Y2K commission leaves September 9 out of its awareness campaign

Thanks for all your feedback on things we can talk about instead of Y2K, although I see the US federal government is planning to build a Y2K bunker with which it can scare the uninformed. A bunker? Come on, this is Y2K, not the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Thanks for all your feedback on things we can talk about instead of Y2K, although I see the US federal government is planning to build a Y2K bunker with which it can scare the uninformed. A bunker? Come on, this is Y2K, not the Cuban Missile Crisis. I also see the Readiness Commission’s TV campaign includes a cockroach (which means my wife was turning it off before I realised what it was — not a good choice for those who hate the creepy crawlies) and it doesn’t mention September 9 as a potential problem date. This is a worry, because I know a number of electrical engineers who think 9/9/99 is going to have major repercussions for embedded chip systems, more so, perhaps, than January 1 itself. Maybe the awareness campaign will get around to mentioning September 9, but in the spots I’ve seen there was nothing about it. One of the ads talked about electricity companies warning of possible power failures and that they could happen on dates other than January 1, but it still didn’t mention September 9. I know John Good at the commission thinks there won’t be too much trouble, and he’s trying to get companies to treat September 9 as a dress rehearsal, but I’m sure it’s more serious than that. So, all in all, there’s still a lot of Y2K to talk about. The latest "Local Government New Zealand" survey of readiness was launched recently as well and, apart from a handful of councils getting the pip and refusing to fill in their surveys, the information received was quite interesting. A lot of councils have realised their projects are taking longer than they initially thought. So much so that a number have retreated from a "finished implementation" stage in June to finishing by the end of September. I don’t know about you, but this seems to me to be fairly foolish. When I first started writing about Y2K we said companies should finish their implementation by the end of 1998 so they had a full year of real-life testing before the big day itself. Now here we are talking about completing implementation at the end of September? Three months of testing doesn’t seem enough to me. And they’re the more advanced councils — some won’t be ready until the end of December and Central Otago won’t be set until "sometime in the year 2000" which, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, sounds a little too Russian official to be true. I think there might well be councils, and companies for that matter, that are in deep denial about Y2K. The date is looming and they’re still saying "it’s all media hype". We’ll see. Anyway, I’ve heard there are plenty of things going on in IT around New Zealand aside from the big bad bugs. Thin client, also known as server-based computing, seems to be taking hold in the health sector, as well as in education. Is that because these two sectors are painfully aware of the cost of PC-based solutions or is it a quirky throwback to the age of mainframes and greenscreens? Encryption technology and security are always hot news, especially when governments seem to be at odds with the everyday users. Companies are learning about the dangers of industrial espionage, not just kids but their competition targeting their networks. As more companies get online they’re discovering how big the world is out there and that not everyone plays by the same rules. Government involvement and the knowledge-based economy is something a lot of you want to talk about — should government be more involved in the development of this commercial world or should they stay well away? How can New Zealanders benefit from the development of IT as a leading industry? Do we have the trained people we need or are they leaving for foreign destinations with bigger pay packets? Of course, having raised the issue of issues, I’ve run out of room. Next week, baring unforeseen Y2K tales, of course, I’ll write about thin client. Let me know if you have any issues you’d like to talk about in future issues. Paul Brislen is Computerworld’s Y2K  reporter. He can be reached at paul_brislen@idg.co.nz, or phone: 0-9-377 902.

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