Why Ed Yourdon guessed wrong?

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Ed Yourdon's recent postings admit that he got some things wrong - like how much people would hide the problems that do occur. That indicates that a technical expert can predict the technical problems, but one might need a behavioral expert to predict the human reaction.

As you assess the Y2k situation, are you applying your technical expertise or your behavioral expertise? Are you willing to admit you might not be expert in both?

-- Dan Hunt (dhunt@hostscorp.com), July 23, 1999


Yes, Yes, and no.

I've been in software engineering since 1982. I've worked on government computer projects (1982-85).

Having been burned by Ada (remember that guys?); and dealing with DOD, the Veteran's administration, SSN, etc as a "customer", I'd say that qualifies me as an expert in bureaucratic behaviorism.

Why *anybody* would believe the fed.gov about *anything* is beyond me. Even when they don't think they're lying (which is RARE), they usually have their "facts" so screwed up or covered with whipped cream as to be laughable at best.

And the current administration is the worst of a bad bunch.


-- Jollyprez (jolly@prez.com), July 23, 1999.


One of us certainly misunderstood Yourdon, and I don't think it's me. Of *course* companies will hide their problems, they always have. Yourdon knows this. We all know this.

What surprised Yourdon was their *ability* to hide their problems so far, not their willingness. They're always willing. But how were they able to do it? Probably multiple factors contributed -- programmers were more competent than expected, remediation was more effective than expected, workarounds were easier than expected, lookaheads (for whatever reasons) were fewer than expected, etc. Talking here about Yourdon't expectations.

I found it most interesting that he *still* didn't admit that maybe y2k bugs weren't as virulent as he originally thought. He didn't admit that he overestimated those bugs at all, he only admitted his underestimation of our ability to *hide* them. But this is disingenuous. If those bugs had been anywhere near as serious as Yourdon effectively guaranteed, they would *not* have been hideable.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), July 23, 1999.

Flint, what also may have happened is Ed's lack of hands-on experience with accounting departments. Accountants (and their 'ilk' as you would say) are very shrewed and very 'pragmatic' for lack of a better word. They can fool the system for a while.

But let's not fool ourselves: if Ed and Jo Anne Slaven were correct, the bean counters are only "postponing" the problem, never solving it. It'll catch up and blow up. Unless Ed and Jo Anne were completely wrong. But proof is on their side. The problem is there, dormant sometimes, active other times (particularly in SMBs), but always ready to bite. Currently we are undergoing a bacterial incubation period, that's all. There are several live threads going on in this forum right now which address this very same subject.

Take care Flint

-- George (jvilches@sminter.com.ar), July 23, 1999.

So what if he was wrong, big deal! Ed and others have made their money off the Y2K Scare and now it's time to hide. I call them opportunist, because they have the ability to make a fast buck legally using common scare tactic techniques. This is a good lesson for many, to not be so gullible and don't put your trust and faith in man because they will always fail you somehow. By the way, I never purchased Ed's book nor any other Y2K book....I didn't see the need to.

-- smartcookie (smartcookie@smartcookie.com), July 23, 1999.

andyman633@hotmail.com), July 23, 1999.

Or (not trying to be overly simplistic here), it is minutely possible that Mr. Yourdon's predictions regarding the Jo Anne Effect were just wrong.

Andy Ray

-- Andy Ray (andyman633@hotmail.com), July 23, 1999.


I assume you are a Y2K optimist. I'm not. I've been a programmer for 31 years, not quite as long as Ed.

First, while I didn't see it first hand (because I've only been on this forum since Feb.), I understand that Ed had his book available on his web site FOR FREE for quite a while. I think he did a great service to to the people by publishing his book. The majority of people still do not have internet access.

Second, if you think Y2K is a scare, please answer these questions:

Why did the President appoint Koskinen?

Why does Congress have a Y2K committee, still taking testimony?

Why was NERC asked to oversee the Y2K progress of electric utilities?

Why is the estimated cost of fixing Y2K worldwide stand at 1 trillion dollars?

Why do the tech companies, such as IBM and Microsoft, need a special law to protect them from Y2K suites?

If you can answer these questions, I've got a few more for you. This ain't a scare. It's real. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), July 23, 1999.

Why can't the state of Md. renew my home improvement license? Go ahead...

-- KoFE (your@town.USA), July 23, 1999.


I'll take a crack at answering your questions. Why not?

Why did the President appoint Koskinen?

Good question. I suspect there are two reasons for selecting a nobody for this task. First, it's a lose-lose position. If you do a great job nobody notices a thing, otherwise you get the blame. Why would anyone with a reputation throw it away on this? Second, it was viewed (still is by most) as a low-visibility position. Anyone not in a position to hand out lots of money to the best lobbyist has low visibility. Don't confuse our rapt attention to Koskinen with the public (total lack of) perception. So only some loyal, unambitious flunky would accept the job.

Why does Congress have a Y2K committee, still taking testimony?

Now come on. Congress has thousands of committees, and committees take testimony for a living, that's what they do. After which Congress does what it was going to do all along. It's a government instinct -- see an issue, form a committee. And again, for almost all citizens this is a low-visibility committee. Intentionally so, since y2k is a no-win situation, so who wants the job?

Why was NERC asked to oversee the Y2K progress of electric utilities?

All in all, they were probably best situated for the task. At least its members understand the industry, being part of it. Would you rather that Congress had organized yet another committee to take testimony? NERC has a more direct self-interest in seeing y2k problems solved (lest they go out of business or lose profits), and it doesn't cost taxpayer dollars for them to do oversight. And in any case, it's always the job of the utilities to do the work anyway. NERC's reporting procedures haven't been bad, everything considered.

Why is the estimated cost of fixing Y2K worldwide stand at 1 trillion dollars?

??? Because it's a huge job, of course. But this number is a double edged sword. It implies both that the job is huge, and that the effort expended to do the job is huge.

Why do the tech companies, such as IBM and Microsoft, need a special law to protect them from Y2K suites?

They don't, in my opinion. But every company would *love* to have special protection against lawsuits. Indeed, most lobbying by everyone (Washington is crawling with lobbyists) is to get special treatment, whether protection from lawsuits, or tax breaks, or grants, or anything. Whether any such breaks do the public more good or more harm is a strictly partisan issue.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), July 23, 1999.

Howdy Flint,

I gotta run for now, but I'll address your comments later. Have a nice weekend! <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), July 23, 1999.

Flint and Sysman:

First of all, Flint, I don't believe Sysman was addressing you as an audience in his questions. He began with "If you think Y2k is a scare..." I don't really believe that ANYONE thinks the Y2k problem is SIMPLY a scare at this point...if by scare you meant hype. It always has and in many cases still is a very REAL problem that needs to be dealt with. There is no conclusive evidence yet (despite what some say) to CONCLUDE that it will result in an all or nothing situation worldwide. The degree of problems will be debated LONG after 01-01-2000.

It's my understanding, Flint, that Koskinen was selected because he had experience in motivating folks to meet a goal. He had several previous successes in this area. Do we all agree that Y2k requires management that has expertise in motivating folks to meet a deadline? Probably not. [grin]

-- Anita (spoonera@msn.com), July 23, 1999.

If the government, banking, telecommunications, and utilities are saying that they will be Y2K ready or are in fact ready now, then I have no idea why Clinton appointed someone to oversee Y2K, nor do I have any idea why he passes legislation to limit law suits. Maybe they are ready and maybe there aren't, no one knows do they? Maybe Clinton is covering his butt and Gore's butt too (the founder of the internet). I don't trust what anyone is saying. Do you believe that 1 out of 4 people will take money out of the bank, or that 4 of out of 10 people will store food prior to Y2K? Who trusts polls? I don't base my emotions and actions on what someone else is stating as fact. I can't asnwer your questions because I honestly don't have the correct answers.

-- smartcookie (smartcookie@smartcookie.com), July 23, 1999.

don't you folks know that it matters not if anyone has y2k compliance,as long as they're "on track"

-- zoobie (zoobiezoob@yahoo.com), July 24, 1999.

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