This brief introduction uses language much stronger than we have seen in the past. We can expect to see more of this from now on. The standard media analysis has been: (1) it's a problem, but not too bad; (2) they can fix it in time. The recent coverage of the FAA's looming crisis has begun to break the rhetoric of the optimists.
The article appeared in the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER (Feb. 2).
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THE ISSUE: Some scientists fear the world will come to a standstill because of time-related computer malfunctions on Jan. 1, 2000. . . .
What if, on Monday, Jan. 3, you discover that your bank cannot open, your money is frozen and the company you work for cannot give you a pay check? What is this? Some kind of crazy, Chicken Little, Sky is Falling, astrological doomsday prediction some creep created to scare our pants off? Sorry, no. . . .
It has been assumed during all these years that new computer software and hardware would have replaced all these old systems long before there would be any need to worry. Sorry to say, this just has not happened. And now, there is no more time.
As of this writing, there are only about 700 days remaining before Jan. 1, 2000 to examine and correct billions of lines of ancient computer code written in now obsolete languages. This deadline cannot be fudged! It will come! There are neither days nor programmers enough to complete this Herculean project and get the systems tested.
How do I know this? Because one of the most respected of the grand old men of computing, Ed Yourdon (with his daughter Jennifer, an economist) has just, within the past few days, published a book explaining it all, in layman's language. Its title, frighteningly, is "Time Bomb 2000: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You." Locate the book and buy it.
During the 15 years I was a computer personnel recruiter, from 1980 to 1995, Yourdon was a name we in the industry knew and valued. We sought out software programmers expert in structured programming and the Yourdon Methodology, both invented by Ed Yourdon. He has also authored two dozen books on computer programming.
And now, Yourdon is afraid, very afraid. He says that you should be, too. He gives you sound reasons to be.
There is another thing you can do if you have access to the Internet. Go to a Web site authored by history professor Gary North (www.garynorth.com). Be prepared for a lot of reading. Warning: this will spoil your lunch until 2000 and beyond. . . .
No, the computer professionals will not get the job done in time. The government will not be able to help you because, just like all the others, its computers will be stricken by the Y2K Bug.