ResumeBoy sets out to show those uninformed Small Towners what Y2k was all aboutgreenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
Note the "thorough analysis" of the technical aspects that the 30yr.IT expert offers the readers of a small town gazette after a Ph.D. with some credentials de-bunks Y2k hyteria. Said "thorough analysis" taking the form of your writing style sucks and I don't have time to go into the technical points because I'm ResumeBoy and you are not.
To begin we get the ResumeBoy's "first glance": an orbiting mind-control laser made firstname.lastname@example.org (Don Joe - see signature) write:
Well, I thought I'd seen it all, but this one takes the cake. Absolutely stunningly moronic.
--Steve Heller, WA0CPP
=======================THE ARTICLE CITED===================== http://www.oceanaheraldjournal.com/cgi-bin/LiveIQue.acgi$rec=6413?OHJviewpoint
Guest Column-Purvis-Nothing Disasterous
Author's background: Andrew Purvis holds a Doctorate in Materials Science & Engineering from The University of Michigan. He is a former Assistant Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. He currently holds a senior engineering position at Howmet Corporation in Whitehall. Among his duties are extensive manufacturing process computer simulations using a variety of highly specialized programs and computer systems. He is married with two small children. Let me begin this by stating the following is meant to bring some sorely needed good news to our lives and not continue to "shell" us with more tales of doom, gloom, pending disaster and militia-like behavior.
Here we are, less than six months from the big day. Which day, you ask? Well, anyone who has not heard of the coming "disaster" called Y2K as of Jan. 1, 2000 must be either too young to notice or not willing or able to pay attention to all the ridiculous media hype and special interest group propaganda surrounding this scenario.
Yes, by now the vast majority of us have heard the background: Early computer programmers were trying to conserve memory space by using a two digit year on the dates (92=1992) instead of the four digit date required to recognize 2000 instead of 1900-- blah, blah, yadda, yadda.
Some of us have grown very tired of the continuing blitz of fearful predictions regarding this situation and simply want to say, "Enough already!" Personally, I seriously question the background and underlying motives of the vast majority of people who are responsible for circulating these vicious un-truths and hope that the general populous can stand back and take a far more logical approach to this "crisis."
I am going to go out on what many would consider a limb here and predict that NOTHING disastrous will happen at Midnight on Jan. 1, 2000. Will there be computer malfunctions? Yes. Will we care? No. Will there be massive loss of data? Perhaps - temporarily. Will we care? No. Will we even notice anything has changed? I say, absolutely not!
I predict there will be no loss of electrical power, no massive shortage of food, airplanes will remain in the sky, gasoline will be dispensed from the pumps on Jan. 1 just like it has for the past several decades (it will also not lose its Octane rating), nuclear weapons will remain in their silos in so-called "unknown" locations, the ink will not bleed off your currency and the massive exodus of Congress into their secret Virginia hiding place bunkers will be all a big rigor-ma-roar for nothing.
Let me state it another way: I am certain there will be a few hearts stopping a beat at the stroke of midnight, but it will be only from the anticipation of the moment, the Millennium, the fear that something might happen, just as many had predicted, but, sadly, there will be many disappointed people (and hopefully, even more relieved people) that all this fear instilled in many of us was for nothing.
Since many details are being brought out into the open, we should actually clarify that the 21st Century does not officially begin until Jan. 1, 2001, but this is a big change and we have good reason to be excited. As far as the Y2K "crisis," I have many reasons why I believe the way I do, and witnessing what has been happening has come to the point of an almost comical paranoia over the whole thing.
Lately I have heard an awful lot of doom-seekers trying to scare us into submission to the point of near social revolt. I personally know people who are willing to stockpile 6-8 MONTHS of food, water, fuel and ammunition (yes, ammunition to defend themselves against all the starving masses) for a problem that simply is not going to happen the way it is being portrayed. Of course, this is all my opinion and will be subject to ultimate verification on the actual date but I cannot accept that "life as we know it will end" according to Donald S. McAlvaney of The McAlvaney Intelligence Advisor, the king of the doom-seekers in this arena.
Anyone who works extensively with computers should know that computers simply do not care what day it is and will continue to function as normal whether the date reads the years 1900, 1776 or 2569. If you have a computer at home try this little experiment to see if your old computer is "Y2K ready:" Intentionally set the date back on your computer five or six years. If there is going to be a serious problem with your system, you should not be able to read any file with a date that is "in the future" or not yet created as of the "system's date."
Rest assured, there will be some sort of fix-it program you can buy so all your data will not be lost forever come January. In my 20 years experience with computers of all shapes, sizes, speeds, languages, configurations and costs, I have yet to witness any system which crashed simply because of the date and this goes back long before anyone was concerned with this Y2K thing. Will some computers malfunction? The doom-seekers say yes, but it depends on how you define malfunction. Some will, indeed read the incorrect date (which technically, IS a malfunction), but the computer will operate with input and output just like it always did. If there is any problem, it will be with some of the files that were created with a "future" date. I have done many things in playing around with computer dates and I have yet to get a system to crash or even to have files inaccessible because of it. In fact, the only types of glitches I foresee whatsoever have to do with computer interest calculations on loans or insurance policies-- these are the only files types which care what day it is today versus what day it is tomorrow.
As far as your little experiment, if your system gets a little funny, do not panic! After Jan.1, 2000, I am certain there will be inexpensive programs to make your system "comply" with a patch-like fix. And I would certainly wait until then to buy anything. I see an awful lot of people making some serious money on the heels of this "Y2K-phobia" that will ALL (yes, all) be out of a job come long about Jan. 15, 2000, when everyone realizes that this hype was for nothing, and the problem can be fixed with a simple $39 program.
For you serious computer aficionados out there, you may recall similar difficulties with dates in the history of computers. In fact, this Y2K problem will be the fourth major "doomsday" in the computer world related to the storage of dates... Fourth, you say? Why have we not heard of this before? It simply cannot be possible. Yes, it IS possible and IS documented.
The television media has a way with portraying the worst to play out our fears for Nielsen ratings and when extreme religious fanatics get hold of something like this, especially with a date as significant as a Millennium, well it seems even the underworld begins to freeze over and we cannot seem to escape a single day without being bombarded with fear. I was amused when the hype over this whole thing started about four years ago, but when people came out and said everything from your car, thermostat, pacemakers for the fragile of health, coffee makers and microwave ovens will be rendered useless by this pending disaster, I am inclined to believe they cannot know a thing about the mechanics of these devices. Coffee makers? Come on, find a better hobby.
According to Dr. Roy Schmidt of the Department of Business Computer Systems at Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois, it was back in the 1960's when programmers and computer people started to worry about storing and retrieving dates. During this time of even more expensive RAM (memory), some date years were actually stored with only 1 digit (i.e.: 7=1967). Hmm! It seems if this date thing was as big a deal back then as it is now, we should have heard about it, right? (Again I refer you back one paragraph to the media discussion on Nielsen ratings) Back then, with the pending doom set to occur on Jan. 1, 1970, computer data files were even MORE precious and valuable than they are today. Computers in the sixties and seventies were far less reliable and crashed on a routine basis simply because of an incorrect key punch card (yes, I do recall programming with key punch cards).
We also have procedures called system back-ups today that are quite routinely performed, most often on an automatic basis, that protect systems and files in case of gross malfunctions. Well, as you may have guessed, 1970 came and went without a single hitch, the systems were fixed in rather routine fashion and life was grand again. Well, there were a few hiccups in numerous systems that were fixed quite easily, but it did not cause Wall Street to crash and create rioting and looting in the streets.
The second computer "doomsday" was predicted to occur on or after Jan. 4, 1975. Apparently, this date was significant because the fixes that were made in 1970 referenced dates as to the number of integer days since Jan. 1, 1900. When the maximum integer value was attained in the memory storage, the values reset themselves to a large negative value and started spitting out garbage numbers. As you may have already guessed, a few minor fixes were made, and 1/4/75 came and went with only minor disruptions, without a single disaster, without a hitch!
The third major computer doomsday was just a few years later on Nov. 16, 1989, when using the same programming logic, a larger integer number value (16-bit, 32,767) was used to recall the number of days since the turn of the century. Again, a few fixes were made and nothing significant happened to our lives as we knew it at the time. Until this moment, I am certain most readers had never heard that such problems existed in the past and have become victims of the tremendous amount of hype which has been generated over the next predicted trouble spot related to computer functions. The reasons why we have not been concerned with this until now is that a computer is a simple input-output device that simply does not care what the date is and will continue chugging along with the incorrect date stored in its RAM devices and simply will not care that it is wrong. Other than the incorrect date, it will operate and operate properly. And other than the actual date printed on a screen somewhere, we will not care that it is wrong either!
I am still puzzled as to how these doom-seekers obtained their information on this terrible "crisis" and the significant "suffering" which is to follow. There is a closer date that we should be concerned with if there is to be any gnashing of teeth for all the doom-seekers: 9/9/99.
Similar to Aug. 8, 1988, a wide variety of programming methods and styles (yes, there is style to this and there is more than one way to get to the same end result), dates just may increment incorrectly on some systems. As far as the distinction between the two-digit storage (09/09/99) and single digit storage (9/9/99) we must trace some historical roots of computers. On some systems, two-digit date entries for days, months and years have been stored using numbers and letters (for single digit days and months), which correspond to months or days of the months referenced elsewhere in the system. The older the system, the greater likelihood that more than one of the values will increment simultaneously when programmers did not account for all the possibilities.
Sept. 9 will come and go.. Without a hitch. Well, similar to Aug. 8, 1988, I am certain that some older systems may try and reset themselves to the beginning of time according to Microsoft: March 1, 1981, but they should otherwise work fine. When September comes along the vast majority of us will not even notice that 9/9/99 was a significant day in the testing of our systems for Y2K Compliance. We will not care either. Many will be too worried about losing power on Jan. 1, 2000.
Personally, I am far more concerned with losing power during the next major storm than any occasion related to Jan. 1, 2000. Here's a thought: If the national electric power grid was so finicky that a simple date glitch would cause all this predicted havoc it should have certainly shown up in a lot more places and a lot more occasions by now. Once again: Computers do not care what day it is and will continue to operate, regardless. Some of you may have heard about some recent tests performed by the government and military on Y2K that proceeded without a hitch. And I am certain that everyone who may be concerned with this menagerie of tall tales breathed a huge sigh of relief when they heard there were no malfunctions. According to Billy Goodman of NASA, the recent test in Denver actually required the interfacing of 14 different computer systems in various cities in order to fully test the Y2K compliance of a single airport. One would think that if any problem surfaced it would have been discovered and corrected as so many have to date.
Incidentally, what the media has not told us is that the first and second semi-critical "date tests" of 1999 have already passed with flying colors: 3/3/99 & 6/6/99. Some of the related things I have heard make me shudder at the lack of confidence in the American people in general. The things these doom-seekers are trying to force us to swallow have very little basis or foundation. You can imagine that as the tales get taller down the line, there is downright fear in the faces of many and that is a terrible shame. One of the latest misnomers I have heard peddled is that since we are expected to have no power, we must store water -- and water cannot be stored in plastic milk jugs because they are biodegradable.
Where do they come up with this stuff? Having quite a bit of education in this area, milk jugs will be around longer than life on this planet, so simple tap water cannot and will not cause milk jugs to fail -- especially in the next six or eight months. Incidentally, to date there are only two kinds of polymers (plastics) that have been found to biodegrade in any reasonable time frame (less than 10 years) and HDPE #2 plastic (high density polyethylene) is not one of them.
Even more preposterous than misinformed consumers is the notion that because of this "Y2K crisis" Bill Clinton is preparing to abandon the U.S. Constitution and declare himself the dictator of this country as part of the "New World Order" just to remain in office for as long as he wishes. This makes no long term sense. What are the motives behind this? The doom-seekers are claiming that this is a planned crisis, and an excuse for the Big Bad Government to declare martial law and confiscate everything, including property in a George Orwell-like totalitarian fairy tale. I see it as an excuse for certain factions of society to hoard weapons and ammunition as part of our Bill of Rights in order "to protect themselves."
One thing is for certain; every single doomsday prediction in the history of Planet Earth has been false. And this can be traced thousands of years to the beginning of recorded history. I see this and many of the other items of which I happen to glance in "Tabloid News" at the supermarket as another way power hungry people have of feeling in control. (Is it just me, or did anyone else ever watch the movie "Men in Black?")
I cannot say for certain that Jan.1 will be completely devoid of all problems, but the terrible doom and the refugee-like situation that is being portrayed is simply too overblown. Put it this way, I am not approaching the New Year with my gas tank on empty, absolutely no food in the pantry and only one half-gallon of sour milk in the refrigerator. My family will be prepared -- just as we always are for the many bumps in the road of life. Have the computer experts thought of everything? Probably not, but there will be easy ways to fix it once we realize what the worst possible situation could be with our computers, our data, our coffee makers, our microwave ovens, all the planes in the sky, Saddam Hussein's secret nuclear missile arsenal, and the many other things that are said to be ready to cause us everything but certain death on Jan. 1, 2000.
I do predict that the telephone system will crash -- temporarily -- as millions of Americans simultaneously pick up the phone at the stroke of midnight to check and see if a call can be made. The system will overload and go dead, but it should take about 12 minutes to fix. It could be a very long 12 minutes for anyone trying to fend off those saying, "I told you so."
Personally, has my family thought of everything? I am certain that we have not, but I plan to watch a lot of football games on Jan. 1, 2000, just like I have done for the past many years. By 2 p.m. none of us will care anymore about what did NOT happen, except that the coffee will seem to taste the same as it did the previous day. I may even hope the Ohio State football team wins their bowl game.
Author's background: Andrew Purvis holds a Doctorate in Materials Science & Engineering from The University of Michigan. He is a former Assistant Professor of Manufacturing Engineering at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois. He currently holds a senior engineering position at Howmet Corporation in Whitehall. Among his duties are extensive manufacturing process computer simulations using a variety of highly specialized programs and computer systems. He is married with two small children.
By Andrew Purvis
________Is available at: http://www.oceanaheraldjournal.com/cgi-bin/LiveIQue.acgi$rec=6413?OHJviewpoint. Here's my reply, which I've sent to the newspaper:
------------------------------- I've just finished reading a "guest column" in your newspaper entitled "Nothing Disasterous[sic]" by Andrew Purvis.
Frankly, I'm astonished that any newspaper would publish something of such low quality. First of all, there are numerous typos, including the misspelled title. Secondly, the writing is of abysmal quality, containing numerous dangling modifiers, slang, run-on sentences, and general misuse of the English language that would earn a very low grade in any high school English composition class.
But that is by far the least of the defects in this article, which displays the most astonishing ignorance of basic issues in date manipulation by computer that I have ever seen published, especially written by someone who claims knowledge of the computer field. The statement that "computers simply do not care what day it is and will continue to function as normal whether the date reads the years 1900, 1776, or 2569" is bad enough, because of course the question is not whether computers care what day it is but whether they will properly calculate time intervals and whether one date comes before or after another.
But what is even more absurd is his suggested means of "testing" the Y2K readiness of your computer: setting the date back a few years. As far as I know, no one has ever before suggested that the Y2K problem involves the inability to read files created later than the system clock date. Therefore, his "test" has absolutely no relation to the problem at hand. His explanation of the 9/9/99 problem is equally ludicrous: again, no one has ever previously suggested that the date "just may increment incorrectly on some systems" on or around that time, as he (mis-)states the problem.
I could go on for pages about the myriad errors and misstatements of fact in this article, but I think the above is sufficient to indicate the author's complete non-comprehension of the problem.
There actually is quite a bit of good information about the Y2K problem, and you would be doing the public a service by informing them of it. However, this article does quite the opposite: it misinforms them about a potentially disastrous situation.
-- Steve Heller, WA0CPP
-- cpr (email@example.com), July 06, 2000
Guilt is glorious when it's well earned. The trick to eating crow is to pretend it taste good.
-- gafawwwing (firstname.lastname@example.org), July 06, 2000.