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1998-05-21 07:57:13


Misters Ed: Yourdon and Yardeni -- 2 Y's on Y2K



Ed Yourdon and Ed Yardeni have received more press coverage than other Y2K pessimists. Each is respected in his field. Each has sounded an alarm. Together, they make reporters a little nervous.

As time goes on, more and more y2k observers are sounding like the 2 Y's. This will continue.

And, bit by bit, the 2 Y's are sounding more like where "religious fundamementalists and assorted nutters" get their daily reality check.

This is from THE GUARDIAN, the English Laborite newspaper (May 21).

* * * * * * * *

The US has more than enough religious fundamentalists and assorted nutters to swell its significant survivalist movement, and perhaps the threat of a computer meltdown is as good an excuse as any. However, a few people who know the computer industry well are also ringing alarm bells. These include Ed Yourdon, doyen of American programming and author of 25 computer books, and Edward Yardeni, chief economist and managing director of the Deutsche Morgan Grenfell merchant bank.

Yardeni has just increased his estimate that Year 2000 problems will lead to a recession from 40 per cent to 60 per cent, and until recently it was only 20 per cent.

Yardeni has put his “alarmist’s view” — a whole book’s worth — on the Web for anyone to read. It has chapters on the possible effects of computer problems on electrical power suppliers, transportation networks, the finance industry, government and other essential services.

Ed Yourdon and his wife Jennifer take a similar line in their new non-technical book, Time Bomb 2000, published by Prentice-Hall. The Yourdons cover a wide area, including health services and education, and consider what might happen if essential services were disrupted for various periods. They then provide “fallback advice” for a loss of service that last two days, one month, one year, and 10 years. . . .

Time Bomb 2000 must be taken seriously because the year 2000 is a computer programming problem, and probably no one knows American programming better than Ed Yourdon. As the book notes: “The typical large business-oriented software project is 100 per cent over budget and one year late . . . and this ignores the normal industry behaviour of cancelling 24 per cent of development projects before they finish!”

It is, of course, conceivable that the world’s biggest programming project — fixing Y2K bugs — will be completed on time, but more than 30 years of experience suggests otherwise. Indeed, the Yourdons say: “the more deeply we delve into the year 2000 situation, the worse it looks.”

By the Yourdons’ standards, Yardeni — who thinks the Y2K problem may have about as much impact as the OPEC oil crisis in the 70s — starts to look like an optimist.


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