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General => General Technical Chat => Topic started by: Ferroto on February 25, 2010, 02:29:56 pm

Title: Y2K
Post by: Ferroto on February 25, 2010, 02:29:56 pm
Well it's been a decade folks. I was 12 at the time and it was on that fateful moment on January 01, 2000 that I realized that a 12 year old can in fact be smarter then 90% of all adult computer users.

Being skeptical at the time I remember watching with great Glee the "Adults" of the age freaking out that the world will end and all computers will turn on us etc... Even if you didn't believe in the impending "apocalypse" you certainly took measures to defend against this "great world threat" in the form of buying a useless boot floppy that supposedly patches your BIOS making your computer Y2K complaint.

But the worst, well take the Y2K compliant flashlight, or the y2k compliant Jumper cables that will allow you to make your (non-y2k compliant) car work by jump starting it off of a y2k compliant car.

For anyone who is of the younger generation (can't believe I'm saying that at 22), the y2k bug was a case of some computer's hardware clocks only processing the last two digits of the date. The software then assumes it's the 20'th century, thus it displayed 1900 when the year was supposed to roll over from 1999 to 2000. otherwise everything worked normal. but the media blew it out of proportion. As a joke we had a "Happy 1900" party at new years eve that year.

The reason I'm making this post is because I recently came across a gold mine of computer stupidity comedy with the following site (that's the y2k section)

Here's the link to the "y2k" section
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: Zero999 on February 25, 2010, 04:17:07 pm
I was 17 at the time and remember thinking the same thing because even the old 486 I still had could cope with the year 2000 and it was made in 1994.

At new years eve I went to a party and got so drunk I was hungover for a couple of days of 2000.
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: joelby on February 26, 2010, 04:06:00 am
I agree that it was over-hyped by the media, but I think that programmers who spent years quietly fixing Y2K problems in important systems would beg to differ about how critical a problem it was. It's a testament to them that nothing serious happened and typical media sensationalism that the aftermath would be reported as being a giant let-down rather than a code maintenance triumph. Legacy database systems storing years as two bytes, for instance, cannot be fixed by a BIOS patch.
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: comox on February 26, 2010, 10:50:35 am
I was there, it was real.  29 at the time.  I worked for one of the largest software companies back in the late '90s in their consulting practice, and there were a few Y2K howlers...  In '98 I was hired as a consultant at around $2000/day to perform a Y2K audit for the company that gave me my first IT job 9 years prior.  Their codebase was huge, so it was agreed that only a sampling of 3-4 different types of programs would be fully audited, such as 3-4 "C" programs, 3-4 unix scripts, etc....  The company had a sophisticated data collection system that used interactive electronic terminals in people's houses, with about 2000 terminals on-line at any one time.  The entire system was time-sensitive and every bit of code seemed to require or manipulate timestamp and date data.   One C program that was written in 1988 or so had a very large comment block by the developer explaining the date manipulation algorithm, only to conclude that it would not work beyond 1999 and that it "didn't matter" as the system would most likely not be in use by then!   In the '80s the Year 2000 seemed like a lifetime away...   One of the systems I also reviewed was a small inventory and repair tracking application that was used by the electronics tech at one of the branch offices; it was the "first" real application that I wrote for the company back in 1990 or so.  Sure enough I had used the wrong database data-types and instead of storing the year component as 4 digits, it stored it as 2!  When I discovered this in the context of coming back as a highly-paid consultant to conduct a Y2k audit, the company's software developer whom I was working with and I laughed so hard tears were flowing....  The audit allowed the company about 2 years to fix everything that would have failed on Jan 2000.

Another major electronics retailer in Canada that I worked with in '99 and 2000 was SAVED by their Y2K paranoia: at the end of December '99 they shut down all of their databases and systems and performed multiple cold backups to tape just in case anything screwed up in Jan 2000.  Although no Y2K problems materialized, in Feb 2000 they had a massive SAN failure, knocking out major systems including e-mail.  Critical retail databases had to be recovered from daily backups to keep the business running.  Unfortunately, one critical inventory database would not come back online when recovered from the daily backups.   It transpired that although the nightly backup job would correctly shut the database down for a backup, a member of staff had implemented a database cloning script that caused the database to be brought online during the backup window.  This resulted in the daily backup for the particular database being corrupted.   Fortunately for them, they had a FULL COLD backup of the database that was made at the end of December in fear of Y2K; they were able to retrieve the December backup and "roll it forward" using the archived redo logs (incremental change records).  Y2K saved their inventory system from catastrophic loss...
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: Neilm on March 02, 2010, 07:37:37 pm
A friend of mine had just retired and came out of retirement as a consultant. Not only did he get very large amounts of money for reviewing code - (he went and had to review code he had written 20+ years earlier) he happily showed code from one small section that dealt with date / time handling. In particular the comment "to make this work past 2000 uncomment the following lines"...

A good reason to comment your code properly.
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: Ferroto on March 04, 2010, 12:59:30 am
"to make this work past 2000 uncomment the following lines"...

A good reason to comment your code properly.
That just made my day  ;D
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: Simon on March 07, 2010, 08:05:27 am
what a pity we have so long to wait for 3000 AC
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: GeekGirl on March 07, 2010, 11:30:11 am
Some industrial machines will not survive the year 2048 NYE, a lot of older computers store the year as two digit range from 0-99, with the offset being 1948 (something to do with the Turing machine ? IIRC)  These machines use older bios' from the mid 80's, and surprisingly they are still running.
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: joelby on March 07, 2010, 12:36:32 pm
I haven't heard of that one, but the Year 2038 problem is widely known - Unix systems traditionally store dates as a signed 32-bit integer representing the number of seconds since the epoch, 1 Jan 1970.
Title: Re: Y2K
Post by: Ferroto on March 11, 2010, 10:30:30 pm
My father works as an instrumentalist at a paper mill and they still have systems with core memory in use controlling $10,000,000 paper machines that produce $50,000 worth of paper per hour. If something goes wrong and a component needs to be replaced, electronics are custom made or modern electronics are used to emulate the processes of obsolete parts. That system is now a patchwork mess of desecrate logic (both transistors and tubes), Micro-controllers that are more powerful then the actual system there supporting). Why don't they just reverse engineer the data interface between the current mess and the paper machines, and produce a modern, reliable solution. The downtime needed to do this would pay for it's self in a month.