question for Regulars : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

ok, one of my biggest questions regarding y2k is reconciling the lack of warning from senior programmers and business types with the dismal complince rates. IMHO if we had a flood of compliance announcements/ successful tests, it wouldn't much matter due to the systemic effect, we'd have to get 90%+ of all critical y2k bugs fixed in order for in to be a non-event. Now, if I am right (I could be wrong, please prove it), and we don't have the compliance that's needed, we'll have some major problems (let's not debate that here though) My question is, if this is the way things are, then why have only a few IT professionals noticed it? I read an article by a psych undergrad that blamed the phenomenon on mass denial, (people apparently do this to relieve cognitive dissonance) much like the japanese in WWII who truly believed they were goign to winb until hirohito told them to quit. I guess, (forgive the rambling) my question is, what is more likely? are all of the geeks in denial? or all the successes been hidden from us by lawyers seeking to save thier clients from being sued? It seems to me the smart play is "y2k ready" which can be defined any # of ways. I guess I want your opinion because i am new to this borad and sorting it all out is becoming more and more difficult. (and no, I don't want you to do my homework for me, but being under a time restraint..) thanks in advance.

-- jeremiah (, October 16, 1999


Programmers each work on a little piece of a system and don't have the big picture. Most mainframe programmers I talked to last month weren't even working on Y2K issues. They trust their companies PR just as the general public does.

-- Mara (, October 16, 1999.

* * * 19991016 Saturday


Serious whistle-blowers are precluded from disclosing Y2K truth by the alleged virtue of "honoring" non-disclosure statements signed with employers and clients.

The dire consequences of Y2K, once consciously perceived by anyone, should be deemed by society as rendering such "handcuffs" as ethically immoral and unenforceable.

Who has the intestinal fortitude to disclose the truth while under this sword of dishonor?

Those of questionable moral character resort to legal sophistry at the expense of the health and safety of the multitudes.

Regards, Bob Mangus

* * *

-- Robert Mangus (, October 16, 1999.


Your question is similar to the question, How could such a problem exist at this late date? Or, Even with overwhelmeing information why did IT folks find it so difficult to recognize the threat? Citigroup spends close to a billion dollars to fix a problem that doesn't exist?

-- Brian (, October 16, 1999.

I have also given this same question some thought and concluded that many IT people do not comment because they believe that "their" comment could not have any real benefit to people. They well may see a problem in their department, but are also constantly reassured that all other systems are not going to have a problem. Thus, they well may believe that society could not be harmed and should not be warned because of their own individual lack of remediation. If they realized the full extent of other problems and their interconnection with other systems, they might speak up. It is only when one accepts the interdependence that one "gets it."

-- smfdoc (, October 16, 1999.

I saw Peter de Jager in a seminar some time ago in which he basically addressed this question. Peter said programmers are by nature an optimistic lot. The very nature of IT work requires them to be this way. Designing programs, doing structured walkthroughs, compiling and finding that your program contains many syntax errors can be frustrating. Having to de-bug and recompile many times to finally get it right requires an optimistic mind-set.

This is probably why not too many programmers and project managers are concerned that they will not get their projects completed in time. Project managers tend to come from programing ranks so they all are basically an optimistic lot.

During the time I took programming courses to get my degree in Information Systems I never met a programming assignment I didn't thought I could finish in time. Sort of like when country singer Jerry Reed said he never made an album he didn't like.

Jerry Reed came with a great tune during the 1973-1974 oil embargo. It was called " I got the Crude Oil blues " only one line I really remember " I got the crude oil blues, and I'm so cold I'm about to freeze my, self ". Don't know if ole Jerry is still around, if he is maybe he will come out with " I got the Crude Oil blues II " next year.

-- Stanley Lucas (, October 16, 1999.

I believe part of the reason was that the bug itself was such a SIMPLE thing to fix, that everyone just underestimated the size of the entire project and are simply behind schedule. The reason more people haven't come forward is also simple. They will lose their job.

I think the whole Y2K subject is so simple that its easy to simply underestimate it. Anyone know what i mean?

-- Cory Hill (, October 16, 1999.

Call programmers in your local area and ask their opinoins. I did and most of them said that they were prepairing for hard times due to y2k.

-- David (, October 16, 1999.

Thier Jeremiah, thier you go again with your thier!

-- bbb (, October 16, 1999.

There are also some reasons from the Wrong Side Of The Tracks.

1) While everyone has y2k bugs, relatively few of them are in just awful shape. Most are pretty close. Critical systems were done first. In the majority of remediation projects, they're down to seeds and stems, and they'll never get them all.

2) About 25% of remediation projects consisted of essentially new implementations, which are hopefully compliant. They're still wringing the problems out of these implementations, but nonetheless up and running with them. If they really are compliant as advertised, the project is also winding down.

3) Some organizations regard remediation as just another maintenance project, for which major press releases have never been issued. They reassure their customers and vendors, but see no reason to publicize their status.

4) The compartmentalization of programmers cuts both ways. Just as someone working on a hopeless task might think everyone else is doing fine, just so a programmer working on systems in good shape can't know if someone else is struggling. I personally have no idea what the engineer in the next cubicle is doing, much less how it's coming.

Taken all together, the lack of concerted action by technical people must be considered a promising sign. They aren't quitting, leaving the market, purchasing rural land, hoarding cash, etc. in any large numbers. And they do have the numbers and resources so that we'd notice if any large percentage were taking personal actions in some coordinated way. But this is very indirect reasoning at best.

-- Flint (, October 16, 1999.

Those of us who have done mainframe, supermini, mini and micro programming, network and datacomm along with interfacing standalone, frontend/backend, data-collection or "drone" type systems have a good feeling we know what MIGHT go wrong, but even having tons of experience with many types of systems, languages and types of processing (batch and online/interactive) doesnt give you real insight to what out there is truly date dependant or what will "go to hell" when 99 becomes 00.

Some hardware/software gets replaced over the years and becomes Y2k compliant often without the "babysitters" of these systems being aware of it. Likewise some systems/programs become part of the stream of processing and are forgotten because they perform so well for years and they are surely going to remain non-compliant during the rollover.

I wouldnt turn to mainframe programmers for their opinions, I know dozens of these people and they seem to know as much about Y2k as the girl working the cash register at the King Kullen. They program what THEY are responsible for and thats all. I also wouldnt turn to grunts who operate the various systems as they are often misinformed because they just do their job and dont oversee all aspects of the automation of the work they are involved with.

As a matter of fact between people not knowing what they are talking about, people bragging they know more than they do, people lying to cover their ass and people hearing things through the grape-vine and trying to pass it off as first hand info I guess I dont know what to believe.

My opinion is try to get close to a few people you can actually verify, that is if you know a small business who isnt y2k ready ask them what they tell others. If several admit they lie then you know what to expect with others. Average out the results of a handful of things you can verify or can REALLY trust and you are likely to get a real picture of where we stand in tackling this y2k problem.

I am very confident of one thing, far less remediation is taking place than you and I are being led to believe.

-- hamster (, October 16, 1999.


You might be surprised what's really going on...

I know of several geeks that have bought themselves retirement, relaxation property's 50 miles outside of town. They do have over an hour commute each way every day. And those geeks are about 30-40 years old.

I think non-disclosures are the biggest reason no-one comes forward. If you have real hard information and come forward you will be ridiculed and made fun off. The goverment PR flaks have done a great job.

There are databases out there that are downright scary with the info they contain. But none of the guys are going to come forward and risk their families lives by forfitting their paychecks and opening themselves up for lawsuits.

And getting a job right now is pretty hard. Everyone has pretty much stopped hiring until post-y2k. And that brings us back to the old question "how bad is y2k going to be". No one really knows. And I would not risk my paycheck by divulging info that is not going to be taken serious.

Think about it. Best thing is to keep your mouth shut, head down and worry about your own business.

-- STFrancis (, October 16, 1999.

One of the problems that I have imagined as contributing to the lack of whistleblowers is the fact that no one really cares what happens to the whistleblower. Was it Declan who offered a measly $1,000? And if it was, still Declan may be a better person than some of us. We (the GI community) haven't offered to stand by any whistleblowers, offered them a refuge and sanctuary should the hammer smash down on the nail that is sticks up, and/or offered to share our hard-won preps with them and their families. Sure, give us the scoop, but we won't share the burden with you.

Sincerely, Stan Faryna

-- Stan Faryna (, October 16, 1999.

jeremiah --

Couple of points here. First, the average engineer, IT pro, programmer, etc., has a very narrow focus. They are concerned with the project they are on and not much else. They really don't have time to do more, as for example, the company I am with, where I was told that yeah they could reduce my hours to something a little more normal, I could give up all of the interesting stuff and take the grunt work at 60 hours a week. (This, by the way DID represent a reduction in my work week!)

Another problem is that few engineers have wide exposure in the industry. Most (not all, but most), of the mainframe folks have been on mainframes their whole career. The people who did mini's mainly moved on to micro's and remained their. The real time world is SO different from network or mainframe apps that the people there tend to remain because crossing over is so difficult. And the reverse is true also. Thus, VERY FEW engineers have the perspective to realize the immense problems represented in other segments of the industry. Even those who have the breadth of experience tend to have limited perspectives due to the problem mentioned in the first paragraph.

My position at my current employer allows me to at least have some idea what the various product groups are doing based on what sort of resources they are using, how much activity there is on their CRM, SCM, and DCM. But not really enough to know where they are. Generally, all one gets is an overview, if that. But enough to know that they are in trouble, even though it isn't being admitted to the mainstream press.

As for why no one is saying anything, anyone who speaks up is subject to termination, and even possibly a lawsuit. Particularly considering that if the company stock tanks, the stockholders could nail one with enough legal fees to bury one. And thanks, but there isn't any way that most engineers who have tweaked to what is going on are going to take the chance of spending any appreciable time defending themselves in lawsuits when they are busy making preps for their family.

-- just another (, October 16, 1999.

Hello, I am not a "regular" but a Y2K'er who drifted in a few days ago.

The Japanese did not deny and then give up after the nuclear bombing. They did not surrender because of the nuclear bombing. They did not lose a drop of their spirit or zeal to hold out strong. That "Until The Bomb" is an urban legend. Those type's of bombs do not have a broad range. It was not a flattened Japan. Hype has built those small and limited bombs into multiple warhead megaton bombs.

Jeremiah, I haven't any gain in advising this to you, if you're asking if you need to race down and buy some bags of rice and beans, the answer, "Yes you do." A lot of rice and beans. Trash cans of water. Not a few little jugs of water and not for washing or flushing.

-- Paula (, October 16, 1999.

Talk about rice....Sams Club sells 50LBS of rice for only $10.50

An unbelievable low price. NOBODY needs to be hungry in America!

-- freddie (, October 16, 1999.

oh paula, i'm well prepared and rural, I just wanted to see how nitpicky everybody was.. And as for the Japs, there are numerous tales of Japanese thinking that when the emperor announced an end to the war, that THEY HAD WON. they didn't think the war could end any other way. Getting the snot kicked out of them in manchuria was bad, but the bombs were the coup de grace otherwise, the tokio kid wouldn't have mentiuoned "the most cruel bomb" in his speech, (i can't rememebr if that was in the official announcement or a later one, but he said it) the japanese were in denial big time

-- jeremiah (, October 17, 1999.

From an old timer in the industry.

I agree with 'just another' in his assesment. To add a little, if you break IT folks into experience categories. I have seen the following over and over.

< 5 years experience these are dedicated to 'beefing' up their resumes. The are 'focused' intently on this goal. Job hopping starts (to increase salary and to diversify their resume, not necessarly their experience. They typically get no 'big picture' whatsoever about the industry or what's really going on. Many of these are recruited straight out ofo school and 'molded' into the shape desired by the employer.

5 -> 10 years experience these have found their 'nitch' and are now thinking a little more long term (maybe 5 years out) about their careers. Many in this category have found, or are building' their 'comfortable' position in a company where they can hide, do routine maintenance, some new development and draw their modest salaries and maintain their status- quo. A few in this category get bored and decide to try to learn something new, but not as many as you might think.

10+ years experience in this group, they have either decided to 'remain current' or have sank totally into the 'comfortable' position they spent years creating. The few that work to 'remain current' get the big picture, but often have to endure salary cuts when they hop from one part of the industry to another where they are 'less experienced'. The ones that went for 'comfort' have become practically useless in today's job market.

When I weigh another IT professional's opinion on 'whats coming', I ask questions about their career. If they have basically done the same thing for years (worked with the same or similat technology), especially with the same company, their opinion carries less weight than the ones that have pursued the 'big picture'.

Personally, I have hopped industrties many times (at a large cost to my current salary), and have worked in Mainframe Vendor Roles, Financial (Credit Cards), Transportation (Air and Trucking), Industrial (Embedded and Process Control) as well as SME and larger general business environments and have run the gambit in hardware platforms.

When discussing Y2K with IT folks, the ones with that 'narrow focus' are closer to the BITR, whereas, as the 'big picturedness' of their careers increases, so does their concern. Ed has my respect, because of his diverse experience and the fact that I have learned from most of his technical books, applied his methodologies and they have worked very well for me (and for others I've seen that have taken the time to learn and practice them).

Geeks become Geeks by their narrow, specialized focus. Look around, there are some 'real world' people out their in the IT industry. Seek these folks out and listen to their opinions.

-- BH (, October 17, 1999.

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