Y2k (767 words) Essay

The millennium bug, or Y2k is one of the most controversial subjects in the world right now. Some people are packing food and clothes in their cellars to prepare for it. A lot of people think the worst, and a lot of people do not care. Keeping an open mind about all of it is a big part of getting through the problem.
The problem with the computers does not lie in their programming, but within all of us. We abbreviated the year-date to two digits. Since we were lazy, and could not type two extra digits every time we write the year, we have to pay the price now. Everyone’s concern centers around the computer not knowing whether the year is 2000 or 1900. Only a date represented as 4-digits can tell the system that, but computers have been designed to only store 2 digits to represent the year date. To add to the confusion, the year 2000 is a leap year (29 Days in February), and the computer will not know that if it cannot count to year 2000. There is going to be an enormous amount of confusion that can not be corrected, as of eliminating the problem. We can only adjust to the situation, and make sure that everything is referenced as a 4-digit year.
We are a little too late, in that the problem occurs right throughout our computer and associated systems. The use of a 2-digit year date has taken control. The consequences of the problems that are going to come have not been taken seriously enough for action to be taken until now. We have not caught up with our own technology, and soon we will not be in control at all.

The label used to describe the situation is “non-year2000 compliant”. The software built into most computers stores the date as 2-digits. A lot of program software also treats the date as two digits, and will need patches and fixes to go into the year 2000. Data bases that store vital information could be messed up and produce mismatched data. Spreadsheets may give wrong answers, and control-software could run out of sync. It will effect everything from manufacture to supply. On top of that, the human interface is also non-compliant, because we still represent the year-date as two digits. All this may result in mix-ups to such things as electricity supply, food supply, and everything else we rely on everyday.

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The situation is going to require a lot of intelligent effort and organization if things are going to be straightened out. Governments and large corporations to prevent problems from arising have already spent millions of dollars. There have been meetings, seminars etc., but we still do not have this under control. We cannot sit back and know that everything is under control. These organizations say they are very efficient and never make mistakes, and we should leave everything in their hands. I know for sure that I do not trust them. There is going to be an enormous mess. Departments and government have never been known to finish projects on time, or to be efficient, so the problem could expand into a rather big one. There will be no time for special meetings or seminars when the power or water goes off. The law or parliamentary resolutions cannot help either. Things must be fixed right when they occur, because they will occur, to some extent.

The biggest problem is going to be humans, and our incapability to adapt, and to make adjustments quickly, in a realistic manner. In our society we usually ignore situations if they are a problem, but in this case we cannot. We cannot partially fix the problem, because it will be useless and simply compound the problem even more than it already is. We need people on the subject doing everything in their power to stop a disaster from taking place.

Y2k is not just a technical problem. This is good testing time for all of us. During the adjustment we are going to find out a lot about ourselves and about the society we live in. The problem has the potential to be huge, and even life threatening, but only if we are stupid enough to let it happen. The New Year to me will be very interesting and exciting to see the reactions of the people around me. In the mean time, think about what you need to do to prepare mentally and physically for the bug.

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