Peter de Jager looks back at Y2K : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

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It should have been more exciting, in a positive sense. But the world had psyched itself out over the doom that might be wrought by a nasty little computer glitch named Y2K, so that by late 1999 we couldn't even enjoy the party all that much.

But 2000 could also have been a lot more exciting in the Ice Storm sense. The notion that "nothing happened" is both wrong and a tribute to thousands of people who worked their butts off to make sure "nothing" did happen, said Peter de Jager, the Canadian technological consultant and speaker widely credited with awakening the world to the looming dangers of that all-singing, all-dancing computer bug in the first place.

The problem was that most computers had been set up to read dates as two digits without the 19 prefix - 54, 83, 86 and so forth. When 00 rolled around for the year 2000, there was concern that computers might recognize that as 1900, which could cause them to shut down or go haywire.

"Things" did happen, de Jager said in an interview last week. It's just that most of us didn't hear about them because once safely past Jan. 1, 2000, mainstream media stopped paying attention.

"In the beginning, I said we had a problem. We did. I said we should send somebody to fix it. We did. Then the media came out and said nothing happened, that it's a hoax. I have trouble with that. ... Quite literally, I find that offensive."

For example, de Jager said, U.S. defence satellites stopped working for three days at the beginning of January, but their failure wasn't reported for about three weeks.

"I find it very difficult to look at that and say it's nothing," de Jager said.

More than a dozen nuclear power plants around the world experienced some form of Y2K glitch, he said, ranging from security doors that wouldn't recognize ID cards to safety-monitoring systems not functioning properly.

No one will ever know the precise total, but estimates on what the world spent to protect itself from Y2K damage range from about $200 billion U.S. to more than $600 billion. De Jager seemed comfortable with an estimate of about $300 billion.

And the computer industry wonders why no one wants to spend money on information technology right now.

"Did we spend too much? Of course we did, just as with any large project," de Jager said. "But ask any large organization whether they spent too much on Y2K, and not one of them will tell you that the money was wasted."

Are we out of the woods now? "Yep," he said. "We were out of the woods in early 1999."


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-- Looking (back@t.Y2K), December 30, 2000


I have pounds of testimony of other folks guessing, otherwise. Is it possible, they did not know what they were talking about? In their high positions? If so, call them to task for their own ignorance of their own profession, and send them to the soup line.

-- Looking2 (back@t.Y2K), January 03, 2001.

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