Where are all these Y2K programmer whistle blowers?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Firstly, let me make myself clear-I believe there will be much more than a bump-in-the-road. But there must be thousands of programmers beavering away on fixing the problem and if things are that bad where are all these whistle blowers? I don't believe in a massive conspiracy of silence and there are the majors such as Hamasaki,Yourdon,Lane and so on but where are the soldiers? If things are so bad why this thundering silence? Can it be-bite my tongue-that it won't be so bad?No black helicopters,no UN world government,no martial law? Am I having withdrawl symptoms? Just jocking folks.I know, I know,it will be bad,but are all the Y2K programmers just high priests presenting offerings to the idol technology and why are they blind to its clay feet? Does it have clay feet? Interesting.

-- Jan czarnecki (janczar@air.on.ca), November 21, 1999



I'm impressed and inspired by your eloquence and passion -- and I, too, have been puzzled that there is not at least one software engineer out there who feels as strongly as you do.

Chances are that it would have to be a relatively young person, probably one without spouse or kids, and therefore with not much to lose. As you pointed out with your own experience, it can be a long, uncomfortable period of time while you're trying to fight the "system."

As an example of how difficult it can be to track down the real truth about a Y2K situation, take a look at Mike Adams' saga of trying to find out the real status of the audit of FAA Y2K compliance by SIAC. It was posted on the Y2K Newswire site a few days ago, and I assume it's still there.


-- Ed Yourdon (ed@yourdon.com), November 21, 1999.

Jan, I don't know the situation in Canada, but here in the States you can expect a call from a lawyer if you even BURP at the wrong time. I've worked at five companies on their Y2k projects, and -- in my opinion only, naturally -- at least TWO of them don't have a snowball's chance of being ready. Will I mention them by name? No. They may be incompetent in IS terms, but in legal terms they're QUITE prepared.

Even the biggies will seldom report on anything until AP or Reuters has picked up on it or a 10-Q has been filed. They ain't dummies. Once in the public domain, the information is fair game. But you know how you can always tell the advance pioneers -- because they're the ones with the arrows in their backs? Same deal. The legal departments and resources of these places are a lot larger than I am -- and I'm just not martyr material.

Besides, as has been stated so many times, we just don't know. Has the company managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat since I was last in contact? Maybe, maybe not. Was that part of their systems that I was involved with critical? Maybe, maybe not.

But consider that programmers are a lot more likely to be preparing than the general population. That's a clue.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), November 21, 1999.

Many programmers I know also buy the line that "most companies have it under control." Strange, given their intimate knowledge of how many software projects fail. But as a group, programmers as a group are no more likely to go against conventional wisdom than anyone else. And if you think you're company is uniquely screwed up, what's to be gained by speaking up?

And when you look at the quality of discussion here or on c.s.y2k, there doesn't seem much point in posting. You just get flamed, or get demands to post every detail of your company's Y2K efforts.

When we get around to doing a postmortem on Y2K, I think our countries legal system will have to take quite a bit of the blame. Companies would be more forthcoming, at least about their suppliers, if they didn't think every negative comment would lead to a lawsuit. Same thing for contractor disputes. It really shouldn't be a legal risk to tell the truth in public....

-- You Know... (notme@nothere.junk), November 21, 1999.

Jan said: "If things are so bad why this thundering silence?"

It's this silence that disturbs me, more than the technical aspect of Y2K, because I still have a letter that my parents wrote in 1933 when Hitler came into power, suggesting to keep their mouths shut about what was happening then and there. It's the people that always seem to be the biggest problem; have been in my life.

-- Not Again! (seenit@ww2.com), November 21, 1999.

Yes, Not Again, and people are going to be a big problem. Nice to see you posting again :-) Hold on to your history hat: HERE WE GO AGAIN :_(

-- TTF fans (allaha@earthlink.net), November 21, 1999.

One female had come forward, leading a Fed Gov departments remediation, and was given intimidating phone calls from very high up. It was on the news for all to see.

Her comment which brought the men in dark suits about was along the lines of, "Grab your canned goods and generator and head for the hills."

-- Paula (chowbabe@pacbell.net), November 21, 1999.

---frankly, I just do NOT buy the legal threats against programmers, and I'll explain why. YES, I think a programmer coming forward with credible documentation that showed something totally different from a corporations public disclosures would be sued (attempted to, anyway) by those hordes of corporate lawyers......BUT, I think the chances of him winning in court would be outstanding, if the situation was that these companies offered public stock, and/or they had to report and be subject to federal or state governmental regulations. It is a law that if you are aware of any felonious activity, it is your DUTY to report it to the proper authorites. Violations of any SEC law (which corporate non-readiness in actuality regardings public disclosures that differ from internal memos, for instance,certainly would be), would be such a felony. there's more, but you get the picture. I'm guessing you'd win so big time in court that you'd never have to work again.

I'm not a lawyer, but as far as I'm aware, what I have said is true. Maybe someone here can shed more light on it. SOMEONE had to speak out about exploding Pintos. SOMEONE had to speak out about the conditions in swaet shops. Someone had to speakout about safety violations in any number of companies that had potential chemical leaks, or plutonium mishandling, or whatnot. And it wasn't easy for those folks, but they had GUTS. and they knew that they were RIGHT.

Life is strange, and sometimes you are presented an opportunity to stand up and be counted, and not wait for "the other guy" to do it for you. I have. A lot of other people have too, and they have suffered persecution, loss of jobs, loss of income, blackballing, etc.

A story. Long time ago had a landlord who was a city inspector. He was a slumlord in the most classic sense. Always lying, never fixed anything, etc. Well, after a particular unsanitary problem went unfixed for 6 months, and it was definetly in his level of expertise, and concurrently a "problem" that was under his inspector purvue, I just lost it big time. Got mad. Wouldn't take he and his fellow city inspectors pompous abuse of power, and threats from their lawyers. They thought with some legal looking papers and being the bigshots they were, and me being a minimum wage slob that I'd cave. WRONG, GOONS. A MAN doesn't CAVE. Started digging. I wound up uncovering just tons of illegal operations in that city, up to arson for profit that included a murder. Started out as an unfixed commode. These inspector(s) and landlord(s) would inspect each others properties. Everything was always OK. they had been screwing tenants and abusing their positions for years. had everyone scared and buffaloed. they controlled that town, and most of the cops, too. Sweet deal for them, bad for the teneants. They tried every trick in the book to screw me. All kinds of legal actions to get me evicted. Death threats on the phone. DEath threats at night in the dark getting out of my car. Sabotage of vehicles. On and on. I spent 11 months fighting those bozos, took it all the way to the highest state levels, at almost entirely my own personal cost and law research. I won completely, 100%. Wound up costing those crooks several hundred thousands of dollars (no, I didn't get that money, that was repairs and fines they suffered), found them guilty of hundreds of different law violations, many of them were ousted from public office. What I'm saying is that one individual, let alone a coordinated group, CAN make a difference if you have guts, determination, some research, and some planning. My little crusade back then cost me a lot physically, emotionally, and economically BUT THE CAUSE WAS JUST AND RIGHT. Can't tell ya how many times I almost gave up, but I didn't. It just fried me that these crooks had run roughshod over an entire city for decades. Once people finally started waking up to the fact that I was "winning", then a flood of new reports came out. It WORKED. It worked BIGTIME. Frankly, I think a lot of buck passing and "what can I do, especially at this late date?" hand wringing has been going on in the programming and engineering community, and it's been for years. And, also frankly, I don't care a wit if someone has to get a job in another field, maybe dropping in salary or whatnot, if they are aware of potentially life threatening malfeasance on the part of any corporations they work for, and they remain silent. Or if a company's public stocks are being kept at an unnaturally high level because of illegal disclosure, ie, lying in public. Well, guess I just made about a zillion enemies on this board, so be it. I always have to call them as I see them. Excuses are excuses. There's right then there's wrong. My perception of right includes speaking the truth, even if it threatens some job or another of mine. That little crusade of mine cost me my business, but it was WORTH IT! Even if it's politically incorrect. Even if it gets me on some sort of government "list". Even if it gets me blackballed some where. Even if....you get the picture.

Abuses against the population by corporations or governmental agencies will contine as long as folks keep being afraid to speak out. To me, if anyone has honest, credible information about outright lying, especially if it's in an organizatrion where the consequences would be life threatening because of unfixed code or un-replaced chips or whatever, then I think it's that person's civic duty to speak out. There, said it. Rip me a new one. I don't care, needed to be said, i KNOW it's what a lot of us non-programmers have been thinking--WHERE THE HELL ARE THE PUBLIC WHISTLE BLOWERS? WE DON'T CARE IF YOU ARE FORCED TO MOVE FROM YOUR BIG HOUSE TO A SMALLER ONE, OR IF YOU HAVE TO DRIVE AN OLDER USED CAR OR ANYTHING! Seems to me, this y2k deal has the potential to KILL people. You know, maybe KILL people. Your money isn't worth it to "us". We want the government and the private sector to tell us the REAL truth, and all of those real truths are known by INDIVIDUALS. Go ahead, blast me. I'm relocated very rural because of the percieved threats. I'm ready for a zero to a 15. It doesn't matter. It appears that "you" my government and "you" my corporations that I have relied on to keep me reasonably safe, allowed me to use the public utility monopolies,allowed me to be able to do business and enjoy life--well, it appears that for a long time there's been a serious threat, and at this late date there's credible information that there's a LOT of lying going on. And that now, maybe, JUST MAYBE, millions of us might be screwed, and screwed bigtime. My thanks to all who have worked and worked long hours relentlessly to do their very best to make sure nothing "bad' happens. And no thanks to those who have only cared about their own personal crap. Go ahead, rip me a new one for speaking my mind, don't care now, it's that simple. I can take it. No amount of electronic words can harm me or scare me as much as what's been going on in our country with CYA, no amount.

zog, prepped as good as possible, but still just a *teensy* upset about things............

-- zog (zzoggy@yahoo.com), November 21, 1999.

Whistle blowers are a rare breed indeed.

In New England, for example, it is common knowledge that virtually every city building and zoning department is corrupt.

Yet there are virtually no whistle blowers.

Maybe they would win in court eventually, but who has the time and the resources and frankly, the courage, to take on the powers that be.

I have better things to do with my life, that is for sure.

See you on the other side.

-- cgbg jr (cgbgjr@webtv.net), November 21, 1999.

---yes, Ed, i did read it. and. my hat is off to all the work mike adams has done, all the work YOU have done, to gary north--all the ones who put their money where their mouths were, spoke the truth, made the sacrafices, and still talk the talk. I know i have thousands of hours into "this", and my other "passion" of uncovering governmental abuse and international security threats. I don't want to live in a dark, cold, fightened country. don't want to live where people are afraid to speak or hold unpopular views. don't want to have to be looking over my shoulder. don't want to be afraid that millions of people will suddenly do without the necessities of life for short term profits. thanks for your forum, I appreciate the wide range of viewpoints and experiences here, and hopefully, if it DOES turn out to be really bad, that lives will have been saved. that's been the focus of all my writings and work, and i know yours as well. It's not wrong to point out that the signal is broken on the railroad crossing when there's a train coming.


-- zog (zzoggy@yahoo.com), November 21, 1999.

Whistle blowers are a rare breed indeed.

In New England, for example, it is common knowledge that virtually every city building and zoning department is corrupt.

Yet whistle blowers are few and far between.

Maybe they would win in court eventually, but who has the time and the resources and frankly, the courage, to take on the powers that be.

I have better things to do with my life, that is for sure.

See you on the other side.

-- cgbg jr (cgbgjr@webtv.net), November 21, 1999.

Arnie here. Let me explain why I was NOT a whistle-blower at my previous employer.

I was part of the IS staff and had been pushing my employer to start a Y2K remediation program since early 1998. At the time, I knew there were issues to be dealt with but was not terribly concerned. But at the time there were other priorities and I was instructed by my management to give priority to the other work.

Time went on and Y2K was a non-issue for the IS staff until one day the company I worked for was sold to a larger company. Then suddenly, our 'Y2K compliance' was an issue. So did we get busy perform inventory and analysis? Nope, we simply informed the suitor company that we'd had 'several people' working on it and believed that we were in 'very good shape' with regard to Y2K. Did the suitor company demand documentation of our Y2K status? Nope - at not that I was ever aware of. The sale went through as planned.

At the time I worked there, the company employed more than 3,200 people in several locations around the country. Both the company I worked for and the suitor company are well known.

I had done some preliminary work and had already identified two specific systems that would likely fail, one of which would immediately hurt our ability to do business. But I was directly told by one member of management to cease work on the project because "We really don't need to worry about our Y2K compliance. Once the sale is complete, it becomes their problem". (meaning the new suitor company)

This, to me, was an amazing lack of foresight by people who should have known better. As it turned out, there may have been even more substancial misrepresentations being made by my company to the suitor company. These have become the subject of several recent lawsuits by stockholders. FWIW, I have no personal knowledge relating to the charges made in these lawsuits. They are not Y2K-related.

So, why didn't I 'go public' with my knowledge of (what I considered to be) the less than impressive way my company was handling Y2K?

Several reasons:

  1. First and foremost, there is no threat to public saftety posed by potential failures at the company I worked for. If the company was left unable to do business, it would not be good for the employees or the stockholders, but no one's personal safety would be threatened. This company does not use toxic chemicals nor do they work with any other material that might be a danger to the public. No one's lives depend upon the widget we produced.

  2. I had no proof that anything bad would happen - only some known non-compliant software and circumstancial evidence to indicate that Y2K was not being taken as a serious technical issue.

  3. Management at the company had decided that Y2K was primarily a problem with perception rather than with IS infrastructure. I of course disagreed but I did not run the train. Though I felt the attidtude was extremely short-sighted and dangerous for the company, I felt I had done my job - that is to alert my company to the issues and provide technical assistance if requested. By June 1999, no inventory or evaluation had been even started at the facility were I worked. It was clear that management Y2K was, by and large, a non-technical issue. Our public statement on Y2K was limited to "There are no known Y2K issues with our products. In short, I was a technical worker bee and not responsible for overall company management. I rang the warning bells fairly early but management decided that, in the grand scheme of things, there were more immediate and important issues to be addressed. Who am I to argue? It was simply not my job to evaluate the relative risk of Y2K compared to other business factors.

  4. There was absolutely nothing to be gained and much to be lost by becoming a whistle-blower. As a stated above, public safety was never an issue. Only my own's company's survival was in doubt in my mind. I had attempted to bring the issue forward but had been overruled by management. Being overruled by management is not unusual. Is is simply the way business is done. If you can't stand to have your suggestions overruled, you need to start your own business.

  5. My non-disclosure agreement. This was a factor though not the most important one. Had public safety been an issue, I would have violated the agreement without hesitation. But as stated above, public safety was never an issue, at least not that I could see. Thus, there was no reason to violate my agreement.

So, by June 1999, it was clear to me that the approach to Y2K my company would take was effectively 'fix on failure'. This in company of several thousand people who were absolutely dependent upon its IS systems and a lot of custom written software. Still, it was just my opinion that this was the wrong approach.

So, for me, the best approach to this difference of opinion was to simply remove myself from the situation. By the end of June, I was working for a smaller company that had taken a more more technical approach to addressing its Y2K issues. I felt that the new company had a much better chance of surviving any temporary difficulties that might occur. So I simply moved on. No fighting, no lawyers, no lawsuits, no press, no problems.

For me, the best solution was simply to move on. After all, who am I to say that this company's approach to Y2K was wrong? I believe it was wrong of course, but it wasn't my job to change the company.

I have no idea what has happened since I left - other than what has been reported in the news. Who knows, like the FAA, maybe there has been amazing progress. Or maybe not.

Was there a conspiracy to hide our Y2K-readiness from our new parent company our its stockholders? I simply can't say that there was - only that my perceptions of the issues differed from my company's perception of the issues. Such a difference of opinion is simply not sufficient to warrant being a whistle-blower. I felt that I had done the responsible thing by bringing the technical issues to their attention. Nothing more was needed.

FWIW, I'm really enjoying my new job and wish my former company the best - especially the new parent company who I believe will have their hands full during the next 12 months.

-- Arnie Rimmer (Arnie_Rimmer@usa.net), November 21, 1999.

Jan, Ed,

The whistle-blowers are quite effectively shut up by the lawyers.

Do you recall the saga of Bill Hoyt, from early last winter? He came out and named a company and their status and went into a little detail of the situation for a few months. Then he issued a "retraction" and stopped posting (this was on c.s.y2k).

The lawyers are VERY alert (well, 2 months isn't too alert, but still effective).

-- Dean -- from (almost) Duh Moyn (dtmiller@midiowa.net), November 21, 1999.

Lets name all the "suprises" so far. Atlanta city gov't. Medicare service bureaus (in the news last week) IRS (inventory problems)

Who can add more??

Remember the county in Maine several weeks ago???

-- gary (gary@gary.com), November 21, 1999.


and who in their right minds would want to go through a lengthy expensive court battle? and .. probably never be in good standing in that company again?? geez zog .. REALLY!

i have who worked for a co-gen plant in northern ny. all employees received (last year) notices strictly forbidding *everyone* from saying anything to anyone, especially press-type people, about y2k problems at the company. the [implied] reaction to an employee violating this notice was termination. all employees were told to refer an outside person to one individual within the company who would answer their y2k questions.

this is reality in the workplace. anyone who doubts this is quite naive.

-- lou (lanny1@ix.netcom.com), November 21, 1999.

Italics off.



-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), November 21, 1999.


I have to agree with Ed on this one. Anybody with a wife and kids isn't going to throw away $100/hr work just to get sued and have to take $30,000-$40,000 (for starters) out of their own pockets to defendend themselves in a protracted lawsuit. That doesn't even take into account the damage to their reputation which is everything in this biz.

If they truely think their company is toast they will a) try to get another job b) squeeze out every last dollar until the company does fail and THEN get another job or c) stay put and hope for the best.

When you got kids, you don't find yourself taking as many BOLD steps as you once might have...


-- TECH32 (TECH32@NOMAIL.COM), November 21, 1999.

I used to blow whistles. And watch the resulting dance.

I pedicted someone would get cancer. Several years later that someone did die of bone cancer. My reward: "Not eligible for re-hire."

I started a new job doing something I had never done before. After a couple of weeks, I told my wife that I would not get fired because of incompetence, I would get fired because of honesty. About one year later my boss told me that he could not afford me anymore. I said to him, I'll take a 30% pay cut. "OK." After that, I simply went home several hours early, always saying goodbye to the other employees, to boost their moral. I never did get fired from this job.

-- Not Again! (seenit@ww2.com), November 21, 1999.

Remember why deJager (I think) closed down his Y2K info exchange web site? He did not want to give expert testimonies for the rest of his life.

-- Not Again! (seenit@ww2.com), November 21, 1999.

60 Minutes transcript, May 1999:


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), November 21, 1999.

zog, Ed;

In many ways, my experience is much like Arnie's. Those two companies I mentioned earlier are well outside any chain that could cause any deaths. One has since been sold, the other is in the process of BEING sold. If worse comes to worst, many of their employees may wind up unemployed -- that's regrettable, but not my call. As a consultant/contractor, I'm well aware that my status and most opinions were regarded as just slightly above pond scum. So be it. I wrote up what I saw as problems, I passed them on, I kept copies, I can do no more than that. Any "semi-hard" evidence is based on either observation, opinion, or anecdotal means. Not the sort of empirical stuff that a court would require.

Several years ago, I discovered a Y2k problem at my then-employer -- one that would SEVERELY impact their almighty bottom line. I told my immediate boss, who didn't want to hear it. So I went to HIS boss and told her. She didn't want to hear it, either. So I wrote a letter to THEIR boss and outlined the situation. The result?

I was fired;

Since the company was part of the local "good old boy" network, no other related company in the area would hire me;

I lost my house; and

I had to move a thousand miles away to find a company that WOULD hire me, since (as I've subsequently found out) I WAS blacklisted in the area.

So please don't speak to me of "nobility" and the like. I tried it once, I paid my dues, and I've got the scars to prove it. This is the real world.

Ed, you're absolutely correct that a relatively young person with no serious obligations would probably be the best choice to do any whistleblowing. Unfortunately, though (and in my experience), the relatively young people are the ones who are now deciding that it's "no big deal." These are the first- and second-tier managers (and I use that term "manager" VERY loosely) who have no concept of a computer without a mouse attached. By and large, they're more clueless than *I* am, and that's pretty clueless.

So, could I afford a lawyer to help protect what few assets I have left after one of these companies sued me for either violating any "non-disclosure" agreement or libeling their good name? No. Is anybody going to pat me on the back for doing "The Right Thing?" No. Am I perfectly willing to see those companies go belly-up? Yep.

But the biggest question: If I thought for one moment that any potential problems in those two companies could endanger anyone, would I yell and scream it from the rooftops? Yeah, I would, lawyers be damned. When you ain't got nothin', you got nothin' to lose.

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), November 21, 1999.

---when I was going through the time of that story, I put rent into escrow, I used a public, free, defender for legal advice, and I did not get a private lawyer to counter-sue. That was my biggest mistake. I did almost 100% of all the legal background work. The local landlord organization chipped in together and hired the best, most expensive lawyer they could afford. This guy is/was the author of legal books on the subject, and is well known, or was, haven't kept up. It literally was a settlement on the courthouse steps. Day of hearing, I took the almost one year's back rent in lieu of staying. I had already accomplished my goals of exposing the corruption, and the county DA was taking over from there. I have no idea of the final outcome, other than a friend and helper of mine locally outsted one of the crooked city councilmen in the next election. I was blacklisted locally by the landlord's association, no apartment for me, and I, too, moved out of state, and in the process lost my first real business, which was doing nicely, thank you. I consequently found out that if I had used a private lawyer that there would have probably been a rather large settlement in my favor, oh well, blew it on that one. That story is only one of several episodes like that. I had another one against the feds that took 8 years to resolve, again in my favor. Even more grief than that other story. no, ain't gonna tell it. told enough as it is making a point or two. The whole point was and is that you CAN make a difference, and that yes, you might suffer. It's a tradeoff. Our society is just too dang scared of lawyers. There needs to be much more widespread use of the jury nullification laws. Congress needs to stop passing laws that have nothing to do with the Constitution. And if companies would just do the right thing by their stockholders and employees, then they wouldn't need flocks of lawyers at all, no one would be suing them as much! There's safety in numbers, too. One lonely individual is scary. Several dozen top IT people, from a variety of private and governmental organizations, all holding a news conference all at once could work. And once again, if I can find it, there ARE federal statutes that require knowledge of felonius activites to be forwarded to the proper authorites. Hiding true remediation status would seem to me to be a violation of those SEC disclosure guidelines, but I have no idea if that is felonius or not. If so, then NOT going forward means that you are STILL at risk of a lawsuit, or an arrest at that point, by the feds. So, I still maintain that the legal non disclosure angle can be beat. depends on the circumstances and how far an individual wants to go, but judging by the dearth of public whistleblowers, those numbers are pathetically small. So it is. That's reality. I accept it. Still not happy, or even very proud of a lot of fellow citizens. So it is. Lot of folks don't like me, either, but mostly the people I meet in person do. I can accept that. To each their own. 230 years ago a lot of doods with families had to make some pretty serious executive decisions. 55 years ago, a lot of doods with families FAILED to make tough executive decisions, with some pretty disastrous results for them and their families. First instance, American Revolution, second instance, all those folks of non-Aryan descent who got caught up in the holocaust. Tough times call for tough decisions. Like I said, to each their own. Consciousnesses are individual, after all.


-- zog (zzoggy@yahoo.com), November 21, 1999.

I'll tell you why I think there aren't more programming whistle- blowers: b/c programmers are HUMAN. They are no less or more human than the rest of us, and therefore are subject to the same pressures and quirks of the human psyche. NEVER EVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF HUMAN DENIAL. In many cases, denial can be a lifesaver (though probably not in this case). When children grow up w/systematic abuse and neglect, denial (a lack of complete awareness of the situation at hand on a very deep emotional level) can help them just survive. The problems come when the child is grown up, goes away, is still in denial on some level, but experiencing all kinds of personal problems stemming from the unresolved experiences and stays in denial.

It is MUCH easier for programmers to say "Well, it might be FUBAR at my company, but surely not EVERY company." It is much easier to think they might be seriously stomped on if they come out with any incriminating information or evidence. It is too easy to get your pride mixed in w/your work and not be able to believe that anything could go wrong with the code you and your co-workers wrote/fixed/etc. It is too easy to just go through life day to day, refusing to entertain any thoughts about any time past tomorrow morning.

And why pick on programmers? Why haven't any high-level execs--wait, they know less than anyone, scratch that--why haven't any key people in any organizations come forward? For all the reasons above, plus it is kinda hard to come forward w/such earth-shattering news and do it anonymously. Job/career thus trashed. (Yes, I know, if you REALLLLLYYY understand Y2K the job and career become pretty secondary....)

But surely some low-level schmo's have been in on some contingency meetings---911 dispatch? The power company? Police departments? Phone company? (Actually we have had a police officer who is a GI post here...)

As a student of human nature, this is all I can offer. It is VERY VERY HARD to go against the tide of the status quo. To swim upstream. It is courageous to do so, but probably one of the most difficult things you can do.

And for anyone who thinks whistle-blowers aren't squashed summarily, think again. I was once a big-time whistle-blower in a school district to remain unnamed......ever seen the movie or read the book "The Firm"?

-- preparing (preparing@home.com), November 21, 1999.

My salutes to all the whistleblowers on this list.

Thank You for placing your ideals above your self-interest. It may be rare, it may be hard, it may be self destructive in this life, but there is certainly another judgement coming which does reward honor, valor, and self-sacrifice.

Thanks Again.

-- Rewardssometimes comelater (whistleblower@achurch.com), November 21, 1999.

Here is my 2 cents:

I am a fairly new programmer. I now run the entire programming section of our company. I was told we were y2k because the programmer who retired said it was. Our systems just started crashing...go figure. Who am I to say they were wrong?

-- (bbb@yyy.com), November 22, 1999.

Once more: those who have the technical competence to spot a problem (i.e. me) don't see enough of the big picture to determine if the problem is serious enough to lose their job over by squealing. Those who have the big picture aren't technically competent enough to determine if any of the plethora of problems brought to them by their engineers are serious enough to warrant action. Engineers are CONSTANTLY sweeping their own errors under the carpet, and griping about the lousy standards of "The guy who wrote this in the first place."

Also, who would you go to? Your employer's business partners? I've DONE that in the past, and seen the problem completely ignored because it was easier for the purchasing manager to just sign it off than to investigate. The press? Geek stuff is DULL. Unless you're selling a story involving a celebrity, they're not buying.

Oh, after rollover, the "Told you so's" will come crawling out of the woodwork, but no one (me included) wants to lose (not risk, lose) their job now over one small error that no one will care about in isolation anyway if it's a BITR.

-- Colin MacDonald (roborogerborg@yahoo.com), November 22, 1999.

Take into account that many corporations like to hire Russian immigrants (or other ex-Soviets) as programmers, and they bring the work habits they learned under communism with them. Some of the ex- Soviets are very good, but there are social service agencies working with the immigants who have decided that computer programming is the ideal new career, given the generally better level of math education that they have.

-- all american (wontsay@here.not), November 22, 1999.

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