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Y2K: Hoax, Or Averted Disaster?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the circumstances-flex dept.

Technology 625

Allnighterking writes "Y2K -- remember the fear it generated? Cartoons were written about it. The dried food industry saw a boom. Doomsayers abounded. But in the end, no planes fell, no one died and the electric grid stayed up for three more years. Was it all a hoax? Or was it the result of careful and complete planning and upgrading. American RadioWorks has a series of articles talking about the disaster that never happened called Y2K You can either Listen in or read the Transcripts of each of the 3 broadcasts and decide for yourself. The over 100 Billion pumped into the US economy alone may well have fueled the boom and predicated the bust. Could the success at Y2K prevention have made the coming problem in 2038 something people will ignore?"

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FROST PISS (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262509)

Suck it down, bitches. Y2K pwn3d j00!

post the first (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262510)

suckas. i mean, really, what a bunch of dirty sucks you all are!

Re:post the first (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262519)

I got it first, bitch! You suck at Slashdot!

Re:post the first (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262535)

no, i think you suck slashdot, and that's why you got it first.

Re:post the first (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262640)

You suck AT Slashdot. Damn, you're too stupid to read, AND too stupid to get a first post. It must really suck to be you.

Collective fear (5, Insightful)

mirko (198274) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262511)

I think it had a snowball effect : people inconsciously feared it and their fear grew while they heard even more about it. So it's not only the media, it's also people.

Re:Collective fear (5, Informative)

blane.bramble (133160) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262528)

No, it was two things - firstly it was a genuine problem with many back-end financial (and other) systems that had a huge amount of effort and expense spent on them and were fixed, invisibly (to the general public) thanks to a great effort by many in the IT industry. Secondly it was an over-hyped problem that was never really going to affect desktop PC's and the like, which was over-sold to the public and never materialised.

So, for most people's point of view it was a lot of fuss about nothing, because they never saw the real problem, which could have caused serious problems, and only saw the hyped, non problem.

Disclaimer: I did technical support for a Y2K team for a large bank. I know what I'm talking about. I saw the systems that would fail, and what it would do. I saw them fixed.

Re:Collective fear (5, Informative)

TRS80NT (695421) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262643)

Exactly, blaine. I became interested in the problem in the early 90's, explored a lot of cooperatively hyperlinked .mil and .edu sites discussing the situation. Solutions were being kicked around, discussed, discarded and fixes phased in. By the end of the decade the popular press had gotten wind of the situation and made it the anchor story for the end of the millennium. Then lawyers and quick profit businesses jumped on board and the panic bandwagon was rolling.
All the while the fixes were slowly, calmly being instituted.

Re:Collective fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262693)

Absolutely. We had been warning that our bank's core system had a problem since 1990, but every year no money was allocated to fix it. Until, that is, the problem was all over the TV and the board started asking why we weren't Y2K ready.

Re:Collective fear (1)

Klingensor (642772) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262645)

Grmmph. If there's no "Y", then there's no "Y2K". It was no problem at all here.

Oh no (4, Funny)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262515)

"the coming problem in 2038"

Phil Collins is going to release another album?

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262531)

You bastard, I had a clean shirt and now it's all stained with coffee!

MODS: instead of modding the guy funny, use "underrated", he deserves the mod points.

Re:Oh no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262539)

Time's going to go back to 1970... (32 bit time_t). Better get a 64 bit CPU and do this
typedef unsigned long time_t;
Oh, and you'd better start recompiling like hell...

Anyway we will have quantum computers by 2038 (except for the Nucular stations running QNX ..). Enjoy the global thermonuclear war :)

Linux : Hoax, or Suck? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262516)

You people still wondering why Linux sucks will never be accepted by anybody but the most hardcore nerds? Check this out.

How to install network card driver in Windows:

1. Boot computer
2. When wizard pops up, select search automatically
3. Click finish

How to install network card driver in Linux:

First we need :

1. the kernel sources , I will use 2.4.22. Other kernel versions will probably not work unless you use an odd-number minor version number, but as always YMMV.
2. Wireless configuration tools ( nux/Tools.html).
3. the driver acx100_pci for linux, download it from CVS (or latest version) on
4. install CD of DWL-650+ or windows files for this wireless card.

Make sure you get the correct versions of above, and their dependencies, or you may trash your Linux install and have to fdisk. Remember, THIS SOFTWARE HAS KNOWN PROBLEMS AND LIMITATIONS. DON'T BLAME US IF THE SOFTWARE EATS YOUR SYSTEM, DESTORYS YOUR DISK OR MAKES YOUR CORN-FLAKES SOGGY. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Steps to make the driver works:

1. Compile a new kernel with at least :

2. install tools from ux/Tools.html. If this link is broken you may try google search. iwconfig, iwspy and iwpriv must be installed from the deb or rpm package, or if you prefer from tarball sources.

3. Configure and compile acx100_pci drivers
# tar xzvf acx100-0.1h.tar.gz on /root

put the next windows files (or from DWL-650+ install CD) on the directory acx100/firmware :
WBLAN.BIN (it may be on uppercase)

4. install the driver :
copy recent compiled driver acx100/src/acx100_pci.o to /lib/modules/2.4.22/kernel/drivers/net
modify modules.conf (add these 2 lines) :configure parameters to install modules with insmod
alias wlan0 acx100_pci
options wlan0 debug=0xb firmware_dir=/root/acx100/firmware

5. test the driver
# insmod acx100_pci

it must show a little debug information about the driver and the firmware. Be sure the directory /root/acx100/firmware contains the 3 files of Windows install or from install CD.

lsmod must show :
# lsmod
Module Size Used by Not tainted
acx100_pci 181952 0

6.Configure parameters and network:
# ifconfig wlan0 netmask up
# iwconfig wlan0 essid myapessid mode managed channel 6 key off rate 22M

essid is the ESSID name of my AP mode must be managed for wireless-ap or Ad-Hoc to use without AP
KEY off is to use wireless without encryption rate 22M is working for me , if troubles use rate 11M

# ping
PING ( 1024 data bytes
1032 bytes from icmp_seq=0 ttl=128 time=2.4 ms
1032 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=128 time=2.1 ms ..snip..

Dont forget to use logs : /var/log/messages
That's all Folks

Re:Linux : Hoax, or Suck? (0, Offtopic)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262564)

And of course, your example uses a PCI 802.11b card with a proprietary Windows driver, that some brave guy managed to make work flawlessly under Linux with much hacking.

Yay propaganda...

Re:Linux : Hoax, or Suck? (2, Insightful)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262639)

Congratulations, Idiot. You finally created a troll post that I'm willing to respond to.

How to install a network card driver in Linux:

  1. Install Mandrake 10.1
  2. ??????
  3. Profit!!!!! (and enjoy out of the box wireless networking in Linux)

Re:Linux : Hoax, or Suck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262677)

Damn! and here I installed my wireless card by typing

# emerge ipw2100
Guess i'm not enough of a nerd :|

Re:Linux : Hoax, or Suck? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262691)

I dunno. Last time I tried installing a network card in Windows it said "data not valid" or something like that. A google search said I had to fiddle with the registry to get it to work.

With Linux I just has to tinker with the module configuration utility that debian comes with. But I guess you can do it your way.

Not a hoax (1, Troll)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262517)

A scam.

I was working for a company that jumped on the Y2K bandwagon in 98/99. The official company line was "there's no risk to our OS, we've tested it, but we'll keep selling the testing-and-patching tool right up to Dec 31, 1999, 23:59:59 and get all the money we can from worried customers. The "fix" sold for $60 and was nothing more than a small program to set the clock at 23:59:58, wait 5 seconds, and determine that there was no danger, and if it was run on another, competing OS that was vulnerable, install a dumb TSR to correct the problem.

Re:Not a hoax (1, Flamebait)

onion2k (203094) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262568)

You'd know all about scams...

Re:Not a hoax (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262657)

Good grief...

For the 1000th time, THIS GUY ISN'T ROLAND PIQUEPAILLE. You're an idiot, and so are the mods you modded you up.


Re:Not a hoax (0, Offtopic)

Plural of Mongoose (808754) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262659)

Damn, mod parent up +1Insightful! (please)

Re:Not a hoax (0)

mrbcs (737902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262637)

I could not believe how stupid people were with home computers. Was I the only one that actually set my clock ahead to see if anything would go wrong?

In 10 years of playing with these infernal machines, I've seen 2 that were y2k incompatible. They were so slow they should have been scrapped anyway. I think it was all a scam.

Re:Not a hoax (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262697)

I've seen 2 that were y2k incompatible

Hey, now! Remember SOFTWARE and DATABASES? That's where the vast majority of the work went. The stuff that runs businesses was fundamentally broken, and a huge effort was required to keep them afloat past 1999.

Re:Not a hoax (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262638)


How is this a troll?

Re:Not a hoax (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262669)

And how it's become offtopic is quite beyond me too.

This just confirms that Slashdot moderators moderate posts according to who's posting them, without actually reading them.

Don't be silly (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262520)

2038 is years away - we'll all have new systems by then! No need to worry!

Combination (2, Insightful)

dsginter (104154) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262524)

Was it all a hoax? Or was it the result of careful and complete planning and upgrading?

How about the combination of the two? I remember seeing Y2K companies trading on the stock market with $10 billion market caps. But then I remember hearing legitimate stories about real world fixes.

It is like the Tsunami. Lots of people are going to make money unethically but, ultimately, we can't stop them unless we just cut off all help.

Re:Combination (2, Funny)

Wordsmith (183749) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262562)

It's like the whuzahuh?

In what way are those two alike? mirror (5, Informative)

Esine (809139) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262527)

The site seems to be slashdotted already..
mirror: 81bc488a392/index.html []

My EYES (1)

ats-tech (770430) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262701)

Ever been to the homepage. Ouch.

It was a non-event. Here's my theory. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262529)

I'm an old-time mainframe guy, started coding back in the late 70's.

Anyway, back in those days we had a problem every four years. guessed it, some programmer had forgotten to take leap year into account.

And when that happened, programs broke. We fixed them in a few minutes and we were on our way. But companies didn't stop. Planes didn't fall out of the sky. Nothing bad happened, other than annoyed users and managers.

My point is that programmers have been screwing up dates and date routines since the computer was invented. We had instances of all the programs breaking on one days. And yet, nothing bad happened.

Hoax. Great for my career....I got a big house with a pool, and a BMW out of the whole Y2K thing, so I'm not complaining. But lets face it, it was a boondoggle.

I personally blame Yourdon. But only because the man is a complete idiot.

Re:It was a non-event. Here's my theory. (1)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262678)

Wait, is your name Peter Gibbons from Office Space?

2038 ? (2, Funny)

Macka (9388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262532)

Lets see, I'll be 73 about then.

Providing it doesn't cause my VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) 200 mph Zimmer Frame to crash, I don't really think I'm going to care all that much.

Re:2038 ? (2, Funny)

pklong (323451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262575)

Don't worry, the health and safety people will have made zZimmer frames, going out of your front door and breathing illegal by then.

Re:2038 ? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262589)

I'm really annoyed by all those elderly people that still think that they are capable of flying VTOLs. I really think that they are a danger in the sky.

what about Y10K? (1, Funny)

saladami (827277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262533)

Shouldn't they start working on the year 10,000 problem NOW?

Re:what about Y10K? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262565)

They are. []

the big problem is... (4, Insightful)

ecalkin (468811) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262537)

that people don't believe in things they can't see. they can't 'see' spyware so it's an imaginary problem. same thing with viruses. they don't believe until something bad happens.

it's the same mentality the apparently caused countries in the indian ocean region to decide that a tsunami warning system was not a high priority.

there was a time in early/mid 2000 that i got so tired of people deciding that y2k was a hoax that i wished really bad things had happened.


Mirror? (0, Redundant)

Mathiasdm (803983) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262540)

Mirror for the 2038 bug?

Re:Mirror? (5, Informative)

rtt (770388) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262591)


Update: 01/2004 The first 2038 problems are already here. Many 32-bit programs calculate time averages using (t1 + t2)/2. It should be quite obvious that this calculation fails when the time values pass 30 bits. The exact day can be calculated by making a small Unix C program, as follows:

echo 'long q=(1UL<<30);int main(){return puts(asctime(localtime(&q)));};' > x.c && cc x.c && ./a.out

In other words, on the 10th of January 2004 the occasional system will perform an incorrect time calculation until its code is corrected. Thanks to Ray Boucher for this observation.

The temporary solution is to replace all (t1 + t2)/2 with (((long long) t1 + t2) / 2) (POSIX/SuS) or (((double) t1 + t2) / 2) (ANSI). (Note that using t1/2 + t2/2 gives a roundoff error.)

The year-2038 bug is similar to the Y2K bug in that it involves a time wrap not coped for by programmers. In the case of Y2K, many older machines did not store the century digits of the date year, hence the year 2000 and the year 1900 would appear the same.

Of course we now know that the prevalence of computers that would fail because of this error was greatly exaggerated by the media. Computer scientists were generally aware that most machines would continue operating as usual through the century turnover, with the worst result being an incorrect date. This prediction withstood through to the new millennium.

There are however several other problems with date handling on machines in the world today. Some are less prevalent than others, but it is true that almost all computers suffer from one critical limitation. Most programs use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to work out their dates. Simply, UTC is the number of seconds elapsed since Jan 1 1970. A recent milestone was Sep 9 2001, where this value wrapped from 999'999'999 seconds to 1'000'000'000 seconds. Very few programs anywhere store time as a 9 digit number, and therefore this was not a problem.

Modern computers use a standard 4 byte integer for this second count. This is 31 bits, storing a value of 231. The remaining bit is the sign. This means that when the second count reaches 2147483647, it will wrap to -2147483648.

The precise date of this occurrence is Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038. At this time, a machine prone to this bug will show the time Fri Dec 13 20:45:52 1901, hence it is possible that the media will call this The Friday 13th Bug.

?rorriM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262603)

?gub 8302 eht rof rorriM

10 000 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262549)

Year 10 000 bug will come also.

It happened (2, Interesting)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262551)

Well Y2K stopped our overtime system from working - we had to enter dates in from 28 years ago. It also stopped a (time-limited) graphics editor that I wrote from working - it was due to stop at 31/12/1999 but the time-bomb code didn't handle further dates properly anyway! Dang DOS API calls...

Re:It happened (1)

Roland Piquepaille (780675) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262624)

It also stopped a (time-limited) graphics editor that I wrote from working - it was due to stop at 31/12/1999 but the time-bomb code didn't handle further dates properly anyway!

Dear Mr. PommieKiwiFruit,

Thank you for applying for the job of Software Engineer at Unfortunately, your application wasn't successful but we'll make sure to contact you if we have an opening that matches your programming skills in the future.


Joe Headhunter,
VP of HR,

Dang DOS API calls...

Yeah right, blame it on the API. The fact that currentdate_seconds - lastdate_seconds returns a negative value should have kept your program working forever actually :-)

The current disaster shows the possible scale (2, Insightful)

panurge (573432) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262554)

Although some of the things that _could_ and probably would have happened (buildings refusing access, elevators sticking, water systems releasing sewage into tidal rivers at low tide rather than high tide, traffic light patterns out of sync, flow of funds being disrupted) were of themselves non-fatal, the cumulative effects could have been very severe. I only have to look at the effect on my commute if the next day is a public holiday; the disruption caused by the slight change in driving patterns is out of all proportion to the traffic changes. The fact is, we are a lot less adaptable than we like to think.

The tsunami was a relatively small scale event, affecting mainly small islands and long coastlines, but the backup effects (refugees, lack of drinkable water, damage to communication networks, the need to divert resources and the difficulty of doing so) will doubtless result in many more people dying over time. In the same way, I suspect that if we had done nothing about Y2K, the cumulative result of a lot of small disruptions would actually have resulted in major economic loss and many people dying.

Re:The current disaster shows the possible scale (5, Insightful)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262597)

Elevators sticking? Traffic lights out of sync?

Don't believe the hype. Traffic lights for example have failsafes in them to stop such things... anyway why does a traffic light care about the year? The day of the week/month maybe.

Similarly, elevators don't give a hoot what year it is.

Contrary to the press your washing machine will *not* think "ooh it's 1900 I haven't been invented yet.. better explode".

Re:The current disaster shows the possible scale (2, Interesting)

Sircus (16869) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262695)

Traffic lights for example have failsafes in them to stop such things... anyway why does a traffic light care about the year? The day of the week/month maybe.

If it cares about the day of the week, (and it's working this out from the date, rather than using a 0-6 counter and a clock) it's going to need to know the correct year to work that out correctly. I agree that a lot of this was hype - even if the traffic light *did* think it was Sunday when it was Monday, nothing terrible's going to happen.

Similarly, elevators don't give a hoot what year it is.

I'm no elevator engineer, but as far as I recall, more complex elevators do know (for example) "It's 9am - when I'm doing nothing I'd be best served by going to the bottom of the building, since people are going to be arriving." This would presumably be achieved by a simple RTC, with (quite possibly) the full date*. If the RTC suddenly wraps over into an invalid state, that'd probably be a problem for the elevator. Again, we have stairs, the world will not end - but lots and lots of these kinds of problems *could* have caused a good degree of inconvience.

* A reply to this might be "Stupid elevator engineers! The elevator just needed a 24-hour clock!". A possible counter-point would be that the elevator engineer was forseeing an elevator that responded to different day-of-week usage patterns ("It's Friday, everybody goes home early, I'll go to the top floors earlier than I would otherwise do", "It's Sunday, I'll optimise for trips between street level and the tourist observation balcony", etc.).

Scammed (1)

SirSmiley (845591) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262555)

It was a legitimate concern and one that could easily be one by a bios upgrade or something else, a simple check of Windows 95/98 etc. I recall at work how many people in IT ordered these Y2K compliant kits that would magically repair all bioses and check all windows settings on the machine and make it y2k ready, in reality i dont think it did anything but set the clock ahead to year 2000 then back again and make a popup window appear saying YOURE OK!

asdf (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262557)

21st post

It wasn't a hoax. (5, Insightful)

dwalsh (87765) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262567)

Certain code would do the wrong thing on date rollovers and needed fixing - I'd seen it myself.

The seriousness of the problem was exaggerated by the following misconceptions:
1. Everything that held a date in it with 2 digit years was going to have a problem.
2. Everything described in point 1 that was not fixed would fail in the most disastrous way - missiles being launched, planes falling from the sky.

In reality there could be no problem, or the problem might only be cosmetic. For example, a system I was testing would show the wrong status colour (meaning you haven't done a diagnostic in so many months) but it would not do anything wrong. Still, it had to be fixed to be Y2K ready.

Nonetheless, I was slightly under whelmed by what went wrong on the day. I knew society was not going to collapse, but I expected a few non-critical SNAFUs. I made sure I took out cash from the ATM before New Years, but I gave the water supplies and the bomb shelter a miss :-) Globally there were one or two, but nothing major.

Hard work averted Y2K (1)

hammarlund (568027) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262569)

There were a lot of people that worked a lot of hours in the months before Y2K to audit financial software where my girlfriend works. They found a lot of date related problems and fixed them before 1/1/00, or should I say 1/1/2000. These types of audits and reviews are what averted the Y2K issues.

spice (1)

bourton (846200) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262573)

Orsen Wells: War of The Worlds. Spice of life!

Y2k: the perfect scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262582)

Rarely does such an opportunity come along! IT managers got to have a 'panic', where they where given lots of budget, to buy all sorts of stuff.

It was the perfect setup; either outcome gave full justification:

A. Nothing happens. They say "See, good thing we spent all that money!"

B. All hell breaks loose. They say "See, you didn't give me enough money!"

I expect Y38 will be expolited in exactly the same fashion, it's too good to pass up!

It was a real threath (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262585)

At the time, I worked for a large telco company who had about 500 systems reviewed (most of them interconnected.)

5% of the systems had Y2K issues, most of them in the part that interfaced with other systems (the reason was that inter-system interfaces was usually developed in an ad-hoc manner with ditto exceeded life times.)

5% is a big enough number to warrant the huge effort that was undertaken.

No doubt, Y2K would have been a disaster if nothing had been done proactively in 98/99.

Excuse for H1-B expansion. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262586)

Congress and lobbyists used Y2K for a justification for the major expansions in the guest worker programs.

Perl Script (5, Informative)

derphilipp (745164) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262588)

A little perl script you can use on your server to check if you are already 2038 ready:

use POSIX;
$ENV{'TZ'} = "GMT";

for ($clock = 2147483641; $clock < 2147483651; $clock++) {
print ctime($clock);

# Correct output is the following:
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:01 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:02 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:03 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:04 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:05 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:06 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038 <-- Last second in 32-bit Unix systems
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:08 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:09 2038
# Tue Jan 19 03:14:10 2038

(Shamelessly stolen from )

Re:Perl Script (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262628)

Well, it looks like my MacOS X (10.3.7) box isn't ready...

Tue Jan 19 03:14:05 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:06 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038

Re:Perl Script (1)

derphilipp (745164) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262658)

My Redhat server
Tue Jan 19 03:14:01 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:02 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:03 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:04 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:05 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:06 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Fri Dec 13 20:45:52 1901
Fri Dec 13 20:45:52 1901
Fri Dec 13 20:45:52 1901
is not....

Re:Perl Script (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262680)

omg! it failed! PANIC!!

Seriously, what now?

Re:Perl Script (1)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262682)

Win XP:
> Executing: "C:\Perl\bin\perl.exe" -w ""

Tue Jan 19 04:14:01 2038
Tue Jan 19 04:14:02 2038
Tue Jan 19 04:14:03 2038
Tue Jan 19 04:14:04 2038
Tue Jan 19 04:14:05 2038
Tue Jan 19 04:14:06 2038
Tue Jan 19 04:14:07 2038
> Execution finished.

Looks buggy.

Re:Perl Script (0, Offtopic)

roy23 (159499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262690)

You insensitive clod, perl is in /usr/bin on my gentoo server!

Re:Perl Script (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262694)

perl is in /usr/bin/perl on some machines :^P

bash-2.05b$ whereis perl
perl: /usr/bin/perl /usr/man/man1/perl.1.gz /usr/share/man/man1/perl.1.gz
bash-2 .05b$ perltime
Tue Jan 19 03:14:01 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:02 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:03 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:04 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:05 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:06 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Fri Dec 13 20:45:52 1901
Fri Dec 13 20:45:52 1901
Fri Dec 13 20:45:52 1901

slackware-10.0 is not fixed...

hopefully Slackware-10.1 will have corrected this...

i imagine by 2038 i will be too old & senile to care anymore...

Re:Perl Script (1)

NerdHead (35767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262710)

I hope my box fails. I need the excuse so my wife will let me buy a new computer before then.

Re:Perl Script (1)

ragnar (3268) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262713)

Mac OS X (10.3.7) works well:

Tue Jan 19 03:14:01 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:02 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:03 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:04 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:05 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:06 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038
Tue Jan 19 03:14:07 2038

Whew... one less thing to deal with. ;)

Epoch + 10^9 = Sept 9, 2001... hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262596)

Maybe this explains why those planes mysteriously weren't intercepted on time, two days later. Or maybe this is just related to the security exercise on Sept. 11th.

But there WERE problems ... (0)

adzoox (615327) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262599)

I think the hype made people aware and money was "overspent" - so much so that nothing serious happened.

The Y2K problem was NOT just about a bug in the Cobal programming and handling digits.

Here are some interesting facts that I observed:

Several ATMs for Wachovia were crashed in my area -

The Charter Cable TV Channel crashed a lot more often in the next two months - there would often be a screen for Windows NT on it.

My local Toyota dealership found out that the national leasing program billed several 100 customers for loans for some reason starting in 1912. (Toyota also had problems with their database on sept 9 1999)

The power grid went out (albeit a few years late in the North) - I feel this wasn't related to Y2K BUT was just coincidental it didn't happen around the same time.

September 11 2001 happened - there was SO much security and so tight an awareness due to Y2K that I just don't think it was possible to pull off anything. I think we would be naive to think that no one was planning something - even if it wasn't coming from middle eastern or muslim extremists.

The paranoid conspiracy theory person in me says that a lot of things happened that we just were not aware of - behind the scenes.

I loved it ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262604)

Well I got paid over £ 1,000 (UK) just for being on pager cover for the year 2000 for a load of applications that didn't even process dates and that ran on an operating system that internally stored all dates as 64bit words (microseconds from a base date).

So I loved every second of it. Loved it.

I just wish I could still be around for the next one (I bet the year 9999 consultants bills will be in the terra billions ;)

It wasn't a hoax (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262607)

It was overhyped.

Lots of systems would have had peculiar behaviour. Many would have been quite subtle. Financial systems were probably most at risk, and a few other systems would have shown odd glitches.

The problem was that by the time the media got hold of this, the story had become every system with a processor in it will simultaneously stop working at the strike of midnight. Suddenly , people assumed that their home PCs, cars and microwave ovens would sbruptly stop working. Clearly this didn't happen.

There was one other lie. That the using 2 years to store the date was done to save space. If the space was that much of an issue, then the programmers wouldn't have stored the date using BCD. They would have simply had a count of days. a 16 bit value would have given 179 years, whereas a 3 digit date using BCD would take up 24 bits and only give 100 years. The only reason they used a 2 digit date was becaase programmers knew the users were lazy.

Re:It wasn't a hoax (1)

leomekenkamp (566309) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262685)

There was one other lie. That the using 2 years to store the date was done to save space. If the space was that much of an issue, then the programmers wouldn't have stored the date using BCD.

CREATE TABLE item (desc varchar(30), idnum int(4))

The '4' in int(4) does no stand for 4 bits, it stands for 4 digits. int(2) takes up less space than int(4).

Some (legacy) systems require the use of BCD; even the x86 line of processors has instructions for working with BCD.

Re:It wasn't a hoax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262718)

It wasn't a lie. Computer cards had 80 columns. While multi-punching in a column was possible, the data then became unreadable to most people handling the cards. (The data from each column was usually printed along the top edge of the card directly above the column.) Also, entering and verifying multipunched data was considerably slower than straight numbers.

not a hoax (5, Interesting)

treebeard77 (68658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262608)

I work for an international bank and we fixed 2-300 Y2K bugs. I know; I tested the changes & found more doing the testing. Obviously, some were more critical than others. We also upgraded release levels of system software. I also know that some were missed. The thing is, they were attributed to something else when they occurred. Noone would admit that they had missed a Y2K bug after all the $$$ thrown at the problem. I'm sure my situation is not unique.

A compiler?? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262613)

The only thing I saw that stopped working in Y2K was a compiler for embedded systems that crashed if it tried to generate output files with timestamps in Y2K. Duh!! So we had to isolate a couple of machines, wind the clock back, and use those.

(I already knew that cross compilers for embedded systems were generally crap but I really hadn't expected that particular problem.)

still waiting... (4, Funny)

Wolfger (96957) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262614)

Y2K hasn't come yet. As any coder ought to know, 2K == 2048, not 2000.

it is because... (1)

camcorder (759720) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262616)

we're as humans not dependent to computers that much. We hardly trust computers most of times. On lots of places people take paper copies of data backups, or they have a switch guy waiting on duty to check if computer does its work alright. But it's starting to change day by day. Every passing day computers get more importance in human life. It wasn't that vital in y2k but it will be vital in 2100 or so. And then a single bug in a software will lead planes crash, electricity block out and etc. But fortunately then people will take those issues more carefully.

pernicious economic fallacy (4, Insightful)

tjic (530860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262620)

...The over 100 Billion pumped into the US economy alone may have fueled the boom...

No money was pumped "in" to the US economy. Money was merely moved from one use to another.

While the economy gained from the new spending, it lost from the lack of the default spending.

Without any hard data, one should assume that this was either a wash or - more likely - a net productivity hit.

People make this mistake all the time: "ooh! hurricane! I bet all that spending on new windows helped the economy!". No, it didn't. It took money that would have otherwise been spent at restaurants, book stores, etc., (or left in banks and brokerage accounts, where it helps build other sectors of the economy) and moved that money into glass repair shops and plywood factories.

Don't fall for the myth.

Economics 101 (2, Informative)

mjh (57755) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262625)

The over 100 Billion pumped into the US economy alone
Uhm... I don't mean to be nit picky, but the $100B that you're talking about should be considered to have been a loss to the economy. In economics this is called the broken window falacy. []

Re:Economics 101 (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262703)

a loss to the economy

Against that, a lot of software upgrades were forced all over the world, earning income for American companies -- my company in Hong Kong for instance had to upgrade its DacEasy accounting package in 1999, which we otherwise had no need to do (it just refused to accept dates in 2000 as due dates for invoices, so 12 month credits couldn't be given until we upgraded).

Nuclear powerplant safety is oversold too. (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262631)

Because it's very very hard to predict the possible outcomes of events that have already not happened we tend to over compensate for future possible events. One could make the case that because of the paltry number of nuclear power plant accidents in the US since 1945 that entire country have been oversold on the need to manage those risks. So it is with Y2K, etc.

Y2k Over Rated (2, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262632)

For most program especially many of the end of the world if program fails programs. Are not that dependent on the time. Even a lot of the finanical programs. The Date was to just allow the person to get a reference and not much on how the computer did a lot of its processing. Sure there were some spots where it would go 99 to 00 but that was rather rare. Most of the y2k bugs I have seen (and I have seen a fiew after y2k) were just in silly small applications. Like I saw a 1900 in a hotel that had a terminal that displayed the date and time and what was happening today. And still on Milk bottles Ill see expires 1-4-105. For most of those Y2k bugs it was more of a display and user input issue then a rollover issue. During the late 90s I was was doing some fox pro development. And I just had to go to each program and set the year to 4 digit and then stretch the text boxes so it fixed. Fox Pro still internally held the year as 4 digit but just displayed the 2 digits. Besides why would a most people internally handle the year as 2 chars, that fills up 16 bits of storage. If they were using old computers where those bit count they would just use 1 char to store the number and still be able to get to the year 2155 as far in storage and calculations. But people were scared because it was a computer and computers are scary. So they called on all the people they made fun of in highschool to fix the problem.

21 month delay (2, Insightful)

Sam Williams (94245) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262641)

IIRC, there was an event on Sept. 11, 2001 that all but shut down the U.S. economy for 96 hours. It wasn't software generated, of course, but many of the back up sites, redundant networking and contingency plans that kept the world's largest companies from going into an immediate air-stall owed their existence to the pre-Y2K fervor. Sometimes it takes a little fear to get the suits to pry open the pocketbook.

Of course, now that the current security obsession is terrorism maybe we shouldn't be too surprised by recent software meltdowns. [] .

Anecdotal ... (5, Interesting)

the bluebrain (443451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262647)

Working for a facility management company, contracted to a large client in Switzerland, three months prior to the Y2k bitflip. Checked dozens of devices, big and small: embedded controllers for climate control, UPS's, fire alarms, you name it. Found one item: a Compaq PC used for the lighting system had a non-Y2k-compliant BIOS. The result of doing nothing would have been that the weekend lighting profiles for all (several hundred) offices, meeting rooms, and so on would have been active during the week (you know - wrong offset when attempting to calculate whether "today" is a weekend).

Replaced computer, had no problems.

Moral of the story: this was a lighting system. Big deal. The client invested several tens of thousands in the project to check three large office buildings in my location, and avoided a minor pain in return. However: everything was checked, and it might have been anything. If it had been the UPS's or the fire alarms for instance, the result of not doing anything could have been a major pain. Point is - we found something, so it wasn't just a waste of time.

( /. is the right place for anecdotal evidence, right?)

The y2k5 bug hit Azureus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262649)

Up until a few days ago their site said that the last release was -350 days old...

Fixes were simple for Y2K (1)

hattig (47930) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262650)

Well, at least short term fixes (1920 is really 2020, and the like) were. The difficulties were having little time to fix the problem, and database/system downtime. It was also a good time to upgrade old systems I suppose however.

Hopefully 38 years of software creation will mean that unix timestamps will not be an issue in 2038 - of course by then *everything* will be computerised - the government has to have a way to control the population and enforce anti-terrorist-curfew and everything. So it is extremely urgent that things are done right now so that you don't find yourself in a cold, locked-up, powerless house one day in 2038 with no means of escape.

Also, of course, a lot of things don't rely on the date, and wouldn't care if it was 1975 or 2025. It is only software that uses dates in its control process that is in real danger. How many nuclear power stations have (if (date 70) { meltdown(NO_ALARMS); } anyway?

Of course, the human race will end up enslaved to computers, and when something kills of the computers we'll be helpless.

2^11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262655)

I would have thought that 2048 would also be a bad year

Um... it wasn't "solved", really. (4, Insightful)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262663)

The Y2K problem was largely just delayed by clever use of a 100-year window to account for which 2-digit year you're talking about. Once data is required on some system where we need a resolution of 101 or more years, bad stuff will happen. Of course, that's totally separate from a binary representation of "today" being equal to the binary representation of "end of file", but I guess it's easy to lump computer problems all under the same umbrella... and yes, I think the 2038/2029/etc. bugs are going to be a thousand times worse than Y2K, but again, we will come up with a kludge at the last minute that will keep it going for a while longer.

We got lucky. (2, Insightful)

humberthumbert (104950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262670)

The world's infrastructure wasn't, and isn't all hooked up to the internet yet. Fifty or a hundred years down the road, catastrophic failures may happen which we are powerless to stop, because some dickheads thought it was a good idea to have everything interconnected and running the same OS.

Also, the Y2K "crisis" only occurred because humanity as a whole can't seem to plan very far ahead. Or remember its lessons, it seems. The SARS
scare was something that happened a short while ago, and people are already lapsing back to bad habits like coughing with their mouths open in public, in my country.

It seems like most people are too goddamned lazy or apathetic to do the right thing, even if it's for their own good, unless there's threat of immediate pain.

Lastly, look at the tsunami situation. Everybody's going on about tsunami watch this and tsunami watch that, but I can assure you, in five years time, no one will give a shit.

Nobody remembers anything unless the fucking tv tells them to...

Y2K (1)

LightningTH (151451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262671)

I was involved in fixes for a group of software for Y2K, up to the night before. The company I worked for at the time developed software for handling when medications are given to patients in hospitals, and charging the right amount to insurance. We covered very large facilities all over the US. Had we not updated the software, it would have never allowed patients to get their medication, and billing would have been screwed up out the ying yang.

If you were in the hospital right after Y2K, be glad that a group of us worked overtime and literally up to the last minute to get all the corrections done and all the sites remotely updated.

proof of hoax! (2, Funny)

Fr05t (69968) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262674)

It was a hoax! I didn't upgrade my tinfoil and it still works just fine or maybe thats just what they want me to think. *PANIC*

For small businesses, it was no hoax (5, Interesting)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262676)

I'm sure anyone who helps support small businesses and their use of IT to run them knows this WAS an averted disaster. Most small companies, in 1999, were using accounting systems (and running them on platforms) that absolutely, positively, would have failed. There were untold thousands of businesses handling shipping, payroll, payables - core stay-in-business stuff - on older versions of FoxPro, or creaky older copies of Unix-based accounting software running on prehistoric Altos machines, and so on.

These would all, everyone of them, puked big time without serious remediation. In many cases it was line-by-line code work, or the building of elaborate insulating layers between modules. In many cases, the cleanest and most rational fix really was a system upgrade. But I can tell you (from having simulated calendar rollovers on such systems), that on 1/1/2000, a lot of my customers (minus the serious work), would have been unable to buy, sell, pay their people, etc., for weeks into 2000 - at which point many would have been mortally wounded. This was no hoax, and the most important work I did at that time was educating the business owners who kept hearing the words "hoax" or "exagerated" on the news.

I wasn't worrying myself about planes falling out of the sky, but I was worried about calamitous damage to a huge chunk of the economy: the $2-15M/year business. Of course, I like to hunt, so no harm buying a little extra freeze-dried food anyway, right?

Pffffst! (1)

Asprin (545477) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262688)

2038? If we live through 2029 [] I'll totally just pay a tech to come over to my cave and fix my counting stones with the skins I earned cornering the market on wooly mammoth hides.

Hype (1)

Jesus IS the Devil (317662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262696)

I think it was mostly hype by the media and by businesses that had an financial incentives to make companies worry.

The media because hype and emotions garner eyeballs, which lead to more advertising revenue.

Businesses because many of them were involved in Y2K solutions and services.

This reminds me of the "shark attack" news tidbits that used to come out during the summer when there was nothing new to report. Studies later had found that shark attacks didn't in fact increase suddenly. It had always been the same. It was all due to the media bastards hyping it up.

It was nothing but a big media hype (0)

suman28 (558822) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262698)

It was a problem, but not as big as it was made out to be. Once the media got a hold of the story, it was just blown completely out of proportion. The year 2038 will also be the same.

A bit of both (3, Informative)

finkployd (12902) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262704)

At the time I was a mainframe operator with Penn State (I'm still with them, just in a much less annoying job), and I remember we had a ton of things that needed fixing. Even so, there were some fairly significant problems that popped up on new year's day that had not been caught. If I remember correctly, the program that validated rsa secureIDs failed amoung some other less serious snafus.

I imagine most places when through something similar, a few years of hunting and fixing and then dealing with some small problems that they missed after the fact.

However, I notice that civilization did not collapse. There was no "fight club" style destruction of everyone's credit rating or a total collapse of the money system, planes did not fall out of the sky, nukes did not sporatically go off, etc. Maybe that COULD have happened but remember people began seriously talking about this problem around 1996 (at least the media began picking it up then) so there was plenty of time to fix stuff.

Many people found great deals on generators and survival gear (food, etc) the following year on ebay :) I know that was a great time for search and rescue teams to pick up cheap gear.


Very real, saw it myself. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262705)

I worked as sys admin for a stock exchange in the mid 90's. Rolling the clock forward on the dev trading systems... crashed them hard.

Big iron hardware / OS vendors and our in house trading system developers fixed and tested and fixed and tested for 4 years to make sure 2000 would not be a problem for us.

It was most certainly very real. Imagine if your country suddenly just stopped electronic trading and it would take at least months of frantic auditing and coding to fix and any amount of money.

Systems that mattered, systems which would have lots of nervous heads on the chopping block, got fixed well before 2000.

People who say Y2K was a "hoax", were NOT there in the thick of it and did not see real, top priority nation or life critical systems fail under test or the process to have them fixed.

Now, if you said Y2K was over hyped, then I could not argue. Especially when the news is saying things like "planes will fall out of the sky" and "there will be no electricity".

retailers (1)

fishbot (301821) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262708)

I saw a video being played in a prominent retailer's shop window (Dixons, owners of PC World) about the 'Y2K Threat'. In it, a guy gets up on 01/01/2000 and tries to make coffee. Oh no! His kettle won't boil! So he goes to work. Except his car won't start! He tries to cross the road, but the crossing is going crazy, so he can't get across! It never explains why the traffic was busy, especially as it was just demonstrated that cars wouldn't start...

The whole thing was just ridiculous, and it was all to sell some crappy CD with a TSR style 'clock set right thing' for Windows. The retailers of the world were rubbing their hands.

Of course, my analogue watch ne'er skipped a beat in the turmoil :)

Millennium Bug (1)

Gregg M (2076) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262709)

It wasn't the new millennium


it wasn't a bug!

We were lucky (2, Funny)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 9 years ago | (#11262711)

Look at what happened after Y1K - a few hundred years of Dark Ages.

HOAX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11262720)

Not in the sense that there was an overarching will to deceive. Global warming is a good current example. In both cases, ignorant masses are led to believe there is some castrophe on the horizon and fear creates a big money machine. There is deception in that as the machine becomes morte powerful it is exploited by some for financial or political gain.

Michael Crichton's new novel, State of Fear [] , explores this theme in the context of global warming.

Fear leading to funding is not all bad. Chemistry of the upper atmosphere eventually provided good evidence that CFC's disrupted ozone production. Whther such scenario's as an end to life on the planet, cockroaches excluded, would have played out...we'll never know.

It did generate a big atmospheric research beauracracy that lives on through 'global warming'. (IRC MC did not touch on this n his novel).

My point is that while Y2K was not a hoax (the recent Bhopal-Dow settlement announcement that got global press is a good example of a hoax) it was not a problem worthy of all the frenzy either.

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