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

Re: Former Y2K Gurus Desperately Seeking Dignity

Most utility folks had it much worse than me, Lane Core followed some utility engineers websites around belittling each post as lies and PR press releases.

Dick Mills, Rick Cowles, and Dale Way are the only engineers I noticed (there may have been others, but I can't read everything) who put their names and reputations on the line when discussing embedded systems in the electrical utility industry (or elsewhere). I chose to take them at their word for that very reason: they put their names and reputations on the line. Moreover, they did not belittle everybody who had questions and criticisms for belonging to a doomsday cult or for actually desiring the collapse of civilization: at least some of the anonymous engineers were (and are) prone to that.

For my series, I asked Dick Mills to recap his explanations of why power production would not be seriously affected by Y2K. Why? Because he had convinced me there would be no problems. I quoted from Rick Cowles, too, because he was more pessimistic than Mills, and I didn't know who had the more accurate assessment. I also quoted from Dale Way, in an earlier essay, who clearly explained why embedded systems failures were not the real worry. I actually had a human being's name to attach to these assessments!

After a time — after having fallen for a few hoaxes along the way — no anonymous poster, positive or negative, convinced me of anything. People who put their names and reputations on the line made me believe them, if anybody did.

I did not "belittle each post as lies", though I certainly did accuse some of bearing a more than remarkable resemblance to press releases — because that's what they looked like to me.

I do apologize, however, for doubting the honesty and integrity of anonymous utility engineer posters.

-- Lane Core Jr. (elcore@sgi.net), January 06, 2000



Hey -- join the party! Around here, it seems that everyone doubts the honesty and integrity of everyone and everything when they're in the mood to do so. You've gotta have a thick skin to play in this game, but if a posting survives the questions, snipes, insults, and tawdry jokes from all sides, it probably has a nugget of valuable information.


-- Ed Yourdon (ed@yourdon.com), January 06, 2000.

Enough from these people already. Let's just get on with the business of seeing what's going happening now. Thanks, Lane and Ed for being there and giving us your assessments.

-- Mara (MaraWayne@aol.com), January 06, 2000.

What is the link among Mills, Cowles and Way? None of them were working in industry and none of them were working on remediation.

Spare me their past associations. For the past couple of years they've been so far away from the actual work that they wouldn't know a remediated system it popped out of their toasters.

Cowles is a fruitcake. Way has made a career the last few years out of a laptop and some powerpoint slides and Dick Mills was telling everyone that the worst case power problems would be three days.

I'll spare Lane the humiliation of quoting his posts to csy2k about how he didn't trust the Utilities and the NERC. You have to be really kooky to believe Cowles over anyone except perhaps Michael Hyatt. But kookiness is apparently a plus when interviewing at Westergaaaaard. What a Posse of Doom that place hatched!


-- Bradley K. Sherman (bks@netcom.com), January 06, 2000.

Save some of this until this summer when power demands max out, and reserve capacity is low or non-existent. As I recall, both Mills and Cowles expressed some worries about the summertime, Also, we should watch for reports-verified of course- of voltage surges and brownouts.

We owe the power people a big thank you for how this has turned out so far, but it is only the 6th of January. Let's wait and see.

-- Forrest Covington (theforrest@mindspring.com), January 06, 2000.

You should not apologize for doubting unknown persons. If they turn out to be right, you may feel regert.

-- gary (a@a.com), January 06, 2000.

bradley... why don't you run back to csy2k and insult the regulars over there?

rick cowles is more of a man than you could ever hope to be... he didn't cower under the cover of a ng and sling arrows. he put his professional reputation on the line. he came out publicly and warned the electrical industry when very few in the industry even knew what y2k was all about. he created a forum to apprise the people and the industry of what he perceived to be a problem of monumental proportion... be glad that he did.

it takes a real man to stand up against the tide of adversity and ridicule; driven by the desire to do what he felt was right in spite of the cost to himself.

do you live near a nuclear plant?

-- marianne (uranus@nbn.net), January 06, 2000.


Very gracious - a mark of good character. I must say I can understand the suspicion of anons on the Internet. At least one util guy (Dan) had his credentials verified and vouched for by a very reliable reporter from CBN. Dan's posts corroborated everything I ever posted, and saw posted by others.

Please see the rest of my comments, which I will post over at csy2k.

-- cl@sky.com (cl_sky@excite.com), January 06, 2000.

You're clearly a straight shooter Lane. No apology needed here.

-- Carlos (riffraff1@cybertime.net), January 06, 2000.

I'd also like to apologize...... well, no, more than apologize , I'd like to retract any haranguing I gave the power guys & gals.

Power was the bone for me, and while I was fairly hopeful, the large scale generator purchasing by all levels of government and commerce gave me a (false! thank God!) nagging doubt I just couldn't discount.

I watched what they did, not what they said, but I am embarrassed that I contributed to any sullying of the electric industries' good name. I'll never understand why the .gov generator buying, unless it was to burn up Y2K funds.... which is a good thing, glad they have the extra backup.

In particular I would like to thank The Engineer. He was right - too bad I couldn't have known he was right, I could have helped him in his presentation.

Now on to summer power considerations.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), January 06, 2000.

Hi Lane. If you were referring to me as one of those "anonymous utility engineers", apology accepted. I'll elaborate my thoughts on the power and y2k forum in the next few days.

-- Dan (dgman19938@aol.com), January 06, 2000.


Over the last week, I have spent several hours reviewing comments from many people from various forums and have given considerable thought to the last few years. To say the least, it has been a fascinating exercise in social communication and interaction. I say fascinating because my observations never ceased to astound me and they rarely, if ever, were resolved the way I had expected. Mostly I was just disgusted.

I have learned very much from these forums for which I am very grateful and will continue to hold those lessons with a firm grasp. My original intention for joining Rick Cowles forum was to gain a publics perspective of the issues for which the forum was intended. As a utility insider and task force coordinator, I felt that it was my obligation to pursue any concerns expressed by the general public that may be relevant to my customers needs and which we, as a task force, may have overlooked. I honestly felt I had found a gold mine and to some degree, I did, ultimately, come away with much more than when I joined the forum. I would like to thank Mr. Cowles for that. Sincerely!

Most stunning of all was the sudden and exceptionally broad scope of interest in the electric power industry. In my thirty plus years in the business, I had never seen the level of inquisitiveness shown as was so evident here and other forums. Given my education, training and experience, I felt I could provide some measure of assurance that the problem was being taken very seriously and that the industry had many dedicated people working to ensure that electric services were delivered without interruption. I could not have been more naove.

Did the experience have any value? Yes, it certainly did. I found the value of the experience to be immeasurable and will never forget it.

Was it a pleasant experience? No, not really. I found it terribly disappointing that the thousands who asked the right questions, so consistently failed to recognize or were unable to accept the right answers from the legitimate sources.

What was the greatest disappointment? I suppose it would be the incredible irony of it all. The unprecedented, dedicated and coordinated effort by literally thousands of engineers, technicians, managers and electric organizations to ensure the continued service reliability of our machines and then, in the end, we found we had less to fear from the machines than we had to fear from the very people those machines served so reliably.

What was my most profound lesson learned? If there is any one thing that I have learned from this, it is that regardless of the extraordinary leaps in technology, the advances in information access and the incredible speed in information exchange, collectively, we humans have failed miserably in measuring up to these changes and advances. That in spite of our intelligence and capacity to learn, we still lack the discipline or the maturity to convey or discern (at least in a text based forum) the difference between truth and deceit, reality and the intangible or fact from fantasy. To our shame, we have come to rely on the sixty-second sound bite to download all the facts as we choose to see them. You know the real story that inquisitive minds want to know.

Were we successful? Well, the lights didnt go out but I cant say that the electric industry is better off today than it was before. I certainly think we are better off technologically, but I do not think the public perception of electric utilities has improved as a result of this success. I hope I am wrong in this respect.

It frequently seemed that the bulk of people in the industry had been accused of having an agenda, a special interest and therefore were automatically exempt from possessing any measurable degree of morality, honesty or integrity. Generally, their contributions to public discourse were to be dismissed, ignored or ridiculed. To MY shame and eternal regret, I found I did not possess the perseverance demonstrated time and again by FactFinder, Dan, CL and others. I continue to applaud their efforts. They are much better men than I.

I certainly hope its is true that due to our extraordinary intelligence and adaptability, humans will always remain the higher species. These past few years do not speak well for that theory.

-- Tis (jetis50@aol.com), January 07, 2000.

The utility insider I admire most for both putting himself on the line by using his real name and providing detailed and accurate information is Malcom Taylor, who posted at EUY2K and here as well (his tutorial on electric power operation was superb and well received here at TB2000).

I appreciate your words Tiz, but I could have been a much better man in my approach to discussing Y2K. I believe that if I had stuck with the issues even when attacked personally, I would have felt better about the whole thing. At times I succeded, at times I was the attacker. All in all, I wish my performance in this area had been better. At least I have a new year to work on that....

Now as far as my posting anonymously, this was my choice as it was for many posters at EUY2K and here, and by doing so I was afforded the freedom to post my own personal convictions regarding Y2K. I always used a valid email address, and offered on several occasions to provide my name to frequent posters at EUY2K who wished to know it. Lane never took me up on that one, so I do not accept his comments regarding "anonymous" posters. Several of his associates knew who I was, and had he asked, he would have known as well. I do admire those who are in situations that allowed them to use their names in their posts.

Even though it's still a little early do call Y2K "over", what we have seen thus far demonstrates that "using your real name" when posting about Y2K was never a good indication as to whether the poster was accurate, knowledgable, or credible. As we all know now, almost all named y2k "experts" were not just wrong, but very wrong. Even the few who posted in mid-1999 that there wouldn't be as significant a problem in embedded systems as first thought (Rick Cowles, GartnerGroup, Dale Way, and others) were a tad behind those of us working on these systems who first said this in 1998 but were totally poo-pooed by the naysayers.

Regards to all, have a happy new year.

-- FactFinder (FactFinder@bzn.com), January 07, 2000.

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