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1997-07-15 00:00:00


Senators Warned: Why a Silver Bullet Is Impossible



Jeff Jinnett, a lawyer specializing in y2k litigation, on July 10 told members of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and Technology of the Senate Banking Committee why a silver bullet is impossible.

"There is no technological silver bullet for the Year 2000 computer problem. The reason for this is that although 'silver bullet' technologies may be developed to automate or speed up cirrective work on certain software languages, there may be as many as 500 different languages in current use and automated corrective tools will not be developed for all of these languages. For many languages, correction will depend solely on use of programmers trained in their particular software languages" (p. 2).

What he failed to mention is that in any one system, there may be a dozen or more of these languages. Most of them are no longer understood by most COBOL programmers, especially the more recent ones.

"Further, inventory and corrective work represents less than half of the typical Y2K corrective plan, with unit and system testing possibly comprising up to 55% of the total effort." The so-called silver bullets do not apply to this phase.

Then there is the problem of microcontrollers, meaning pre-programmed chips that operate systems. "Finally, with respect to replacing noncompliant embedded microcontrollers in non-computer equipment, financial institutions must first locate the defective microcontroller, identify the responsible manufacturer, and obtain a compliant microcontroller to replace the defective microcontroller."

On the highly unlikely ability of any firm to do this with chips older than three years, especially if the original chip producer is no longer in business, see the category, "Noncompliant Chips."


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