Re: Y2K Skepticism

Harvey Newstrom (
Thu, 09 Apr 1998 13:01:05 -0400

Derek Strong wrote:
> Okay, here's one good URL I found called "8 Myths about the Millenium Bug",
> on CNET:
> A good probing article, with numerous links to other skeptical sources.
> Derek Strong

How can CNET be that sloppy with their research? They specifically
mention the "myth" that VCRs and coffee-makers won't work after the year
2000. Then they dismiss this by claiming that home appliances don't
care what year it is.

This is false for some brands. My VCR is set to record daily programs
Monday through Friday. When I try to put in the year "00" (it only
allows two spaces), it says year 1900 and then records the wrong
programs on the wrong day of the week. I cannot program dates past the
year 2000. I cannot use day-of-the-week codes.

My coffee maker is also set to make coffee automatically Monday through
Friday. I haven't tested it, but if it misinterprets the year, it will
be making coffee on the weekends and skipping coffee two week days a

What bothers me is that CNET didn't say most of these devices will
correctly calculate the year and will function correctly. CNET said that
these devices don't care what the year is. This is demonstrably false.
I must question whether they really researched VCR's and Coffeemakers to
see how they would function when the dates were set ahead. Their
explanation for why it doesn't matter is obviously false.

The very fact that they asked different "experts" instead of simply
programming a VCR or coffeemaker to see for themselves shows the lack of
real research going into this article. People interested in this and
other computer bugs should read the "comp.risks" newsgroup. It is full
of technical explanation for how computers fail. Computers fail much
more easily than people think. In most cases, it is false human
expectations about the computer that causes the problem. If this stuff
interests you, or you want to hear from people who really research
computer bugs, definitely read "comp.risks"!

Harvey Newstrom <>
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