Sneaking a peak at the year 2000 (from de Jager's glitch site/Techweek) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From Peter de Jager's Y2k "glitch" site:

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Sneaking a Peek at the Year 2000

Year 2000 awareness is so rampant that polite party conversation consists of, "Great egg rolls, are they Y2K compliant?" Prophets of doom wander the streets mumbling about the end of the world. Cynics say the millennium bug is nothing but media hype.

The debate between the believers and the non-believers sounds like dialogue from X-Files. Without facts, I didnt want to participate in the noise. Then one day I realized that, unlike UFOs, I actually do own computers. Rather, my company does.

So, I went off to examine my recently purchased (January 1999) server and workstations. My "tech guy" got some Y2K assessment software and we installed it. Part of the testing sets the clock forward to 1/1/2000. Another part of the test resets the clock back to the current date.

In the thrill of the moment, we forgot to do the second part. So, we merrily rebooted our network into the unknown chaos of the next millennium, not realizing what we had done.

Our first problem was that users could not log onto their workstations.

All passwords were rejected. Being technical people, we assumed the users were the problem and made them re-enter their passwords. Numerous times, until they got a bit testy.

Finally, we went to the administrative module to assign new passwords and everything was blank. No users. No passwords. No options. Nor could we add users.

My company ground to a halt. Tempers flared, accusations started flying about buying inexpensive hardware. You could almost hear the battle theme from Star Trek.

Then my Tech Support training kicked in and I thought to check the date. There, laughing at our pain, was "1/1/2000." Brought to our knees by Y2K. So we rebooted, reset the clock and were again in the present. Life was back to normal. Or was it?

We had seen a glimpse of what will happen. Not might happen, but will happen.

The only way to avoid that fate is to get the manufacturers patchand thats only for the one program I know about. What about all the others?

I dont really know whats going to happen to civilization in January. I dont know whats going to happen to the energy grid, the Internet, farmers, or the economy. But by limiting my scope to the smaller world of computers, there are four things of which I am certain. Some PCs will fail. Some software will fail. Some servers will fail. And some companies that have not prepared for those first three problems will also fail. Y2K doesnt seem so funny anymore.

Christopher Walsh President, The Walsh Consortium

-- FM (, April 11, 1999


What part of this can anyone NOT UNDERSTAND????!!!!

My mind BOGGLES at the thought that there are not only SOME, but actually a MAJORITY of my fellow man who DENY this problem!


I'm angry because THEY are going to be not only a PART of the problem but actually the WORST part of it when the SHTF!! "They" will be the rioters, the whiners, the beggers, the mauraders!!!

"They" ridicule us, the GI's...... the whacko-survivalist-fanatics... but it will be OUR stashes and comforts they will DEMAND when the shelves are bare and the lights are out.

Y2K is as @$#! frustrating as trying to deal with obstinate teenagers, and I guess today I've just D*MN WELL HAD ENOUGH OF BOTH OF THEM!!!!!

ok, ok. Now I'll go back to being a good lil whacko, and just quietly continue prepping. If things don't change soon though, by the time 1/2/2000 arrives, I am going to be harboring such a throbbing black rage, that I truly PITY the first poor fool who asks me for so much as a dry crust of bread!!!

I guess I just had to blow off a teensy (*snicker*!) bit of steam...

-- Sheila (, April 11, 1999.

Sheila -

I'm right there with ya. Teenage son and a neighbor who thinks it is all "hype" - actually I have 2 but the one neighbor has 3 kids and I really do worry about what to do about them. Have asked her how she expects to feed her 3 kids "hype" and she told me I was being ridiculous. The rest of the neighborhood is preparing. I even one neighbor who is preparing because all the rest of us who are preparing will probably cause a panic so he is preparing for the panic - sort of back door but who am I to argue - at least he is preparing!

As for the son - he will soon be 16 and it is spring after all!!

As someone else usually says - Arrgghh!

-- Valkyrie (, April 11, 1999.

This story says a patch is available from the manufacturer. Yet the author says this problem "will happen. Not might happen, but will happen." Does this mean Christopher Walsh has no intention of getting and installing the patch, preferring instead to go dead in the water? If so, he's a fool.

This is what testing is all about - to find and repair problems. The problems exist. The fixes exist. Get them!

-- Flint (, April 11, 1999.


With respect, it is the very fact that some otherwise intelligent, thorough people WILL commit oversites such as the one admitted so candidly by Christopher Walsh, that will create the ripple effect of failures that most likely will ravel the structure of the economy.

It takes an observer of human nature, not a computer technology maven, to make this leap of logic and draw reasonable conclusions.

-- Sara Nealy (, April 11, 1999.


I expect you're partially correct. Many businesses (especially fairly small ones) won't test at all, and this type of symptom will strike many of them. No doubt about it.

Sudden lockups on 1/1/00 aren't that hard to diagnose! You just got bit by a y2k bug. You're dead in the water until you get that patch and install it. Might take ALL DAY! Sheesh.

And a few *really* stupid managers might 'save money' by firing his technical people for incompetence and stay dead in the water. These organizations will be rare, and we can surely do without them.

Now, just how does this unravel the economy?

-- Flint (, April 11, 1999.

It seems to me that looking at business alone is a narrow way to consider the effects of the computer breakdowns we are discussing.

The ravel, or rather, UNravelling, effects will be taking place on all fronts. It's like a military campaign that strikes at many places at once, weaking the adversary by distracting them with a myriad of "emergencies" to patch one after the other.

I don't see evidence that we are that good at triage to warrant such confidence.

-- Sara Nealy (, April 11, 1999.


I really don't know how to answer you. In an economy, all parties are constantly faced with both problems and opportunities, and all parties do all they can to address both, all the time. And the economy hums along, better sometimes than others.

My expectation is that at rollover, there will be a million problems of all sizes, and a million campaigns addressing those problems, some more effectively than others. Global damage control.

This particular post dealt with one particular problem, for which damage control was simple and has surely been addressed by now. I expect most (definitely not all) problems will be just as simple to correct. But we're dealing here with ONE particular case. It's just as misleading to generalize from one bad testing experience as it is to generalize from one successful test.

A few bad tests don't mean we're doomed, and a few good tests don't mean we're out of the woods. I'm most concerned with the tests that *aren't* being done. And we never hear about those.

-- Flint (, April 11, 1999.

It seems that I'm not getting my point across clearly. One more try.

It is the very fact that these tests and companies *cannot* be separated neatly into indivdual compartments of "success" or "failure" that makes the Y2K problem so insidious.

This is, perhaps, what the "Doomers" and the "Pollyannas" are really arguing, after all: the interrelatedness and, hence, the vulnerability, of all systems and companies and peoples vs. the fix- ability of any ONE system or company.

Do you understand my point? You may not agree, but am I clear?

-- Sara Nealy (, April 11, 1999.


I'm probably still missing it. Yes, everything is interconnected, and those interconnections are important.

But each bug is a discrete bug, and each fix is a discrete fix, and each test is a discrete test. We are finding and fixing bugs by the millions, and testing our fixes. Millions of bugs, millions of fixes, millions of tests. That's the big picture to me.

We don't really know which particular bugs might lead to domino effects and which won't. So we do our best across all organizations and individuals, to fix every single one we can find (that we can get to in the time we have left). In places where we know we can't get to them all (largely public sector) we do our best to address the most important systems first. These are the systems most likely to lead to domino effects if not fixed. Those who work with these systems every day really do have a pretty good idea which ones are the big ones.

One of the key points of debate between optimists and pessimists centers on how many of the big ones will actually be correctly fixed in time, and what will happen if they aren't. We all know what 'in time' means, but there's no agreement on 'big'.

-- Flint (, April 11, 1999.


I am curious as to how you factor in the additional problems created by interraction with global trading partners, international finance and commerce, in light of the fact that we, in the U.S. are supposedly far ahead and more aware of the kinds of fixes you describe than are our overseas partners.

How can our routine relationships with them NOT render us more vulnerable to breakdown's in business, thus affecting the economy?

How can we call isolated instances of fixes "successes" when that only captures a facet of the larger problem?

-- Sara Nealy (, April 11, 1999.


You ask two different questions.

I don't think our relationships with foreign suppliers can retain the same routine. I also don't think we'll throw our hands in the air and do nothing but complain about it. What new form these relationships will assume, I can't guess. There are countless such relationships. For each one that presents a problem, there will be several workable solutions to choose from. We'll just have to see what solutions are chosen, and what the effects will be.

As for the fixes, yes, each one is isolated. Once we start talking about millions of fixes, the big picture changes. These fixes more and more start affecting one another. After all, we got into this computerized and interconnected situation one little step at a time, except this was millions of little steps by millions of organizations. The big picture is the sum total of all the little steps. We're taking them.

-- Flint (, April 11, 1999.


You question: "This story says a patch is available from the manufacturer. Yet the author says this problem "will happen. Not might happen, but will happen." Does this mean Christopher Walsh has no intention of getting and installing the patch, preferring instead to go dead in the water? If so, he's a fool."

I think you're missing the point. For one thing, he was NOT saying that HIS particular problem was going to happen.... because he has found it early and was able to find and install a patch. What he was pointing out, is that MANY individuals and businesses WILL encounter these unexpected problems at the turnover because they have NOT been looking for them, patching and testing ... either because of denial or simply ignorance. ("The debate between the believers and the non-believers sounds like dialogue from X-Files. Without facts, I didnt want to participate in the noise. Then one day I realized that, unlike UFOs, I actually do own computers. Rather, my company does")

A second problem then occurs. Since they will find these problems at the same time that many many others are finding their own individual problems, there is a good possibility that finding and installing a patch may not be simple at that time. For example, what if the ISP the business uses goes down because of external or internal Y2K bugs? How will the business be able to download a patch? Perhaps the mail will be out of commission or at least slowed to a long will it take to recieve a patch by snail mail? Or perhaps the phones or electricity are intermittant if not down totally.

And if this business is supplying 2 or 3 others, but can't produce for awhile, then those other business now have some problems....

Y2K is like a snowball poised at the top of a very steep snowy mountain. We know when it will start rolling down.....the only question is how big will it grow as it rolls, how many and which trees will it crush, and which trees will those trees take down as they fall.

-- Sheila (, April 11, 1999.

Agree with Flint; no one ever said there weren't problems that needed to be fixed.

Also, though not many specifics, I wonder how many of the problems resulted from the test method (unplanned, unintended test) itself. Could very well have been problems caused by having the server running with a date so out of sync; expired passwords, etc. Again, just conjecture, without details.

-- Hoffmeister (, April 11, 1999.


I have been reading you for over 9 months and have come to the conclusion that you are one of the dumbest son of bitches that posts here. I wish you would take your crap to the gary south forum or somewhere else beside here. You are so full of crap that its laughable. Did your mama have any kids that lived? Do you have kids? Are they idiots like you?

-- flintsdadsucksinhell (, April 11, 1999.


Valuable contribution. We'll all cherish it.

-- Flint (, April 11, 1999.

Walsh Consortium

-- Concerned Citizen (joe@public.q), April 11, 1999.


I would give up on Flint - he IS a clever fellow but incapable of grasping the obvious - which he continues to prove in print.


for once we agree - the testing process has already caused gigantic cock-ups for some companies, whilst many companies have a golden opportunity to streamline their IT systems during the y2k inventory and testing phases, many (all) of them will also be introducing new problems with the remediated code (statiscally this is a given). Hoff's point however is not generally factored in by those who should know better.

-- Andy (, April 11, 1999.

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