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Thursday, 6 January, 2000, 15:20 GMT
Y2K: Overhyped and oversold?
My brother had an office computer that wasn't able to handle the new date. It stopped working sometime in late October 1999. Just stopped, crashed. I'm sure there's a word for its condition. Oh yes, 'not Y2K compliant'.
I do not consider the car insurance premiums I have paid over the last 10 years to have been wasted just because I have not claimed on them. Why should people consider the checking (and correction) of Y2K code a waste of money? By the way, like most Y2K workers, I am not self employed and so have not made one penny out of the extra work - I just gave up a lot of my own free time!
We don't seem to have suffered any ill effects from Y2K issues, but still have one from the so-called GPS Rollover in August 99. Our alarm clock gained an hour. The clock has no knobs for re-setting. When the clocks changed from British Summer Time to GMT the clock changed but was still an hour fast. It had no problems at all 31 December/1 January - we wait other key dates with interest. All suggestions about how to alter it most gratefully received! We tried taking it from the UK to the USA but it wouldn't register at all there. We have tried taking out the batteries and putting it in a cast iron pot - no luck. The only option seems to be to move to France or somewhere else an hour ahead!
I think it was good to be safe. But then everyone went over board. I work at a department store called WAL-MART and we had customers who thought it was the end of everything. Buying 50 gallons of water and other stuff. I know this because I had to work on New Years Eve 1999. Then on Jan 1 2000 all was fine. I'm glad it was.
Please be reminded that there are still 12 months left in this year. Y2K programmer friends have informed me that there are plenty of problems but have not yet reached the media. At work some horror stories were shared concerning bank statements and credit card problems. I personally encounter e-mail problems. E-mails sent from this computer to friend's 30 miles away do not get there. Instead they end up as undeliverable at a Employment Agency 10 miles away from here. There are all sorts of problems so please do not shrug this off as a non-event. Let us therefore watch the upcoming month very carefully.
Some of the comments regarding Y2K are nothing short of ill informed. If you spend money on immunising children against polio and nobody catches it - do you complain about the cost or say that it is a figment of Doctors imaginations? Or if you insure your house, yet it fails to fall down around your ears, do you ask for your money back? So if we as a country spent billions on Y2K fixes and nothing goes wrong afterwards, is that not a comparable situation? And should people be glad that utilities, airlines et al didn't have catastrophic failures?
It's the same as going to your doctor due to a stomach ache and complaining that it has gone away after treatment! What was the media expecting? A fix and a meltdown? You can't have both! The media will do anything to make peoples blood boil - and generate sales - including biting the hand that feeds it! Fix it yourself next time there is a problem.
Frank Bradshaw, UK
With the 'safe' passing of 01/01/2000 I see the media sector has now leapt onto the 29/04/2000 issue. All sorts of hype-sters are coming out of the woodwork proclaiming that we now have to worry about the leap-year issue, when in fact the majority of tests and rectifications carried out to handle Y2K also dealt with leap year issues.
Had the money not been spent there would have been chaos and A LOT MORE MONEY SPENT to fix them! The real lesson to be learnt from this is to correctly design the software in the first place and don't assume it won't be around after a few years. One final point, costs were inflated by the legions of lawyers lurking in the wings which scared companies into creating unnecessary reams of paper and documentation in the case of lawsuit.
Isn't it these same self-satisfied computer 'experts' who got us into this mess in the first place by not devising software which could tell the difference between 1900 and 2000?
The Y2K bug was and still is a problem. Bear in mind that most companies and organisations are hardly going to put out a press statement saying that they have suffered from the bug. They're not stupid.
We should be congratulating ourselves, our organisations and the various
taskforces for their success...not whingeing about the cost.
It seems bizarre to state that the Y2K position was nothing more than a huge con. I'm sure there would be a public uproar if an aircraft actually did fall from the skies on the 1999/2000 tickover. Would people feel so cheated if a life-support machine that a loved one was on failed at the stroke of midnight? Obviously not.
While I am grateful to all you 'computer experts' for helping us avoid any major Y2K, I find their wounded attitudes a little hard to take. After all, who got us into this mess in the first place?!
I tend to go along with Bill Bryson who said 'A computer is a stupid machine with the ability to do incredibly smart things, while computer programmers are smart people with the ability to do incredibly stupid things. In short, they are a dangerously perfect match'.
It was the press and organisations like Taskforce 2000 and Action2000 that have excessively hyped the scope and impact of the Y2K. Those of us involved with IT have known, and have been repeatedly saying, for some time that there are problems with old IT systems - not toasters, not fridges / microwave cookers / videos / televisions and so on.
I (along with many of my colleagues both at work and in the industry as a whole) have spent a great deal of effort and time on fixing the Y2K problems 'before they happened'. What we have collectively achieved is pretty astonishing - the whole event passed without a bang, more like a whimper.
The Y2K problem was not merely hype, although the press seems to want it to be that way. In most other countries there would be celebration at a problem solved, but oh no, not in the UK...
Graeme Fowler, UK
The millennium bug is not a past concern just yet.
The immediate real-time issues are behind us, but
I would be cautious to assume that we will not see
problems appearing during the coming months.
The Y2K bug has been the biggest non-event since the eclipse! Yes, there was a date problem, which was in the main resolved. However, all those so called 'computer experts' (the media!!) went to town over the issue, claiming nuclear meltdown and planes falling from the sky. Congratulations to the unsung heroes that have spent the last five years (or more) correcting bios' and software.
It's silly to suggest that the entire thing was a con. It clearly wasn't as we've put quarter of a million pounds into the issue as there /were/ problems that had to be rectified. Y2K engineers were clearly on a no-win basis with the media. If they lost then they'd have been slated. If they did their job properly (which appears to be the case) then the media would say that there wasn't a problem.
The IT industry can't be blamed for the kind of hype that saw articles in daily newspapers warning us that our toasters might fail "because they have a microchip". Y2K fixers have not spent years pretending to fix lines of code which simply can't handle the year moving past 99.
Dammed if we do dammed if we don't. One of the most successful global projects is now being described as hype by computer experts. As a computer expert I feel tempted to say next time sort your own mess out. Why when we succeed do you then report it as not being a problem at all.Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.
The jealousy and envy that is directed at computer people is amazing in this day and age. Just like IR35 you give us a hard time when we worked hard and gave up our holiday to give you bug free systems, be grateful.
Jane Akshar, UK
The reason that so many people think that nothing went wrong is because most of the things that went wrong are not directly visible to customers.
Unless customers cannot fail to notice something wrong, no company is going to admit that they had failures. Yet, looking around the various news and Y2k reporting sites -there are failures everywhere!
As an IT professional it sickens me to see media commentary saying that it was a figment of imagination or hype. It may worry people to know that a cluster of US spy satellites had become inoperable because of Y2k issues. I'd say that was pretty damn serious for national security!
Wake up people, we have probably averted a major problem which could have crippled our way of life, we should be celebrating!
Get real guys. Had there been a total meltdown, global thermonuclear war and all the other things that many seem to be actually looking forward to, just who would you have blamed? Exactly, the same poor souls who you are now blaming for the absence of these things.
Most of the Y2K bugs were comparatively easy to find and fix. But it was a major effort to make those fixes and many systems would not have worked properly had the changes not been made. So of course it was necessary. It is almost inevitable that additional bugs will crop up but most of them will be fairly dull non-events for the news media. The Y2K bugs will get lost in the noise of the non-Y2K bugs at some point.
As usual, hindsight is 20/20. The world has put untold amounts of money into this and has received a return of virtually no bugs. This is not to say we're out of the woods yet, but the reason for the exercise was to maintain the status quo. The media, sadly, overplayed the whole deal, but Y2K was (is) a real bug. In our test our company would have lost all of our bank transactions had the software not been tested and corrected. Needless to say, that alone would've been disastrous.
Yes, very much over-hyped - we were damned if did or did not submit ourselves to the mercy of these
so-called computer experts (programmers, software suppliers et all).
I'm here at the office babysitting our computer systems and as you can see with time on my hands to send you this comment.
If their are to be problems - bugs - I think it will happen by the end of this week or not at all!
If you want to see the Y2K Bug in action, try the music message boards. The Portishead Board (www.portishead.co.uk/p_message) and the Reef Board (www.reef.co.uk/reef/msgboard/r_board1) are both showing dates of 100 or 19100. Not that it's going to make planes fall out of the sky or anything. Just proof that something is out there,
It is interesting to read the comments on the Y2K bug. People have rather black and white views of it. The truth about Y2K is simple. Yes there was an enormous amount of misinformation, media induced panic and computer professionals fanning the flames to up the price! Yet there was also a real issue at stake which, ironically, was nearly missed because of all the hype. Effort's to fix the critical Y2K issues were diluted by the hysteria that led people to believe their toasters would not work on Jan 1.
As many people have stated the Y2K issue isn't over. Since all has gone well so far, I can't help think that the only people praying for a large-scale catastrophe are those in the press.
We planned, we tested, we invested, to make sure
that the masses wouldn't
be exposed to the reality of the problem.
And some of us made a nice bit of
money out of it (which is nice). Think of it
as an insurance premium - if all hell had broken
loose, who would you be blaming?
Has anyone wondered whatever happened to the computers who were not Y2K compliant?
As usual a load of hype for nothing at all. Personally if everyone had the sense to invest in Apple computers the world could have saved £300 billion since these never had the Y2K problem. As usual Microsoft once again well behind Apple technology.
I work for a major UK airline and we have spent a long time actively preparing for the roll-over to 01/01/00. We set up test labs and ran every piece of software and hardware that we had on year 2000 dates a long time before the event, and yes we did find bugs, and we did fix them. It was the fact that we - and thousands of others like us - took this action that meant that nothing happened.
Unfortunately this has given people who know nothing about the industry the chance to call the whole thing a con.
I know where I was on New Year's Eve: in my office on a sixteen hour shift just in case we'd missed anything. I'd rather have been on holiday with my family - but who knows - maybe that's a con too.
I took my car to the garage last week - they told me that there was a fault in the brakes and that this would need to be fixed. As I drove my car the day after the brakes worked fine - I feel like I've been conned! See any similarity with any other problems?
People do feel conned by the apparent absence of the millennium bug. They were promised computer meltdown, world-wide chaos, and exciting disasters, and actually er... nothing much as happened. The people who are "really" upset are the media: all that potential for great news coverage of Y2K disasters, and now there's no story - what a con! Of course the people who paid for their computer systems to be fixes, are delighted that everything has gone to plan.
I find it rather frightening that otherwise responsible commentators including the BBC are assuming that the problem is all over. It is far too early to assess the impact of Y2k. Governments, the financial sector, utilities and other major organisations appear to have done a good job in fixing the date problem. But it is highly likely that many small businesses will begin to see problems this week and these will build over the next few months. Also, don't underestimate the impact on British commerce and industry of failures to fix the problem in other countries. Global trade with unprepared countries could yet start a domino effect.
It isn't over yet, by a long stretch.
As before, it is those ignorant of the real issues of date compliance that have the most to say. Jan 1st was just the first of many potential date upsets that could befall us in the new century (and this leap year!) We also, have yet to see the results of massive cross-millennial date operations, as we shall when we all return to work this week.
Most people are also overlooking the fact that the bug-fixing money was not a waste at all, as we now have new and efficient systems that will keep Britain at the forefront of the technical revolution.
I'm an IT professional, and like the other contributors to this site, I know that work has only just begun this year, not ended!
The (disappointing) lack of Y2K events is probably due to a "belts and braces" preparation in response to consultant hype, aided by bottled water and tinned beans purveyors.
The over-preparation shows how the world has grown grey and overly-cautious. We have lost our spirit of adventure and ability to take risks.
The fundamental issue of the Y2K "Bug" was that it is a date problem. Far too many people jumped on the bandwagon and sold it as a general bug, claiming that anything could suffer as a result of it. In truth, few things are date dependent, yet claims were being made that central heating systems, fridge's, cars, etc. would "fail". One seminar that I attended claimed that everything in the home and office should be checked and my claim that only things that allow a date to be input were dismissed as incorrect. I walked out of the seminar at that point, as it was clear to me that the "presenters" were promoting their services as "consultants".
That said, certain systems would have had problems with the "bug" and money was well spent on correcting them.
It amazes me that the very same media industry that hyped up what would happen if computers were not compliant, say that the IT industry has conned an uninformed public when there are no reports of Millennium Bug problems. I like other IT professionals around the globe have been working as early as 1996 to ensure that nothing failed. Maybe the IT industry should have set-up a laboratory, and demonstrated what happened when non-compliant equipment rolled into 2000. We did something like this, and found servers wouldn't let us login, all the information got scrambled, data got corrupted, and bill payment requests were sent out from 1900.
The y2k bug may not affect the central core of everyday life, and the public would be the first to complain when they can't get money out the bank, pay for shopping, program their video, or they are sent a court order to pay a bill from January 1900!
Anyway, it's an argument that the IT industry are not going to win.
I have always believed in the saying, "there is nothing so insignificant that it cannot be blown out of all proportion." With the demise of the Y2K bug, the media will now have to find something else to expand to the ridiculous.
The smooth transition was a result of the careful preparation worldwide! But be aware: We passed the first step, it's not over yet!
The fact that nothing major happened was due to the work done by IT engineers, but to those who think that IT engineers will have nothing to do now, don't worry, with the Euro & Internet 2 we will have plenty of work for the future!
The Y2K scare was definitely a scare campaign - for reasons best known to the computer programmers and software manufacturers-this money could well have been spent to greater benefit to mankind the world over
I say, thank god all those Russian missile defence computers broke down in 1972!
The main aim in the y2k project was to prevent any sort of disruption, maybe its due to this hard work and preparation that nothing seems to have gone wrong?
Of course it was a con. The proof: companies and countries that spent nothing had no more problems than those that spent a fortune. The media - including the BBC - shares the blame. The uncritical acceptance of the wild claims of the Y2K alarmists was a disgrace to journalism.
We will probably never know whether it was all money well spent. What we do know though, is that it has demonstrated the inter-connectedness of our patterns of life, and the inter-dependence we all have on one-another around the globe. Maybe a recognition of this simple reality is the most significant new idea for the new millennium; that would be good value I think...
Strangely enough, I checked my computer with a Y2K bug-detecting program, and it came to my notice that my computer was NOT Y2K compliant. Yet, When I switched on the machine on the 1st, everything was normal. The date was displayed as 1-1-2000, and the files would even sort correctly according to date. There was no problem whatsoever, even though my computer was supposed to be NON-Y2K compliant!
Like so many other IT professionals, I spend a huge amount of time making sure nothing went wrong. The aim of the exercise was to have nothing happen and nothing has, Yet, Y2K is not over. There are lots of things that can go wrong even now and it will be another year before we can even start talking about putting this baby to bed.
Money is well spent to fix Y2K bug. Well-planned testing and rollover strategies made the transition such a big success. Why then, it is called "CON"?
I never had an automobile accident in my life, never claimed any kind of insurance benefits. But still I pay lot of money every month to my Insurance Companies.
By the same token, can we call Insurance Companies coning us all these years.
The preparation for Y2K has proved
worthwhile because so little has happened.
Saying that all the effort was unnecessary because
so little has happened is like saying a car seat belt
was unnecessary because in the crash I did not
hit the windscreen.
A total con
As a computer engineer, I guess I can't win. If my efforts of the last 18 months were successful and Y2K is an anti-climax, then I'm part of a giant CON.
If the worst happens and the lights go out or you can't access your bank account or get your email then it's my entire fault.
Personally I hope that the Y2K impact is small, but for all Y2K sceptics.... Just wait a few weeks, 'cos it hasn't started YET!
It was gratifying to wake up and realise that life as we know it will continue because the Y2K bug was successfully terminated. However, even more gratifying was the fact that all the Y2K experts worldwide are redundant, as of now, and like the rest of us will now have to seek meaningful employment. History will, I believe, look back at this episode in the evolution of mankind and conclude that never have so many been brainwashed by so few. Good riddance to them!
What a wonderful world it is, or can be when we spend hundreds of billions of dollars to make it right. Obviously, it was time and money well spent. There are other technological challenges we could beat with a similar effort, as well as social ones. Perhaps the apparent success of the Y2K effort can become proof of what a global effort can accomplish for humanity.
It was the tabloid media and press who came up with the stories of nuclear carnage and planes falling out of the sky, and then they blame the IT professionals when it didn't happen. Remember back in the days when people respected the media? One of the great things about the Internet is that people are now getting their own news and many (including me) haven't bought a newspaper for ages.
Of course it was a "con" . There might well have some problems, but there are always bugs and they get fixed. There real problem is that the IT industry hyped this issue in the same way that a Life Insurance Salesmen sales his polices, by reminding us that we might die. As the industry has "cried wolf" once too often, does this mean that we will not take a real problem like Global Warming seriously.
The reason why we had so few Y2K problems, and the support staff had so few to deal with, is that we tested the systems in our care to death. What a pity that business didn't listen when they were told about the need for date standardisation (including a 4 digit year) back in 1971.
Nothing has happened because the price WAS paid.
The computer industry was never going to be able to win this one. If there had been an outbreak of Y2K failures the media would have dubbed it incompetent, but because there have been no major problems it is being called a con.
Like most organisations the Merchant Bank whose IT department I work for did exhaustive testing and reprogramming of its systems to avoid Y2K problems. We even had "Y2K weekends" where the data on all the systems was put forward to critical dates in 2000 while users simulated two days work.
It was this sort of thoroughness and professionalism that avoided Y2K problems for my company and I suspect it was the same for other organisations as well. Y2K was a problem well resolved, not a con! But perhaps we could have handled the PR a bit better and arranged one or two non-life threatening Y2K problems just to convince the media that it was genuine.
It's been no surprise that there has been no large scale chaos, as many large companies had the Y2K bug cracked up to over a year ago. What we will see over the next few week is small scale chaos for small businesses, especially with old Electronic Point Of Sale systems. For example I was in Kew Gardens this morning and when I went to buy a book from the shop there - the tills weren't working! Expect more of this!
How can you say it was all a con? You seem to overlook the huge amount of work that went into preparing for the 2000 roll over. I work for the health service and a great deal of effort was put in to make sure that critical systems were year 2000 compliant. If this work hadn't been done then systems would have failed.
The whole thing seems to have been very successful so far!
Many people describe the Y2K problem as an integration programme. There are many very bright people in the technology world that have performed well in the middle of this great hysteria. But our success will be measured not by what has transpired so far, but by the ability of these new changed systems play well together in spite of the cultural, corporate and organisational communication boundaries that exist.
I like my colleagues, am on Millennium Watch until the 4th, however I believe that problems are more likely to be seen at the end of Jan and March, when monthly and Quarterly statements are run - i.e. date based calculations for interest or time based bills are run - also some people haven't taken care of the 29th Feb yet - perhaps the bug still has teeth yet?
The Y2K problem is not over yet. Administrative programs contain many references to the date probably more so than on-line operational programs. When the New Year's holiday is over and new administrative transactions start to be done, there is the potential for the creation of very awkward situations. I hope everyone will have their data bases backed up and will still be monitoring operations.
This bug has been one of the largest money machines ever.
Working in with Y2K support I've had no Y2K related problems coming in.
Shame on the industry!
The "Millennium Bug". Just another example of the computer industry extracting money from an uninformed public. I wonder what the next money making scam will be!
IT professionals all over the world have spent years of planning and effort to make sure that people can enjoy today's hangovers in peace, and we now hear that the bug was overstated.
Believe me, it wasn't.
The reason nothing happened was that we worked hard to make sure it didn't.
A big thank you to you all for appreciating our efforts by describing our work as a con.
I'm quite relieved that everything (so far) is Y-OK, mainly because as of about December 27th I had eaten all of my Y2K stash. I actually have a good recipe for Spam!
As of 1-1-00, everything seems normal, but I don't know if the water is still safe to drink and I think my car is too old to be affected by computer chips. The only chips in my car are the wood chips to make it run and the crumbs in the upholstery.
Take care and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!
OH!!!... best Y2K joke I saw was a sign in front of a store that read, "Y2K sale... no payments until 1900."
There is something a bit pathetic about all the hindsight cynicism and conspiracy theories. Maybe the reason not much happened is because a lot of people spent a lot of time - most of it unpaid - fixing the bug before it could bite.
One ought not to confuse the endless media hysteria with reality -
but the failure of a problem to
materialise does not mean it
never existed - only that your IT
department fixed it before it
could do damage.
The Millennium bug is overly stated. I think we paid too high a price for nearly nothing.
I watched with interest to confirm y2k be a cash ploy of the computer industry, as predicted.
I celebrated the millennium in front of a computer screen, by myself with a bottle of Budweiser. I was on call for the millennium Bug, which has turned out to be the biggest anti-climax the world has ever seen!!
It is now the year 2000 all over the world and just as I suspected and said, nothing has happened. The media hype may have been a reason for this, as government and industry got most of their computers prepared for the 1/1/2000 date but if computers did go blip country by country as each entered the Y2K - so what? We don't need computers to eat or breathe!
Financial organisations could crumble but I can still eat the spuds I grow in my back garden. My PC won't deny me a meal, I will still be here like the rest of us. People, don't listen to the gaggles of silly reporters and let's concentrate on more important issues.
An evening of ones and zeros!
With the threat of the Y2K bug hitting my companies computer systems, I have spent the roll over in the office glued to the news BBC web site and my servers.
Everything so far has been OK, it's now 0113 and I am off to join a Y2K party near my hotel in Orchard road.
Happy New Year
It has just gone 12.00 am year 2000 here in Kuala Lumpur. The excitement in the air here in Kuala Lumpur is electrifying. And all is working fine without any signs of the Y2K bug.
At the very heart of Tehran, the capital of Iran, I am together with couple of my friends in what could be called as an 'alert centre' for Y2K!
It's now exactly 12:05 here in Tehran and we just entered the Year 2000 and to my surprise no Y2K effect whatsoever, though it might be a bit too early to say so!
Thank God! It hasn't triggered nuclear missiles from anywhere!
Hello, I am browsing on net in the laboratory and discussing with my friend about the latest news of Y2K bug. We greeted each other when clock turned to next millennium. It was a great feeling that we are in a new millennium and a relief that nothing has happened so far with its bug!
Well, it's 10 minute to midnight here in Houston, Texas and I am stuck at work!!! I am the Director of Pharmacy for a major medical centre in Houston and like all hospital managers at my institution, I shall be here till 0300 testing information systems and biomedical equipment for the Y2K bug. What jolly good fun this is!
It's 45 minutes into 2000 and things are looking good - my power is still on, my water is still running and my computer is still working. Elizabeth, USA
It's 5am and I have been working since 6pm monitoring computer systems for a major petroleum company in Hemel Hempstead. I am really surprised that we have seen no major problems. I was preparing for computer meltdown and utter chaos, but it all seems to have ticked over without any fuss! Happy New Year to all, I'm off to bed shortly!
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