National Crime Agency Warning

National Crime Agency Warning

24 posts
2 June 2014
pmeu
Photographer
pmeu
ChazPhotos
I remember being told all computers would stop at midnight on 31/12/1999. It was a great way to sell programs that would stop it happening to you, I did not buy anything and nothing happened
* sigh * the main reason why there wasn't a huge crash was because of all the hard work that was taken to update quite old software programmes that clearly would have crashed had they not been altered. I was fairly fresh out of university and one of my first jobs was working as a programmer for a well known bank to check their Cobol programmes and make the necessary changes which almost exclusively meant updating software from using the last 2 digits of a year to all 4 digits in a year. It was dull undemanding work for which they paid a pittance. Nevertheless had this work not been done then any task that involved comparing dates (and there were lots and lots of them) would have caused quite serious errors and it hardly takes any brain cells to see that. That it all went smoothly was testament to a job well done (and also due to the fact it was as easy as easy can be to spot where the problems actually were and how to solve them. But you're right, we shouldn't have bothered and took our chances and just kept our fingers crossed that nothing important like banks or hospitals or power grids still ran using software built when saving a few bytes here and there were almost necessary programming techniques.
Posted 6 June 2014
ChazPhotos
Photographer
ChazPhotos
pmeu
* sigh * the main reason why there wasn't a huge crash was because of all the hard work that was taken to update quite old software programmes that clearly would have crashed had they not been altered. I was fairly fresh out of university and one of my first jobs was working as a programmer for a well known bank to check their Cobol programmes and make the necessary changes which almost exclusively meant updating software from using the last 2 digits of a year to all 4 digits in a year. It was dull undemanding work for which they paid a pittance. Nevertheless had this work not been done then any task that involved comparing dates (and there were lots and lots of them) would have caused quite serious errors and it hardly takes any brain cells to see that. That it all went smoothly was testament to a job well done (and also due to the fact it was as easy as easy can be to spot where the problems actually were and how to solve them. But you're right, we shouldn't have bothered and took our chances and just kept our fingers crossed that nothing important like banks or hospitals or power grids still ran using software built when saving a few bytes here and there were almost necessary programming techniques.
I think the main point here is fresh out of Uni.... You where young and follow orders. The department wanted to look good I feel many fell for this as companys where making a killing out of this selling software to put it right and selling updated software. It was not just computer that was going to stop but lifts and ATM's even washing machine with any timers in them, it was a list with everything electronic in them. Not one bit of my software was changed nor my OS I have to say over my life time many reports like this come and go with out a hitch...
Posted 6 June 2014
stolenfaces
Photographer
stolenfaces
ChazPhotos
I think the main point here is fresh out of Uni.... You where young and follow orders. The department wanted to look good I feel many fell for this as companys where making a killing out of this selling software to put it right and selling updated software. It was not just computer that was going to stop but lifts and ATM's even washing machine with any timers in them, it was a list with everything electronic in them. Not one bit of my software was changed nor my OS I have to say over my life time many reports like this come and go with out a hitch...
So were you writing software in the 70's and 80's for big utilities and banks ? Generally software less than 10 years old was written with the millennium in mind and anyway dates were all held as full dates by the 90's, but when people wrote programs on machines the size of a bedsit which had 32kb (that's kb) of memory ( and 60mb were the biggest hard disks) we didn't have bits to play with and never thought the software would still be running at the millennium.
Posted 6 June 2014
ChazPhotos
Photographer
ChazPhotos
stolenfaces
So were you writing software in the 70's and 80's for big utilities and banks ? Generally software less than 10 years old was written with the millennium in mind and anyway dates were all held as full dates by the 90's, but when people wrote programs on machines the size of a bedsit which had 32kb (that's kb) of memory ( and 60mb were the biggest hard disks) we didn't have bits to play with and never thought the software would still be running at the millennium.
Where have I said I was writing software? got wrong person here. Also do you think any bank would have been using 70 or 80's software in 1999? may be you replied to the wrong person
Posted 6 June 2014
HowardJ
Photographer
HowardJ
OMG we're all going to die!

What a load of rubbish. It's all just scare tactics.

Y2K was way over hyped too. Many companies didn't bother updating their software and it was fine. Software companies were just using it as a cash cow and milking it for everything they could get.

Posted 6 June 2014
HowardJ
Photographer
HowardJ
ChazPhotos
Also do you think any bank would have been using 70 or 80's software in 1999?
Yep, they were.
Posted 6 June 2014
stolenfaces
Photographer
stolenfaces
ChazPhotos
Where have I said I was writing software? got wrong person here. Also do you think any bank would have been using 70 or 80's software in 1999? may be you replied to the wrong person
So your view is not based on anything more factual than your own limited experiences of software written in the late 90s. People like Nation Grid were certainly running software written in the 70s/80s as late as 1998 (when the electricity market opened to competition). When they build Nuclear Power stations the control systems and communication systems are are not made to be replaced every time there is a new version of windows.
Posted 6 June 2014
EdT
Photographer
EdT
HowardJ
Yep, they were.
As were many other industries. I remember when I asked about the year 2000 I was told, "do you believe this software will still be running in 20 years". Sure enough ... it was.
Posted 7 June 2014
pmeu
Photographer
pmeu
ChazPhotos
I think the main point here is fresh out of Uni.... You where young and follow orders. The department wanted to look good
Well I'm not young or green anymore and my opinion hasn't changed because the problem was so obvious. As SF points out, the original software used the last two digits of years to save incredibly valuable space at the time the software was written. This was an entirely understandable approach. Any programme that sorted dates (and virtually all the bank software did) using this approach would have led to errors as soon as the year switched from 99 to 00. You really don't need to be a rocket scientist to see that. The solution was simply to identify any software that used two digit years and update it such that it used 4 digit years. Time consuming but an easy solution and absolutely clearly vital. If it hadn't been done all hell would have broken loose in this particular case. Although my experience was limited to this particular bank (and actually also some knowledge of the world's fav airline systems too) I would be amazed if other large organisations hadn't faced exactly the same problem. And I wouldn't be at all surprised if that software is *still* being used today. Unless there is a very compelling and urgent reason to update software (or hardware) then private companies would be reluctant to undergo go what would be a massive massive expense to change it? Didn't RBS admit to using 1960's hardware and software when their systems all went down a year or two ago? (which is what would've happened to the bank I worked for) You are correct that software written in the 90s shouldn't have faced that issue as there was less need to take such short-cuts as memory constraints weren't so binding, plus the software writers should have had be a reasonable expectation that the software would be being used at the turn of that century. So ok some Y2k solutions on offer for new systems and software were indeed a con and exploited the situation I won't dispute that ... but to suggest that the Y2k problem as a whole was a con or a fuss about nothing is, in my opinion, extremely misguided. Instead, as a whole, the efforts taken to avoid the problem were a huge success story ... possibly more thanks to the problem and solutions being rather obvious (and tedious) than the fuss that was caused.
Posted 7 June 2014
To reply to this thread you must be a member. Click here to join