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« Bulldog Bob | Main | Playing the fool - Josh 383 »

GWPF Annual Lecture 2016 - Cartoon notes by Josh

Last night Matt Ridley gave an excellent lecture titled 'Global warming vs global greening'. You can read the text and slides here.

Cartoons by Josh


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Reader Comments (135)

Martin A on Oct 19, 2016 at 12:01 PM
"And no question that civilisation was not brought to a halt."

If there had been no Y2K work at all, many systems would have collapsed. I heard enough tales (from many companies) afterwards to realise that. Just remember what it is like when computers at banks like NatWest go down for a day or two. Without the Y2K work, they would have been down for weeks. There would have been enough failures to ensure that some companies would have been waiting weeks just to get someone in to work out what the problem was, and it normally takes weeks to go through the upgrade life cycle, especially when a small change in one system can cause chaos in many others: it only takes a dot in the wrong place! It is why we have System Integration testing!

Even before work could start, the many standards needed to be checked. To have an agreed inter-bank date format in YYMMDD would mean that you would have had to guess (quite easy, but still a guess) the new format, and would the resultant record be too long? Would the system cope: if you had a dozen dates in the record it would mean an increase of 24 bytes? If you started early enough, it wasn't difficult, it wasn't that expensive. That was the whole point. In some cases, a company could say, we were going to upgrade to a UNIX system anyway, and that is already compliant, but it easier to do this over a period of several years, and not months, or after the event.

I heard, at the time, in a matter of fact sort of way, that machinery that had that needed regular maintenance and had some computing power had 'service by' dates which would if, in the past, shut down the equipment. It was to avoid the increased risk of loss of life. I still don't know how many installations were affected, but I expect most were scattered across the country, so checking them over a period of a couple of years would be a trivial task, but trying to check them all in a week, or after the deadline, would be a nightmare! That is partly why the Government made such a fuss.

The whole point was that a quick check, well before the date, would remove the risk completely. The general instruction was simple, it covered all bases, the extra cost was negligible and the action was simple, and there was to be plenty of time to fix the problem - if there was a problem at all - with the rest of the world still functioning, so it could be fixed.

It was no different to regularly checking car tyre pressures or, when using a ill managed pool car, checking the oil level before use. Yes, it would 'waste time', but it was better than being stranded on a motorway, without a mobile phone.

What you need to understand is that most, if not all, IT companies completed the task without any fuss: they found many problems, and they were fixed well before the deadline (which couldn't be moved!) so to taint the IT industry is like condemning the whole NHS because of Harold Shipman. In fact, it is worse, because the Y2K work was the correct action, not the action of a rogue worker.

There were some badly run companies that hit the headlines, and the Media enjoyed it, I expect. It WAS news! These companies realised that they had a problem when there were only a few months to go, and there was no one available with the right experience or knowledge to recruit. I expect there were some around, but they were probably happily employed completing the Y2K work, where they were employed, and wanted to something 'more interesting', like a new project! And they didn't want to work for such a dysfunctional setup! :)

Even if the computer manufacturer had produced a Y2K compliant version of the operating system, it could take weeks or months to upgrade the system if they were several releases behind because their own applications might have needed to be updated. Since company revenue would often be dependent on many of these applications, which would be dependent on yet more, it wasn't the man-hours that were the problem, but the elapse time needed.

It was also a risk that could potentially affect anything with a date and it was an event that had never happened before. If it was a problem that affected occurred every 1st of January, we could say that anything over a year old shouldn't be affected as it was working the year previously, but it was not the case. And to have several incidents in different areas could only make the recovery that much harder.

I will repeat the example in my last post: why do pilots bother with pre-flight checks when they so rarely find anything wrong?

Oct 19, 2016 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

TinyCO2 on Oct 19, 2016 at 12:13 PM

Yes, I remember there was a lot of uneasiness, because no one knew exactly what we were encountering or how other people, especially the non-IT literate, would react. It is so easy now to look back, with hindsight.

"Though I will admit that a lot of people took the opportunity to buy new kit even when they didn't need it."
They might have realised that although the application was OK, by upgrading to a common platform, they would reduce overall costs significantly, by reducing the spread of skills required, eliminating legacy skill requirements, the number of operating systems, their licences, etc.

Or they might have thought "I'm too lazy to learn all this 'old stuff'", just bring in some UNIX boxes! And they might have been right! :) Major decisions have been based on much worse criteria than that.

Oct 19, 2016 at 1:26 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

TinyCO2: "I can't remember whether it was a national alert or not."

I don't think so. From 1996 to 2000 I was Executive Director of Taskforce 2000 sponsored by the DTI - I would certainly have been aware of such an alert.

Oct 19, 2016 at 1:47 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robert Christopher: "The whole point was that a quick check, well before the date, would remove the risk completely."

Unfortunately, for major institutions such as banks it could be far more complex than that. As I say in the paper I cited above:

Two-digit date fields were “hidden” within untold millions of lines of computer code, some of it about thirty years old. ... in many cases, the original programmerʼs notes and source code were long since lost. So those engaged in this thankless task had to drag their way through line after line of dense computer code (commonly written in a variety of programming languages), often without any guide as to what they were looking for or to where they might find it. And often while continuing to run their daily work. ... Then they had to determine if it really had to be fixed ... and, if so, how best to fix it. The obvious solution was to simply expand the date field from two to four digits so that, in due course, “1999” would be succeeded by “2000”. But it was not unusual for that to be impossible because of the nature of the code where the date was found. For example, a change might have damaging knock- on effects elsewhere. In such cases, the only solution might be to write or purchase a completely new suite of software. But even that solution could then cause difficulties with other software with which it interfaced within a wider system where, for example, that other software had been fixed by using a different date solution. Moreover “fixing” a system was commonly not enough: it, in turn, had to be able to work seamlessly with third party systems.
And, once fixed, the software had to be rigorously tested. It was a massive task.

Oct 19, 2016 at 2:06 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

It maybe just applied to those with major hazards connected to the business. We had big tanks of hydrochloric and supluric acid, caustic soda and acetone to name a few. Not to mention an effluent plant, cooling towers and various areas with potentially flamable atmospheres. I am sure that the warning came from the safety side and not the IT.

As a threat it was probably genuine. I doubt any big company with a Y2K based serious incident would have escaped calls for major penalties and not just financial ones.

Oct 19, 2016 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Robin Guenier on Oct 19, 2016 at 2:06 PM
"Unfortunately, for major institutions such as banks it could be far more complex than that."

I know. I was thinking of the majority of equipment, outside the big IT installations.

I know of a BIG installation that was developing a massive new billing system, with the Y2K spec as an integral part of the development - and 'someone' put a flag in the 'century field', so not only did that need to be corrected but the whole system, up to that point, had to be Y2K'ed, just in case. :)

Then there are the 'unknown applications'. I was at a company, many, many years before Y2K, where one of our customers, who had being paying annual maintenance for years, missed a payment. Upon investigation, it was found that no one in accounts knew what it was paying for, so they didn't pay it. It was only paying for the application that consolidated all their finances and stock figures, every night from 2am to 4am, without a murmur, so that the applications that they did know about could produce reports each and every morning. The bill was quickly paid! :)

Oct 19, 2016 at 2:31 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

And the Y2K target date, 1st January 2000, was a year before the Millennium commenced, on January 1st 2001.

Yes, I did celebrate on the night of 31st December 1999, as the start of the last year in the 20th century, and I also celebrated the start of the Millennium, a year later.

Oct 19, 2016 at 2:34 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

There have been some pathetic responses to Ridley's talk, enthusiastically promoted by, guess who, the "unbiased" BBC correspondent Rog Hazzabin.

And there's Dana Nutty in the Guardian.

These are so feeble it hardly seems worth the effort of discussing them.

Oct 19, 2016 at 2:54 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul Matthews, what Dana Nuccitelli has not noticed is that a Consensus of voting taxpayers does not believe in the lies of climate science. UK Politicians have noticed this. Politicians elsewhere in the EU have started to realise this.

Donald Trump knows this, and now we learn that Hillary Clinton does not believe in climate science lies, but is happy to lie to climate scientists and say she does, depending on who she believes is listening (she didn't realise that people would be able to read her private thoughts on electoral gullibility)

The rapid rise in Climate Science funding my taxpayers has reached a pause, or hiatus, and a sharp decline now seems inevitable. How many technicians does it take to print out temperature data from satellites anyway? Is Hockey Team facial hair required to do it?

So it does seem that Dana is about 97% wrong in what he writes, to match climate science's normal low standards of uncertainty guesswork.

Oct 19, 2016 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Daft trolling removed

Oct 19, 2016 at 4:39 PM | Registered CommenterJosh

It is time for taxpayers to demand the right to Disinvest from Climate Science. The failure of The Guardian's campaign for disinvestment from fossil fuels, proves it will be popular.

Oct 19, 2016 at 7:17 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Robin Guenier on Oct 19, 2016 at 10:45 AM
"The most important failure was in Germany - a failure reported (LINK) to have cost €300m."

Amazing! I hadn't seen it, and it does look as though the article's author doesn't really understand what is going on:

"The fault has led to comparisons with the millennium bug, when experts predicted the transition from 1999 to 2000 might cause computers to be fooled into thinking it was 1900. As it was, the changeover happened without much incident."

At least all the other systems were working, so it was easier to test.

Vorsprung Durch Technik :)

Oct 19, 2016 at 9:01 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robin Guenier on Oct 19, 2016 at 10:45 AM

Sections 7 and 8 are worth reading too! :)

Oct 19, 2016 at 9:20 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Thanks Robert.

A while ago I sent Matt Ridley a copy of my report - and have spoken to him about it. More than once. But he still repeats his nonsense of it being another example of a failed prediction. Sigh.

BTW I'm less sanguine than you about the role of the IT industry - see my last paragraph on page 13.

Oct 19, 2016 at 9:44 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

GC should get back to us after he's read a random selection of 100 climate science articles and found and published grounds for a corrigendum in 3.

Oct 20, 2016 at 12:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Robert Christopher, that some computer systems had real problems with the changeover to y2k is undoubtedly true. Also undoubtedly true, and core to Ridley's citing of it, was that the problem was marketed with absurd levels of alarmism. This was abundantly clear to me at the time and I did my best to ease the fears of my less technical friends and family members.

Listen to Alistair Cooke's "On Y2K Alert" "Letter From America" talk to remind yourself of how keyed up the public was on this issue.

That was his last weekly recording before y2k. If it's true, as you suggest, that the IT world went about solving the problem methodically, why had they not also methodically reassured the public months earlier that the problem was well in hand? Could they not have announced that, thanks to all their diligent work, there might be minor hiccups -- ticket machines not working, bank statements looking a bit odd -- but no disasters? They either didn't have as good a grasp of the extent of the problem as they should have, or they didn't want the gravy train to end earlier than it had to. As a well experienced IT man myself, I go with the latter. Seems a fitting parallel to global warming alarmism, except the latter has the benefit of having no end date.

Oct 20, 2016 at 1:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan


Wrong URL ended up in my paste buffer. Here is the correct Alistair Cooke link.

And in my hurry to post this, I might have resubmitted the original. "Well experienced" computer guy can't operate a browser! Sheesh.

Oct 20, 2016 at 1:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan

vvussell, Climate Science can't bring itself to admit a single fault in Mann's Hockey Stick, and would not allow them to be published anyway.

How many experts and peer reviewers approved Gergis 2016?

As Climate Science has proven itself to be incapable of self correction, it is not a science. Presumably this is why Climate Science can decide what gets Peer Approval without it ever being read.

Oct 20, 2016 at 2:03 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"vvussell, Climate Science can't bring itself to admit a single fault in Mann's Hockey Stick, and would not allow them to be published anyway."

O what a vveak mind is at vvork here :

When Nature's climate science editors" found a single fault in Mann's Hockey Stick" he admitted to it and Nature published his Corrigendum.

That example of self-correcting science at work played out over a decade ago , but golf charlie has yet to summon the wit to read, or the courage to acknowledge what remains a matter of scientific record.

Oct 20, 2016 at 3:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

The 1999 study included a graphic depiction of the
temperature history over the last millennium, which
demonstrated an unprecedented rise during the 20th Century.
Some have dubbed this graphic the hockey stick. If the
question this committee seeks to answer is whether knowing
what I know today, a decade after starting the original
study, my colleagues and I would conduct it in exactly the
same way, the answer is plainly no. The field of
paleoclimate reconstruction has evolved tremendously over
the past decade.

Important new proxy data have been developed.
Reconstructions have been compared with independent
estimates from climate model simulations and confirmed by
those simulations. Statistical methods for reconstructing
climate from proxy data have been refined and rigorously
tested, and I have been actively working in each of these
areas. This is important because all the focus of criticism
on our work in the late 1990s has been on the statistical
conventions we used. My co-authors and I have not used those
conventions in our later work.

The critique goes only to our first reconstruction effort. It
does not apply to our more recent studies all of which
indicate the same basic hockey stick result.[…] Now our critics do not confront the
fact that our basic conclusion is not an isolated or
aberrational finding reached only in one study. Every
climate scientist who has performed a detailed reconstruction
of the climate of the past 1,000 years using different proxy
data and different statistical methods has come up with the
same basic hockey stick pattern, that is to say a
reconstruction that agrees with our original reconstruction
within its estimates uncertainties.

Dr Mann conceding in a Congressional Committee Session that some of the choices made in the groundbreaking MBH studies were sub-optimal, but making different choices (e.g. not using PCA at all) does not significantly change the conclusions of those studies. Not something the Auditor can bring himself to reveal.

This obsession with the 1998/99 studies is increasingly quaint, when we have the 2008 work, not to mention PAGES 2K. Some seem to believe the hockey stick (and Gergis) are discredited, just because a blogger says so.

'Scepticism' ain't what it used to be.

Oct 20, 2016 at 8:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Robert Swan: no, the problem with the IT industry was not that it “marketed” Y2K “with absurd levels of alarmism” but that it hardly marketed it at all, irresponsibly ignoring this absurd problem for far too long. And, when at last it did recognise that there was a problem, I believe it saw it largely as a nuisance. There was no “gravy train”: the big money was substantially spent internally by organisations utilising their own IT staff. I suspect the industry was far more interested in blowing up what became the dotcom bubble.

Of course there were some silly fears, largely drummed up by a hysterical media; the UK public didn’t seem to be especially bothered. The classic example was the commonly repeated “experts tell us that planes will fall from the sky”. No “expert” said that. Most avoided prediction altogether.

Warning is not prediction. As I said yesterday, a warning that action should be taken (see for example my quotation from a report from the Bank for International Settlements in Basel) is light years away from, as Ridley put it, a prediction (of doom) that “ computers would crash at the dawn of the millennium, bringing down civilisation".

As for an announcement about progress, here’s an EU assessment published in December 1999:

Countries and sectors throughout the EU now report that their preparations are essentially complete, and that the rigorous contingency plans which they have established to cope with exceptional events have been tested and reinforced to cope with possible Y2K problems. They consider themselves to be ready and expect no material disruption to their operations. Their confidence is supported by the unprecedented degree of industry and private-public collaboration which has taken place during 1999 to address this issue. Indeed, many believe that their ability to detect and respond to problems which may occur at year end is now greater than at any other time.
The media of course wasn’t interested.

Oct 20, 2016 at 8:54 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

More reaction to Matt King Coal's emission

Oct 20, 2016 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

And more, Delingpole is a charmer, no?

Oct 20, 2016 at 10:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

I am sure Robert Christopher and Robin Guenier were right in that Y2K remediation spared us a lot of problems; the two observations I would make in partial support of Matt Ridley are first that in many countries around the world there was very little such work, and no major disasters, and second that there really was a degree of hysteria. I remember watching a gruesome documentary showing the complete collapse of British society, and I also remember being told by some of Robin's chums at the DTI that if Lloyd's of London could not quantify its exposure to Y2K (which of course we couldn't, as we had no idea what might go wrong or what courts might deem covered under our policies of insurance and reinsurance) then they would close us down.

Oct 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

My gut tells me London is conspiring with Russian Masonry ( concentrated in the navy) to destroy North Sea platforms.

I do not know what is so shocking about this.
The coal / electricity plants of the Uk have already been effectively precision bombed preventing a deflation of prices in the Uk.
This is merely the next step.
War is a scam.
However it is perhaps the most effective means of maintaining prices.
Capitalism as we know it is simply the monopoly control of prices.
It becomes increasingly difficult to oversee unless real scarcity programmes are implemented.

Oct 20, 2016 at 12:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Dork of Cork

Well, David, it’s true that little action was taken in some countries. Obviously it wasn’t necessary in underdeveloped economies where little was computerised. And some more developed countries, e.g. in Eastern Europe, needed to do relatively little as they were relatively late in introducing digital computing; so, unlike Western economies, they didn’t rely on systems incorporating software originally developed in the 1960s and 1970s. Also countries that started late were able to use the experience gained by those that started early: tools, shortcuts and efficient methods of working had been developed, fears that turned out to be unnecessary had been investigated and eliminated and uncertainties had been tested and resolved. It’s considerations such as these that lie behind the – essentially false – claims that little was done in some developed economies.

Yes, there was a degree of hysteria. But, as I note above, it was largely drummed up by the media. And Ridley’s claim of predictions that “computers would crash at the dawn of the millennium, bringing down civilisation" is nonsense.

Oct 20, 2016 at 12:22 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Phil Clarke, if your past performance is anything to go by, why should anyone assume that your linked articles are not "complete bollocks" and/or "steaming piles of manure"? Their authors associations with Skeptical Science and the 97% Consensus of people desperate not to lose taxpayer funding, are simply guilt by association, as you are so keen to preach having run out of science.

Oct 20, 2016 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I fail to see the point in Phil Clarke linking articles from highly partisan (and mostly lightweight) media in support of his argument.

That hardly helps your credibility and is surely a bit embarrassing for someone of your intelligence Phil, no?

Oct 20, 2016 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

JerryM, it simply proves the point that Phil Clarke has run out of science, and an Unprecedented collapse of Climate Science funding has started. This has started real panic amongst the panic mongers.

Oct 20, 2016 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

O/T Climate

Scientists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee have discovered a chemical reaction to turn CO2 into ethanol, potentially creating a new technology to help avert climate change. Their findings were published in the journal ChemistrySelect.

The researchers were attempting to find a series of chemical reactions that could turn CO2 into a useful fuel, when they realized the first step in their process managed to do it all by itself. The reaction turns CO2 into ethanol, which could in turn be used to power generators and vehicles.


Oct 20, 2016 at 4:13 PM | Unregistered Commentere smiff

e smiff, but does it cost more in energy and money to produce the ethanol, than burning it would produce? Obviously CO2 neutrality is always guaranteed because it never took sides, and remains harmless.

Oct 20, 2016 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

e smiff, but does it cost more in energy and money to produce the ethanol, than burning it would produce? Obviously CO2 neutrality is always guaranteed because it never took sides, and remains harmless.

Oct 20, 2016 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"vvussell, Climate Science can't bring itself to admit a single fault in Mann's Hockey Stick, and would not allow them to be published anyway."

When Nature's editors found " a single fault in Mann's Hockey Stick" , he admitted to it and they promptly published his Corrigendum.

That example of self-correcting science at work played out over a decade ago , but golf charlie has yet to summon the wit to read, or the courage to acknowledge what remains a matter of scientific record.

As does golf charlie's tedious repetition of the old lie that they did not.

Oct 20, 2016 at 7:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Extra CO2 plants and trees growing bigger and so are unaccompanied Child refugees from the Calais Jungle Migrant Camp

You could swear they were all 30 and 40 year old men pretending to be little boys

Apparently some MPs have called for dental checks to verify their ages

This is condemned by Sport Presenter Gary Lineker and pop Princess Lilly Allen as Unscientific and Xenophobic

There is one scientific test to determine their age it's called Going Spec Savers and using your eyes

Oct 20, 2016 at 8:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid

Robin Guenier,

Yes, there was a degree of hysteria. But, as I note above, it was largely drummed up by the media.

You're speaking about Y2K, but this could equally be said of global warming.

I am (and was) in Australia. It appears that Y2K was handled differently in Europe. Here, the IT sector was buried in work for the lead up (about 2 years) -- largely government departments. I am in no doubt it was a gravy train.

Perhaps it was the same in the USA. Did you listen to that Alistair Cooke broadcast? How did he work himself into such a degree of fear?

Oct 20, 2016 at 9:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Swan

vvussell, you stick to your endlessly repeated lies. It is all that is left of Climate Science.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, politicians are listening to the people who report that the climate is just fine, and there is no need for further panic. Adaption to change has always been part of rural and coastal life, as history books prove. Climate Scientists only want to rewrite history to justify their own existence, whereas consigning climate science to the history books would be far cheaper.

Oct 20, 2016 at 9:48 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I always enjoy reading golf charlies posts, as they are clear concise and logical (cutting through the crap)

Keep it up

Best wishes

Oct 20, 2016 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBLACK PEARL

golf charlie

You failed to follow my twisted internal logic which was saying 'look, this will disappear without trace'. Same as the various capture fantasies. If they were serious about CO2, they would jump on it.

Nevertheless, it could be a useful way of using CO2 depending on the cost. Notwithstanding any imaginary danger,

Oct 20, 2016 at 11:24 PM | Unregistered Commentere smiff

David S on Oct 20, 2016 at 11:25 AM

The hysteria was in the Media, and they are a law unto themselves, and not only about Climate Change.

Oct 21, 2016 at 12:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

e smiff, over the centuries, it is amazing how human ingenuity has managed to produce alcohol, out of all manner of vegetation, and with very basic equipment and energy input. Any left over vegetation can be used as animal fodder and agricultural fertiliser, and any surplus yeast can be used for making bread for toast, AND the Marmite to go on it.

Alcohol as a fuel is high in calories, as any beer gut can testify, it can be used as a disinfectant, can power cars, burns readily, and if produced at home, would decrease the need or ability to travel far.

As for the CO2 - is there a tax on Champagne? They want to tax the sugar in Coke, NOT the added CO2 that makes it fizzy, so why should anyone care about home brewing and distillation, if it is to save the planet?

Oct 21, 2016 at 12:50 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Golfcharlie recalls the leech dealer who warned Paris that Dr. Pasteur only wanted to rewrite the Doctrine of Humors to justify his own existence, whereas consigning the germ theory of disiease to the history books would be far cheaper than developing expensive antibiotics.

Oct 21, 2016 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

golf charlie


Yes, even I a dastardly denialist from Denial Central managed to con himself into believing there was a benefit from removing CO2 from the atmosphere.

It's because I no longer think about or discuss climate. It's been rather a long pause round here. The link came from a random twitter event.


Oct 21, 2016 at 1:15 AM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

vvussell 12:53, no I don't actually.

Do explain the link between Pasteur, the development of antibiotics, and leeches. As I have benefitted from developments derived from all three, I would love to be able to explain the link, but I just can't quite make it out.

Oct 21, 2016 at 3:05 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Robert Swan:

I am (and was) in Australia. It appears that Y2K was handled differently in Europe. Here, the IT sector was buried in work for the lead up (about 2 years) -- largely government departments.

That contrasts oddly with this Australian Government report: LINK. To have achieved that degree of readiness by mid-1999, they must have started long before 1998.

Why did Alistair Cooke apparently get so concerned? If he really did, it was our old friends in the media playing their usual tricks. The person most responsible for alerting North America to Y2K was Peter de Jager. And he got a lot of media attention. But, when in late 1998, he announced “We've finally broken the back of the Y2K problem”, there was little interest. As he said (LINK), “Naturally, any good news about Y2K spoils the fun and intentions of those trying to incite panic and runs on the bank.

Oct 21, 2016 at 9:02 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I believe that a lot of concern was expressed by many in the embedded controller industry about the effects of Y2K that many industrial controllers would be affected due to code shortcuts taken in an often severely memory limited environment.

Does anyone here have any experience with the Y2K issues involving embedded controllers in industrial situations as opposed to the better known 'big system" issues?

Oct 21, 2016 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Roy: my understanding is that, despite initial concerns, in the event there were few serious problems with embedded controllers. See pages 10 and 11 here: LINK. Others may have more detailed experience.

PS: all this is way off topic - but, for me, it's a fun trip down memory lane.

Oct 21, 2016 at 3:15 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin, many thanks for linking to your article. Much appreciated.

Oct 21, 2016 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

When the write the book about the history of the internet, and how the wonderful concept of open discussion collapsed under the sheer weight of meaningless drivel, Dork will have his own chapter.

Oct 22, 2016 at 11:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterShindig

Robin, Y2K is on topic - because it was mentioned in the original article. :)

Isn't that why it shouldn't have been mentioned?

Oct 22, 2016 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Christopher

"What's stopping the Russian cruiser fleet sailing past the Pillars of Hercules and going all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope? "

From the look of that aircraft carrier as it plodded down the channel, I'd say a turbine failure any day now.

Putin's Fear & Loathing on the Ocean Waves turns out to be a bunch of old rust buckets whose crews are both under-fed and under resourced.

Vladimirovich, we have your co-ordinates. What you call "a navy" we call "one-shot targets". Behave yourself.

Oct 22, 2016 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

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