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Millennium Bug - Reality or Rumour?

I'm ready! If that's possible. We have a stock of wood for the wood stove and add canned food and such each week with the normal grocery shopping.
Pauline, USA

Unfortunately, like most major events the "Bug" is over hyped and will probably be somewhat of an anti-climax to those who predict doom.
Wayne Stallwood, England

Just two of the comments Talking Point has received so far. Have your say below.

Background ¦ Vote ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say

The Vote:
Are we ready for the new millennium?
Yes No

Background ¦ Vote ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say

The Background:

Although it hasn't exactly come as a surprise, the impending start of the twenty first century is causing more than a little alarm.

There are fears the world over that computers will not be able to cope as the clock strikes twelve and a series of zeros are registered. It is thought that they may assume it is 1900 rather than 2000 with possibly disastrous results.

In Britain, America and elsewhere, thousands of consultants are working around the clock checking systems in companies and public organisations.

Bugtown UK

The predictions of chaos are widespread but do you think the millennium bug is over hyped, an opportunity for computer programmers and consultants to cash in on our fears?

Or are you concerned about the possible effects on banking, health and air facilities? How is it being handled in your part of the world?

Tell us what you think.

Background ¦ Vote ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say

Your Reaction:

As a computer professional I am very alarmed at the level of preparedness in this country with regard to the Y2K problem. Whilst most essential services, banks etc will be ready many small businesses who have arrogantly thought that the problem will not affect them will face severe problems or go to the wall. And don't think that we will be immune from the vast problems that are going to occur in the rest of the world. One look at how the downturn of the Asian economies affected this country will put paid to that idea.
Gordon Roper, UK

The real threat, if there is one, is the nuclear reactors, the power grid and the nuclear arsenal. Early warning systems may go down, countries go to Red Alert Status. Or worse one flawed chip initiates an explosion or missile launch. Nuclear power and nuclear arms are simply unsafe at any time. Incidentally watch out for 9 September 1999, abbreviated to 9.9.99. This was for years a code used to signal the end or termination of a program.
P.W.Brown, USA

I don't know if we are all ready for the millennium, but we certainly should be . We have all been given plenty of warning to get these glitches dealt with and if any are still out there then no doubt it is the operators who are to blame.
Mark Verth, UK

As a software engineer I do find that the hype really isn't helping people to be smart about what to do. It's a bit like breaking a pane of glass. You can try and clean it up to the best of your knowledge but you can never say 100% that you've got it all. The Y2K bug is much the same - most of the problems should be ironed out but you can't predict what domino effects the minor problems will cause until it actually happens. Just be smart about it - fill the tub with bath for a good supply of water, just grab a couple of candles and matches at the supermarket, print out your bank statements and fill up with petrol just before the time.
Peter Brophy, USA

I would rather have 3 months of supplies on the 1st Jan2000 and not need them than not have them and wish I had! Who knows, there may be an earthquake on the 7th January. I will be prepared.
A.Brooks, USA

I am not in the least bothered by the so-called millennium bug. I am not so sure that it is not a crafty ruse cooked up by the commercial sector to get everyone to ask them to check their computers and other electronic 'toys'. Naturally, they won't be doing this for free . My computer won't be crashing anyway because it is year 2000 compliant - whatever that means!
Hugh Ardonne, UK

Everybody I talk to says that their business or Government office is prepared for the bug to hit. They also say they are worried about everybody else. I think this will turn out to be a big nothing.
Richard T. Ketchum, USA

There's so much hype about it here in Britain but still a lot of people have no idea of what 'the bug' really is. Just a couple of days ago I heard on the radio that people phone the hospitals saying they fear they are 'infected with the millennium bug'! Come on. I agree with Wayne that it is, unfortunately, over hyped (and not without the media's help), and skilfully used by some parties.
Azamat, UK

I have worked in the IT industry for 20 years. What a great money-spinner the Millennium Bug has been. We made the problem then we over hyped it to create the hysteria we are seeing today. Then, and this is the best bit, we went back to the people we supplied with short sighted and negligent software/hardware solutions and charged them a fortune to fix them. In truth, there may be one or two problems, but on the whole it has been an excuse to rip off our customers big time.
K Brown, UK

Yes, I am ready. I have read all of the "hype" and have decided to stock up on the few essentials needed, (bottled water, food stuff and a box of Godiva chocolates & Champagne!) I do plan to attend Church services so to be at Peace - just in case this is IT!
Kathleen Mc Clure, USA

It all depends on how you define 'we'. If 'we' includes the third world we are most likely not ready. For the rest of the world, we are. I advised a client against a new years flight from India to the US. I would not dare to be mid flight over some countries when the New Year starts.
Frederick E. Jorden, USA

We may get the majority of the Y2K stuff fixed, but by using four digit dates we are setting ourselves up for a really big headache in the year 10000!
Adam Middleton, UK

The Y2K problem is serious and it's important that people realise this and don't laugh it off. There will be problems, and some companies will suffer. The companies that are ready are the ones that have been planning since 1992, and not last year! I for one will not be stocking up on food, I will take it as it comes. As for Macs always being Y2K compliant...I'm not too sure about that.
Mark Pearson, Finland

I am a software engineer. I believe that the problem of the Y2K issue has been grossly overstated. Most embedded systems (such as in lifts etc) don't need year information and will be unaffected. Most software running on computers both large and small likewise has no date dependency and will continue to work as normal. The dominant corporate operating system, Unix, is Y2K compliant and so is most of the application software designed to run on it. Besides, the idea that the so-called 'bug' was a result of short-sighted design decisions based on the cost of memory is an old wives tale. Where it occurred it was generally an oversight, in the same way that chequebooks are not 'millennium compliant' because they have a pre-printed '19' for the date. As for financial software, if it can't handle dates outside the 20th century, how has it been paying a pension to someone born in 1897? Anyway, I intend to be far too drunk come January 1st 2000 to be able to reliably tell if the world has come to an end.
David Gillies, Costa Rica

I'm preparing for the millennium by hoarding food and water (6-12 months), buying a 4kW generator and other supplies. I would hope that others will do the same.
Kris, UK

I believe there will be some problems in the UK but I hope and pray that they will be minor ones and life will not be lost. I would like to look forward to the program next summer on the Y2K out-takes (there has to be at least one company who get locked out of their by their security system not knowing what day it is).
Steve Schofield, UK

The real problem is that the Y2K bug has a global nature. For example, the UK is well prepared. But what of our trading partners? The EU, NAFTA and WTO should have made a bigger effort to address this pressing problem rather than simply hoping that individual states would like the UK do something about it.
Alistair Edwards, UK

The only reason why the government is not shouting hard enough is because it does not want to panic people. The reality is that if a few computers crash, it may be that the computers are controlling a nuclear plant. The plant will have to close, thus leading to blackouts, if there is no power, then there is jobs to go to, no jobs means no supermarkets etc. and finally we will run out of food to buy. Looting will be rampant and police will be powerless since, their computers will be off-line as well. People must get ready NOW.
John Adams, Scotland

In the war we didn't have computers, but that didn't stop us beating the Germans. We should start showing some more of that good old fashioned bulldog spirit and kill the millennium bugs in the Year 2000.
Stuart Watson, England

Out in the bush we have bugs that can bite your arm off in the blink of an eye. Now that's a bug to be scared of. This millennium bug sounds like a bit of a softy and you poms should stop worrying.
Paul De Souza, Australia

I think people underestimate the level of the problem. Most of the smaller systems will be fine. But with the older/bigger ones people aren't really sure.
Matt, Ireland

Well I'm ready - got a huge stock of long life milk and batteries which I've put next to my renovated gas mask! What can possibly go wrong??!
Ruth A. Halfon, Israel

I'm ready! If that's possible. We have a stock of wood for the wood stove and add canned food and such each week with the normal grocery shopping. I have a friend working in food delivery and the computers weren't ready on the last check, so deliveries may be slow or non-existent. With children to feed I don't want to wait and find out!
Pauline, USA

The Millennium Bug is real. What we should focus our minds on: the nuclear accidents that might occur. For half a century man has lived with nuclear threats: that a miscalculation or a moment of madness among a handful of men might bring an end to human life. Maybe the time is ripe!
Tajudeen Isiaka, Nigeria

No we are not ready. Even though I work in the Computing Industry on some Y2K issues it still surprises me how many people are ignorant of this problem. My personal feeling is that not much will happen - anything that does happen will either be caused by systems being unable to cope due to overload (banks, supermarkets, petrol stations etc) or because or religious/cultish fervour causing people to try and make events happen that they think will happen.

I believe that apart from a few exceptions the millennium will pass off fairly bug free in the modern World. What I would like to see though is the government or someone else providing a list of things not to do over the millennium.
Jon Harford, Belgium

The BUG is not the issue the HYPE is. So okay, minor appliances might or might not be y2k compliant so what! All the major players will be y2k ready they can't afford not to be. Chill out, sit back and enjoy the new year. I certainly will be.
Andrew, UK

As a PC user I have advanced the date for it to run into 2000 with no ill effects. Is this a simplistic approach I wonder.
Norman Colquhoun, Australia

We are mostly ready but don't expect everything to be perfect. I like reading the comments from people who think that "computer gurus" have somehow failed. Do they realise how often us computer people try to do the sensible thing only to be told to take the approach that saves money in the short-term at the expense of flexibility and higher long-term costs? Y2K just happens to be a rather visible example of this line of thinking...
S, Switzerland

There's no doubt that there is a problem lurking in many electronic devices, that much we know for sure. But when you hear stories about the people who are supposed to be fixing the problem stocking up on food and living in bunkers in the middle of nowhere, you start to wonder. Speaking as an IT professional, I expect to see some disruption around the turn of the year, I don't know what and I don't know on what scale, but it will happen. With over 4 billion devices hardwired to use date info (it's not just software) the chances of something tripping up and falling flat on its face are high.
The biggest risk, other non-technological nations trying to take advantage of the situation.
Dave, UK

Your right, thousands of consultants have spent thousands of hours sorting out a minor problem at great cost. We are all pleased for them to be able to make so much for so little in no time at all.
Just watch while they manufacture something else to soak up companies hard earned profits on next year...CE compliance last year...Y2K this year......I guess something to do with the internet next year...lets wait and see...Cheque books at the ready?
K Jackson, USA

Unfortunately, like most major events the "Bug" is over hyped and will probably be somewhat of an anti-climax to those who predict doom.
Wayne Stallwood, England

Most people identify the Bug with PC's and Networks but they only account for 10% of all microprocessors. The vast majority lie in embedded systems that control aeroplanes, satellites, weapons systems, cars, elevators etc. How can we be sure that all of these have been checked and replaced.
Mark Lisle, Ireland

In certain areas, particularly air transport, it is rapidly becoming irrelevant whether the Y2K bug has been fixed or not. Passenger fear is probably the airlines' biggest threat -- the problem is no longer technical. It's human. How do you fix that?
David Morrow, UK

This bug (If you can call it a bug, I'd call it a short-sighted lazy cop out) is totally self inflicted. As recently as 4 years ago, I was told not to worry about using 4 digit years and it was a waste of space. Again Senior management are to blame, but then again aren't they always!
Bill, England

From the way we are all talking about it, I don't think we are ready for Y2K. One thing I DO know about Y2K is that I'll be still working and my body clock will register 2000 instead of 1900! As long as we are alive, we can build on that.
Jason, UK

The Y2K bug isn't of concern to most businesses because they have taken steps to fix it. The real danger comes from 'knock-on' effects. For example, assuming my business is Y2K compliant, but the telecom link I use is not, then I'm still going to have problems. Fortunately, most developed western countries will be OK. I don't fancy the chances of the 3rd world, though. The 3rd world can hardly feed itself, so what chance have they got of fixing their Y2K problems?
Michael Franks, UK

Some people are ready, but alas, not everyone. Other events will occur that will appear to be y2k related, that will cause awe-inspired reaction from the general population. Case in point: as per its normal 11 year cycle, the sun will erupt during the period of January to April in the year 2000, causing power outages, and satellite outages/malfunctions, that will be blamed on Y2K!!!!!......... ergo!!!!! the end of the world is nigh!!........... When it is only a 'normal' 11 year cycle, with absolutely nothing to do with y2k!!!!!!!!! Other manifestations will be treated in a similar manner!!!!!!!!
Jon Simon, USA

No one really knows what actually will happen. Probably not very much. However, the fear of what might happen will cause a substantial number of people to panic and remove money from banks, get out of stock market transactions. And this will cause enough problems. The computer gurus should have thought more about this than fancy games and screensavers. I hope everyone who flies on 12-31-99 gets there safely. I am cautious enough not to be one of them.
Chuck Chane, USA

Sure I am ready for Y2K and always have been. I use a Macintosh and the people who designed it must have looked at a calendar and said that their computers are long lived enough to make it well into the new millennium and they are. They are and have always been fully Y2K compliant. The question remains therefore why were the others not? Seems to me there should be big damages paid to users and owners. Governments who have let these people off the hook in this regard are not supporting the innocent consumers who bought computers thinking reasonably that this should never have been an issue in the first place.
Neil Fiertel, Canada

No matter what happens on the 1st January 2000, life will and must go on. The way we know it now or maybe another way. But still life will go no! So we are ready or not we will all will be living day after day.
Tewaney Ayalneh, USA

I don't believe we are ready for the new millennium as far as computers are concerned. The fact that most hospitals have old equipment - scanners, heart monitors, etc - that has not been tested for Y2K. Also millions of spreadsheets that are also non-Y2K compliant will leave many wondering: "Why did we spend so much money, when companies like Microsoft et all, make billions of dollars, but still sell us products that can't handle a simple date change.
Philip Hall, Thailand

The Y2k bug is a very risky mistake made by Software companies. This would substantially slow the life in the first month of next century. It's the corporates task to be prepared for the worst and try to prevent by correcting the software. Else the companies would lose thousands of valuable customers.
Sundaresan, USA

I'm concerned about the Third World countries that depend (to whatever extent) on older computers. They don't have the resources to correct the bug--what will happen to them? I hope the developed countries will be able to help.
Randy Ceton, USA

I find it amusing that people are still trying to predict the future. We are each responsible for only ourselves and as such can not predict what will or will not happen. The reasonable thing to do is to be prepared for the obvious disasters and work through the rest.
Wade Wyss, USA

No one has a crystal ball to gaze into on this one. There is considerable uncertainty and a broad range of predictions as to what might happen in the minds of governments, institutions, Y2K gurus and consultants throughout the world. It is unlikely that things will become any clearer as we move towards 2000. Companies and individuals need to address their own residual risks and build contingency and business/life continuity plans to cope with them should they come about. We now need a period where the public debate shifts towards "continuity and contingency planning" and what needs to be done in that area for various target groups. Don't expect government of Action 2000 to do this as any attempt to suggest that things might go wrong could cause panic and social upheaval. The media are best suited to deal with this area.
Nick Thompson, UK

No body in this country should be that worried about the direct effects of the Y2k bug. We should be more concerned about the effects in unstable countries that have spent no time preparing for this. These indirect effects will cause us more disruptions than the systems at home.
Stephen, UK

Background ¦ Vote ¦ Your reaction ¦ Have your say

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