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As for as vices go, this is a pretty fun one. I'm always getting these surprise packages in the mail! What's more, she has interesting taste. This tome, by Michael Hyatt, is a work of nonfiction.
Millennium Bug is a thoughtful look at how we got into this whole Y2K mess and how we are going do to survive it. Because your safety is important to me, I've created this digest version of the book. I've jumped around page-wise, but I've tried to not take anything out of context. Here we go.
The Millennium Bug is a sort of "digital time bomb. The exclamation point is his. Personally, I'm a little more conservative in my punctuation. After all, somewhere in the world, a computer is dying ever minute. Or spewing out bad data. Have you ever had a Gateway? It's inevitable, and it's going to be terribly ugly..
How in the world did we end up in this mess? Any method that could save storage space was readily seized. One such method was to shorten years to two digits by deleting the century. For example, became " The Social Security Administration uses date calculations to determine eligibility for benefits. Consider a person who was born in Subtract that year and you get 65, the age at which most Americans begin receiving a monthly Social Security check. But in the SSA's computer will subtract 32 from 00, leaving the person at minus 32!
That's some serious fifth grade math. But it raises an interesting question: If you could choose between being 65 and being dead for 32 years and then being born again, what would you do? Is it better to frozen alive or burned to death? If you are like most people, you are probably thinking, Surely, someone somewhere will write a program that will fix the problem. That's me. There really were government employees devoting grueling hour-work weeks to this.
Am I the only one who saw Office Space? In the PC world, most users buy off-the-shelf software packages and run them 'as is,' and, as a result, they can easily secure upgrades that fix bugs and add new functions.
Once these programs are installed and debugged, they are maintained by the company' Information Systems staff. But if something needs to be fixed, the original programmers are often long gone. Sometimes they can be hired to come back and repair or enhance the program they wrote.
But in the case of "legacy systems" that were written in the s or s, the programmers are either retired—or dead! Hell, they might be retired AND dead! But seriously: I know that knowledge loss is a problem. I talk about this in plug! In his book Beginning Again , biologist David Ehrenfeld writes about how parts of earth worm taxonomy have been lost because the people that studied such things are dead and didn't pass on the knowledge to others — mostly because everyone else thought that there were things out there that were more exciting than earth worm taxonomy.
I believe it, but it does make me wonder: didn't people write this stuff down? Isn't the preservation of knowledge one of our greatest human accomplishments? It's true that we don't really know how they built the pyramids.
And we might never know. But that doesn't mean that PBS can't run a four month series exploring the question. But perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves. Who, you may ask, is this Michael S. Apparently, he is just a guy who, according to the book flap, has "worked in the book publishing industry for almost twenty years. I wouldn't call myself a computer expert [but] over the past sixteen years, I've taught myself the art of writing computer software an am fluent in Pascal Delphi, to be exact and three dialects of BASIC, including WordBasic, Visual Basic, and Visual Basic for Applications.
In short, I am convinced that the Y2K problem presents us with, potentially, the most significant, extensive and disruptive crisis we have ever faced. In the Software Productivity Research catalog of programming languages identified almost five hundred different languages in current use. I've also advised Angelina Jolie on what she should name her children.
What's truly scary is that noncompliant computers will start spewing out corrupt data and infecting computers they come in contact with. He talks about military preparedness and the problems that could be caused by "military institutions that are supposed to protect us. Then he talks about all the problems that could happen at hospitals because infusion pumps are on timers. Which are connected to the computers that were made by people who never thought about how they'd have to order new checks at the end of the century because the 19 was already written in.
Also: people use timers when baking cookies. And no one likes burnt cookies. Just when I was starting to feel bummed out about this coming catastrophe, Hyatt talks about how "he is not a pessimist by nature, let alone a prophet of doom. I prefer to focus on the positive. Of course. But I don't feel so positive. I've just been informed that I have to learn how to "distinguish edible plants from those that are deadly…butcher a cow…set a broken bone, pull a tooth and deliver a baby. Towards the end, in a chapter called "Where the Rubber Meets the Road," Hyatt gives tips on purchasing a gun.
I could go on, but I'm going to stop writing now because I'm not getting paid very much. Also: most people don't read this far into articles anyway.
I did want to mention, however, that it's important to understand the basics of water storage. At any one time, you have more water in your house than you think. For example, I have a seventy-five gallon water heater. With my family of seven, we need a minimum of seven gallons a day. So, my water heater will give me a ten-day supply. Toilet storage tanks contain another five gallons each.
With three toilets I have more than two days' supply. If you fill up you bathtubs on the eve of the crisis, you will get another fifteen gallons per tub.
New York Times best seller, people. This gives me confidence. Buy it. Otherwise, the world might end! The exclamation point is mine. This story is over 5 years old.
Mar 24 , pm. Some people sleep walk. Some sleep talk. I sleep shop. Specifically, I buy for books on Amazon. Tagged: Tech Motherboard technology-and-philosophy beyond-the-internet myths-and-weirdos Get a personalized roundup of VICE's best stories in your inbox.
The Good Old, Hilariously Terrifying Days Of Y2K Panic
An award-winning team of journalists, designers, and videographers who tell brand stories through Fast Company's distinctive lens. Leaders who are shaping the future of business in creative ways. New workplaces, new food sources, new medicine--even an entirely new economic system. As the decade wound down, more and more people became agitated about the Y2K bug—also known as the millennium bug and the year problem—which stemmed from programmers having conserved precious bytes by storing years as two digits. And that raised the specter of much of the code that ran the world failing—possibly, the theory went, in disastrous ways. Power grids might be knocked out. Banks could fail.