An Open Letter to Ed Yourdon : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Dear Mr. Yourdon,

I was quite surprised to receive your postal letter offering a subscription to the "Cutter IT Journal". According to your offer, as a member of the Software Program Manager's Network, if I remit $485 before Dec. 17, 1999, I will receive 12 monthly editions of your publication and 52 weekly emails of the "Cutter IT E-mail Advisor".

I have been following your Y2K predictions with interest and have read portions of your Humpty Dumpty manuscript. This leads me to ask the following questions: 1. In light of your dire predictions of Y2K failures, how do you expect to be able to deliver on your Journal offer? 2. What preparations have you made that would lead you to believe you will be able to produce a quality journal should your Y2K predictions be accurate? 3. If your Y2K predictions are not accurate, why would I want to receive your advice by email weekly? (a $297 value!)

I noticed your Dec. 17 deadline is cleverly planned to make sure my check clears prior to Jan. 1.

I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting your subscription offer. Worst case, your solicitation smacks of fraud. Best case, I find it highly hypocritical. You can't play the game both ways, sir.

Regards, Mark

-- Mark Doernhoefer (, November 30, 1999


Psst, Mark, wait! Ask him for independent documentation of his business and vendor y2k efforts. What do you mean it wasn't included in the offer? Give him a deadline of say 12/07, so that you will have time to respond to his 12/17 deadline...Then scan those puppies he sends.

-- EnquiringMinds (want@to.know), November 30, 1999.

Why do you charge $180 just to access your library of OLD articles written by OTHER people? Do you have copyright permissions to charge for those articles, Mr. Doernhoffer?? Aren't you supposed to be a NON-PROFIT organization to use a "dot .org" extension? Doesn't sound like non-profit to me!!

-- Schmuck (what@ripoff.scam), November 30, 1999.

If'n you have read Ed, nothing in his EXPECTED scenarios would preclude his delivering. A depression won't. A recession won't. And if, as WE ALL hope we are walking toward a Bump In The Road, we ALL make out.


-- Chuck, a night driver (, November 30, 1999.

If what Mr.Mark Doernhoefer is saying is true, then it smacks of an unethical double game. I wonder to what level Mr.Ed Yourdon was involved in this. Hope he replies.

-- Parthasarathy Srinivasan, India (, November 30, 1999.

And of course, you must not think that this thread was carefully contrived, like many of the threads we've seen lately, even though polly trolls have frequently posted their intent to destroy this forum.

-- It's (another@fake.folks), December 01, 1999.

ed?... we are waiting for your reply...?

-- ed (, December 01, 1999.

FWIW, I haven't quit my day job either.

Contingencies, gentlemen.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, December 01, 1999.

Mark --

It seems to me Yourdon's predictions are only that: the question of Y2K is enmeshed in contingencies. If Yourdon's predictions do prove to be accurate and THEREAFTER you still feel like shooting spit wads at him for acting rationally by recognizing the limitations of his own human foresight and professional expertise, through prudent planning for the contiuation of his operations ..... i.e., solitations for y2K subscribers -- well, I think it's called straining out the gants and swallowing the camels! I mean, If he's RIGHT!!! and you've listened long enough to decide such an action is hypocritical, and if (once again) he's RIGHT AFTER ALL, he's probably saved your ass if you listened. There's no game.

If you didn't listen, and he's RIGHT, you're ass is grass anyway.

I'm a good "doomer" I guess, subscribed to Gary North in late 1997, and started prepping in early 1998. Renewed that subscription in late 1998 for another year, into about the current month. In April of this year, North sent me another renewal form, inviting me to "renew now" which would take my subscription into about November of 2000. Hypocritical? Cynical? Fraudulent?

I renewed. North was not being hypocritical -- he was being downright honest in recognizing the CHASM between his professional VIEW of what might occur, and THE OCCURENCE ITSELF. The newsletter is not the reality. It's a newsletter, right? The man is just one guy. He may be right or he may be wrong, but he's not playing any games.

You may suffer from Cartesianism. Do not equate a logically exact or consistent program of THOUGHT with the underlying REALITY which your THOUGHT only meagerly models. That's what got us here in the first place.


-- SH (, December 01, 1999.

Straining out the GNATS!!! the gnats ... and swallowing the camels.


-- SH (, December 01, 1999.


Ed Yourdon

Y2K: Are You Prepared?

Feb. 12  What will happen on Jan. 1, 2000? Will the computer glitch known as the millennium bug cause life-support systems to fail and planes to fall out of the sky? We talked to Ed Yourdon, one of the world's leading authorities on software development and author of The New York Times best-seller Time Bomb 2000.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Moderator at 1:01pm ET

Ed Yourdon now joins us. Welcome.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Sterling Hill from at 1:04pm ET Please explain the difference between Y2K ready and Y2K Compliant.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:04pm ET

Everyone is inventing their own definitions for Y2K ready and Y2K compliant. It's important to ask the companies what they mean by these terms since there is no universally accepted definition.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Brent Larson from at 1:05pm ET

With all the computer technology available, why can't these situations be simulated in the critical environments we hear so much about so we know what is going to happen?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:06pm ET

The difficulty with simulation is that there are so many interconnections between components of any system. So it's impossible, for example, to simulate the behavior of the entire international telecommunications system or the behavior of the entire national power grid.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

nglover from [], at 1:07pm ET

Don't you think the Y2K problem is really overblown and meant to be a money pit for ignorant people who just don't understand the problem completely?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:07pm ET

No, I don't think it's overblown. There are some areas that have been exaggerated but, in general, it's a potentially very serious problem that has been underappreciated by most people.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Al Conger from [], at 1:08pm ET

Does the average person need to make special preparations for Y2K? If so, what?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:10pm ET

The average person needs to assess where he might be vulnerable to Y2K problems and then needs to decide whether to prepare for a disruption of a few days, a few weeks, or a few months. For most people, this would usually involve a modest amount of stockpiling for basic supplies. For example, the Red Cross recommends stockpiling a weeks' worth of food.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Shedel from [], at 1:11pm ET

Mr. Yourdon, My big question is this: What do you really think the odds are that the power grid could go down for a significant period of time? In my opinion, this is the one big factor that could lead to a doomsday scenario. Everything else, we'll recover from... eventually.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:11pm ET

Most experts now believe that we will not suffer a nationwide power failure. But we may experience localized power disruptions in various cities, perhaps lasting as long as a few days or a week.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Dan Campanelli (dkc114@technol from [], at 1:12pm ET

Mr. Yourdon, Do you believe the fallout from the Y2K situation will be seen before Jan. 1. 2000? I have heard that the markets will take a tumble in the last half of the Year.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:14pm ET

The Wall Street reaction to Y2K will probably depend upon the outcome of certain Y2K "Trigger Dates." These include April 1st (beginning of 1999-2000 fiscal year for New York State and Canada), and July 1st (beginning of 1999-2000 fiscal year for 46 additional states).

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------

Brett Dalrymple from at 1:14pm ET

How have your views on the Y2K problem changed since your book on the subject was published?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:15pm ET

My opinion about Y2K has become more pessimistic since the original publication of my book. The reason is that we have more evidence now that small companies are not preparing for Y2K. Similarly, there is more evidence now that small towns and small countries are not preparing for Y2K.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ---------

Mike McKulka from [], at 1:16pm ET

After reading the world bank report about non-industrialized nations, and realizing that 3/4 of them will never come close to being Y2K compliant, what are your thoughts on how this will affect the rest of the world and the global economy. How can we support contingency planning for these masses of humanity?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:17pm ET

Most recent studies agree that developing nations are far behind schedule with Y2K. This will almost certainly cause a massive disruption in the global economy. The United Nations discussed this problem in a Y2K Summit Conference on Dec. 11, 1998, but there is no obvious solution to the problem.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Timothy G. from [], at 1:18pm ET

Mr. Yourdon, With the number of embedded chips in computer systems estimated as high as 70 billion, only a small percentage of some reportedly will be affected by the millennium bug. But this small percentage is still a very big number. How will these rotten eggs spoil the meal?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1: ET

The concern about embedded systems is that they are used to control critical manufacturing processes. It's often difficult to locate and identify the non-compliant embedded systems, and there is often significant delay in obtaining a compliant replacement. Thus, if a problem does occur, it may not be possible to fix it quickly.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ray from [], at 1:20pm ET

Can we take some "comfort" in the fact that the Gartner Group has stated that only 8% of Y2K related problems will occur at the "witching" hour? The rest of the problems are already starting to happen now and will continue to happen well past the year 2000.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:22pm ET

There is some comfort from the statement, because we may have an early warning of Y2K problems that would otherwise have been ignored. And it may give us more time to fix the problems rather than being confronted with a need to fix all the problems at one instant in time.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Kelly Moore from [], at 1:22pm ET

What are you planning to do to prepare for Y2K, and what do you suggest families on a strict budget do to prepare?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:24pm ET

I have moved to New Mexico and have installed a solar panel on my roof to generate electricity as well as making many other plans. For families on a tight budget, you need to begin making modest preparations as soon as possible, a little at a time. Buy a little bit of extra food each week and set aside a little bit of extra cash each week.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Emily Turrettini from at 1:26pm ET

Dear Mr. Yourden: I Follow Y2K news daily and I have never come across an article with regard to the automobile industry. I know cars have many embedded chips but not if they have dates in them. Will we be able to open our car doors, use our breaks?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:26pm ET

The vast majority of consumer automobiles should be safe. A few models of high-end sophisticated automobiles may have problems with GPS Navigation Systems and other embedded chips. But most of the problems will occur in industrial vehicles such as buses, fire engines, and heavy duty trucks.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Amy from at 1:27pm ET

How likely are we to experience a disruption in the supply of food and gasoline, and to what extent?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:29pm ET

Food disruptions could occur in many different areas. For example, most grocery stores are re-stocked every 72 hours. So if there is a disruption in transportation, that could cause a disruption in availability of groceries. And if there is a disruption in shipping, it could cause a disruption in imported foods. For example, 60% of the fish consumed in this country is imported. Regarding gasoline, there may be disruptions in oil wells, the oil tankers, refineries, and the distribution of refined gasoline to the gasoline stations.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Inman ( from [], at 1:30pm ET

Mr. Yourdon: Are the large cities more vulnerable to extended power and other utility problems than the rural areas? If so, how are the police and other agencies gearing up ahead of time to prevent widespread looting? In my opinion, this will be catalyst for the breakdown of society.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:34pm ET

Large cities and rural communities are both vulnerable to power disruptions. However, residents of the suburban or the rural community usually have the option of buying their own generator or providing some form of alternative energy (such as solar panels). Residents of an urban city usually have no control over their basic utilities. A long term disruption in power or water or other basic utilities certainly could lead to civil unrest. There are rumors of plans being made by the National Guard and other government agencies to provide emergency services in the event of a Y2K breakdown, but none of this has been confirmed by government authorities.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Gary Hansbrough from at 1:34pm ET

When I talk to computer industry insiders, most of them seem to think Y2K is mostly hype that a lot of people are promoting to make a buck off of. Honestly, how much are you profiting from it and why should I believe this doesn't skew your views on it?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:37pm ET

I am a making no more of a profit for my Y2K activities than I was in the past with my other computer activities. Regarding the question of hype, you should ask why the IRS is spending $1 billion on Y2K repairs. Why is AT&T spending $500 million on Y2K and why is Citibank spending $650 million on Y2K repairs? If Y2K is so simple, why has the federal government budget for Y2K tripled within the past 18 months.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Arnoldo Rodriguez from [], at 1:37pm ET

Who is responsible for the Y2K bug? Should we press for further action against them?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:40pm ET

The best history of the Y2K bug was published in an article in the Jan. 1999 of Vanity Fair Magazine. Historically, almost every programmer created Y2K bugs deliberately in the 1960's because we had such limited computer memory available. So the question is not who created the problem, but why we did not start dealing with the problem sooner. The answer is that procrastination is a universal American habit.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Leslie W. Elaine,AR from [], at 1:41pm ET

How and why do you think that there is going to be a global economic depression as a worst case scenario?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:43pm ET

We are likely to see failures of some international banking systems. We are likely to see bankruptcies of industrial organizations around the world because of Y2K problems. And we are likely to see problems in air transportation and air shipping which will disrupt global trade.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Melissa from [], at 1:44pm ET

Mr. Yourdon, Do you see any real possibility of threat to our national security as a result of Y2K on nuclear tracking devices?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:45pm ET

There are potential threats caused by terrorists who might try to take advantage of Y2K disruptions. And the military has expressed concern about possible Y2K problems in early warning systems. But they express confidence that nuclear weapons themselves will remain safe.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Karen from [], at 1:46pm ET

In your opinion what, if anything, should the government be doing differently in the way they are handlng the Y2K problem? Especially with regard to what they are telling the public?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:48pm ET

I believe the government should be much more candid and forthright about potential Y2K problems. And I think the government should be publishing recommended Y2K contingency plans much like the Red Cross has done on their website. Unfortunately, government is likely to be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Jason Brittain from [], at 1:49pm ET

Mr. Yourdon: I have read several news stories on the Net about the potential for Y2k nuclear disasters such as nuclear reactor meltdowns and Y2k-triggered nuclear missile launches from around the world. As a software engineer, I see this as a very real possibility, and I worry about it. What (if anything) have you heard about serious government effort to prevent these life-threatening Y2k problems?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:50pm ET

As you might imagine, most of the information about nuclear weapons is highly classified. So we can only hope that military officials have had the common sense to carefully check potential Y2K problems in nuclear weapons.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Prasad Ram from [], at 1:51pm ET

Would the Y2K bug affect Bio-electronics, like heart monitors and so on? If so, will the liability to correct fall on the manufacturer? Lastly, how will Y2K bug affect such equipment sold to third world countries? Thanks.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:53pm ET

Most hospitals have discovered that they have hundreds of medical devices that contain embedded systems and each of these must be checked to see whether a Y2K problem might have life-threatening consequences. Pace makers for example, will not stop or explode if they have a Y2K problem, but they might record erroneous information about a patient's heart condition. This could lead to a faulty diagnosis on the part of the doctor.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

michael from [], at 1:53pm ET

It seems inevitable that some sectors will try to take advantage of a global crisis. Which businesses or people in power do you see benefiting the most in the Y2K fallout?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:55pm ET

Some companies may achieve competitive advantage simply because they are Y2K compliant, while their competitors experience Y2K problems. On a global scale, the United States might gain an advantage because we have taken the Y2K problem more seriously than most other countries around the world.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Brent Sundberg from at 1:56pm ET

What risk do we have of losing money in the financial institutions at the turn of the century? Are there good alternative havens during that period?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 1:58pm ET

Of all the industries working on Y2K, the banking and financial industry has the greatest sense of urgency and has made the most progress in achieving Y2K compliance. But there is no absolute guarantee that every bank will be safe, or that the American banking system will remain unaffected by Y2K problems that might occur in international banks. On the other hand, there may be a greater risk caused by panic and bank runs than the risk of actual Y2K problems.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Dennis Chimelis from [], at 1:59pm ET

Aren't we creating a potentially dangerous atmosphere by overhyping the so-called Y2K bug? Making the public aware is one thing, causing the public to panic with a run at the bank in 12/99 is quite another.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 2:01pm ET

There is a fine line between awarenes and panic, and the best way of preventing panic is to provide detailed credible information that can be verified by an independent third party. Unfortunately, none of the banks have provided a detailed description of the state of their Y2K compliance that has been subjected to a third party audit. They are simply asking us to trust their assurances of Y2K progress.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Moderator at 2:07pm ET

Any final thoughts, Ed?

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Ed Yourdon at 2:08pm ET

I'd like to offer my best wishes for whatever Y2K plans you might be making. For more information, feel free to visit my website at

---------------------------------------------------------------------- ----------

Moderator at 2:11pm ET

Thanks for joining us everyone. Sorry we couldn't get to all of your questions ... we had nearly 500 in the queue!

-- (dusting@the.archives), December 01, 1999.

Ed's strength has always been in being able to calmly lay out the situation in a way that is clear and logical. His sense of urgency comes through, but in a way that doesn't polarize people. I think this has been an enormous contribution to awareness.

-- Sara Nealy (, December 01, 1999.

SH ???

So you are of the true belief that Mr. Ed Yourdon has had such a great influnce over folks that we should pay him for his service? Business hell! He seems to be after the money just like everyone else is. Send in your money and I will tell you how terriable thing are going to get!! Do it now! Before it's to late!! If nothing happens than what would the average person want Mr. Yourdons perdictions for? They would be wrong, and it would be appearent. If the SHTF, Everyone will know it. Plus, what would he need money for? I think he's in it for the money, and if you dont, think about a book called Humpty Dumpty. Please folks help me write this book , and then you and all the other good folks can buy it and I'll be rich? Sounds like Mr. Yourdon has found a bunch of dim wits to cater to. Oh, you know I'm here at this forum. I followed his lead right here. I to hung on his every word, ... till my own brain started asking questions. Well yes, I do know there will be problems. I have seen them already in my life. Up close and personal. Believe me. I dont want your money, but you can send it anyway. Maybe I'll find something to do with it. Maybe buy a Home in New Mexico that will keep me from harm...Y2k ya know!

-- Joelman (, December 01, 1999.

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks as if the Cutter IT Journal is NOT a 'Y2k' publication but rather one intended for software professionals. I don't believe Ed Yourdon is asking the general public to subscribe to it.


One other thing -- Ed Yourdon had the original draft of his book Time Bomb 2000 available for anyone to read for free on the Net for a long time before the book was ever published. This to me does NOT sound like a case of someone trying to milk the Y2k issue for all its worth.

Your book covering a wide variety of Y2k scenarios was excellent, Ed. Thank you for writing it.

-- (fall@back.planning), December 01, 1999.

Y2k is a business for most of those pushing the "fear" agenda.

Gary North has the ethics of a Saddam Hussein, or a Muammar Khaddafi.

Ed Yourdon got the seeds of his Y2k methodology from Gary North. That is a documented fact.

When the root is rotten, so is the tree.

'Nuff said.

-- Chicken Little (, December 01, 1999.

Oh sure, anyone who isn't a polly must be a complete doomer. There is no middle ground, as that would be confusing. All non-polly's must act to bring on TEOTWAWKI by shutting down their 2000 activities. Sure, that makes a lot of sense. ;)

-- Colin MacDonald (, December 01, 1999.

Y'know, we DoomBrooders (TM) tend to see contingency plans as "When" not "If" and get called on it regularly by the non-doomers.

'Tis truly FUN to see the shoes on the other feet here.

We DoomBrooders (TM) here recognize that CUTTER CONSORTIUM is simply doing what every other company is doing, trying to ensure the continuation of business as usual through the turnover, and the non- doomers see this (which for EVERY OTHER COMPANY THEY LOOK AT IS "OK") as hypocrisy.

NEAT huh??

Night train, whose sense of humor has been nudged this morning

-- jes a tired ol footballer (Nighttra@in.lane), December 01, 1999.

Anything short of TEOTWAWKI (and probably most TEOTWAWKI scenarios) will require colossal amounts of computer expertise (redesign, programming, testing, etc) to help repair world infrastructure over the next 10 years. Ed's expertise on this will be sought by many, including .gov, count on it.

OTOH, Ed has always said he may be and hopes to be wrong, as well. And meant it.

Mark's "sincere" post is an example of the huge hit Ed has taken in the eyes of some people BECAUSE he has been consistent throughout. If he had pulled a Jaeger, "Mark" wouldn't actually have had a problem.

To non-techies, just FYI: the price for this service is not unusual given Ed/Cutter's experience/background and its perceived value by its subscribers.

-- BigDog (, December 01, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

And why do I think this other thread was the setup for a one-two punch?

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), December 01, 1999.

Lots of new posters. Hmmmm. Do I smell a...troll alert!

-- Dave (, December 01, 1999.

Poll Logic 101:

"That damn Ed Yourdon! He writes Y2K books and gives them away for free! He donates his time and effort to launch a free y2k web site and forum! He testifies before Congress on the computer perils we face on his own time!

What a money hungry schmuck he is!"

-- a (a@a.a), December 01, 1999.

This is just another polly-troll waste of time. Can we delete it please?

-- (, December 01, 1999.

Chicken Little: Go pluck yourself.

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.cum), December 01, 1999.

Mr. Doernhoefer cut and pasted the same accusation on csy2k. Busy little guy, ain't he?

-- (, December 01, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ