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April 1999

"Y2K and the Search for Scapegoats -- Part 3"

By: Tom Nadeau - os2headquarters@mindspring.com

The first part of this series listed some of the common scapegoats used by the computer industry to find somebody to blame for the Year2000 computer problem. You know who they want to blame -- computer programmers, hardware designers, and mainframe systems. The second part of this series showed how OS/2 users can avoid the Y2K problem by checking each level of their computer setup, including hardware, O.S., applications, and data. Finally, this series concludes with a look at some of the new scapegoats that people will need when they find that the old ones no longer work!

You may not believe it, but the pundits are going to have a field day with the new targets of blame and ridicule. Here are the favorites to become Y2K scapegoats:

1. God. I suppose it was appropriate that Nevada, home of freewheeling Las Vegas, was one of the first governments to officially declare God the cause of the Y2K crisis. Yes, the state legislature decided that the Y2K problem was an "act of God," not a willful act of ignorance or a short-sighted decision on the part of managers, programmers, and CEOs. This clarification makes it easy for insurance companies to get off the hook.

However, this clever spin-job does not fix the problem, and it sure doesn't do anything for the Master Programmer's reputation, either. What a bunch of losers.

2. Viruses. Sure, we have heard a lot about Melissa lately, but wait until Windows machines start botching data and dropping e-mail messages next January. I'm sure a lot of know-nothings will claim that a sudden virus infestation has caused the trouble, instead of recognizing the effects of software design errors.

Viruses are a handy scapegoat, but once again, this blame-tossing does not solve the problem. Running Norton AV will not fix a Y2K bug.

3. The Church. After a few months or perhaps a year or two to ruminate on matters, it is likely that some people will point the finger of blame at religion, particularly Christian religion. They will claim that if not for Messianic prophecies, the computer industry would not have had a mental block against the year 2000 and would have prepared for it much sooner! (To which the churches will reply, "You told us you didn't believe us, remember?)

Once again, people with an axe to grind will find a handy scapegoat, but this still does not solve the problem of Year 2000. Mental blocks come in all shapes and sizes. The growing culture of millennial teachings does not excuse programmers and managers from their responsibilities, any more than the weatherman's forecast excuses bad driving during a thunderstorm.

Fortunately, OS/2 users don't need Year 2000 scapegoats. We have our hands full looking for scapegoats to explain the lack of market share for our favorite operating system. Now that's a goat of a different color....

Tom Nadeau
OS/2 Headquarters -- Your Chauffeur on the Info Highway
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