Tuesday, March 22, 2005

An old one. But was I right, or what?

Y2K Jelly.

Are you sick of hearing about the millennium bug yet? I mean, it was bad enough when we heard that banks might have trouble finding out money on January the first, 2000. Now they are telling us that the army is going to be ready to mobilize to protect the citizens of this great country of ours against – well, against ourselves, I guess. Apparently the thinking is that people are going to be so upset about their computers not telling them the right date that there may be rioting in the streets – in as much as computer operators can ever be imagined rioting.
Anyway, those of use who use personal computers don't really have to worry about the, do we? I mean, when the year 2000 rolls around, our computers won't be affected, will they? Only big corporations and the government – and now the army - have to worry about stuff like that, and they are fixing it, right?
Well. Wrong, actually. It’s beginning to look as if all of us who have been complacently sitting back letting all the mega-nerds worry about bugs in their software are going to have problems of our own, and I don’t mean just having the army running around pepper-spraying rampaging computer programmers. For one thing, come January one, year 2000, your computer will be out of date. Even if you bought it the last week of 1999, by the time 2000 rolls around, the hardware and software that came with your new computer will be obsolete, rendering your system worth roughly 1/3 of what you paid for it unless you want to trade it in for something newer, in which case it will be completely worthless.
Your computer will also be out of date in another sense in that the other thing that will happen in the year 2000 is that millions of computers all over the world, including many home computers - almost certainly yours - will suddenly think it is the year 1900. This is because computer programmers - who are well known as a whimsical lot of practical jokers when they are not rioting in the streets - didn't bother giving a lot of computer programs the ability to read the number 2000 in their internal clocks.
This problem has become known as the Y2K bug, Y2K being programmer language for a total computer meltdown that turns software into a petroleum jelly-like substance suitable only as a lubricant or rug cleaner. (Actually, there is a story going around that one programmer was once asked how much he would charge an hour to repair this problem, and he said "$2,000" - or 2K - and the person owning the computer then asked, "Why 2K?"
Anyway, there you will be, January 1, 2000, with a computer that, like millions of other computers around the world, thinks it is January 1, 1900. This will mean that as far as government and banking computers are concerned, a lot of us won't have been born yet. This may mean that we won't owe any taxes, but it also means we won't get paid, and that any money we might have squirreled away in banks and RSPs will simply evaporate - if you are not born, how can you have saved money…?
Affected computers will also think that William McKinley is the President of the United States, that Bernhard von Bulow is the German Chancellor and that the radio is just about to be invented.
Business computers will be sending invoices out to you telling you that your accounts are 1,199 months past due, and, what with late fees and interest and whatnot, you owe $13,698,874.05, and could you please remit immediately.
And just to confuse matters further, it is worth pointing out that there will be a February 29 in the year 2,000, making it a leap year, but that there was not one in the year 1900, which was not. As a result, even computers able to recognize the year 2,000 will turn into Y2K jelly on Feb. 29, 2000.
The solution is obvious. Put all your money in a sock under your bed, and then invest it in the Henry Ford Motor Company which will be founded in 1903, and will apparently do quite well.
Wishing you a nice millenium, I’m Otte RosenKrantz.
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