The power stayed on, planes stayed in the air and nothing seems to have melted down as a result of the year 2000 date problem. But Canadian Y2K guru Peter de Jager said it’s both premature and immature to consider the threat to be over.
“A lot of people have been phoning me today and saying, ‘We want to get a wrap-up on Y2K,’ and I want to leap down their throat and rip their heart out,” said de Jager.
“For God’s sake, you have not received your paycheque this month. You have not received your credit card invoices. There’s so many business processes that don’t take place until the end of the month.”
He said he expects some glitches to become apparent in mid-February, a couple of weeks after month’s end. Those glitches will be minor and akin to the type of problems that surface when a company implements something large on their network.
“In other words, things that you can handle in a day or two. I don’t see anything at this point that is life-threatening or society-threatening for the simple reason that we did our job. We got through a lot of this stuff because we put the work in. The biggest concerns were infrastructure and we took care of that.”
Statements in the media about the bug being a myth or not having caused any problems irritate de Jager, as do comments about too much money having been spent.
“I’m getting tired of seeing TV shows that say the year 2000 bug never bit or the year 2000 bug was squashed or the year 2000 problem has not caused any problems. It has and they’ve been widely reported. The one that I thought was significant is the fact that in the (United) States, seven nuclear power plants had problems with the safety monitoring system,” said de Jager.
“Given that seven nuclear power plants had a problem, how much less money would you like us to have spent there? I haven’t had a proper answer from any of the critics on that question. It’s not a rhetorical question. If you’re saying we’ve spent too much, fine. How much money should we have spent? Are you speaking as a lay person, an idle commentator or a computer expert? How much risk are you willing to accept?”
He admitted his concerns about other countries not doing enough to combat the problem may have been overstated, possibly because work was being done that was unknown to the rest of the world. But he’s still waiting to see how those countries handle the end of the month processing as well.
One of the most upsetting things to de Jager is the media backlash against Y2K experts. He called it heartbreaking.
“People like myself are being crucified… We have received death threats on our home phone number. We have received hate mail, a fair amount of it.”
The threats have been sufficient that de Jager’s wife has requested he remove his personalized license plate — Y2K — from the car, lest she encounter “a wacko with a baseball bat.”
He said, “To be forced into a position where I have to hide my involvement in Y2K is depressing.”
Furthermore, he lamented that his articles in late 1999 stated the disaster wouldn’t happen because things had been fixed, but he is accused now of just changing his words.
“I was in a plane (as the clock rolled over). I obviously didn’t expect them to fall out of the sky.”