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1997-10-04 14:28:35


Y2K Is for Snake Oil Salesmen, Says Ex-Programmer



Dean Nice of Computer Consultants, Inc., thinks y2k is a minor matter, good for selling snake oil repairs. He says he was a computer programmer at IBM 33 years ago. He says a business need only spend a little extra money on new hardware and then transfer the old data to the new system.

This report appeared in the KANSAS CITY BUSINESS JOURNAL (sept. 29).

Problem: the old data were entered in the old, noncompliant system. This apparently is not an important consideration.

On August 26, 1997, IBM issued "Notice to IBM Customers: Declaration of Plan to Discontinue Lease, Rental, and Maintenance Services on Selected Machines." The list of cancelled machines is 18 pages long. The cover letter (Sept. 12) began: "By now, I'm sure you've heard about the Year 2000 issue. It's real. It's significant. And it will certainly affect your enterprise."

Back to Mr. Nice and his Nice scenario:

* * * * * * * * *

He sees the millennium insurance as "extremely expensive snake oil" peddled by salespeople capitalizing on the "fear, uncertainty and doubt" surrounding the year 2000.

"I'd compare millennium insurance to flight insurance,'' Nice said. "You used to be able to walk up to a machine at the airport and buy $100,000 for $3 or $4, which was probably five times too high, because the probability of failure is so minuscule."

Nice predicts consumers will see more comical inconveniences than business casualties.

A credit card company with a hiccup in its computer system upgrade or its vendor's system might charge a customer 99 years of interest, for instance. Another widely used example: A Midwestern phone customer making a long-distance call to the Eastern time zone at midnight in the year 2000 could be charged for a 53 million-minute call.

And finally: "The mortgage company might wind up owing you money on your house," Nice said. . . .

Nice believes many major corporations will find the cheapest and most practical solution to the "2000 Glitch" by making a modest investment in additional hardware.

"The really sophisticated number crunching is still going to be done by the old legacy (mainframe) systems," Nice said. "They're still going to slice and dice the data."

A company can export the data from a mainframe computer system to a more modern system that can filter out the date-math problem.


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