Hoax or Had to?

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I apologize up front for bringing up a y2k argument. I don't want to be associated with the c-r-a-p that goes on here with the neeners.

I simply want to say that if my company had not remediated our application programs, our most important day to day work processes would have come to a screeching halt. I'm glad we didn't think y2k was a hoax.

-- just another realist (programmer@happy.wedid), July 13, 2000


None of the De=bunkers called the Y2k COMPUTER DATE CHANGE PROBLEM a "hoax". That is typical of the mentality that smears any opponents of the doomzies.


There **IS** a big difference and it is **OBVIOUS** that the PERPS and their fans "Have their story and are sticking to it".


-- cpr (buytexas@swbell.net), July 13, 2000.


Closed minds?

Would that be like the refusal to believe that oil prices could stay up?

-- J (Y2J@home.comm), July 13, 2000.

"Realist", I'd like to chime in and say that my Y2K project experience was the same as yours. We had two applications (in-house, home-grown apps) that came to a screeching halt when we tested pre- fix. We knew it was going to happen (they were built in FoxPro and Access), but we had to test the effect on everything else. These two apps basically were the heart and soul of our business.

Could we have worked around them? Sure, we did it all the time when the network went down. Would we have lost money and/or some business? No doubt because our processes would have slowed to "manual mode". But the point is that we did have workarounds in place (contingency plans); and that's just good business sense.

I think what many people say was the "y2k hoax" was not that the problem didn't exist (it did) but that it was blown way out of proportion to further certain agendas (i.e., consultants who wanted the big contracts, etc.). That's where the "hoax" was.

-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), July 13, 2000.

"neeners", love it.

Hats off to the doers and the reported 700B they spent and earned.

Still, the hoax feeling is fueled by the utter absence of significant reports of failures from countries not as blessed with IT types as we. Don't mean big corps abroad but government services for instance. Commerce & State department websites painted pretty ugly the chances for say an apparently unremediated Venezuela, Italy, Georgia & Indonesia to escape unscathed. But they did.

Was it really THAT simple? If so, how much of the estimated 700B spent was a waste IYHO?

-- Carlos (riffraff1@cybertime.net), July 13, 2000.

Carlos, you can't judge too much of this by my experience in my office...two home-grown apps is all I had to deal with. On our clients' sites, it wasn't as bad as was originally thought (I seem to remember relating this to Peter Errington a few months ago), but sure, there were problems found (I worked for an IT consulting firm).

You also have to understand (and this was something else I saw first-hand, even in my own little office) that alot (and I do mean ALOT) of what was being classified as "Y2K spending" went for the latest and greatest "new toys". For example, my office bought two brand-spanking new servers. Did we need them? Not really; could have gone on another couple of years using the ones we already had. But they were bought under the guise of "Y2K necessity".

Now, if that happened in my *little* office, I can imagine what went on in, say, a Citibank-size organization where "screwing around with the budget" is its own department. That's part of where I feel there was a giant hoax perpetrated and why the "spending total" looks enormous.


-- Patricia (PatriciaS@lasvegas.com), July 13, 2000.


"If so, how much of the estimated 700B spent was a waste IYHO?"

Folks keep talking about all the money that was wasted, and I just don't see more waste than usual. Sure, there were consulting firms who convinced people they needed new systems, etc., or firms that charged more than they should. Personally, I think I pay more than I should everytime I take my car to a mechanic. There's that lingering feeling that I didn't really NEED that work done, but someone convinced me I did. If my car runs better, or continues to run as well as it did previously, I can't consider the money wasted. I'll never know for SURE, though.

Confidence plays a very important role in our society. The government, banks, some firms, etc. spent a lot of money to convince people that Y2k wouldn't be a big deal. It must have been important to these entities to ensure confidence, or they wouldn't have spent the money. I wonder how the money the government spent on the command center compares to the prices it pays for hammers, toilet seats, and bovine flatulence studies. Perhaps they COULD have paid $400,000 for a command center had they obtained the best prices available. Banks and the other firms that felt confidence important were simply following good business practices. Remember the ONE package of Tylenol that was poisoned? I wonder how much money was "wasted" recalling every box and bottle of Tylenol. It wasn't money wasted, IMO. Maintaining confidence in the product or commodity justified the money spent.

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), July 13, 2000.

You all make excellent points and I thank you for your time.

It's the people/organizations and how they handled it, not y2k. Sounds like a similar argument about guns... guns don't kill people, people do.

There will always be those that exploit situations. Capitalists are the best, as well they should be to a point.

Regarding foreign countries who did little remediation, I would review the level of the country's automated sophistication. Where there is little development, there would be little remediation.

Lastly, ALL entities (personal, corporate, government) try to make themselves "look good". As such, most companies with problems, y2k or otherwise, simply squelch bad news to the best of their ability, as well they should, to a point!

I'm with Anita, prevention may be more difficult and unknown, but when it works, it works!! I think it worked this time!

Best regards,

-- just another realist (programmer@happy.wedid), July 13, 2000.

I simply want to say that if my company had not remediated our application programs, our most important day to day work processes would have come to a screeching halt. I'm glad we didn't think y2k was a hoax.

-- just another realist (programmer@happy.wedid), July 13, 2000

Application software with y2k bugs was never a hoax, but the exageration of the significance of the problems was, just another. And no offense, but your statement sound like more of the same....uh, was that ALL of your application programs? Some of them? Any possible workarounds? Were they likely to have NOT been fixed for y2k? Any possiblity some of your problems would have been trivial? I can't tell it in your post! Any embedded systems shutdowns? You get the picture.

Its software. If dates are important to the function, fix it for y2k. And so it was done. Next big deal?

-- FactFinder (FactFinder@bzn.,com), July 13, 2000.




There is general agreement that the Year 2000 rollover went more smoothly than expected. The incredible success of the transition has prompted a number of questions about the effort and the results it produced.

Was Y2K an insignificant, over-hyped problem?

In the weeks since the rollover, some have expressed doubt about the magnitude of the Y2K problem and whether or not the significant investment of time and money to avoid disruptions was necessary. However, it has been difficult to find executives who worked on Y2K in a major bank, financial institution, telephone company, electric power company or airline who believe that they did not confront -- and avoid -- a major risk of systemic failure.


One indication of the difficulty of the Y2K problem is the fact that many large, sophisticated users of information technology revealed in regular filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission that they had been required to increase the funds allocated to their Y2K programs. These increases, which in some cases were in the hundreds of millions of dollars, were not for public relations purposes. Rather, they reflected the difficult effort of remediating large, complicated and often antiquated IT systems.

The Federal Government experienced a similar phenomenon. Cumulative agency estimates for the costs to solve the Y2K problem increased over four years from under $3 billion to the $8.5 billion that was actually spent. This was still significantly less than the $20 to $30 billion estimated by outsiders. But here too, the job of ensuring Y2K compliance proved to be more challenging than initially expected.

The range of actual failures during the January 1 and February 29 (Leap Day) rollovers served as a reminder of the major economic and operating disruptions that had been avoided by the development of Y2K compliant IT systems:. . . .

-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



These and other glitches would have been more serious had they occurred in an environment in which a wide range of other Y2K problems had also surfaced. If there had been a flurry of other difficulties, some glitches would have gone undetected for a longer period of time. Glitches also could have had a multiplier effect by creating problems through interfaces to other systems or could have resulted in a gradual degradation of service. As it happened, organizations were able to focus all of their attention on the relatively few problems that did occur, which resulted in much faster restoration of normal operations.

Some of the failed expectations about more serious Y2K problems can be traced to the skepticism and disbelief with which some people greeted company and government progress reports on Y2K, believing that these institutions were inevitably covering up the possibilities of major Y2K failures. However, as the Council noted on numerous occasions, individuals in positions of responsibility who were claiming success in their Y2K efforts would be easily found after January 1, and held accountable, if subsequent system failures proved that they had misrepresented the facts. But many people continued to assume the worst would materialize even as much of the self-reporting pointed to a fairly orderly transition into the new millennium. . . .

-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



Why weren't there more Y2K-related problems abroad, especially in less-developed nations?

Some of those who have discounted, after the fact, the significance of the Y2K threat point to the relative lack of major disruptions abroad as evidence of how exaggerated the problem was. How did countries that appeared to have spent so little, and were thought to be relatively unprepared, emerge unscathed?

A number of factors created the mismatch between perception about the Y2K readiness of foreign countries and the actual outcome. Chief among them was the difficulty in obtaining accurate status reports internationally on a fast moving issue such as Y2K. Information three months old was out of date, and much of the international information reported was second hand and anecdotal. But, in many cases, this was the best information available until countries began to report more publicly on their Y2K work. Without more current, detailed reports, people often relied on such older information and were then surprised when it was overtaken by subsequent progress. A report about risks from April or June 1999 was assumed to still be operative in December.

A related problem was the stereotype of countries doing nothing to prepare for Y2K. While this was probably true for three- quarters of the countries in the world in early 1998, by mid-1999 virtually every country had a Y2K program in place and was devoting a high level of attention to the problem. In many cases, the fact that some countries may have spent the bulk of their funds in a concentrated effort the last six to nine months of 1999 was largely ignored. For some commentators, therefore, it has been easier to suggest that the problem was overstated rather than to consider the possibility that perceptions before the rollover were inaccurate.

Additionally, outside of the world's largest users of information technology B countries like the United States, Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom -- the reliance upon IT drops off quickly. In many of these less IT-dependent countries, other factors also made for an easier transition into the Year 2000. Fixes in these countries were frequently more straightforward than in the United States since the technology being used was more likely to be "off the shelf," and not customized. Also, unlike the United States, countries such as Spain and Italy that had moved into IT more recently were not saddled with old legacy systems that were built with antiquated, customized code by people who had long since retired. . . .

-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



Countries starting later also had the benefit of lessons learned by those who had been working on Y2K for several years. The sharing of technical information about problems, products, fixes and testing techniques that was encouraged by international organizations and the Council paid enormous dividends. Elevators provide a good example. In 1998, everyone was testing to see if elevator-specific systems had a Y2K problem. Once it became clear that they did not, no one else had to spend time and money pursuing the issue. Similar experiences took place in industries such as banking, finance, telecommunications, air traffic and electric power where information was being exchanged and shared globally in a way never seen before. And in many industries, large multi-national companies actually worked directly with their local counterparts and host countries to fix basic systems.


Finally, technology itself helped countries that had gotten a late start on Y2K. One the reasons those that started late spent less on their Year 2000 efforts was that the technology to fix the problem improved dramatically. By 1999, automated tools could fix millions of lines of code quickly and at a dramatically lower cost than was possible just two years earlier. This technology helped late-starting countries to fix the problem quickly - and more cheaply.

-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



Why weren't there more problems among small businesses?

Small business was another area about which many, including the Council, had expressed concerns. While there were relatively few reports of Y2K-related failures among small businesses, for firms large and small, there is a natural inclination not to report problems that are fixed in very short time frames. This phenomenon was revealed before the rollover when surveys showed that over 70 percent of companies reported they had experienced Y2K glitches, even though the public was unaware of virtually all of them. Some said the number of failures indicated the pervasive nature of the Y2K problem. The Council believed that the experience of companies with Y2K failures before January 1, 2000 also demonstrated that most Y2K problems could be fixed without people being inconvenienced or even knowing that anything had happened.

The lack of information about how small businesses were doing was an ongoing challenge for the Council and others following Y2K. The sheer number of these companies - over 23 million - and the absence of regular reporting relationships that made it difficult to gather information on the progress of small businesses prior to January 1, also made it difficult to determine how many actually experienced Y2K difficulties after the date change. . . .

-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



What happened to fears of overreaction by the public?

While a very small, but visible, minority engaged in excessive stockpiling of goods in advance of the New Year, most Americans took Y2K in stride. Anxiety about the date change, which seemed to peak in 1998, declined throughout 1999 as more and more information became available about organizations that were completing their Y2K work. By the end of the year, there was very little evidence of overreaction among the general public to the potential consequences of Y2K.

The availability of information - both positive and negative -- about Y2K efforts played a major role in reversing the trend toward overreaction. The Council's position was that people are more inclined to panic when they lack information, which can lead to a general feeling that the system is out of control. But, given the facts, whatever they are, people have great common sense and will respond appropriately. Even when the information about industry and government Y2K efforts revealed that there was still substantial work left to do, people were not alarmed. Instead, they seemed reassured in the knowledge that organizations were treating the problem seriously, were working together to solve it, and would keep the public informed about their progress. Americans knew Y2K was an important problem, but they also knew that organizations were spending large amounts of time and money to minimize any difficulties that could have been created by the date change. . . .

-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



Was the money well spent?

In hindsight, it is always easy to see what was not a problem and say that less money could have been spent. It's a little like saying you could have saved money spent on building safer roads when fewer accidents occur. But part of the reason for the smooth transition, in the face of thoughtful analyses noting that IT projects generally finish late and over budget with remediation work creating errors as well as removing them, was that people did test, retest, and then test their systems once again. Never before had so much independent verification and validation been done for IT work -- and it showed in the positive results and the on-time performance.

Ultimately each organization had to make its own judgement about the potential implications of failures and the appropriate cost necessary to minimize such problems. Any organization that cut back on its work to save money and subsequently experienced serious system failures would have been pilloried as badly managed and foolish. . . .

-- From (the@official.report), July 14, 2000.



Agreed and that applies to 2 companies I worked for during 1995-99.

-- richard (richard.dale@onion.com), July 14, 2000.

The official report,

Thank you so much for posting all of this. It tells me what I need to know. I will take some time later to read your links in more detail.

Big Text,

I agree, who cares. I have long left y2k behind me. I was just curious why there seems to be such continuing blatant disrespect on this forum for those who prepared. I think it was necessary. I must be oversimplifying the criticism. I can see from earlier posts on this thread that the anger is directed at the exploiters, not necessarily those who prepared. I am glad to make this distinction.

Another thanks to the official report for taking the time to post. These posts put many questions to rest.

Best to you all,

-- just another realist (programmer@happy.wedid), July 14, 2000.

As a contractor, realist, I saw both sides of the coin. At some sites, I don't think they could have avoided remediation and still functioned. These were usually IMS sites. At others, we looked at the job and by the time we were done found VERY little that needed to be fixed. That's one of the reasons I didn't like the extrapolations done by Cory Hamasaki. His samples weren't representative of the "whole picture."

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), July 14, 2000.

As a response: as a working affilation with the U.S. Government, I can tell you they put Contractor programs on the street, with glitches, and the Gov't accepts these glitches. Why? peer pressure, stupidy and apathy. God Forbid, someone should stand up, and say, "This is unacceptable". Some try, but we are small voices, crying onto the night, and we are silenced.......

-- Mad As Hell (aboutit@here.com), July 14, 2000.

Say what?

-- Carlos (riffraff1@cybertime.net), July 15, 2000.

Peter de Jager in June, 1998.


Let me reiterate something that Senator Bennett said. If today were December 31, 1999, and our systems were in the current state they are in today, tomorrow our economy worldwide would stop. It wouldn't grind to a halt. It would snap to a halt. You would not have dial tone tomorrow if tomorrow were January 1st, year 2000. You would not have air travel. You would not have Federal Express. You would not have the Postal Service. You would not have water. You would not have power. Because the systems are broken.

I know you don't like hearing it. I know it is classed as hype and exaggeration. The problem is: it happens to be a fact which you yourself can verify.

-- hoax (or@had.to), July 16, 2000.

My office has 50 PC's running Windows95. Micro$oft had a lot of Y2K patches for Win95. My employers thought Y2K was a hoax and they did NO remediation. We have not had a single Y2K-related problem.

-- (Adelle@home.com), July 16, 2000.

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