Re: Y2K Skepticism

ChuckKuecker (
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 21:07:06 -0500 (CDT)

At 13:01 4/9/98 -0400, you wrote:
>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

A rule of thumb here. If the device in question responds to leap years, you
probably should be concerned. If there is a way to enter date information,
ditto. Most appliances with clocks don't even have date capability.

I program oven controls used in major brands, among other things, and most
of these gadgets are barely good enough to keep up with 24 straight hours,
let alone years. Unless there's a good reason for a date function, such as
in a VCR, there probably won't be trouble.

>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.

They probably talked to someone like me and were told similar to what I just
related, them clipped the explanation down to 'sound bite' size. Most news
reporters are trained to write to the lowest common denominator of the
audience. This is somewhere around third grade level.

>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"!

These same 'experts' are the ones now peddling Y2K snake oil on the
Internet. Some will get rich...

The mindset most people seem to have about computers is that they have much
more 'intellect' than they actually do. In the case of MS Windows, I have to
agree - and it's an EVIL intellect..

Chuck Kuecker