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Y2K No more

by John Gavilan <john@palayok.com>

"I'm glad it's all over." This is what I mostly hear from people I encounter. Actually the week before the big "Non-Event (y2k)" all I heard was "I can't wait until this thing is over." I agree with all those people.

In the last three years, we were being prepared for this bug that is supposed to wreak havoc all over the world. For the most of 1999, all we saw on TV was Y2K, and how every tv show and commercial had something about it.

It all started in the early '70s when the Million Dollar IBM Mainframe Computers whose processing power was equivalent to a 386 were the "hot items" in American business. Back then, timesharing was a big deal. Now what the heck is Timesharing? Timesharing is the term used for sharing computer processing time - and allocating an actual monetary cost to the length of time a program runs. If you had a business program that validates insurance claims for two hours, that would run about 100 dollars (I'm guessing here). Run that program everyday, and that's $3,000 a month. Add on the other 50 components of that program that run at about the same speed and that's $3,000 x 50.

What I'm really trying to imply is that back then, computing was expensive. It was too expensive that programmers found it best to practice and save their company money by using a two digit year instead of four.

I guess they were thinking that their programs will be replaced before the year 2000 - not! Right now, im being told that the applications I am developing will be rewritten within a few years. But in a year's time, the management changes and the business get so used to the program. Other programmers will apply a million short term enhancements, and the next thing you know my one time short term solution becomes a gigantic business critical pice of $#!T.

I can just imagine that all those business critical applications on those old mainframes go through the same things, and get neglected until the inevitable next century happens.

I guess you could say that Corporate America was prepared for the whole thing. They probably spent more money on fixing this Y2K issue than on all the different projects for the past ten years combined. After all, they had the most to lose. A non-functioning reservations system for a major airline could cost them up to half a million dollars a minute.

With all the fears of business coming to a halt gone, there was an eerie understood fear that terrible things can still happen. People feared that America's enemies will take advantage of the whole Y2K thing and take their revenge on the 31st. We were worried that a bomb may go off somewhere or that something will disrupt our water supply, heat or electricity. Some people just set those fears aside, but some were a little cautious "just in case".

I myself bought a couple of cases of drinking water and two week's supply of Spam. Some people can be seen walking out of the grocery stores with jugs of drinking water and pockets full of cash from the bank. I'd have to admit that the media did a good job in assuring the public that everything is being taken cared of. Food supplies were never below normal, and the stores were never jammed, all the way up to the 31st.

When the whole thing was over and nothing went wrong that midnight, we went to sleep and woke up to another day, just like all the other days days - only now we can all say that "it's finally over" and "we're having Spam for breakfast, lunch and dinner!".

Happy New Year!

 



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