitous management bashing then you gotta love what this guy writes. Excuse some of us grownups in the group if we feel that the extreme projections that Cory makes should be backed up with real evidence.

-- Woe Is Me (wim@doom.gloom), February 23, 1999.


Mostly, Cory says he can't see what will happen. I think he is aware of systems that will fail, and likely he's right, and some of them will. But saying systems will fail is different from saying that this will cause a meltdown, billions will die, or whatever.

Cory has never pretended to know any big pictures, but he's worried and preparing like many of us. I know, he's a mainframe assembly programmer, and from his viewpoint mainframe assembly runs the engines of the world. Still, his opinions are worth adding to the stew, even if (like anyone else) he doesn't know all about everything.

-- Flint (, February 23, 1999.


My point was simply that people using their real names and e-mail addresses, in my mind, have more credibility than those who don't. Cory has put his ass and his reputation on the line and that must be worth something.

I use my real name and e-mail address, and any of those reporters or whoever can respond to me if they choose. (that's happened a couple of times) Cory backs up what he says with his reputation. The people in management that he has flamed can respond in any way that they feel is appropriate, including not hiring his services, if they choose.

Lines like "Excuse some of us grownups in the group..." and the fact that you insist on anonymity do nothing for me in the credibility department...

-- pshannon (, February 23, 1999.

Let me see. From everything that I have read this is not a difficult problem to fix. I've heard time consuming and boring, but not difficult. Perhaps everyone has not reached the lofty level of knowledge that you have Woe, but it does not matter really. If the hot shot elite and exective level had paid attention earlier we would not be in this mess. Cory understands enough. I've never heard of csis or whatever. However I do spend time dealing with people who are so wrapped up in themseleves that that is all they think about.

-- Mike Lang (, February 23, 1999.

I think that "credibility" is getting way out of proportion here, especially since noone claims to literally be a "Y2K expert". Some, like Hawasaki, presumably have more "up close and personal" knowledge of what the state of Y2K affairs are than others, and sharing this ought to be welcomed by all.

As far as fake names and e-mail addresses go, thats life on the Internet. For many of us, it has to be, otherwise we would not post.

-- Jack (, February 23, 1999.

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