Title: Time Bomb 2000: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You! Revised and Updated Edition
Author: Edward Yourdon, Jennifer Yourdon
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Date Published: November 1998
LOCN: QA76.76.S64Y68 1998b
Dewey: 363.34/97 21
Footnotes: 232 entries
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Preface to the Second Edition
PrefaceThe authors correctly point out that the track record of the computer industry is not very good at delivering programming projects on time and within budget, and that software maintenance activities have a tendency to unintentionally introduce unanticipated software bugs. Given the fact that the task of finding and addressing all Year-2000 problems involves review and patching of a large portion of all the computer code ever written, the magnitude of this effort is likely to stress the abilities of most organizations.
I note that a corollary of this is that we can expect an increase in computer program errors long before January 1, 2000, as programmers rush hastily patched software into production.
Chapter 1: Year-2000 Planning OverviewThe authors introduce their framework for Risk Management:
- Identification of risks.
- Evaluation and assessment of risk likelihood and risk impact. That is what this book is all about.
- Regular Monitoring of risks. You'll have to take responsibility for this.
- Proactive planning to eliminate risks in advance. For example, if you think a couple days power failure is possible, make sure you have a couple flash lights a supply of fresh batteries. This can become quite expensive if your evaluation of the situation finds many likely risks of a protracted nature, and you may have to prioritize your budget to accommodate your chosen level of preparation.
Contacting appropriate government officials to express your concerns is another type of proactivity which you may want to consider. As I mentioned in my review of Rick Cowle's book, Electric Utilities and Y2K
... much good can come of pointedly asking your Congressional Representative and Senators to pro-actively develop National contingency plans. Remember, if the government doesn't have a good contingency plan already in place, Bill Clinton will be the person trying to "wing-it". [If you had to rappel off a cliff, would you trust him to belay your lines?]
- Reactive planning to minimize the impact of risks that materialize. For example, if the power goes out, plan to drive out to your Uncle's farm, which you know already has a back-up generator. Obviously, this isn't an option for everyone.
The authors then summarize their view of what the risks are as follows:
- The majority of Year-2000 problems are likely to be of the kind that will last 2-3 days. Everyone should prepare for this level of risk.
- A significant percentage of the Year-2000 problems will be serious enough to last for a month. The Yourdons suggest that this is where you should be doing most of your planning and serious thinking.
- A minority of the Year-2000 problems will have year-long consequences. Most of these possibilities involve job-related financial difficulties, and the recommended approach is to minimize your long-term financial commitments and short-term (credit card) debt. I note that this is almost a self-fulfilling prophesy if a sizeable portion of the population acts on this recommendation, as it would most likely induce a recession. There will therefore be a strong tendency for government officials to downplay any such prospect, especially prior to the November 1998 elections. I haven't constructed any economic models to verify my hunch, but I suspect that failure to prepare can cause far greater pain than a simple recession.
- Finally, there is the possibility of a few Year-2000-induced disasters that could take a decade to resolve.
Chapter 2: Y2000 Impact on JobsI have one nit to pick with the Yourdons. They say:
Since 1982, the correlation between government employment tax receipts and the unemployment rate has been -0.64 -- suggesting that if the unemployment rate were to double [i.e. from 4% to 8%], the government should expect roughly 60% less in employment tax [receipts].
Such an extrapolation seems unwise -- it suggests that if the unemployment rate were to rise to 16%, then the government would collect no taxes from the remaining 84% of the workers. I suspect that the problem with the Yourdon's analysis lies in the fact that in the time-period they mention, most of the unemployment increases were due to corporate down-sizing of mid-level managers [who pay substantially more than average in taxes]. It is not at all clear that the demographics of those affected by a Year-2000 glitch would be comparable.
Chapter 3: Y2000 Impact on UtilitiesSee also Rick Cowle's book, Electric Utilities and Y2K. Rick makes the point that errors in the billing software is not likely to lead to everyones lights being turned off for delinquent bills dating back to 1900, because turning off the power is a manual operation, and the dispatchers or field personnel would raise a red flag if they were suddenly deluged with cut-off orders for entire neighborhoods. There are, however, serious issues facing the Electric Power industry, and I look for brown-outs and power rationing due especially to nuclear power generating facilities being taken off-line due to safety considerations.
Chapter 4: Y2000 Impact on TransportationTo my knowledge, no automobile manufacturer has yet publicly announced that the embedded computers in late-model automobiles are Year-2000 compliant. Maybe this is posturing by lawyers (if you make no promise, you can't be sued for breaking said promise), maybe there is a serious problem they are grappling with, or maybe everything is just fine, and they are silent only because nobody has made an issue of the question. My personal Year-2000 pro-active planning includes keeping my 1978 Volare in service until after January 1, 2000, and then assessing the situation.
Chapter 5: Y2000 Impact on Banking/FinanceDon't wait until New Year's Eve to get some cash from the ATM -- there is likely to be a run on cash as people panic at the last minute. The stock market may well "get the flu," but this last issue is very sensitive to people's perception of the severity of the Year-2000 problem, as well as real technical issues. Expect a strong effort on the part of politicians and the financial community to "Jaw-bone" away any perceived weaknesses, and take such pronouncements with a grain of salt.
Chapter 6: Y2000 Impact on FoodOur centralized production and distribution methods might be severely strained by failures in transportation.
Chapter 7: Y2000 Impact on Your Home PCIt depends on what software your PC uses, but I expect to be OK with a simple reboot of my computers and setting of the date [my accounting system is manual and my only date-sensitive software is expected to be replaced before the Year 2000 simply because of obsolescence.] A large proportion of the PC's will need AT LEAST this level of attention. Because I suspect power brown-outs and other irregularities, I will be turning off my PC's before midnight anyway. If your computer must be powered on and doing something during the midnight passage from 1999 into 2000 [as might a hospital's computer], then your hardware and software probably require considerably greater scrutiny.
Chapter 8: Y2000 Impact on News Information
Chapter 9: Y2000 Impact on Health/Medicine
Chapter 10: Y2000 Impact on Government
Chapter 11: Y2000 Impact on Embedded Systems
Chapter 12: Y2000 Impact on Education
Chapter 13: Y2000 Impact on Telephone and Mail Services
Chapter 14: Y2000 Impact on the Rest of the World
Chapter 15: Conclusion
Appendix A: What the Y2000 Problem Is All AboutThe technical details about why the Year-2000 problem exists.
Appendix B: The Ripple Effect of the Year-2000 PhenomenonAlso known as "The Domino Effect" -- failure of one category of industry can cripple both those who sell to that industry, as well as those who buy from that industry.
Appendix C: Additional Sources of Information
Author: Yourdon, Edward. Title: Time bomb 2000 : what the year 2000 computer crisis means to you! / by Edward Yourdon and Jennifer Yourdon. Edition: 2nd ed. Published: Upper Saddler River, NJ : Prentice Hall, 1998. Description: p. cm. LC Call No.: QA76.76.S64Y68 1998b Dewey No.: 363.34/97 21 ISBN: 0130205192 Notes: Includes bibliographical references. Subjects: Year 2000 date conversion (Computer systems) Other authors: Yourdon, Jennifer. Control No.: 98055447
I have taken this program and I highly recommend it to all health-care providers - Orville R. Weyrich, Jr PhD NMD.
For more information, see: The CSI Report and Video and Become a New Patient Magnet