An apology to the group for not explaining myself; Here's what I was trying to say by my post.greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Neither a doomer, nor a Polly, I'm really only a truthseeker on this whole y2k thing.
To that end, I read with interest Cory Hamasaki's post which included discourse between mainframers trying to work out a y2k issue, which he brought over from the unidentified "mainframe newsgroup", but which clearly -sounded- very important.
However, to verify the posts' credibility, because such programming chatter is over my head, I tracked down the newsgroup he'd quoted from by doing a search on the quotations, found said newgroup, and sure enough, there were the posts exactly as he'd quoted among lots of other programmer banter, indecipherable to me.
But even then, I was curious whether, even if accurate, these issues were really a big deal or not. Some of the posts referred to a IBM Year 2000 website as a primary source of information, so I clicked over to it.
I was shocked enough by what I found to post some of it here. It was astounding for me to learn what remediating this problem really comes down to, at least in the case of the IBM OS/390.
Non-mainframe programmers such as myself might assume that fixing a mainframe OS is as simple as popping a CD or two in the drives, uploading the new code, performing the checks and tests required, and you're all set. Report compliance and off you go.
After all, it's IBM. And if someone can be expected to know how to get systems to run correctly through this y2k era, it would be they, one would expect.
But to me the IBM site I quoted demonstrated unequivocally that this is a monumentally large and difficult problem, even for those who designed the systems, and best know how they work. A moment imagining myself involved in a mainframe-remediation y2k project having just to -read- through all that stuff and I became very scared, so I posted a little of it, thiking it might be instructive for others to have this primary-source (no pun intended) moment too.
My uncle is a programmer of 25+ years and he told me back in 97 that his worst fear about y2k was that good programmers will avoid working on it because it's uncreative and boring, and there's so much good work out there in its place. These documents to me were serious evidence supporting his case.
But another lesson I learned from this little exercise was on the issue of credibility.
Everyone who reads this discussion group knows how many opinions there are on y2k. To me the single biggest point of difficulty has been knowing whom to believe.
If you go to Cory Hamasaki's web site, you see information that leads you to believe he's competent to assess mainframe issues, but if you're like me, you don't -really- know. Same with Ed Yourdon - he appears extremely competent and well-meaning, but in the end, hey, he does sell y2k books and videos. If you go to Gary North's website you see credible-sounding doom and gloom, but anyone who's been researching y2k for a while knows of the well-documented accusations that Gary's after the world's demise however he can get it, so his opinions are hard to take seriously enough to take action on.
Then on the other side of the coin are stories in the major media outlets and statements from major corporations that everything's under control, and government statements that a few batteries and bottles of Poland Spring water will get you through this "winter-storm" type event.
My point is not that all these "experts" are not of good heart. After dozens of months of self-protective cynicism, I've come to the conclusion that many of them are, and I think nearly all of them genuinely believe what they're saying to be the truth.
But I've come to the point that while I read with interest all the opinions offered, and they certainly sway my feelings on the subject, the information I take most seriously, the information I act off of, the information I risk looking like a lunatic in front of my non- "GI" acquaintances, is the primary source stuff: Citibank's website admitting it's not compliant. The Senate documents admitting there will be major problems. And the IBM site revealing the complexity of what it will take to fix OS/390 mainframes. Even if I don't completely understand what they're talking about, the fact that IBM clearly takes y2k deadly seriously, and the fact that it takes dozens and dozens of pages for them to explain how to resolve this OS/390 problem is all it takes to scare the heck out of me.
Finally, to the average Joe like me, to see information dispersed by an "expert", in this case Cory, 100% substantiated through my own independent research, gives this expert a very high level of credibility in my book. It's one thing to read something on an opinionated web page or in a clearly one-sidedly biased newsgroup. But to track down some information offered by an "expert" in that newsgroup and find it to be completely accurate means maybe I don't have constantly be wondering about that person's credibility, and maybe I can spend less time verifying and more time listening to what they're saying and acting on that information.
Because, like all of you, I want the answer to "how bad is it going to be?", and like all of you, I turn to "experts" for help on that issue. And it sure is nice, in the face of my ever-suspicious nature, to find that even if it is a very scary message, sometimes they're just speaking the truth.
-- Mike Childs (MChilds@hotbot.com), August 30, 1999
Yes, I agree whole heartedly with your point that once remediation is seen close up, one quickly revisits one's level of individual preparedness. I've been asked to manage on-site a third-party team who's been hired to fix our systems, and although these are clearly smart, well-meaning people, as I watch them work on a day-to-day basis, I'm shocked at how few answers they have, how little information they can get from their vendors, and come away with the overall impression that the system will be in much worse shape when they're done than when they came in (even if the Year 2000 issues are correctly fixed, which is also most seriously in doubt).
-- Ashok Srinivasan (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 1999.
Another indication is the that the software professionals are preparing well out of proportion to the general population. If we had a sense that the work would get done on time, we wouldn't be wasting resources. As it is...I picked up a few more cans for storage over the weekend...
-- Mad Monk (email@example.com), August 30, 1999.
Welcome to the wonderful world of Y2K, Mike. Nice post BTW. Because opinions are all over the place, I have decided to read as much as possible and then trust my gut.
I was once a 8.5 on the Y2K scale, but I don't have that feeling of impending doom that used to haunt me. OTOH, I don't think that we are going to coast through this unscathed either. Setting aside canned food and other items that you will use anyway is cheap insurance. Doing so has helped me feel more in control of how Y2K may effect me. Anyway, I'm rambling on again, ciao.
-- Uncle Deedah (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 1999.
-- Jack (email@example.com), August 30, 1999.
Mike--We are all truth seekers here and some of us have done our own research on Y2K. For me, I am more inclined to believe people like Cory Hamaski, Ed Yourdon, Gary North, and some of the crucial reports pointing to trouble. Though some of these people may be selling books or whatever, they are people who are in the know, who have worked in the programming field their entire lives (excpet Gary North, he's a historian.) But nevertheless, they do not work for the government and they are not employed by major corporations where the CEO wants the programmer to paint a rosey picture of their Y2K remediation. The government and corporations won't tell you the whole truth because it would cause panic and a loss in revenue. Have you noticed how some corporations boast that they are ready or will be ready before December 31, 1999, only to add a disclaimer at the end of their boasting? It was good that you searched it out for yourself, but some time between now and December 31, 1999, you will be one of a few lucky ones to GI. And, even if people do wake up and see the handwriting on the wall, it will be too late and that's what will cause the panic.
-- bardou (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 1999.
Mike......No apologies needed. Thanks for your investigative nature. Cory has reported alot of things people don't want to hear or is it believe? Only to have to come back and fight off the polly's dry ranting. This post gives credit to the credit worthy..........
-- kevin (email@example.com), August 30, 1999.
Mike, the life of a mainframe systems programmer is indeed complex.
Never was a true "mainframe systems geek", but did work in IT development with them. Worked on the fringes, even did some assembler work. But never enough to consider myself anything close to an expert.
Realize, though, these people are professionals. They deal with this stuff everyday; it's what they do.
Much the same as you can't expect an accountant to read engineering schematics, you can't expect to go through OS/390 technical information and extract much if any useful information.
For example, the document you posted had really nothing to do with OS/390 compliance. All it was doing was detailing what an installation must consider for future release upgrades. The only connection to Y2k was the fact that some installations may have stabilized on an earlier release, to avoid extra maintenance around Y2k, and in doing so have to take into account future releases.
-- Hoffmeister (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 1999.
Thank you for a well done and well researched post
I understand whay you are saying about the experts. I've been sucker-punched more than once, by following the advice of consultants. The main talents for any successful consultant is how to accentuate what you do know, how to cover up what you don't and how to hide any bias you may have that would slant your advice.
The way I see it, is that there are enough well-reasoned scenarios for big problems next year, both from the Y2K bug and terrorist assaults, that I'm not getting caught with my pants down (or my stores down, as it were). I'd rather risk people saying, "Look at that silly tin-foil, with all his beans and propane" than risk someone saying, "Hey look at that silly dead sucker, in the middle of the street". The true beleivers on both sides can rant and rave all they want. If Y2K is real, I doubt there's enough time left to fix everything. If Y2K is a hoax, I doubt there's enough time left for anyone to prove it is. The only sensible answer is to keep buyin' dem beans.
-- Bokonon (bok0non@my-Deja.com), August 30, 1999.
Thanks Mike. No need for apologies. Independent research is welcomed - it's what 'journalists' seem to have forgotten how to do.
What did 'it' for me was the state of Texas y2k contingency planning page. After wading through pages of that I knew I was completely unprepared. Good kick in the pants.
-- mommacarestx (harringtondesignX@earthlink.net), August 30, 1999.
I recognize a whole lot of "me" in your post. Welcome to the club. Regardless of those who say there will be NO problems, that it'll be a bump in the road, the bottom line is no one knows.
"how bad is it going to be?" is a question I think the majority of us struggle with everyday.
-- Michael Taylor (email@example.com), August 30, 1999.
Welcome to the Awareness Mike. Your roller-coaster has just begun.
Nice post Mike.
-- Chris (%$^&^@pond.com), August 30, 1999.
Nice work, Mike. Thanks for the research and the contribution.
-- semper paratus (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 1999.
Cory Hamasaki's credentials are well known. He doesn't need to establish who he is or what he knows, at least as far as mainframes and attendant systems,IMHO. Note that he isn't out making speeches for big fees or inviting the newsheads to quote from his latest best-seller (or even pushing case lots of freeze-dried waffles). You can subscribe to his newsletter or not, as you choose. He provides the same info to everybody, and it's available in a number of locations-for free. He sees a problem coming and wants to help others to get ready.
One could dismiss that as mere paranoia or self-preservation (if you want to be generous). But, the prudent (cynical if you like) person needs only one criteria for making a decision in this case: follow the money-what's in it for the person doing the talking?
Now if Cory was offering advice on Mayan art appraisal or translating political statements from Urdu into Sindebele, well...
-- Greg Lawrence (email@example.com), August 30, 1999.
I took a look at the Citibank site, didn't see any smoking guns. Did see a claim that they were almost done as of a couple of months ago. Only 2% of the final phase (implementation & testing) remaining.
Also took a peak at the IBM site. Didn't see anything on OS/390 but didn't look that hard. Got diverted by a couple of interesting documents in their Y2K section on contingency planning (including war rooms, vacation freezes, etc). Not sure that means that IBM is really expecting problems, though.
Mikey2k "Contingency plans should also allow for the possibility that nothing will go wrong."
-- Mikey2k (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 30, 1999.
OS/390 is one of, if not the most complex "pieces" of software ever designed. However, ever if you include all of the "utilities" that come with it, like CICS and VSAM, and even if you include all of the compilers and programmer tools, like COBOL, Assembly language and FORTRAN, and even if you include their two other major mainframe operating systems, VM and VSE, you are still looking at only the tip of the iceberg.
Application programs make up the vast majority of software. There are two basic types of application. One is "off the shelf" that you buy from a software house, like IBM or Computer Associates. A "good" vendor should be working hard on their Y2K issues, and this type of application "should" be in good shape.
But then we have the really big issue, in both quality and quantity, the custom written application. Unlike the OS, which runs on virtually every computer, or the canned package, thet may run in hundreds or thousands of shops, the custom written app is just that, a program, or bunch of programs, written to do one thing, for one company.
Many of these were written 10, 20, 30 years ago, and have been worked on by countless people over the years, that all think and program in a different style. These types of programs are often very hard to understand and maintain.
Well, I guess that's enough on mainframes for the moment. Care to discuss embedded systems, or PCs, or mid-range systems, or... Pretty much the same story, IMHO.
Tick... Tock... <:00=
-- Sysman (email@example.com), August 30, 1999.
It's not about predicting the future, it's about risk management.
-- (said@by.Michael Hyatt), August 30, 1999.