"Ten Years After"

A point form summary of a talk given by Chris Anderson


I would like to read the text of an advertisement to you.

The Advert and The Reply

Today, every word in that document is still literally true. And today, would probably not even raise an eyebrow, other than "Oh no, not another one".

But in 1986, on June 30th to be precise, it was Heresy.

But even in 1986, the problem was not new. To quote the IBM reply "IBM and other vendors have known about this for years".

Without dwelling on the choleric IBM reply, the last paragraph, aimed not at me but at my Publisher, resulted in a ban on my copy that exists to this day.

As a small-time freelance journalist with my own column and byline this was a blow to me because I was now out of business.

So my attempt to get a fix for Y2k was abortive. A great pity, as more code has been written in the last ten years than at any other period. Sadly, it is this code which is going to cost us Billions to fix.

Deadline 2000 failed. So it was left to Peter de Jager to relight the torch in 1995. And after the US Congressional hearings, things really started to move.

But all this has allowed me to take a long view of the problem. I have seen "What Was", I am monitoring "What Is" and think I have some insights into "What Will Be".


1. The Problem has a name

2. A lot has happened but not much has really changed.

3. IBM has finally changed System Software.

But, the penny has not dropped that anything ending /XA or /SP or /VS is DEAD. ESA only.

People are application (particularly COBOL) fixated. They forget that until the Operating System is fixed and working, they have no solution anyway.

4. There are two totally different types of date involved. You have "People dates", which are birthdays and the like. And you have "System dates" which have to do with internal computer clocks and ranges. There is no commonality.


"Whimperdown" not Meltdown.

Dull Pop not Big Bang.

Two "Streams" - Main and Secondary

- things are starting to happen in mainstream

- the trouble spots are in the Secondary systems

If we could just Time-Warp to 2004 there would be no problem. If we could just throw everything away and just reinstal all our systems and start from scratch on Saturday 2000-01-01 there would be no problem.

Industry is in Transition from high-volume transaction based Legacy systems to distributed or web-based client/servers. But we are not there yet.

If the task is to move 20 tons of sand 100 miles, what are you going to use? A Mack Truck or your shiny new red Lotus Elan?

"Trust nobody (especially Vendors). Do your own tests, make your own decisions".


Still to get Real.

Mostly frequent threads are

- Why did it happen?

- How much will Cobol programmers charge?

Many Still clinging to 2 digit years

Lunatic fringe is thriving - you can dial in to Y2k consulting at $2.99 a minute

Snake Oil is still the hottest product.


Not newsworthy. No blood. No drama. No showbiz. "Call us when it happens". Media is still sceptical. "Hype" is the most frequently associated word.

However, this is changing slowly.

CNN, a little ahead of the pack as usual, asked very pertinent Year 2000/Euro conversion Questions at Hanover Cebit recently.

Datamation now devotes its January issue to Y2k

Web Ezines and Journals multiplying fast.

"Year 2000" is an acknowledged Search Engine key.


Vocal opposition to the GAO and IRS reports. Suggestions to "Privatise" the IRS

Investment Analyst opinion "Geeks and Nerds talking to each other by email". Hopefully the Geeks and Nerds will still take the trouble to fix this jokers Trading System, otherwise his future opinions may be limited.

New York Stock Exchange now trading 18 stocks as "Y2K" and are implementing the "de Jager Index"


So far, Capers Jones has not been proved wrong.

A Bonanza for the US, but a tragedy for rest of the World.



2. Awareness is "confused"

3. Impact of new changes on coding indeterminate.

4. Major potential that existing solutions must be reworked.

5. "Y2K Ready" still in delivery phase - still waiting to hear if it works.

6. Message is still not reaching the masses.

7. What is the Objective?

What is the Mandate from Management ( or What Mandate should Management be handing down)?

"Fix" the problem or "Patch it" so that we can relive all these happy times when it croaks again?


1. Search Hits in 3 months: 0, 2, 430 000, 1 034 500, 1.8M

2. WEBREF has 480+ major references (tip of Iceberg)

Unsorted archives > 1GB, 30,000 site references

3. Y2K-aware community is small and incestuous

4. Message is not reaching the end-user.


US and British standards authorities have defined "compliance".

British Standards Institution has produced DISC PD2000-1

ISO/ANSI/FIPS Standards are generally being ignored.

New moves to make YYYYMMDD mandatory for EDI (x12)


US Military and UK MOD are serious. Excellent Reference and Planning material from .mil sites. At last, a payback instead of things that go bang.


US have set up Watchdog Committees.

UK has rejected proposed Bill.

Hopefully large Audit Firms will qualify the Financial Reports of non-compliers


Chase Manhattan - 200M lines - $250M over three years

Hughes - $125M



All current computer architectures are flawed. Most will struggle halfway into the 21st Century. None can cope with the 22nd Century.

We need a new a completely new architecture.

We need to change direction away from the disasters that IBM and Intel have led us into.

Can countries afford to let Manufacturers monopolise design requirements?


All solutions are compromises.

There really are no solutions, just patches and temporising cosmetics.


Executives will have to start taking IT very seriously. They are liable for results. They are obliged to show "due diligence".

Management falls into two categories. Tortoises and Hares.

Y2K Decisions are not based on knowledge but prejudice and fear.

Many Medium size sites moving away from Mainframe to SAP NT. Class 8 difficulty task.


Tiny site, minimal hits

Two functions:

Information gathering

Small User solutions

Information Gathering

Just trying to keep track of what is happening on the Net.

"More Y2k Links" in comp.software.year-2000

WEBREF summary database


NTSL 2000.exe, Willit.exe from Land of Oz


Zero cost. Older levels of software. Replacement uneconomic.

Very specific environment.

"Do it this way or forget it. This is the only way I could get it to work."

"If you have a better way, use it ".

COUNTRY=002 in CONFIG.SYS. Set parameters for International format date YMD, Century on, Military style 24hour time, in Windows and all Applications. Full 4 digit years only in Spreads and Databases.


Mixed bag of donated equipment, ideal Cinderella candidate.

Free Webwise Consulting for Charities

Tell us your problem, and we will try and fix it or find a bypass


Whatever the final cost is, it will be too much.

Let's see if anything happens on the 7th April.

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