Time Bomb 2000: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You! Revised & Updated Edition

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9780130205193: Time Bomb 2000: What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You! Revised & Updated Edition

Time Bomb 2000 has become a world-wide bestseller because it doesn't just tell you that there's a Y2K crisis on the way: it spells out how to evaluate your personal risks -- and what you can do about them. As the crunch draws closer, this new edition is essential reading for everyone. Based on the absolute latest information, you'll learn what problems are likely to occur, how they will impact individuals and society, and what you can do to prepare. You'll find updated coverage of virtually every major aspect of society, including communications, power distribution, transportation, finance, travel, medicine, social services, education and employment - with expert assessments of the probabilities -- and consequences -- of failure. Best of all, you'll also find practical contingency plans and fallback positions if the worst happens.

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Review:

Unlike many Y2K books available, Time Bomb 2000 offers a programmer's point of view on the issue--Edward Yourdon is a software engineer and the author of the well-regarded Yourdon Computing Series for software development. (His coauthor, Jennifer, is his daughter.)

While the Yourdons occasionally use Internet-based Y2K slang, such as TEOTWAWKI (which, for the uninitiated, means "the end of the world as we know it"), it's not likely that they'll be carving out space in a hillside somewhere. They do project a life very different from the one that currently exists, but advocate a commonsense approach to the impending crisis.

To that end, Time Bomb 2000 provides a chapter on each of the areas of infrastructure weakness: public utilities, transportation (automobiles included), banking and finance, news channels, hospitals, telephone and mail services, the U.S. government (social security, food stamps, the IRS, the Defense Department, and a brief overview of state and local agencies). A small portion of the book deals with the question of international economies. Each segment ends with advice on any one of four scenarios: facing a 2-day, 1-month, 1-year, or 10-year failure of each of the given systems. An informative look at what may well be a central issue for us all, Time Bomb 2000 provides important information without trying to answer the unanswerable. --Jennifer Buckendorff

From the Inside Flap:

Preface to the Second Edition I came here today because I wanted to stress the urgency of the Y2000 challenge to people who are not in this room. With millions of hours needed to rewrite billions of lines of code and hundreds of thousands of interdependent organizations, this is clearly one of the most complex management challenges in history. - President Bill Clinton, Speech at the National Academy of Sciences, July 14, 1998 By now, the average citizen has been bombarded by countless newspaper articles and magazine reports concerning the so - called "Millennium Bug." Of course, there are still some who aren't sure what it means, or why it's relevant, or how it might affect their lives; if you're one of these people, you'll find a more traditional introduction and explanation in the preface to the original first edition of the book, which follows immediately after this material. But for those who already have a general understanding of the Y2000 problem, and especially for those who read the first edition of Time Bomb 2000, a brief update is in order. We've maintained the same basic organization of the book in this second edition, but we've updated virtually all of the references, footnotes, links, and examples to reflect the most recent Y2000-related events. We've also added a chapter on the international ramifications of Y2000, as well as a new appendix that provides a bibliography of books, articles, and Internet sites. Unfortunately, we have not been able to provide the one thing that many of our readers and colleagues have asked for: an unequivocal, black-and-white answer to the question "How bad will the Y2000 problem be?" To be perfectly honest, we don't know - and neither does anyone else. It's about time we all admitted that, notwithstanding our predictions and estimates and guesses and wishes, we really don't know what will happen on January 1, 2000. Commentators, experts, gurus, business executives, and government leaders may think they know what's going to happen, and they may construct an eloquent and appealing argument to support their prediction. Chances are that if it appeals to your predisposed opinion about Y2000, you'll like it; otherwise, it will make you angry. Many people who have contacted us are obviously frustrated by this state of affairs. "What good are all these experts," one college student complained to us, "if they can't tell us what's really going to happen?" Another email correspondent said "I don't have time to read all of the hundreds of articles, books, Web sites, and newsgroup forums about Y2000. Can't you just summarize it for me, and give me a simple answer: Is it going to be a disaster, or can I stop worrying?" But if someone summarizes, abstracts, and filters the hundreds of disparate articles about Y2000 for you, then you're going to get that person's bias or prejudice mixed in with the summary. And if that person has an "agenda" or a particular "spin" that he wants to put on the Y2000 phenomenon, you're going to get that, too. This may sound cynical, but do you really expect the Federal Reserve system and the banking community to give us a pessimistic outlook on their Y2000 progress, even if the situation really is pessimistic? For that matter, it's simply not realistic to expect any senior business executive to stand up and say, "We've missed every milestone on our Y2000 project, and we underestimated the cost by a factor of five. Our programmers are burned out and demoralized; they've formed a conga line, and they're dancing out the door with their last burst of energy... and the CIO just quit. There is no way on earth we're going to finish even our mission-critical systems in time. We're doomed; you might as well sell your stock now." But beyond this obvious point, there's something more important: People seem to want a crystal-ball prediction expressed in terms of an "either-or" outcome. They want someone to say, "Either Y2000 is going to be the end of the world (TEOTWAWKI), or it's going to be a non-event. I'm convinced it's going to be a non-event, and here are the 27 reasons why..." But this is an overly simplistic way of looking at the future, and it doesn't help us make effective plans for coping with what, at this point, remains unknown. Here's a metaphor. Suppose you plan to drive your car from your home to the office, and you want us to predict the outcome. We could say to you, "One of two things will happen: Either you'll either arrive safely, or you'll be killed in a fatal accident. We think you'll arrive safely, and here are the 27 reasons why..." For a 200-word newspaper article, or a 2-minute TV report that's absolutely obsessed with reducing everything down to a black-and-white sound-bite, this might be an acceptable way to summarize the situation - and that's what seems to be happening with much of the media reporting of the Y2000 situation. But there are obviously a number of other outcomes in our automobile example, and it would be much more helpful if we could say to you, "The most likely outcome is that you'll arrive at your office without any problems. But there's a moderate chance - perhaps 1 in 10 - that you'll be involved in a minor fender-bender accident along the way, in which nobody is injured, but a few hundred dollars of damage is inflicted upon your car. There's a smaller chance - perhaps 1 in 100 - that you'll be involved in an accident in which you or the other driver will sustain minor injuries. And there's an even smaller chance - perhaps 1 in 1,000 - that you'll get involved in a really serious accident, in which your car will be destroyed, and one or more drivers or passengers will be sent to the hospital with major injuries. And, unfortunately, there is a tiny chance - perhaps 1 in 10,000 - that you'll be involved in a fatal accident that will kill you." Armed with that information, you could then ask yourself the obvious questions: How much risk am I willing to tolerate? What should I do to reduce the risk? A teenager might ignore all of this information, and drive a convertible with no seat-belts, no airbag, no insurance, and no auto registration. A more conservative person would consider the risk-reward tradeoff of a seat-belt and an air-bag so obvious that he would happily spend the extra time and money to reduce his risk. Some might eschew a convertible, and drive a Volvo instead. And a few might be so fearful of the risks, especially in urban centers like New York or Los Angeles, that they would decide not to drive at all. The big problem with Y2000, of course, is that we don't know how to quantify the various risk scenarios; we don't have the benefit of 50 years of statistics about automobile accidents and fatalities. That's unfortunate and frustrating, but it's not an excuse to ignore the problem. After all, we deal with uncertainty in our lives all the time, and we do the best we can to make an intelligent decision that's compatible with our level of risk-tolerance. When we get in our car, we don't have precise statistical data about accidents and fatalities for my neighborhood; we have a "gut feeling" that incorporates not only the general information about traffic accidents, but also up-to-the-minute impressions about the weather, the road conditions, and unusual circumstances (e.g., it's New Year's Eve, and there may be a lot of drunk drivers on the road). We go through a similar risk-evaluation process when we consider taking a stroll through a potentially dangerous neighborhood in a strange city, or when we respond to an invitation to go hang-gliding or sky-diving or bungee-jumping. When it comes to Y2000, most of us will agree that the "non-event" scenario is relatively unlikely; there's a reasonably good chance that we'll experience one or more minor disruptions, at the very least. Beyond that, we each have to do our own risk assessment: How likely is it that the disruptions might last a couple days, or a month, or a year, or longer? And how much are we willing to gamble that our assessment might turn out to be wrong? All of these scenarios need to be considered and evaluated, not just the two extremes of non-event and TEOTWAWKI. One last point about the crystal-ball assessment, and the decisions we make: They deserve to be private. We're tired of newspaper reporters and TV journalists asking us, in the midst of an interview, "How much food have you stockpiled in your house? How much cash have you taken out of the bank? How many Kruggerands have you bought?" The proper answer, we believe, is: None of your business! After all, nobody asks us how much money we have in our savings accounts, or what percentage of our annual income is set aside for savings and retirement; nobody asks us how much auto insurance we have, or how much life insurance we're providing for our families. At least in North American society, those questions are considered an invasion of privacy. But why do we bother with a savings account or insurance policies, if not to provide a "nest egg" for a rainy day? How is that any different from the decision that a few folks are making to stockpile some extra food in their pantry to cope with possible Y2000 disrupt

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