Goodies to Go (tm)
December 27, 1999 -- Newsletter #60

By Vince Barnes

Goodies to Go (tm)
December 27, 1999 -- Newsletter #60
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Greetings, Weekend Silicon Warriors,

Did you hear

According to Andersen Consulting, 25% of all e-commerce orders taken over the Web failed? What?!?!? 25 percent?!?! I had one failed transaction. I really did. I attempted to buy a product from the UK and they wouldn't fill the order. I've been forwarded to their U.S. counterpart. They contacted me by mail. Not email, but mail. Real paper. Goodness only knows when this will all get straightened out. The main reason for sites not completing transactions? Too many visitors. The servers just died or crashed.

Time's man of the year is Jeff Bezos, the founder of Oh I'll bet that cheese Bill Gates just a bit.

The world's astronomers aren't afraid of Y2K. To them, this coming December 31st midnight will actually be 2,451,543.5. That's according to the time keeping process they follow tracking days from the year 4,713 BC. Those wacky astronomers

Y2K hit Atlanta. People received letters telling them that they should report for jury duty in January of 1900. Oops. The problem was repaired and those receiving the letters were informed that the glitch does not mean they get out of doing their judicial time.

Now onto today's topic

Two weeks ago, I asked the Goodies to Go! subscribers to tell me what they felt was going to happen, if anything, as a result of the Y2K computer bug. The question prompted well over 500 responses. I read every one and kept those I thought were best.

In this final newsletter of 1999, I would like to relay some of your fellow readers' predictions. I'll finish the letter with some of my own. Unlike many of my Chip-Head friends (my new nick-name at school), I don't see the bug being a total bust. In fact it makes me a little nervous.

Here's what many of you wrote: *****1. The majority of those who responded didn't see much of a problem, if any:

"Zilch - the biggest anticlimax since the last millennium." - Peter Robert Flounders

"The Y2K is, has been, and will be way over-hyped. There will be no problems, except with computers that are out of date, and I think everyone is getting worried for nothing." -

"Nothing. They've fixed it in the last 2 years." - Marsha Wilcox

"People will work themselves into a frenzy and then find that a day is but a day and 1st January like any other." - Zee

"The only big event I see happening is the number of lawsuits from IT/IS personnel who are forced to work overtime without recompense. Many employers may not know that salaried employees who are exempt from Federal Fair Labor Standards Act provisions may well be covered by individual state laws. The true cost could be phenomenal." - Julie Miner

"I predict that after January 1, 2000, the price of electric generators will be at an all time low." - S. Reed

"Nothing will happen. Life will continue as it always has." - Christina D. Smith

"Not very much. A few errors, undoubtedly, but it won't be Armageddon or even a major inconvenience." - Ian Court

"Nothing! But you wouldn't get me in an aircraft for love or money." - Gerry Milner

*****2. Some readers believe that there will be man-made problems created to make it appear as if there actually is a Y2K bug. I thought that was an interesting take.

"I really don't think we have much to worry about equipment malfunction. What we need to look out for are the [people] that want to make things happen and make it look like a Y2K issue." - Sean Goodgame

"I think that people are going to plant bugs to make people think that it was y2k." - Lee Stevenson

Deliberately placed practical jokes and viruses set to go off on 1/1/00 will probably far outstrip the innocent bugs and will probably cause some serious annoyance. -

*****3. Many believed that there would be no Y2K bug to speak of, but were nervous about the media hype causing people to take actions they normally wouldn't.

"My biggest concern is society's general hysteria about what they imagine will happen." - Irwin Diehl

"Many people will act irrationally based upon misinterpreted events thereby causing real problems for others." - Karl Price

"I have a friend whose in-laws are convinced that Y2K is going to be the end of the world as we know it. They have built themselves a compound in rural Ohio - complete with an underground house (especially built to stay a steady 60 degrees all year long), a man-made hill (obscuring the house from view), a flock of Guineas (to eat the bugs in their garden), a wood burning stove, and a year's supply of food and goods. It is very sad. I believe nothing much is going to happen, and I can not wait to hear what these people do when they learn that all that money was spent in vain." - Hollie Edwards

"I think people will blame a lot of things that go wrong on the y2k issue, while in fact, these things go wrong for another reason. Like not being able to make a call to wish someone happy new year, because of congestion of the lines." - Alfons Knaapen

Most of the troubles could come from anxious consumers who will try to sue small businesses or withdraw their money in the long run. Reports say the panic is non-existent right now, but long-term effects of a recession due to utility and water outages and suits beyond the 90 days set forth in Congress' Summer 99 bill will stop the bull [market]." - John Berry

*****Finally, there were those who believed there would truly be a Y2K bug that would cause some problems.

"I think there will be a problem with the nuclear power plants. From all I've read they're not very prepared." - Nick Barnes

"I believe the DMV [Department of Motor Vehicles] systems will crash something fierce because my license expires on 1/1/2000 and I haven't received any notice to renew it." -

"[I] overheard a conversation from a couple of (Air Force Pilots), that this year they will be in "Stand By Alert" and won't be able to be apart of the celebration. It's not what is going on here for Y2K, it's what is going on with the nations which have weapon's of mass destruction. That will have the military on alert when Y2K strikes. So I heard." - Skeyter Pesqueda

"I think there will be isolated problems with any systems that are heavily time dependent, manufacturing processes and such, but nothing serious." - Leslie Chapman

"I think that the Y2K bug will have a domino effect. It will affect smaller, older systems, and when other computers try to access or refer to the old computer a huge error will occur (maybe affecting that computer, too)." -RJ Liljestrom

"Do not trust water department, lay in stock of water for 7days. Extra cash, extra food." - Kim

"I think the most significant problem we will face will be a shortage of imported oil into the U.S. due to embedded chip errors on oil wells in the Middle East. I think we will start to notice it about mid-February." - Tom

"Machines will show glitches here and there, where they were overlooked and more will break down because of the UTC-time, which cannot be adjusted. Testing used UTC-time + hours and UTC value remains the same. CONCLUSION: we don't really know until 12/31 at 10:00 in the morning. Beware of the cascading!" - Theo Hubenet

"As an IT professional I have been running around making sure that the ever present y2k bug will have a minimal effect on my Web site. However [I] must say that despite all the precautions, although I hold no fears for any of the industrial 1st world nations, I do hold fears for those lower 2nd and definitely the 3rd world nationals who have bought technology but not the means to maintain it." - Cris McGrath

"Interest Rates will rise as a result of unprepared trading partners who experience disruptions; the demand for the dollar world wide, as the most "stable" currency will cause The Fed to work hard against national inflation or depression." - Brett Rodli

*****My Take

I should write here that the following predictions are my own. They come from no where else but my own brain and do not necessarily reflect those of Earthweb or anyone else but me. (Therethat should do it.)

From everything I have read and all that I personally understand about computers, there will be a Y2K bug. I see minor, mid-level, and major problems coming from it.

To begin with, I do not see any great world-wide catastrophe. I do not see airplanes dropping out of the sky, weapons of mass destruction firing by mistake, entire power grids failing forever, or financial institutions (including ATM's) giving or taking away large amounts of money due to computational errors. In fact, financial institutions are the least of my worries. I have no intention of taking out any extra money. I don't even see a run on banks anymore. People just aren't as frightened as they were six months ago.


I see a great many "see I told you so" events. Those who believe that Y2K will destroy us all will be looking for things that go wrong so they can point a finger and say "See? I told you so!"

These types of events will include short brownouts in a few metropolitan areas, a few bits of comedy when dates mess up like the jury duty letters in Atlanta. I see an elevator or escalator stopping and a couple of other pat jokes coming from the bug.


I am concerned about worm holes and viruses opened and set by people hired to repair the Y2K bug. I see millions of dollars of money stolen and an equal amount of valuable data destroyed. This concern gets deeper in my mind depending on what computers are hit.


I am nervous about some rather serious problems occurring within hospitals and the medical community. From everything I've read, this is an area that is not fully up to speed. If a bank or a stock computer burps, the results can be fixed. If a ventilator or an I.V. pump decides to burp, the results can be devastating.


I'd like to make a prediction that really isn't a prediction. I see one thing coming out of the Y2K bug that no one expected. I know that's a bad way of putting it, but I see one thing happening that will make us all look at each other and say"Wow. I didn't see that coming."

So here's to a happy new year. I hope it's safe, but the talk of terrorism and people wanting to make a mark on the turn of the century scare me. I don't like the thought of anyone doing harm to others or themselves. It is my hope that Y2K minor glitches and a few hangovers are the worst we have to deal with.

Here's to the new century. Yes, I know that the new millennium starts on January 1st, 2001, but I think the big party will be a few days from now rather than next year. I ask that we all just go with it. Don't be that guy at the party that constantly points out the semantics of time. Have fun, be safe, eat cabbage, and take your most valuable possession outside at midnight. I don't know why. My Grandma Burns used to make me do it when I was young. I'm 35 and I still do it.

Happy New Year!

P.S. - Update your virus software!

P.SS. - Leave your computer on over midnight Jan 1, so that it won't cold boot to a problem.

P.SSS. - Do Not pick up the phone at midnight to see if there's a dial tone. There is. And the light in the fridge goes off when you shut the door.

P.SSSS. - The sound a snake makes.


That's that. Thanks for reading. This year I've made a resolution have better resolution. I'm going from 256 to 16.7 million colors this year!

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

And Remember: This December 31st, many of you will sing the song "that nobody knows," Auld Lang Syne. I'm proud to say that another Scotsman Burns, Robert Burns, wrote the song...or did he? In a letter Burns wrote, "[it] is the old song of the olden times, which has never been in print ... I took it down from an old man's singing." At least this year you can be the one who can actually get through the first verse and chorus. It goes like this: Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o' auld lang syne? For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne, We'll take a cup o' kindness yet, For auld lang syne! Happy New Year

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