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Summary and Comments

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1997-07-16 00:00:00


BOB BEMER STORY #1: Silver-Plated Bullet (Wall Street Journal)


The WALL STREET JOURNAL ran a story on a retired programmer who has a theory that might help programmers locate dates in code. Bob Bemer called this a silver-plated bullet, which indicated that it was no cure-all. This report was picked up by the press and spread everywhere. I have received numerous inquiries about it, despite the fact that Bemer has only suggested an idea, and he has no code, no program, and only the dream of starting a company to sell it, if and when he writes it. That such a story could attract media attention indicates how desperate the media are to find a simple solution. There is none.

Miro Medek posted a reply. He is a y2k programmer.

* * * * * * * * *

Date: Tue, 01 Jul 1997 18:50:33 -0400 To: From: Miro Medek Subject: re: Bob Bemer--Silver Bullet

>From: Ian Hugo >Does the story you read say he is claiming a silver bullet or is someone >else putting that interpretation on what he is doing? I'd be really >surprised and disappointed if it was him.

No, Bob does not claim a silver bullet. On the other hand, most of the IT community is looking for one and therefore any new creative approach tends to have a silver bullet label attached to it. Due to a pending patent on his approach, more detailed discussion about his approach is not possible at this time. I consider him to be one of the best, having an understanding and inside knowledge of compiler implementations and this lets him to work with object code. While this may be an elegant and good solution to some Y2K problem, it will face the same problem as any other approach to Y2K problem - it can not provide 100% solution to the variety of "screw-ups" by nameless programmers.

Approach to Y2K through manipulating object code presumes some discipline and adherence to standard programming constructs which could be attributed to date manipulation. When you deal with Y2K issue for a while you will find out that the "creativity" of programmers is unlimited and many times it violates some principles which you would attribute to dates and their manipulation. This may result in situation where "it looks like a date, it quacks like a date, nevertheless it is not a date (and other way around)".

--This informal message may not be Mitretek's position.--

Miro Medek, Lead Scientist Software Systems Modernization Mitretek Systems-Z551 7525 Colshire Drive (703)610-1835 McLean VA 22102-3481 (703)610-1603 fax

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