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1997-08-11 09:37:22


BOB BEMER STORY #2: Prof. Kappelman's Analysis


Bob Bemer has an idea for a Year 2000 software fix. He is a programmer in his late seventies. He thinks his solution might help a little. He has no product yet. But when the WALL STREET JOURNAL ran an article on his idea, I started getting clippings: "Won't this save us?" No, it won't. But people want fantasy cures instead of bearing the costs of moving to a safer place. The only silver bullet I know of that might work is personal: a move to a safer place.

Here is an analysis of Bemer's silver bullet by Leon Kappelman, who teaches business computer science at the University of North Texas. His is the editor of YEAR 2000 (International Thompson Press, 1997).

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I haven't seen the other stories, but from the mail and calls I've been getting, it seems that if the other so-called "reporters" would have taken the time to read the whole July 28th (page 3D) article by Bob Goldstein, staff writer for the Dallas Morning News, they would know that Bob Bemer only has an idea and no implementation whatsoever. Moreover, Goldstein's article mentions nothing about eliminating testing and quotes Bemer as saying "manual intervention will still be required." But even if Bemer is 100% right about this and can deliver the product to implement it, and say it works with no manual intervention at all and is 40 times faster, it still only addresses code remediation which is only about 10% to 15% of the work. That's not to say that a 97.5% reduction in 15% of the work won't help; it certainly will. But it still leaves over 85% of the work remaining to be done.

There are a couple articles in our (the SIM working group's) new book (one by Peter de Jager and one by Bob Cohen of ITAA) about why the notion of a y2k silver bullet is a pipe dream of those who don't really understand the y2k problem. As for anybody seriously considering the possiblity of eliminating testing, there was a $1 billion company called Foxmeyer Health that tried it a couple years ago with an SAP implementation. By the time they figured out that the system was only charging for 1/2 the goods they were shipping, the company was bankrupt and picked up in a "fire sale" for $25 million. Anybody else want to try that?

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