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Y2K Plus 1

attorneys are looking forward to fat fees the way children look forward to Santa's visit

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y2k - A Matter of Time: what it's all about, other similar problems

y2k plus 1: aftermath of the  problem

y2k in specifications: what's wrong with typical y2k requirements 


Well, a year from now it will all be over. We probably won't see the collapse of civilization as we know it, but a few interesting things are bound to happen. A few companies will wish they had kept better records, a few others will carry on without pause, and most of us will probably see some minor inconvenience.

Just what are the consequences of the Y2K problem? No one knows for sure, so we'll all just have to wait. In an unusual twist of fate, those of us who have relatively little invested will suffer the least direct consequences. Most personal computers and software sold in the last couple of years will wake up next January just like they did the month before. Those who still rely on older mainframes and software will have the most problems, as it will be difficult at best to ferret out all of the code that makes calculations based on dates.

Financial calculations will be most affected, so it would be a good idea to keep your October through December bank statements. If everyone pulls money out at the end of the year, the system probably will suffer, not from anything real but from panic. Banks want to keep their customers happy, and I suspect most institutions will go out of their way to make allowances for late payments for a few months into the new year.

There will be a lot of hiccups, most of which should be fixed fairly quickly. January 1, 2000, falls on a Saturday, while New Year's Day fell on a Monday in 1900. If your building's HVAC system wakes up and thinks it's Monday instead of Saturday, it shouldn't be a big problem. The elevator might not be in its normal weekend security mode, but that and similar problems can be manually over-ridden without too much trouble. I hope those in charge of infrastructure systems, like air traffic control and utilities, have people standing by to override automatic controls.

The winners, as usual, will be the attorneys. I have heard a couple of them in interviews, somberly discussing the tragedies in store, barely controlling their glee, looking forward to fat fees the way children look forward to Santa's visit. One of them, who claimed to already be cashing in on the bonanza, listed six different areas of litigation related to the Year 2000 (Y2K) Problem.

The ambulance chasers won't be able to do much, though, if everyone stays cool and tries to work their way through the problems that do occur. The results of an onslaught of lawsuits will be more damaging than any real problems created by Y2K. Large damage claims may well bankrupt many hardware and software companies, leaving our computer-dependent society in even worse shape.

Let's all stay cool, and we'll get into 2000 together. Check your own systems; if you need to upgrade, do it now - don't wait until December! Keep good records, have a backup strategy, and make plans for an extra long holiday weekend.

1998 Sheldon Wolfe, RA, CSI, CCS, CCCA, 
on the web at 
December 1998

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