A bad week for lovers of the apocalypse...

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FINN BULLERS and DAVID HAYES: Calm fills Y2K watch

By DAVID HAYES and FINN BULLERS - Columnist Date: 04/02/99 22:15

Another critical Y2K date. Another day of ho's and hum's...no news is good news...yawn...let's load up Quake on the Pentium.

It seems the only fool on April 1 was the man in the sandwich board proclaiming digital doom. New York, the first state to face a Y2K fiscal year test, made the transition to the Year 2000 without a hitch. Up north, the Canadians did the same, as that country moved into the 2000 fiscal year unscathed.

"We've been working on this since April 1996, so having this confirmation is still gratifying," said Gary Davis, Year 2000 project manager for New York. "It is an important date, but Jan. 1 is still the real test."

The Year 2000 Project Office for Canada's Treasury Board Secretariat also reported no problems with government computer systems.

"So far it's been a nonevent," said Jim Bimson of the Year 2000 office.

The New York and Canada switchovers weren't the only good news this week.

Continental Airlines did an airborne Year 2000 communications test on Thursday. It tested the air-to-ground data link communications system, and airline officials said the first-of-its-kind test went off without a hitch.

"This demonstration flight shows that we can achieve consistent, reliable air-to-ground communications through and beyond the millennium clock rollover," said Janet Wejman, Continental's senior vice president.

Surveys and polls continue to drive home the message of calm in the United States.

On Wednesday, the federal government reported that 92 percent of its 6,123 crucial computer systems met President Clinton's March 31 deadline for making "mission critical" computers ready for the year 2000.

But, reported the Associated Press, it was more than hard work and No-Doz

that got the job done. An analysis showed that some agencies merely redefined what it means to be "mission citical" and boosted their completion percentage.

At the Department of Defense, for example, the number of mission critical systems went from 3,695 to 2,581, boosting the completion percentage from 18 percent to 52 percent.

And although the numbers are generally considered a positive sign of progress, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican, criticized the report, saying the administration "is fooling itself and luring the American public into a false sense of security."

Still, the Wednesday federal and Thursday New York state deadlines are the latest in a series of critical Y2K dates that have passed with few or no problems.

The New York changeover happened as Ziff-Davis, a media firm that publishes computer magazines and produces TV programs dedicated to technology, stood by.

"...When the computers continued to function and the state's director of information technology said `Nothing happened,' there was a distinct air of disappointment in the control room at the television studio," writes Mitch Ratcliffe on the www.zdy2k.com Web site.

"The problem with Y2K, and the reason that the growing litany of successes are not being reported is that a successful remediation program makes a boring headline."

It also isn't good for the survivalist industry. Equipping those who believe Jan. 1, 2000, computer chaos will make the world a dangerous place has become a big business on its own.

Did all the good Y2K news this week quiet the barking dogs who say TEOTWAWKI -- The End Of The World As We Know It -- is on its way? Nope. They're still baying at the moon of doom and gloom -- although they've had to change their strategy a bit.

On the Web at www.y2knewswire.com, a "news service" run by a survivalist supply company, the headline Friday morning read: "4/2/1999 -- Threat of war now rising/Y2K impact unknown."

After diligently reporting that New York and Canada had no problems Thursday, Y2K Newswire switched strategy and suggested the possibility of war

between the United States and Russia over Kosovo. Stock up now.

And, of course, the site links readers to Y2K Supply, another Web site owned by the same company, an Oregon marketing firm.

And now for the bad news...

PLD Telekom Inc., a New York-based company that provides phone services in the former Soviet Union, said its operations could be hurt because the Yugoslavian crisis has prompted the Russian government to limit its efforts to

fix the Y2K problem.

PLD told the Securities and Exchange Commission that the Russian government recently said it intended to limit its cooperation with companies that are

fixing the Year 2000 computer glitch.

PLD, which provides local, long-distance and cellular services, said there is "significant risk" that the company's operations may be disrupted because its customers and partners won't be able to complete phone calls.

PLD also said Y2K readiness in Russia is "substantially behind" that of Western countries.

Have code, will travel

Elsewhere on the global front, the International Y2K Cooperation Center in Washington, D.C., is holding a press conference Tuesday to announce the launch of its "YES" force, a cadre of Y2K Expert Services.

Sponsored by the United Nations and the World Bank, the center hopes to attract a volunteer force of computer experts to travel to far-off places and

fix faulty code.

Want to clean up COBOL in Kuwait? The center's Web site will be running at www.iy2kcc.org Tuesday.

-- Y2K Pro (2@641.com), April 03, 1999


Hold onto your britches. Are you in a hurry to see this thing go whacko?

Or are you pleased to live in your life of easy slavery? This is a bad, (the worst) Economic System. Men want to be free and it will take the dismantling of this goofy system to make that happen. If y2k doesn't do it something else will. WWIII?

-- loosebritches (loosebritches@nobelt.slippin), April 03, 1999.

We've covered the 4/1 date many times in the last few days Y2K Pro. They call it the Y2K problem for a good reason, not the various dates in 1999 problem. Very few programs do look ahead processing compared to the big picture, hence they are relatively simple to fix. Virtually no embedded systems do look ahead.

"At the Department of Defense, for example, the number of mission critical systems went from 3,695 to 2,581" - Boy, this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. With today's status of the .mil, I would think they would be pushing the number of critical systems up, not down. Let me define mission-critical for you.

Mission-critical: Any system fixed by the dead-line. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 03, 1999.

Y2K Amateur, I wonder how many folks have decided NOT to make any preparations as a result of reading your spin on y2k?


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 03, 1999.

Another 38 or so "bad" weeks and we are "home free"!

I pray every day that the Pollys aren't "bird-brains"!!

-- Anonymous99 (Anonymous99@Anonymous99.xxx), April 03, 1999.


April 1 (and 2) came and went with no problems. This is really true. It's a fact. It's NOT spin. Got that so far?

If you are saying that facts shouldn't be reported if they might give what you fear are false impressions, fine. But Y2K Pro didn't say not to prepare, that is your interpretation of what Y2K Pro *might* have meant in reporting 'politically incorrect' but actual facts.

But feel free to fabricate some nonexistent crashes if it makes you feel better. That wouldn't be 'spin' because we know your heart is in the right place. Those would be GOOD lies, which are OK.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 03, 1999.


Unfortunately, I think a good percentage of the public is almost as stupid as you. They see the headline, but don't read the story:

An analysis showed that some agencies merely redefined what it means to be "mission citical" and boosted their completion percentage.

At the Department of Defense, for example, the number of mission critical systems went from 3,695 to 2,581, boosting the completion percentage from 18 percent to 52 percent.

Gee, that's a comforting thought!

And although the numbers are generally considered a positive sign of progress, House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a Texas Republican, criticized the report, saying the administration "is fooling itself and luring the American public into a false sense of security."

The people in charge are behaving exactly as we have suspected they would, so if you're trying to change our minds, you're fighting a losing battle my friend.

Anon, Keep praying, you're gonna need it!

-- @ (@@@.@), April 03, 1999.


>April 1 (and 2) came and went with no problems. This is really true. It's a fact. It's NOT spin.

No, Flint, that is not a fact. The reality is that you do not know whether April 1 and 2 came and went with no problems.

It has been extensively discussed on this forum that many people have strong incentives to conceal evidence of Y2k problems from the public.

If you want to amend your statement to something like "I am not aware of any problems that occurred on April 1 or 2", I won't complain. But please don't issue blanket statements like that above.

>If you are saying that facts shouldn't be reported if they might give what you fear are false impressions, fine.

How about facts that might give correct impressions, of Y2k failures for example, but are withheld because of fear?

>that is your interpretation of what Y2K Pro *might* have meant in reporting 'politically incorrect' but actual facts.

If you're going to write about the concepts of "interpretation" and "actual facts", you really ought to apply your prescriptions to your own posting.

>But feel free to fabricate some nonexistent crashes if it makes you feel better.

Did you feel free to fabricate the nonexistence of April 1 and 2 problems? Because it made you feel better?

>That wouldn't be 'spin' because we know your heart is in the right place. Those would be GOOD lies, which are OK.

___________ (Fill in the blank, folks. In the context of Flint's last posting, this is just too, too funny!)

-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), April 03, 1999.

Flint, SPIN is SPIN. It has been perfected at the top levels of this administration on down to this forum. Your statement that April 1 and 2 came and went without any problems is SPIN. You do not know if there were problems in NY City's DP organizations during this period. It will not become evident for weeks or months if serious problems have or are occurring. You see by NOT telling the whole story you are misleading folks. This I believe is your intention along with that of Y2K Amateur.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 03, 1999.

Ray, I couldn't resist the temptation. Sorry I got mine in a few seconds earlier.

-- No Spam Please (No_Spam_Please@anon_ymous.com), April 03, 1999.


You're starting to sound like Peter DeJaeger or something:

"April 1 (and 2) came and went with no problems. This is really true. It's a fact. It's NOT spin. Got that so far?"

That is a joke! Have you received any paychecks in April yet? Has anyone received their paychecks? Have welfare recipients received their food stamps? We'll see.

-- @ (@@@.@), April 03, 1999.

-- No Spam Please, your assistance is much appreciated. When I read things like Flint's last post it is impossible not to jump in. I hope and pray that the fence sitters will take the time to read ALL of the responses rather than Headlines like Y2K Amateur spews out.

The SPINNERS are really beating their drums today. Must realize their time is almost up.


-- Ray (ray@totacc.com), April 03, 1999.

Y2K Pro, isn't it strange there was NO mention about ANY powerplants?

When all the US power shuts down, you will be sitting there in disbelief and will wonder where you will find your next meal!

Death from starvation is a horrible death! Have fun!

I will be thinking of you starving during Y2K while I will be stuffing my face!

-- smitty (smitty@sandiego.com), April 03, 1999.


If you reread (it wasn't that complicated) you'll see that I was talking about April 1 and 2. Yourdon wrote about april 1 and said 'at that moment'. I agree bugs may crop up later. It is still a fact, and not a joke, that they haven't happened yet.

And yes, I got paid on April 2. Worked fine. In fact, all of the employees (about 15,000) at my company got paid. No problems. I suppose now, to be politically correct, you will argue that this is meaningful *only* if there are problems. If no problems, then it doesn't mean anything after all. But we can both tell jokes, right?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 03, 1999.


Do you live in New York, or Canada, or Japan? Can you speak for them?

There will be many situations where no problems arise, and oodles of success stories, I don't doubt that for a minute. Problem is, because of the ripple effect, even 99% success isn't good enough.

-- @ (@@@.@), April 03, 1999.

Y2K Pro,

You always overstate the situation at the exteme and then proceed to discredit it. This is just so pathetic. At least get your metaphors right.

Y2k is not "apocalypse now", it's more like "death by a thousand cuts". Why are you so impatient for a definitive image of the future? Is your fear that great?

-- Nathan (nospam@all.com), April 03, 1999.

I work in Canada - for the Federal government, and I got paid as usual on Friday. Y2K Pro (as much as I dislike his arrogance) and Flint appear to be correct. Are we incapable of digesting good news without name calling and conspiracy slinging?

-- Johnny Canuck (Johnny@canuck.ca), April 03, 1999.

"Lovers of the apocalypse"? Not on this forum anyway.

"Will something really happen or just another April Fool's Day?"...


"fiscal years reported as yr 2000"...


-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), April 03, 1999.

"April 1 (and 2) came and went with no problems."

Maybe I missed something.... but most of the companies I know run their reports, etc. at month's end. That is when I thought we might see some problems regarding fiscal rollover. Don't you think it's a bit early to tell what the total impact will be?

-- Gayla Dunbar (privacy@please.com), April 03, 1999.


Of course it's too early to tell what the total impact will be. And I agree with Ed that most if not all of that impact will be kept from public view if possible.

Still, there should have been a fair-sized body of code dealing with 00 dates for the first time and causing a fair-sized number of problems that would show up immediately (as well as many, perhaps most, that will show up later). And nobody (outside the glass rooms, anyway) noticed a thing.

I think we need to regard this as a good sign. A *very* small sign, to be sure. But still a good one.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 03, 1999.

Here's what Jo Anne Slaven (for whom "The Jo Anne Effect" was named) had to say about April 1, at the comp.software.year-2000 forum. I believe Jo Anne lives in Canada.

Michael P. McCutcheon wrote: > > Can anyone point me to a list of Y2K related failures that occurred > today, April 1, 1999? > > How serious are the failures thus far?

(Begin Jo Anne's reply)

One more time .....

In my experience, when any organization - *including* government organizations ends one fiscal year, they usually take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months to "wrap up" the old year. The process of rolling over to a new fiscal year usually happens when the "old" year has been audited. It is definitely not something that automatically happens on the first day of the new year.

Most accounting software allows the user to stay in the old fiscal year for as long as is necessary. Some accounting software even allows for an "extra" month at the end of the fiscal year, to be used for "transitional" postings before the year-end rollover takes place.

If there are any fiscal roll-over problems, they may very well be resolved before members of the public become aware of them.

We're only talking about accounting software here - not SCADA systems or EDI networks. This is remediation work that can be put off for a *long* time without anyone noticing. It's only numbers on a piece of paper, after all.

I don't think anyone ever claimed that Western Civilization would come to an end on April 1, 1999. It was always just "one more date to watch out for."

Jo Anne

-- FM (vidprof@aol.com), April 03, 1999.

Please GET IT RIGHT! 1. When a fiscal year ends it takes a few weeks to get all the data entered, bills paid, ect. At the same time new data, which is not being used yet, is being entered into the new fiscal data banks. It will NOT be untill the new info is used for a while, till we know if there were any big problems! 2. The first article mentioned in this post stated that Oct. would be the point when many of these April first problems will surface. (End of first half of FYE 2000.) Got Sodium Penethol?

-- SCOTTY (BLehman202@aol.com), April 03, 1999.

Johnny Canuck,

"Are we incapable of digesting good news without name calling and conspiracy slinging?"

This is one situation which I do not think any conspiracy is involved. The data is starting to go sour in many computers, and more and more of the processing will need to be done manually as the year progresses. Unless some organizations intentionally use this predicament as an excuse to postpone financial obligations, I don't think it could be considered a conspiracy, but rather a stupidity, by not having their software fixed yet. It is also understandable that many will attempt to conceal these problems as best as possible, because it would be self-destructive to an organization to do otherwise, but that in itself does not constitute a conspiracy.

Read the post by SCOTTY above, he seems to understand the nature of this situation fairly well.

-- @ (@@@.@), April 03, 1999.

Gee Y2K Pro, even your mortal enemy Gary North has a note on the success of the 4/1 date. What's wrong with this picture, Y2K Pro and Gary North agree! Once again, I don't agree with Gary (or Y2K Pro) on how significant 1999 dates are. Must be my 31 years of programming, vs. Gary's history background, and Y2K Pro's ????? background. <:)=

Fiscal Year 2000: No Major Problems Reported

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 03, 1999.


Do I detect a pattern in this (a real question -- I don't know).

It seems that people who work with accounting packages are a lot more worried about non-accounting applications. Those who work with embedded systems seem the least worried about embeddeds. Those who maintain the USPS equipment say the mail will get delivered, but worry about communications and transportation. Those working in communications are much less worried about communications than other aspects. Those involved in banking y2k projects express most concern about their cars and elevators. And so on.

In general, I get a sense that those with real expertise in any one slice of the big picture tend to be least worried about their slice - and the more experience, the less worry. The real fear seems to be focused on the "other guy's" area, the unknown.

The latest csy2k poll was very interesting. Graphed, it showed that as of last week, geeks are not only significantly more optimistic than non-geeks, but are getting more optimistic as the non-geeks are getting more pessimistic.

Is it possible that at least some of the optimism reflected in self- reporting is because your own area is what you understand best?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 03, 1999.


That's a good question, and I wish I had the answer. Everybody seems worried about the other guy, and with good reason. I'ld love to see more come out and say yes, we are good to go (as far as we know), and screw the lawyers! It would do so much to make us "doomers" feel better.

But then I look at arguments from people like Mr. Cook. He sure seems to know what he's talking about, and isn't at all optimistic, and his field is one of the most important. And I look at the FAA, going backwards. And I look at DOD, lying, pushing their critical number way down. I wish I knew Flint. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 03, 1999.


Robert Cook hasn't seemed all that pessimistic within his area of expertise -- he tends to lose it a bit when he wanders off into politics and government. And he knows as much about politics and government as I know about nuclear reactors. So I wonder too.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 03, 1999.


From what I've seen, Robert is only optimistic because he feels that the nukes and hydros may be the only plants to survive beyond the first week or so, because of supply problems and the like. He still hasn't talked me into that, considering the complexity of a nuke plant. But, that's not my area, and I'm hoping he will convince me.

That's why I'm hanging here, to try and figure out this mess. The information here is really amazing, once you cut out the BS. Time will tell. If we're all still here in a year, I'ld like to buy this whole damned forum a drink, or two, or as many as y'all would like! Yes, even Norm, and Y2K Pro (maybe). <:)=

-- Syaman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 03, 1999.


My point exactly. Robert isn't worried about his area of expertise, he's worried about transportation and other areas, about which he knows nothing (at least in terms of technical details).

If you look *only* at what geeks say about their own little slice, y2k will hardly be noticeable. Conversely, if you look *only* at speculations about the unknown specialties, we're all doomed. A very interesting pattern.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 03, 1999.


Yea, I hear ya. I'm not all that comfortable with my area though. I don't know if you read my first post a couple of months ago, but we're dumping hundreds of mainframe COBOL and Assembly programs, and "redoing" the whole thing using web-based technology, Java, SQL and so on. All directly related to the extensive use of dates in the old mainframe system. We felt that it would be next to impossible to "patch" the old programs, even starting 2-3 years ago. We're getting there, and the final product will be much nicer. But, we will not be 100% done by 2000-01-01. We'll have enough to get a basic product out the door, but the "bells and whistles" won't show up 'till 2001. This project is hardly "critical", it's a bunch of books, CD-ROMs and a subscription web site. This is why I don't feel all that great about the "CRITICAL" systems. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 03, 1999.


I losing you here. You say three things about your project: It's not critical, and the basic functionality will be there, and you're worried about it. Why?

Are you implying that your project is getting more resources than the critical projects?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), April 03, 1999.


Our company offers services to publishers, very critical to our company. This conversion is for our #1 customer. They understand the problem, and are willing to work with us. Next years books will be missing quite a few details that were in this years books. However, we think we'll have enough updated information to "go to press".

We're worried because we have lost other current customers, because of the resources needed to do this project. They've found another "business partner" that could do the work. We are also turning away new customers for the same reason. We're an employee owned company (ESOP), and our stock has already taken a hit. If all goes well, and we have things like power, we should be OK next year. Note should. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 04, 1999.

PS - By "CRITICAL" I mean power, refineries, etc... <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 04, 1999.


I've been a programmer for more than 15 years and I'm NOT at all confident that things will be OK. I've worked on hundreds of systems over the years and at least half of my work has been fixing other peoples screw-ups. I often ask myself "someone actually got PAID to write this crap?". You'd be amazed at how few quality people there really are out there...

FYI, there are 3 textbook signs that a project (any project) is doomed to fail.

1) Costs Go Up - Managers get a good look at what they've gotten themselves into and go "Oh, sh*t! I forgot we had to deal with X" and they scramble to get more resources, people, etc. For example, last quarter the federal govt. raised it's cost estimates by $400,000,000. This number has gone up every quarter since reporting began.

2) Features Get Cut - Managers realize there's no way they're going to get everything done on time so they drop features. In this case, since the govt. systems already exist they can't cut features without raising hell with their users. Instead they are just completely dropping 'mission critical' systems (down 30% in the last 18 months). Cutting features/systems usually helps with #3 below.

3) Deadlines Are Missed - Anyone who's ever worked as a programmer knows that software ship dates are really just 'wishful thinking'. If the govt. hadn't dropped so many systems they would only be a little over 60% done, not 92%. And remember, most (not all, but most) of these fixed systems have NOT been independantly tested and verified. Every single buggy product that ever shipped had some manager standing behind it saying 'this is Done, it works'.

So where do I stand on Y2K? I think it'll be somewhere between a 4 and a 6. A few months of really, really, hairy times but not the end of the world. And yes, I do think there will be SOME places in the USA where there are extended blackouts, riots, martial law, etc. Come October I think quite a few people are just going to lost it, Y2K or not. Just take a look at some of the rants up here.

As for no errors on April 1st, let's see how well these systems are holding up in July...


-- TECH32 (tech32@nomail.com), April 04, 1999.

TECH32 - A big 10-4! <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), April 04, 1999.

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