Y2K - an open question.

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


Before I ask my question, please allow me to present my credentials, so you can judge for yourselves how much weight to attach to my comments.

I started working with IBM mainframe computers 20 years ago, and have done so ever since.

My first system was an IBM 370/145, I now work on Hitachi Skylines and other very large IBM mainframes & compatibles. I have also work with the Operating systems on IBM and other Mid-range boxes, such as System 36/38 AS400 and RS6000 (UNIX). I also run a company building PCs, etc, in my spare time.

For the last 15 years, I have work as a Systems programmer, ranging from OS/VS1 to OS/390 2.6 and everything in between. I have worked with nearly every third party software product, CICS, DB2, etc.

5 years ago I formed my own company and started work on a contract basis. Three years six months ago I started to specialise in the Year 2000, the demand was such in Europe.

Since then, I have assisted several large European organisations in preparing for Year 2000, including the British Government, the largest direct mail organisation in the world, the third largest insurance group in the world and the seventeenth largest company in the world, amongst others.

My typical remit has been to assess the clients current state of Software (operating system and supporting software) and in some case hardware as well, then prepare & project manage the actual upgrade. Firstly upgrading and testing on a separate image of the clients system (LPAR), then retesting to ensure Year200 and Leap year compliance. All these clients have had projects in place to assess the compliance of their embedded systems and their suppliers, etc.

I consider myself one of the major experts in this field in Europe as a whole. Up until recently, I could Virtually name my own price and pick where and when I would work.

On the personal front, I have laid in Y2K supplies to last my family 2 weeks, something I will refer to below. However, enough of me & to the point.


Thats right, a top player in the Year 2000 field, unable to obtain any work anywhere in Europe from the start of October on!

My question is why?

Is it something about me? --- But at least 16 other experts in this field in Europe personally known to me also cannot get work!

Surely if the Y2K is going to be such a disaster and we are running too little too late someone in the whole of Europe will want us?

Whats going on?

My best guess is that most companies in Europe have finished their Y2K testing & upgrades and have now imposed change freezes until at least the end of the year (in fact my current client and 5 other organisations in Europe known to me have).

This implies that the private sector in Europe at least will only experience minor problems with the Y2K.

This leads me on to explain why I have laid in 2 weeks of supplies.

As I stated above, I believe the majority of European organisations in the private sector will not have too many problems, but what about the public sector?

Lets put it this way, I can make well over $100 per hour in the private sector, the public sector (local & National government, etc) pay about $35  40 per hour max. How many Y2K experts and Systems consultants do you think they have? Lots in Britain have a policy of not using contract labour anyway.

What about the third world countries that we use for our raw materials, whens the last time you heard how Kuwait, Pakistan, etc are doing for Y2K compliance?

Whilst composing this letter, I have just received a call about 2 months work in Turkey (Istanbul), they want me to go and start planning their Y2K compliance work at the start of October!  If thats not Cutting it tight, what is!

I hope this explains why I have got 2 weeks supplies in, but dont believe the world is coming to an end.

I hope this helps to clarify the situation as I see it, but hey, everyone can make their own minds up.

Regards, Steve Fifield.

-- Steve Fifield (sfi@globalnet.co.uk), September 14, 1999


Maybe it's too late to start a Y2K remediation program in September of 1999?

-- Dog Gone (layinglow@rollover.now), September 14, 1999.


I'm a systems programmer (NT/Unix) with 14 years in and a bunch of acronyms..

I think new development is frozen now from what I see. I suppose that is not too surprising.

I think that there are tens of thousands of medium to small banks, financial institutions, etc.. that have not properly addressed the problem and don't want to pull the lid off of the can of worms.

I think that during the 1st quarter, we will see an enormous demand for contracters again (I'm not a doomer, but I expect big trouble).

By the way, two weeks is not nearly enough as far as provisions go. This is happening in December. You really need at least three months (IMO). Then at least you make it till the beginning of spring. Since you have money, I'd suggest dehydrated goods.. Long shelf life, and take little space. It's worth spending a few K on. I don't know about you, but the first sign of trouble, I'll have about 15 family members over as well..

-- Bryce (bryce@seanet.com), September 14, 1999.


"but dont believe the world is coming to an end."

I can agree with that statement and most of the rest of your post. Because we are talking about systems, my question is; Do any experts exist? I sure don't know any although I know that I'm not one and have never met one. Seems to me that we are running a giant experiment. The results will be interesting. My guess is that we will work it out [if we keep a sense of humor or humour.]

Best wishes,

-- Z1X4Y7 (Z1X4Y7@aol.com), September 14, 1999.


I'm not a programmer just a small business owner but I might have some prespective as to what is going on in large and small entities.

At some point in time this last year, for many, it became evident that there simply was not enough time left to remediate. For others, it may well be that the problem wasn't taken seriously until it was too late to do anything. Fix on failure became the only practical alternative. Still more were forced into this decision because perhaps capital to invest in the fix was unavailable or maybe the best business decision was to fail. And, we have yet to see a serious flight to quality though that should start to heat up now, especially with the State Department warnings.

While it isn't the best decision for everyone involved, especially employees, sometimes the tough decision is just to sit tight and hope for the best without spending large sums of money. Especially if your business future would still remain in question regardless of how much money and resources are thrown at the problem.



-- Michael Taylor (mtdesign3@aol.com), September 14, 1999.

I've been a contractor since 1991. I am coming off contract at the end of the month. I have called over 30 (!) national agents, and the word is EXACTLY the same. No work. Nada. Zip. (Except for "web designers". They've got ALL KINDS of work for those people. What a SHAME that "web people" don't make the world run....)

I think this is because 1) Y2K teams are already in place, and there's not enough time to "train" new people, and 2) the almost UNIVERSAL deployment freeze. I've NEVER seen anything like it!

If things don't change, we'll be living under a bridge by Jan 1st. (Definitely TEOTWAWKI for US!)

-- Dennis (djolson@pressenter.com), September 14, 1999.

Welcome "newbies." (Third of a century in the field; my FOURTH IBM system was a 360/30 (after 1620, 1401, and 7070/7074). I'm seeing deployment of only non-critical systems and Y2K patches (which are still coming in). And systems analysis for future changes...but they won't be implemented for a while.

-- Mad Monk (madmonk@hawaiian.net), September 14, 1999.

Look, dude, trying to take your experience in the private sector and generalize it to the public sector is like looking at Janet Reno and then trying to describe what a woman looks like. It just don't work, OK?

Do you have any frigging idea what it takes just to CREATE a position within civil service? Do you have any idea how long it takes just to go through the whole deal of getting all the damn signatures just to get the process rolling? Then, you have to give preference to all kinds of people because they are a member of some oppressed group or something. (Gawd, in my day we just called them "peasants", but now there's like all kinds of different categories of 'em!) And that's assuming that in September there is any budget left! Who has a damn budget left??!!!

To make a long story short, forget it. Oh, and you ought to beef up your preps, 2 weeks is pitiful. Koskinen probably has more than that.

-- King of Spain (madrid@aol.com), September 14, 1999.

Private industry firing programmers at this point in time seems like lunacy. This kind of action just is too much for the gringo mind to comprehend.

Here's my theory on what's really going on: Big Wheel cashes out his stocks in a company, screws up the IT department on purpose, when the company fails next year he buys the join up for pennies; then he gets a government bail-out, and an IT staff that has to work for peanuts under government wage controls to fix the computers. Nice scam--if a guy can pull it off.

The next big WHOOSH you hear is civilization going down the crapper.

-- Cigarette Smoking Man (csm@smoke.com), September 15, 1999.

I'm with the original poster. One of the strikingly noticeable statistics is that the number of jobs ads in the computer trade press has shrunk dramatically over the last couple of months. The explanation is obvious: companies (and public sector entities) believe that Y2K remediation is done or on schedule to be done, and have (quite sensibly) frozen all new projects until after "the day", an act which frees up the maximum number of "hands on deck" for 1/1/2000 and reduces the scope for CAUFUs not caused by Y2K. (Complete And Utter ... ;)

Some of these companies will of course be mistaken. Those that have also penny-pinched by laying off their Y2K teams early will be in a bad way. But I don't believe that they are universally mistaken, and provided they keep their Y2K teams up to strength until (at least) 29th Feb 2000, they should make it.

And yes, it's probably too late for new hires to make much difference.

-- Nigel Arnot (nra@maxwell.ph.kcl.ac.uk), September 15, 1999.

yes there are many y2k contractors in the UK who could not find work during 99 (including myself), yes it is true that many companies are implementing a freeze in Sept/Oct. I think it is true that many y2k projects have finished (early), also that others are still in progress and need no new staff. Who knows what percentage are still in progress and how many of these will complete on time. There are obviously companies who will fix on failure. It is still impossible to tell what the outcome will be. I think it only needs 5-10% of organisations to suffer serious problems to cause a recession etc.

-- dick of the dale (richard.dale@unum.co.uk), September 15, 1999.

It happened here in the SOuthern U.S too. I was out of work for two months after getting "let go" from a financial institution. I could only find work as either a web programmer (which I am NOT) or as help desk support at a LARGE pay cut.

I found out that I couldn't even get the help desk because I was more qualified than the HD manager and he wouldn't hire me. Companies are freezing all hiring or they are hiring replacements for the ones who quit because they are overworked.

I have my 2mos. supply already boxed and stored.

-- dragoneyez (dragoneyez@mindspring.com), September 15, 1999.

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