Comment Of The Day
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Wednesday, July 15, 1998

The Best Revenge Is Devastation
(This comment is archived only for its historic 2K value. We all now know what really happened.)

It was not enough to create an engineering-based computer that people were supposed to use. Oh no. It wasn't enough to drive everyone crazy with a promise of ease of use and then deliver that benefit on such a complicated and miniscule scale that people started screaming and stomping around whenever the damn things were plugged in. It wasn't enough that IBM used its monopoly to jam the market with such a mediocre product and to promote itself as if it were a superior machine, oh no, then they had to try to squash and smash the truly inspirational technology that Apple was
presenting and to force everyone to use their machine, their exasperating software, and to keep telling these people that the best was the worst and the worst was the best.

But, all of that and the confusion and advances avoid, was not enough. No. IBM went much further than that with their ineptitude (and history will show this is true): they built into all of their machines the now-famous "millennium bug" which, in the end, will be devastating on or about December 31, 1999. Incidentally, all Apple machines had the four digit ability from the beginning and will not even notice the change. But the computer world IBM created will be on its head, no matter what happens between now and then.

Despite all of the plans, no responsible expert is predicting anything short of disaster.

As of last month, only about 40 percent of the 7,336 most-critical Federal computer systems were prepared for Dec. 31, 1999, according to the G.A.O. "Unless progress improves dramatically," the agency said in a report issued on June 10, "a substantial number of mission-critical systems will not be year-2000 compliant in time."

John A. Koskinen, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and chairman of the Year 2000 Conversion Council, which is overseeing the Government's work on the problem said that the United States was further along than 90 percent of the other nations, and that many countries had failed to take even preliminary steps toward compliance. "We have great risks internationally," Koskinen said. If the Singapore stock exchange fails to open on Monday, Jan. 3, 2000, for example, the repercussions will be felt throughout the global financial system.

"No one knows," he added, "what the end of next year will look like."


Your telephone service is terminated because of errors in date calculations, and you are immediately reported to innumerable credit agencies as a deadbeat.

Your driver's license expires because the motor vehicle department cannot recognize dates after Dec. 31, 1999. This has notification implications to your employer, local police and many other
information gathers.

Your broker miscalculates your capital gains, bond payments and other transactions because of faulty dates. You lose a fortune, the extent of which is not immediately assessable due to cascading
credit information and bank balance disruptions.

Your department store rejects your credit card because your payment is 100 years overdue. Again
with serious credit ramifications, now they compound with others concurrently being reported.

Your bank's automated teller swallows your card, thinking it has expired. No cash, and your accounts are also being frozen because of the above circumstances.

Your Social Security payments are cut off because the agency*s computers miscalculate your age,
and because of the complexity and innumerable records effected, your payments will by all the best estimates never be resumed, at least in your lifetime.

Your tax payments are erroneously billed as overdue by the I.R.S. and audit-orders are issued.

Your mortgage payment arrives way late because the bank's computers fail to note the century change, eviction and auction protocols kick in.

Your home VCR fails to record a show because it mistakes the year.

Your car's dashboard "Service Engine Now" light falsely indicates that the car is due for a tune-up.

Your pharmacy refuses to refill your prescription because the computer says it has expired (because all medical databanks are off line indefinitely.)


Bank vaults refuse to open. Big problem, panic ensues. Building security systems fail, refusing to read coded cards or keys. Looting is rampant.

Production schedules at all kinds of manufacturing facilities are corrupted by improper date-coding.
Labor unrest erupts with violence and frustration. Management can offer no timetables because of so many systems off line.

Automatic elevator programs crash, freezing high-rise elevators. Panic in the cities. (Elevators are the world's most important transportation system: they move more people, by far, than any other method each hour.) Unemployment skyrockets.

Airline flight schedules are thrown into disarray because of flaws in the air traffic control system computers. Crashes and panic occurs. See you next time.