Time to Sound the All Clear on Y2K (and farewell)

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As I write this, on the 18th of January, we are well into the third business week of the year 2000. I have been monitoring the Y2K situation closely now for over three years, moving from interest to concern, alarm to evangelism, and, ultimately, guarded optimism to elation. This time one year ago, I was ringing the bells on Y2K preparation, leading awareness meetings, writing letters, and so forth. I offer, as a document from that period, a commentary I wrote on the matter at http://www.athenstown.com/craig/19990113.html.

So, in January of 1999, I was greatly troubled by the possibilities of the Y2K bug, in both the acute (infrastructure and supply failures) and chronic (economic downturn) senses. But, as the year wore on, I found myself growing ever more optimistic about the situation. By December, I wasnt even scolding my friends who wanted to travel to Boston or New York, and I was thoroughly confident in my choice to remain in my home in the middle of Atlanta. I even pulled an about-face in printpretty rare for someone so puffed upand left the proof at http://www.athenstown.com/craig/19991027.html.

This increasing optimism came from two sources. First, it became clear in 1999 that the world was taking the problem, at long last, seriously. Gloomy voices found cause for worry when Y2K budgets were nonexistent, then found cause for MORE worry when Y2K budgets started soaring. This is, of course, nonsense.

But, like many programmers on this forum, I have seen my share of projects get money slathered all over them, and still fail miserably. The second, and most significant source of my optimism in 1999 was the continuous parade of critical dates met and passed, with nary a disruption to be found.

On January 1, software that performed one-year look-aheads was put to the test. No tremors.

On April 1, financial packages started rolling into Fiscal Year Zero. My paycheck still came.

On September 9, 1999did anyone REALLY take that one seriously? Nothing.

On October 1, 1999, the federal government joined many of the states in the 2000 party. This was a hugely significant date in my estimation. I had been saying for months, "Well know a lot about what its going to be like, once we get to October." And, what do you know, we did!

On December 1, the one-month look-aheads looked ahead with scarcely a tremble.

On December 31, some slot machines went down and a video store really started to tighten the screws on overdue tapes. The only excitement in the Y2K bunkers was the odd game of Euchre.

On January 3, the world went back to work.

And so on.

There have beenthere continue to befailures. There will continue to be failures for some time to come. This forum has proven remarkably adept at finding them, even if their only connection to Y2K has been that they did, indeed, occur in the year 2000. But here is the main thing: they have all been contained. Even the mildest event scenariosthe "three-day storm" so roundly ridiculed by doomsayers across this landhave been proven by events to be too pessimistic. I challenge any reader (again) to find a resident of the United States who has been without power, water, food, or telcom for a three day period BECAUSE OF Y2K. It can not be done. The person does not exist.

Furthermore, while there are many who overstate the importance of "the rollover," there are many in this forum and elsewhere who grossly understate it. They argue that a majority of bugs are yet to surface. They argue that we have scarcely entered the "critical period."

True, experts such as the Gartner Group estimate that we have seen only 25% or so of Y2K problems. That does leave a majority of problems yet to arise. But you can imagine the size of that majority by multiplying the disruption encountered to date by three. Dont even bother to spread that number out over the next twelve monthsimagine all those problems hit tomorrow. In the grand scheme of thingsand Y2K prep was ALWAYS about the grand scheme of thingsits still trivial. Its not even a "bump in the road." In all likelihood, you would never have noticed the Y2K problem if you hadnt been looking for it, and looking hard.

"Tip of the iceberg?" Hardly. You cant hide the bulk of an iceberg under the tip of an ice cube.

And, as far as the "critical period" goes, to suggest we are only 18 days into it is sheerest ignorance. Remember that parade of critical dates in 1999? I would say that the critical period began in October. The very latest a reasonable analysis could place it would be in December. Weve been in the critical period for a long time. Specifically, long enough for month-end and year-end processing on all those creaky big iron systems.

As far as the roll call of Y2K failures goes, we are still going to see some spikes. There may even be a shock or two. But the odds of a "crisis" have diminished to virtually nil. Big systems and small systems, short systems and tall systems, fail every day. And are fixed every day. We are not being overwhelmed, and there is nothing to suggest that we are going to be.

For that reason, I am closing my personal book on Y2K, and leaving this forum. Computer bugs, after all, are a fact of everyday life. They are only interesting when they are extraordinary. And the only way Y2K bugs have proven extraordinary is by their absence.

There is very little left worth discussing in this forum. Most of the great voices, whose commentary I have so enjoyed in the past, are gone, and the discussion has degenerated greatly in the absence of real things to discuss.

"Problems" of any kind, computer-related or not, Y2K or not, are posted with tabloid sensationalism. Serious analysis is nowhere to be found. Just you waitnext weekor the nextor the next

Seven nuclear plants are at zero power! But five minutes of research indicates that this is, in fact, remarkably good performance for the nuclear industry. Dow falls below 11,000! But there is no visible link to Y2K, and the Dow is right back up to 11,000 before the cities go up in flames.

I have no interest in arguing whether it was wise or foolish to gather all those "preps." For the record, as long as you didnt ruin your life or damage your finances, I vote "wise." Mr. Yourdon, for example, moved from Manhattan to Taos, and Ill wager his only regret is that he didnt do so ten years ago. But, ultimately, the preps werent needed. And they arent going to be needed. Not because of Y2K, anyway.

You know, the market may crash next year. Theres a tech bubble in the markets that could leave us all covered in chewing gum. But Y2K isnt going to be the needle, and a Y2K forum isnt my first choice for economic analysis.

Ive enjoyed reading this forum, and Ill miss it. But the party is, after all, over.

So long.


-- Craig Kenneth Bryant (ckbryant@mindspring.com), January 18, 2000


Best wishes to you Craig.

Dee =)

-- Dee (T1Colt556@aol.com), January 18, 2000.

Good luck. Hope your W2 is correct and arrives in a timely fashion, and that your 401K/403B holds up through 3Q2000/SEC filings.

-- total Doomer (sky@falling.com), January 18, 2000.

By Craig

Homer posted a story on network panic in Bombay resulting from a computer glitch crashing terminals. Big sell-off of "blue chips". Is that what has so many markets running in the red this morning? You may have missed his post while you were typing yours. Glad to know all is well. Bye.


-- Squirrel Hunter (nuts@upina.tree), January 18, 2000.


By and large, I am inclined to agree with your basic assessment, though I'm going to wait a tad longer before completely concurring. We DO seem to have what seems like a disturbing number of oil refinery failures for various diverse reasons, and a skyrocketing barrel price that does not seem to fit for what should be relatively low demand after all the stocking up, and with a mild winter to boot. That sure has my interest perked, as Y2K glitches sure could fit the bill as the common denominator.

Good luck and best wishes,

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.cum), January 18, 2000.

Craig, when reading your post, I was sure FLINT had returned! I do appreciate your effort in y2k awareness. Have a great journey in life, but for me, I'm still learning what makes this world go round.

TB2000...away we go!!!!!!!You will hear it here first!!!!!!

-- Tommy Rogers (Been there@Just a Thought.com), January 18, 2000.

Craig, do you see the current inability to "contain" ("contain" being your word in your post) the price of crude oil??!!

-- gl0ria (watkins@dtc.net), January 18, 2000.

Disagree but hope you're right.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), January 18, 2000.

A decent analysis Craig and I largely agree with it. Yes, preps were completely wise in the face of the great unknown, and still are. This is not a perfect or safe world we live in. Having the ability to meet basic human needs "off line" is just good common sense.

The tabloid mentality bothers me and always has. I do think there is excessive effort made by seemingly well-intentioned people to link various events to Y2K. I find that distressing because it distorts the issues as they really are and diminishes the quality of the discussion in this forum.

To recap my previous and very public position...I was prepped for a 7, somewhat fearful of a 10 and yet ever hopeful for a ZERO. When it became clear that the rollover was essentially a non event, I posted my relief and my medium well serving of crow over on csy2k, as I could not access this forum at that time.

Yes, there will be Y2K issues...somewhere, somehow, someday. However, I honestly feel that the catastrohpic aspects can be put to bed at this time.

Thanks for your post and Good Luck!

-- Irving (irvingf@myremarq.com), January 18, 2000.


-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), January 18, 2000.

What a bag of wind............! good-bye

-- kevin (innxxs@yahoo.com), January 18, 2000.

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