More Y2K
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 09:41:17 -0700 (PDT)

Another issue that hasn't been mentioned here is what do you do when you
don't have the source code? Several of the companies I've worked for have
sold custom systems to big corporations, and later -- AFAIK -- gone bust. I
don't think there was any kind of arrangement to escrow sources, as we have
sometimes done in other cases.

Now I think those systems are perfectly Y2K compliant (though probably
not Y2038), but there must be many other organizations who rely on this
kind of software. It's one thing to say 'well, these organisations will
fix their code before Y2K', but how can they do it if they don't have the
code to fix? The only solution is to try to hold it together until they
can create a new system from scratch; odds are there are only a few lines
to fix, but without the source code you're stuck.

Worse are the 'smart' embedded controllers, which will shut down equipment
if it hasn't been serviced regularly. If they're not Y2K compliant then on
Jan 1st they see it hasn't been serviced for a century and that's that. In
this case you may be able to reset the date as a temporary solution, but if
not, and the manufacturer isn't proactive about upgrading, you may be waiting
days for a software fix. This seems to be a particular problem with medical
equipment, presumably for liability reasons.