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Remember the Y2K debacle?

  1. Dec 20, 2012 #1

    jim mcnamara

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    The time in Sydney Australia is 6:28AM, as of right now. December 21, 2012.

    I sure hope the Mayan Calendar nutcakes are miserable. Because they sure made a lot of gullible people unhappy or scared....

    Just like the Y2K thing - I worked with a lady who bought a $3000 generator because all of the utilities were going to fail Jan 1, 2000. She still has it in the box, I believe.

    The current Mayan nonsense is just like Y2K -
    'deja-vu all over again' as some great wit used to say.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2012 #2

    Evo

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    We all know that the only time zones that matter are the ones in the continental US. That's only fair since the majority of the nuts live here. I wonder if that guy is going to jump off the cliff through a magic portal that will appear at 11:11 AM MST and save the world?
     
  4. Dec 20, 2012 #3

    jedishrfu

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    We''ll know if he succeeded in a few hours. I'll keep you posted.
     
  5. Dec 20, 2012 #4

    AlephZero

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    I hope not, because Y2K was actually real. I worked on fixing a few genuine Y2K software bugs. None of them would have hurt the general public, but some of them could have cost my employers $millions through inability to ship products.

    And I knew the owner of a small shop who had no accounting system for a several weeks after Jan 1 2000, till his database software got itself working in the right century.
     
  6. Dec 20, 2012 #5

    Evo

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    What about the UNIX 2038 problem?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_2038_problem
     
  7. Dec 20, 2012 #6
    We don't have to worry...

    ...either 64 bits would save us or we would die anyway according to Mayan/New Age prediction.


    (I used "or" so I think that technically speaking this sentence is true)
     
  8. Dec 20, 2012 #7

    Evo

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    So what's the next big apocalypse? How many Mayan 2012 end of the world websites are there?
     
  9. Dec 20, 2012 #8

    nsaspook

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    I agree with you, Y2K is not a good example of a debacle. We spent a huge amount of money and time upgrading old systems and validating clock rollover problems with legacy systems that would have costs millions to replace.

    The reason the economy did not crash was people worked for years examining code and fixing the Y2K problems that were found.
     
  10. Dec 20, 2012 #9

    PAllen

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    I suggest a new term: Self-defeating prophecy (contrast with self fulfilling). Y2K disaster predictions were a self defeating prophecy; fear of the prophecy led to largely successful amelioration.

    [Edit: It has been pointed out to me that this usage is establised; However I had never heard it before.]
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  11. Dec 20, 2012 #10
    What usage? Do you mean the term, "self defeating prophecy"?
     
  12. Dec 20, 2012 #11

    PAllen

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    Yes, "self defeating prophecy" turns out to established usage, and Y2K is a cited example. I guess it is a pretty obvious leap from "self fulfilling prophecy".
     
  13. Dec 20, 2012 #12
    Jonah was supposed to warn the people of Nineveh to reform or the city would be destroyed. He warned the people as instructed. They reformed. The city was not destroyed. He felt that he had been made a fool.
     
  14. Dec 20, 2012 #13
    Isn't that true for anything that would happen but doesn't because precautions were taken?
     
  15. Dec 20, 2012 #14

    PAllen

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    Yes, but there are also predictions where the act of predition makes them much more likely to come true. For example, a big name investor predicts stock x will go up or down. Whatever they predict is likely to happen because of the buy / sell actions of followers of the prediction. In the Y2K case, it was not obvious whether amelioration would succeed - some prognosticators were near certain of disaster up until the end.
     
  16. Dec 20, 2012 #15
    Only if the precautions were taken as the result of a prophesy.
     
  17. Dec 20, 2012 #16
    Y2K was not a prophesy, it was a piece of good advice. Check your mission critical software. It got hyped in the press, and that was a bad thing. But it would be foolish to reject all future good advice for that reason.
     
  18. Dec 20, 2012 #17
    A prediction about an event happening making that event more likely to come true would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we're talking about a self-defeating prophecy, like the Y2K example that was given, then was it true that the hype surrounding it caused the experts to stop half-assing it and get to work?
     
  19. Dec 20, 2012 #18

    PAllen

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    I would say yes. That is the way I experienced it in the industry - the hype did help motivate efforts to prevent it.
     
  20. Dec 20, 2012 #19

    nsaspook

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    Yes, this is a sad example of what happened when the bug wasn't fixed properly.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2001/sep/14/martinwainwright
     
  21. Dec 20, 2012 #20

    jedishrfu

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    Another related crisis was the GPS rollover in 1999 due to the way satellite keep track of time in weeks and secs in a week.

    The fear was that GPS would fail and planes would crash...

    Here some details on how programmers would get tricked by the complexity:

    http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2869
     
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