Do you expect a few months of random problems? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I feel like I'm in "no-man's land" with my own opinion about the effects of Y2K. I expect a few months of random, intermittent computer problems -- more than a three-day storm, but not for long enough to cause a recession (two consecutive quarters with declining GDP). Everyone I know expects what they read in the press = not much will happen. And it seems the majority on this board seem to expect more trouble than me. Any "2's" and "3's" on a scale of ten out there?

Here's a first draft of an article I wrote for a (non-profit) newsletter I write as one of my hobbies. Comments are welcome. If you like nothing else, it includes a good Dave Barry joke at the end:

Y2K: Part 14 -- Optimism, but no data!

"I expect we will experience no major national breakdowns as a result of the year 2000 date change." President Clinton (11/99)

Analysis: Perhaps the President expects major breakdowns that are not "national"  or national breakdowns that are not "major" ? I'd need to know more about "Clintonese" to fully understand the quote !

Y2K is not a computer bug. It is a systemic software design error where a date ending with "00" would have been assumed to be "1900" unless computer software was revised to define "00" as "2000".

Most Americans expect Y2K problems will have little or no effect on their lives. I hope they're right. They believe Y2K will be over in a few days. Maybe the first week of January 2000. But I don't agree. And that's why I've been keeping track of Y2K progress since mid-1997. Because I've devoted so much column space to Y2K, I've promised EL readers if I was wrong about Y2K, and it really is no big deal, I'll be sending six free issues of EL to all paid subscribers (as of the January/February 2000 issue) to compensate you for all the space I've devoted to Y2K in the past few years. If I thought Y2K was going to be a three day storm (not that a three-day storm would be pleasant  I once lost electric power for three days in April), I would have studied and written about other subjects.

I believe the result of the Y2K software design error, even after U.S. organizations spent $100+ billion to prevent problems, will be several months of random, intermittent computer software problems. There are insufficient data on the progress of Y2K software projects to forecast that Y2K problems will be solved in a few days  or will still be annoying us at year-end 2000. It's already early December  too late for more speculation on how well Y2K prevention projects are doing, so let's just wait and see. I'll get back with you at the end of January 2000 to say "I told you so"  or to tell you that you've just 'earned' six free issues of ECONOMIC LOGIC  and no more Y2K articles!

A final thought on how computers really work that is very relevant to people who believe we can still do things manually if a computer doesn't work: "The modern computer is capable of answering, in a matter of seconds, mathematical questions that would take millions of years for a human being to answer  . How does the computer do this? Simple. It makes everything up. It knows full well you're not going to waste millions of years checking up on it. So you should never use computers for anything really important, such as balancing your personal checkbook. But they're fine for corporate use." Dave Barry

-- Richard Greene (, December 04, 1999


Good Luck!

-- snooze button (, December 04, 1999.


I hope you're right about a few months of random, intermittent computer problems and no recession. So far, in my opinion, the data out there suggests something more severe. I'd have to say my position is more in the 7-8 range. I hope you'll be very busy pounding out those 6 months of free newsletters, but I'm inclined to disagree with you.

-- Casey DeFranco (, December 04, 1999.

I am more inclined to go with Ed Yourdon's 'A year of disruptions followed by a decade of depression' scenario.

My analogy. I view the economy of the 90's as a bullet train powered by IT. We are rocketing along at 250 mph and the surrounding countryside is a blur. We discover, much too late, that there is a design flaw in just about every component that makes up the train. Some have been fixed, some haven't. Up ahead, there is a sharp curve in the tracks.

Personnaly, I believe the train is going to derail. We are moving too fast, and there are too many systems to fix. By the grace of God, it may hold together, but I doubt it. When the first cars skip off the track, the momentum of the others will assure a wreck.

WRT your Dave Barry joke. It reminds me of an old cartoon I saw. Two scientist are standing around looking at a printout. The caption reads ' It would have taken 50 engineers 700 years to make a mistake like this! '.


Stars and Stripes

-- Stars and Stripes (, December 04, 1999.

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