Paul's Internet Landfill/ demons/ Death by Millenium

Death By Millennium

How I was enslaved by the Y2K problem

For the past couple of days, I have been surfing like a mad dog or Englishman, frantically searching for Year 2000 Compliance statements hither and yon. Why, you ask? I was conscripted to create a cool web page (which I will not link) for this wonderful university.

You know about the Y2K problem, don't you? It's the cool crisis wherein programs encoded their dates using two digits, which is fine if you are in the middle of the century, but can lead to confusion when crossing cusps of millenniums.

Clearly, this was exciting stuff. Personally, I have a funny feeling that we don't need a funky date-time problem to finish so-called "civilized society" off, but if the powers that be wanted a Y2K, I would create a Y2K page for them.

Surf, surf, surf I did, amassing hordes of informative sites and links to software companies. See? Here's little worker bee Paul, doing the very best he can to get earnest information on this wretched new problem...

And then the little worker bee is squashed. By Perl.

Long live Perl, and long live Tom Christiansen, whose breathtaking debunking is brilliant, not because it is objective or even completely correct (IMHO), but because it is different. Just read the article. Mr. Christiansen explains very well that yes, we do have a problem, but it isn't all that new. Just read the article.

So why do I bother writing about this in my personal pages? It's not like I need more reasons for the College to fire me, despite what people might think. I say this because I got caught up in the hype as well. I was looking for compliance statements from telnet programs, for heaven's sake. Sheesh. Now that I have got a new perspective on things, I hang my head in shame.

What does this show? It shows how suspect we all are to fads and trends. People once fell for pet rocks and neon headbands and hula hoops. Now, we are falling prey to the promises of the Internet, e-commerce and this so-called "Millennium Bug." There is no reason for any of us to feel smug. I for one understand that I am probably being suckered by a thousand other scams and fads as I write this, not the least of which is the empty lure of meaningful employment.

You know what else? When and if we engage in an orgy of mass destruction that ends "civilization" as we know it, it will probably have something to do with a fad that holds us in our spell. We will probably all jump on some horrible destructive bandwagon that we will think is the best thing to come along since the New Kids on the Block. Wars have ignited with less kindling -- just look at the masses that elected Adolf Hitler to power in Germany. No, a death by mad mass delusion would not surprise me at all.

This doesn't mean that I can get out of creating this website. I suppose I don't really want to, if only because guarding against the Y2K problem is going to solve a lot of other computing issues around the college. But at least I am aware that this furor is probably more of a legal/litigational issue than anything else. And that is comforting, because it tells me that we're still on track to extinguish ourselves, after all.

Oh well. Back to work.