How long after 1/2000 for a fix? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

My husband and I are having a constant debate over how long after the computers go down will they come back up, if ever? I say years, he says months. Could someone with computer knowledge and experise attempt to answer that question? It seems to me the task of fixing any system after it goes down is going to be next to impossible. Thanks, Deborah

-- Deborah Giraud (, December 13, 1998


This central to the debate. It is easy the see a 5 or 6 position, some down for a few days to a week, but at some point you could have a critical mass. By that I mean, if you have many down immediately, and you have difficulty getting any significant and quick recovery, then many programmers & engineers could say "to hell with it, I'm outa here", and then skip right over 7, 8, & 9 and go to a 10. That is why I see it as either a "brush fire" or TEOTWAWKI.

-- curtis schalek (, December 13, 1998.

How long it will take 'computers' to come back up has NOTHING whatsoever to do with how quickly they can be fixed. It has to do with how badly people react initially. Even if the computer systems 'could' be effectively put back into working order in three weeks (LOL) and people go bonkers in 'two' weeks, the computer issue is moot.

-- Paul milne (, December 13, 1998.

Having been asked, "After the crash, how long will it take for things to come back up?", permit me, please, to cite a couple points. Sorry for the length. Perry Arnett.

1) the "Infomagic analysis" is probably more accurate than not.

2) society cannot be rebuilt without inventors, machinists and machine shops.

3) Even though we may think that computers have revolutionized the society and particularly the manufacturing and processing industries, think of any item of general use, whether personal, business, education, commerce, transportation, industry etc., - and you will find it consists basically of rotating shafts mechanically supported by lubricated bearings at one or both ends. In the end, most everything we enjoy can be reduced to its simplest attribute - and the simplest attribute for most 'things' in our world is a rotating shaft held by a journal, bearing or bushing at each end. [motors, belts, gears, pulleys etc. are really incidental - though important]

Thus, 'civilization', as we know it, turns largely on shafts with a lubricated bearing or bushing at each end!

4) It's not uncommon for rotating shafts that are barely functional now, to continue to function - so long as they are rotated - but which, because they are so near failing, will not spool-up again when power is applied after once being shut down.

This may be the 'embedded system' syndrome of the mechanical field - i.e. totally random and unknown effects until rotation is stopped, then the problem manifests itself! And, totally ignored heretofore in these Y2K discussions...

When the power goes off for any extended length of time, many of these shafts are going to seize in their journals due to lack of lubrication, lack of rotation, lack of inspection, maintenance, physical damage, external contamination, rust, sabotage, etc. In some cases, as little as 36 hours can be defined as 'extended'; - thus, the rotating members will have to be repaired [and thus, at that time, that portion of 'life as we know it' will be temporarily halted].

5) Repair often involves disassembly, removal, taking to a machine shop where the shaft is either built up, and turned down to fit the old bearings, or the bearings or bushings are bored out to new dimensions to fit the new shaft size, or other repairs.

6) NONE of this repair can happen unless there are machine shops available with the appropriate machinery, skill-sets, experience, and perishable tooling and expendables i.e. - electricity, fuel, light, mills, drills, taps, dies, reamers, cutting tools, inserts, nuts, bolts, screws, lubricants, raw stock, etc. to do the work.

7) Thus, the restoration of the society you and I so dearly enjoy now, WILL NOT HAPPEN unless there is available when and where it is needed, those critical items cited above, for that time in the future when those critical items will be largely unavailable through normal channels of commerce.

8) Example : Most large manufacturers now use CNC [computer-numerically-controlled] machinery. When the rollover occurs, many of those CNC machine tools will be either non-functional, or so erratic in their operation that they will be of marginal use in the restoration effort. Has industry painted itself into a corner here by scrapping manually- operated machine tools in favor of computer-controls? I'm afraid so. Solution? Manually operated machine tools and lots of diesel generators. Problem? not many machinists left who are true machinists.

Further Example : I know of a food processing plant who is solely dependant on one machine shop for their operation ! Silly? yes. Why? most of their manufacturing machinery is >20 year old metric, German or Italian; no parts available; no one else around wants to tackle deducing the original form and features from a hand full of broken parts, then build new ones from scratch, so they take things to that shop and tell them "we've shut down the plant till you get us up and running again".


9) Those who could be planning for the future rebuilding of the society, aren't;. i.e. the great Fortune 500 companies, - those in Silicon Valley, Detroit, etc. - many of whom have great liquidity and large in-house machine shops could be making infrastructure tool and inventory preparations and acquisitions that I'm afraid they are not.

In fact, their currently operative Just-In-Time inventory programs lead them in the opposite direction, and thus INSURE a greater severity of a collapse when it does occur.

10) In the end, to "rebuild a society" such as ours requires getting things 'running' again, ['running' means turning and rotating], and that takes getting things fixed that are broken, and that means having machine shops available to do the necessary "mechanical remediation" - i.e. shaft and bearing rebuilding. Once those things are running, then we can consider hooking them up to computer controls...

However, these days, machine shops, mechanics, inventors and manually operated machine tools have no 'sizzle'; - yet without them, nothing we call 'the good life', would exist.

11) Solution? During WWII, the federal government instituted a program whereby machine tools, machinists and machine shops were considered 'critical to the [war] effort'. It was that recognition of the importance of machinists, machine tools and machine shops that allowed this nation to provide the materiel [stuff] required to 'win the war". Sad as I am to have to say it, I'm afraid this looming 'war' will not be won without some similar massive, well-coordinated effort in the 'basic' industries. [Sorry, computers are just the frosting; it's still the machine underneath that is the real cake.]

Perry Arnett

PS. If people would begin NOW to remediate those mechanical devices that we all know will fail soon after the rollover, we might gain a jump on the rebuilding of the society that some of us believe is going to go down.

-- Perry Arnett (, December 13, 1998.

perry is partly right. in my neck of the woods, there are still a few people who can program CNC machines, AND also do things the manual way. my husband jon is one of them; started at age 7 part-time for dad's Arrow Tool, Inc and later was with Kobelco Compressors, now with Xcel in Osceola, Indiana.

the people are there. the problem is FINDING them when you need them, to do the specific job you want at the time you want, at the price you want.

-- Jocelyne Slough (, December 13, 1998.

"society cannot be rebuilt without inventors, machinists and machine shops."

It is true that society cannot be rebuilt without inventors - but why do you say that a TEOTWAWKI situation would eliminate our inventors? Minds cannot be destroyed because of a technology failure. Indeed, it was the great minds of history that have brought us to where we are today - one step at a time.

We will still have the books, plans etc. from which our society has been built. The challenge will be to find a way to adapt these plans to a society post y2k. Some of that is already going on now. Many people are adapting their homes to work in a solar environment. Countless other examples exist.

I plan to be among the living. To survive, I will have to be one of the above. I will have to use my mind to adapt to the scenario post y2k - I, and many others like me, will be, in a sense, an inventor.

Anyone up for a challenge?

-- Christine A. Newbie (, December 13, 1998.

Apart from the main question: "How soon will we be back up...?". I find it helpful to think of this 'morning after' scenerio as a problem of Economics 101 - supply and demand. The demand will be there, but if the supply channels are so disturbed that raw materials and goods cannot get to market, look out! And, it may not happen immediately.

Capers Jones, in my estimation, has done about as fine a job in calculating probabilites as anyone. Even if the failures are slight, as a percentage, the domino effect can be brutally devastating.

True. Programmers may not be available, and for a variety of reasons. It could well be that they just physically can't get back to the work stations to have another go at a fix. As the old saying goes: "When you're up to your ass in alligators, you tend to forget your mission was to drain the swamp."

-- Bob Walton (, December 13, 1998.

That "rotating machinery" bit was right on.

Two examples:

I have a large (2 foot square cooling fan). At the beginning of every summer I have to "hand-crank" that sucker (in addition to powering it on) to get it going. I takes 5 to 10 minutes to get up to speed. Turn it off and back on, it'll start fine. Leave it off for awhile and it's 50-50 whether I've got to help it or not.

I had to replace a VCR. It was several years old and had moderate use, and was working fine. But then I left a tape in it that I viewed about half of. A week later, came back to view the rest. I could ff and rewind, but play -- no way. It stopped right after hitting play as if it thought it was at the end. (Yes, I tried other tapes, too; same thing.)

-- b (, December 13, 1998.

'How long' is the constant refrain from Scripture. It is the desire for God to deal justly with evil and make things right.

Your answer is not found in inventors or books or mathematical possiblilities or probabilities. The answer is found in how long God decides judgments need to fall. Listen to the prophet Isaiah:

"He humbles the proud and brings the arrogant city to the dust. Its walls come crashing down! The poor and oppressed trample it underfoot. But for those who are righteous, the path is not steep and rough. You are a God of justice, and you smooth out the road ahead of them. All night long I search for you; earnestly I seek for God. For only when you come to judge the earth will people turn from wickedness and do what is right. Your kindness to the wicked does not make them do good. They keep doing wrong and take no notice of the Lord's majesty. O Lord, they do not listen when you threaten. They do not see your upraised fist. Show them your eagerness to defend your people. Perhaps then they will be ashamed...Lord, you will grant us peace, for all we have accomplished is really from you. O Lord our God, others have ruled us, but we worship you alone.... Go into your house, my people, and lock your doors. Hide until the Lord's anger against your enemies has passed. LOOK! The Lord is coming from heaven to punish the people of the earth for their sins.

-Isaiah 26

-- Elijah (, December 13, 1998.

if TEOTWAWKI, anyone that "thumps a bible at me will have an immediate chance to see if there is a heaven or hell.

-- lucifer (, December 13, 1998.

For the life of me I do not understand how we got from Deborah's original post to a discussion of Isaiah. I wonder if Isaiah was a programmer. (Ouch! Some of you will take exception with that I am sure.)

-- Bob Walton (, December 13, 1998.

Nice post, Perry! The fact that I'm a machinist does not influence my opinion in the least :)

I've begun building up a stock of tools and materials for my department at work (metals processing plant); when you can't buy the parts to fix things, you have to make them if you can.

-- Max Dixon (Ogden, Utah USA) (, December 14, 1998.

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