On This Day Pre-Y2K

Confused by any of the jargon you see below? Check the Y2K Glossary!

April 30, 1999 Permalink

I was with Intel from 1974 to 1986, and still follow it and other high tech companies closely. The supply line lengths are enormous, and in most of the high tech industry the unrelenting competitive price pressure has created a “monoculture” of suppliers.

(Monoculture as in the biodiversity arguments. If “Corn strain A” is marginally more productive/profitable than Corn strains B, C, D, etc., then as time passes Corn strain A comes to represent 97% of all produced corn. Implications for disease resistance and resilience are obvious. Likewise, in the chip industry, if “Photomask glass vendor A” is slightly better than Photomask glass vendors B, C, D, etc., vendor A dominates and the other vendors typically go out of business or shift to other markets.)

I’ll put it bluntly, as I have in past articles: If parts of Asia are hit hard by Y2K problems--whether because Korean telecomm is out or Thailand electricity is out or photomask production in Singapore is affected--then the effects spread to the U.S. companies in a matter of weeks.

(Actually, though the physical shipments take days to weeks, the effects of plant shutdowns will be felt effectively instantaneously, through spot market prices and panic. If Intel learns that Hoya is being affected by rolling blackouts, or shortages of materials, all hell breaks loose. Witness the problems in DRAM supply when the Sumitomo epoxy plant burned in the early 90s...it was the “monoculture supplier” of epoxy to the world semiconductor industry.)

Will Asia have problems? Unclear. I think the likelihood is high enough to warrant making preparations for a much deeper recession that Yardeni has forecast, due to interdependencies and the effects of plant shutdowns (hint: no paycheck, no food, hence riots, lootings, etc.).

—Tim May, comp.software.year-2000, 04/30/99

----------- Clipped off from Risks 20.35 -----------

Date: Fri, 30 Apr 99 9:45:34 PDT
From: “Peter G. Neumann”
Subject: On-line banking customers off-line for the week

A glitch in the networking software in the Genesis system at CheckFree in Atlanta has caused repeated crashes affecting the operations of at least 21 banks nationwide since Monday 26 Apr 1999. Wells Fargo said as many as 150,000 of its customers using Quicken or Microsoft Money to pay bills were blocked, although its other 710,000 on-line customers paying bills directly have not been impeded. (We previously reported on-line brokerage systems saturating because of increases in demand.) [Source: Sam Zuckerman, *San Francisco Chronicle*, 30 Apr 1999, B1; PGN-ed]

--------- End clip from Comp.Risks, next door --------

Repeat after me, this is *not* Y2K. Everything else was working. The power was on. There are lots of programmers. This isn’t life and death. This is *only* money. The banks “get it”. Y2K will not be a problem. This is easy-to-fix networking software not that weird mainframe stuff.

Everything is fine..

“I’m not afraid of Y-2-K anymore
I can tie my shoes
I have been to the coun-try
And I am going to school.”

Nothing to fear, except fear itself.

cory hamasaki 245 Days, 5,888 Hours.

—Cory Hamasaki, comp.software.year-2000, 04/30/99

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