Who Needs Y2K

This is NOT really what Dean looks likeTomorrow is my birthday. Other than the (so far unverifiable) fact that that it will be the brightest full moon since the Lakota Sioux supposedly took advantage of it in 1866, a nonevent overall other than that it’s also the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere and that the space shuttle should be about 1/3 through their repair of the Hubbell space telescope. I’m “the Dad” with a birthday too close to Christmas. “Dads” tend to not get too many birthday presents anyhow, and having one this close to Christmas is a “double whammy”.

By the time you read this, the consummate IT event –Y2K, will be over. You’ll either be doing what I plan to do, making jokes at the expense of those that spent thousands of dollars on bunkers, ammunition, gasoline, and canned goods, or you’re trying to buy your way into the local “SPAM smorgasbord” (assuming you actually HAVE any money) without getting shot and I’m wishing I had a generator powerful enough to operate just the pump on my well. Either way, the computers aren’t the problem, are they? Goods and services, that’s where the REAL money is.

As I work a client site prior to the Y2K event, I wonder. “Why do we need Y2K to fault computer systems?” Just today, and nothing to do with Y2K issues, my client’s client/server-based order management system failed. Again. It’s been doing so with great regularity for the past eight months and has no relation to their ERP system other than a recently announced cooperative agreement and a few ODBC connections. A serious bug was discovered in our ERP system that is fully AS/400-based in this regard, and also had no relation to Y2K. The payroll package failed, again, with a decimal data error on some employee record that it will take a week to find — assuming we find it at all — and is also unrelated to Y2K. Fifteen Windows-based PC’s stopped working, and one of those required a reload of the OS — again, nothing to do with Y2K. Using an AS/400 utility to scan a file for a specific value, I missed a record that I shouldn’t have because the utility doesn’t function correctly if you prompt field names a second time. The latter problem has been around for a number of years, but I keep forgetting about it.

My question is, who needs Y2K given the stuff we have to work with on a daily basis? Can Y2K blow things up worse than they already do? I don’t think so, but guess we all know the answer to that question by now. Personally, I don’t see how Y2K can be any worse than dealing with what we already have. Even the imminently “Up” AS/400 failed last week without reason, and we’re still waiting on IBM to attach meaning to the dump tape that the system so generously created without prompting.

Wanna give me a birthday present? Give me some software that works well on a consistent basis — or maybe a can of SPAM…


Dean Asmussen