Y2K Failures and the Bell Curve

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Someone (?Michael Hyatt?) wrote an essay called "Y2K and the Bell Curve", arguing that, in order for us to have reasonable hope of collective software preparedness for Y2K, we sould already be seeing a fair-sized segment of large corporations declaring full compliance (this was written a few months ago, and I believe is an important argument).

But what about a bell curve of businesses who show clear evidence of serious failures? Are we far enough along to expect that, if Y2K will rate high on the catastrophe scale, some organization somewhere (e.g., in a developing country) should be showing signs of paralysis? I realize we have so far encountered only a small fraction of the potentially bad dates. Nevertheless, the bell curve mode of thought might say that, if 1-1-2000 is catastrophic for x percent of corporations, 60 days into 1999 should be catastrophic for x/500 such organizations. Is this any room for optimism (not pollyanna optimism but optimism)?

-- Bill Byars (billbyars@softwaresmith.com), March 02, 1999


>Is this any room for optimism (not pollyanna optimism but optimism)?

Of course there is room for optimism.

The extant, demonstrable, credible data set is insufficient to calculate to any degree of accuracy.

One must base their optimism on the same things others base their pessimism on - a gut level feel when one considers all the reported facts divided by their probable reliability. (everybody got an agenda).

And this is a great place to wade in the rushing waters of the flow of facts. You just have to decide if the water is rising or falling.

-- Greybear (greybear@home.com), March 02, 1999.

Bill, you probably will get a 'bell curve' distribution of failures. But, I wouldn't expect too many of these to begin before y2k problems get severe.

First, though, don't assume that they will be announced. What CEO in his right mind will stand up and say, "Hey, we just lost our XYZ system because of a Y2K failure?" Most such failures will NOT be reported. They will be fixed. The price of fixing them will be lost time and effort, and programmers stripped away from normal remediation.

Second, when do you think they will begin? Some actually have been reported. Actually, quite a few have been reported. Most of these are because systems are hitting up against some look-forward period that runs them into 2000. But, most systems won't encounter a look-forward into 2000 until later this year. Therefore, they won't fail until later this year.

Third, this type of failure tells us nothing about embedded systems. These devices should have a skewed bell shape curve, but it should be closely spaced about 2000-01-01.

-- De (dealton@concentric.net), March 02, 1999.

Folks, let's be reasonable. As has been posted, no CEO in his right mind is going to anounce that they just lost a system due to Y2K. Not now, not in July, not even in January. UNLESS, the state in which the corp is incorporated has a Y2K Protection Law on the books, in which case EVERYTHING including the maintenance guy's broken arm will have been caused by Y2K.


-- Chuck, night driver (rienzoo@en.com), March 02, 1999.

You're comparing apples and oranges here. Code remediation is an ongoing process that started several years ago so we're well into a bell curve scenario (and there are almost no successes reported thus far, which is very ominous), while real y2k failures won't start until January, 2000. What we're seeing now is more like pre-y2k failures. The bell curve analogy works to describe code remediation but it doesn't accurately describe real y2k failure.

-- cody varian (cody@y2ksurvive.com), March 02, 1999.

Look, call me paranoid, but am I seeing the ground work laid for claiming enormous problems that were all so cleverly hidden no one knew about them? I really think that is a bit much to swallow.

-- Paul Davis (davisp1953@yahoo.com), March 02, 1999.

What CEO in his right mind would come out and announce, at any past, present, or future time: "All our systems work perfectly" (even if they did) "Sue me if we ever make any mistake". Therefore, just as you won't hear about y2k failures, you won't hear successes trumpeted as such either.

-- ab (c@nsuchthingsbe.spook), March 02, 1999.

Paul D - okay, we wont call you paranoid, but if you keep thinking like that you're gonna end up on late night shortwave radio broadcasts just after the guys who were kidnapped by elvis clone space aliens...

seriously though - no I think what you're seeing is the realization that there will be a definite attempt to cover up as many glitches as possible, simply to protect corporate images...which means that corporate FUD will act as a multiplier to the generic FUD we all experience around here.


-- Arlin H. Adams (ahadams@ix.netcom.com), March 03, 1999.

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