IS Guerrilla: Yes Virginia, there will be life after Y2K

Let me let you in on a little secret: thanks to you and the people like you, the world just ain’t gonna fall apart on Jan. 1, despite what the Y2K doomsayers and nutcase survivalists are saying.

Know how I know for sure? Because I hung up my outdoor Christmas lights this afternoon, and every one of them, on all six strings, worked the first time I plugged ’em in.

Remember how your Dad used to struggle with the old outdoor light sets? He’d have to test every string before it went up, he’d have to carry a bunch of spare lights to replace the ones that got bumped or burned out over the summer, every bulb (in addition to the colour peeling off) got red hot the minute it lit up, and turning on the whole thing drove the family’s December electricity bill higher than in any other month.

At my house this year, we switched (like everyone else in the world, it seems) to a new kind of outdoor lights, you know, the ones they call icicle lights.

Turns out that icicle lights are less expensive to buy than the ones I had been using (even if I did buy the old sets 15 years ago), they use a lot less power, they clip on to or under the gutter (no more staples) and they look great.

At six bucks a string, I’m sure they were punched out by the millions by a machine in China, a machine operating under the direction of a computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) program, likely coupled with a software driven quality assurance program to make sure that they’d all work when I plugged them in out here in Cochrane, Alberta.

Take it from me: the year 2000 is gonna be great.

Yeah, I know that the systems that people worry about most were coded 20 plus years ago (and I know what you’re thinking – that was about the same time my old string of lights was manufactured) but I also know that many of those old systems, just like my old lights, have been replaced entirely over the last three years or so.

Even for the old Cobol systems that have to be remediated (and you have to factor in the fact that I’m an optimist by nature here), I know that the people like you and me who are doing the repair work on that old code are the same people who wrote the systems that work so well in the mid-90s, like the CAM systems that drove the manufacturing of my new Christmas lights.

Yes, I have confidence in those of us in the IT community who have been doing Y2K system remediation, and I’ll take the bet that the systems that have worked up to now will continue to work into the new century.

Sure, there’ll be some minor inconveniences, maybe even some bigger (but temporary) problems in less-developed nations, but at the very worst I don’t think there’ll be any more inconvenience for most us than that caused by a bad snowstorm. I’m just enough of a kid that I still look forward to big snow storms, and besides, it would be un-Canadian to be afraid of a few inches of snow now and then.

So here’s my bold prediction: planes aren’t going to fall out of the sky over Canada, our nuclear power plants aren’t going to melt down, and the lights aren’t going out for good at midnight.

The only things I’ve stocked up on for the end of the millennium are a few bottles of champagne and a whole lot of fireworks. Aside from the fireworks, I expect that I’ll be seeing the New Year in the way I usually do – side by side with my wife, huddled over a puzzle with a glass of wine in my hand. And I’ll bet I won’t be doing my puzzle in the dark once midnight strikes.

If you’re in the market for second-hand dehydrated food or portable generators, they’ll be cheap and plentiful by mid-January. And I’ll take bets on that too.

Hanley is an IS professional in Calgary. He can be reached at