Memories of prepping and responding to Y2K.

IMA SOL MAN

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I think it might be fun for those of us old enough to remember Y2K to talk abut what we did to prep for Y2K, and it might be informational for the younger members who weren't around back then or were too young to be aware of it.

The issue was computers whose internal calendar only had two digits for the year, and so when 1999 ended, it was feared the computers would crash, as they could not go from 1999 to the year 2000. As most things happen in business and government, the issue was kicked down the road until nearly the last minute, and businesses and government agencies rushed to hire software programmers to save the day. The USA even hired a lot of computer programmers from India to augment the programmers that we had here. Well, midnight of New Years Eve rolled around, and *Yawn* nothing happened! No planes fell from the sky, no Russian or Chinese nuclear missiles were launched, Wall Street did not crash, nothing, nada, not a thing that I am aware of happened. I don't know if it was because the software programming response had been so rigorous, or because the computers simply rolled over to year 00 and kept going.
What do you know, where were you at midnight, and what preps did you make for Y2K?

I was at home, sitting at my desk monitoring the scanner and my 2 meter ham rig, which at that time was an Alinco DR 150TQ 50 watt 2 meter mobile with 70 cm receive, running a Cushcraft Ringo Ranger II antenna about 23 feet in the air. It was powered by a power supply as I remember, with a yellow top deep cycle battery for backup. I had two multi-function FL lanterns, both with AM/FM/WX radios, one with a fan, and one with an incan adjustable lantern head with flashing red and amber lights and *snicker* a SIREN function, of all things! These were powered by wall wart rechargeable SLABS. I had a few other battery brand flashlights, and maybe a 2D incan Maglight--I don't remember when I acquired it. I was armed to repel rioting looters or foreign invaders, whatever came. :)
 
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bykfixer

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I changed the clock on my computer in September 1999 to Jan 1 2012. Nothing happened.

The day of at CNN it was midnight in Moscow at about 4pm my time and nothing happened so I knew if the Russians antique junk wasn't sending missles everywhere we'd be safe.
 

tech25

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My parents bought candles for long term lighting, stocked up on a bunch of spare batteries and bulbs for all lights in the house. I had a 3D mag light and AA mini mag ready to go but not used.

I remember buying water and some non perishable foods but that's about it.

If I recall correctly, it was a Friday night and we were watching the clock, nothing happened so we went to bed.

As @bykfixer said, the other countries weren't affected at their midnight so that made for a very relaxed atmosphere.
 

BillBond

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One of my more paranoid friends invested most of his cash in stuff he thought would sell well after the end of the world on 1/1/2000.
He was truly pissed that nothing happened and was only able to get a fraction of his money back.
 
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I played video games with my brother next to a warm flame in front our parents' wood burning fireplace when the clock rolled over. Then I went to bed.
 

PhotonWrangler

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I vividly recall those green "compliant" and red "non-compliant" stickers everywhere. We had to get vendor compliance statements for everything and then label it accordingly, then plan workarounds for the systems that might break.

I was at work on New Year's Eve babysitting systems. We wound up having one legit Y2K issue that inconvenienced a small number of people. Fortunately the manufacturer of that system had their best programmers on duty as well, and it got fixed within about 90 minutes. I was impressed.
 

IMA SOL MAN

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I vividly recall those green "compliant" and red "non-compliant" stickers everywhere. We had to get vendor compliance statements for everything and then label it accordingly, then plan workarounds for the systems that might break.

I was at work on New Year's Eve babysitting systems. We wound up having one legit Y2K issue that inconvenienced a small number of people. Fortunately the manufacturer of that system had their best programmers on duty as well, and it got fixed within about 90 minutes. I was impressed.
@PhotonWrangler That's interesting, I haven't really heard of anything that had a problem. Can you please elaborate on that and explain what system had the problem, and any complications that resulted?
 

Dave D

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I don't recall doing any prep in particular, however the whole of the Police Force was on duty, half on a 12 hours day shift 0600-1800 hrs and the other half was on nights 1800-0600.

I was on the night shift and by midnight I was stood on the roof of our Police Station, which was 5 storeys and watched all the fireworks in the town go off in celebration of the new millennium, which was spectacular!

Fortunately none of the Police comms or command and control systems failed and it was all a non event.

By 0115 hours I had been despatched to the first road traffic collision of the millennium, one car into a house, a drunk driver and an unconscious female passenger, happy new year!!!!
 

defloyd77

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Perhaps it was youthful ignorance, but in the months building up to the new year when people started becoming more and more paranoid, I just laughed and said it was mostly BS and nothing would really happen. So confident was I that I asked for a Gameboy Color that Christmas. My Dad told me it might not be "Y2K compliant" and could stop working just days after I got it. I was willing to take that risk.

New Years Eve we went to a nice restaurant and stayed there late into the new year. When the clock was approaching midnight, there was a noticeable tension in the air. People started getting really quiet. The countdown in the room was faint. 3. 2. 1.....People started to brace for calamity instead of saying "Happy New Year" after 1. Being the very much mature 13 year old I was, I broke the silence with "Are we dead yet?", which was at first met with angry stares, but then people started laughing when they realized absolutely nothing happened.

The Gameboy Color still works to this day.
 

3_gun

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I didn't expect much & got even less. I did add a bit to my already Boy Scout level of "be prepared" normal. Extra can or 2 of gas for the generator, case of H20, a few more batteries, cash on hand, etc. At that time my normal prep was good enough for about 2 weeks, I'm up to 4 or a little better now
 

ghostguy6

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I had just got home from working the new years fireworks show. Ironically I had recorded a movie earlier that night called "Y2K" and had just started watching it. I think the most prep I did was put fresh batteries in my 2D incan maglite and left it next to me. Realistically that was more because I noticed the light was starting to get dim while working that night.
I do remember being in the walmart a few weeks before and snickering at all the people going nuts for things like batteries, canned goods and first aid supplies. I really wonder how all those last minute preppers felt when nothing happened?
 

SCEMan

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In 1999, I was a Project Manager for Southern California Edison's IT Business Continuity Management Dept. and part of the Y2k Mitigation Project Team. After months of rewriting/prepping code in all the administrative/billing applications, the main effort was ensuring the power management systems would survive Y2k w/o serious grid outages to our 25 million customers. We spent long hours monitoring Y2k hitting our generation facilities in Australia for impacts we could remediate prior to US landfall. It was a scary time, but ultimately our mitigation efforts paid off with only minor issues.
 

pnwoutdoors

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Not much seemed to go wrong, at the time. Prepared a number of systems, to ensure they wouldn't bag on that day. Turned off devices over the transition. Had a few extra (alkaline) batteries for flashlights, and had a few extra candles, spare cash. Didn't have to contend with a brutally cold winter, so there was that. Made sure the car had a full tank of gas, beforehand. Was prepared for not driving anywhere over the coming week, if need be. Turned out to be, more or less, a "dud" of an event. Could have been worse.
 

letschat7

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I made no preps because I was too young to really care about Y2K.

If I had alkaline batteries in a MiniMaglite that lasted me from bedtime till 1:00 in the morn so I could read a book I was doing well.

I do remember telling my parents Y2K was because computers used 1s and 0s and they were adding a 2 which would crash everything, my neighbour stockpiled ammo, no food at all in the market after Christmas, and Energizer Lithium Photo AAs kept going and going and going.

Y2K wasn't the future we were promised and the only thing that really keeps getting better is literally batteries and lights. Like seriously look at what we had in 99 vs now.
 

PhotonWrangler

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@PhotonWrangler That's interesting, I haven't really heard of anything that had a problem. Can you please elaborate on that and explain what system had the problem, and any complications that resulted?
It wasn't anything spectacular like a stuck drawbridge or a locked-up water pumping system. Our Y2K issue caused a situation where some users couldn't place an order for something. The problem showed up right after midnight. The impact was minimal, but when we realized it, it was "holy crap, we've got a live one!" ;)
 
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M@elstrom

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Stocked up on some tinned food, filled up the fuel tank & withdrew some cash, we didn't expect anything to go sideways but there was a remote chance the financial sector (ie. EfTPOS) could experience issues.

Even my old Timex functioned up to 2009 (but now it's living in the 70s) 🤣


20230621_161748.jpg
 

pnwoutdoors

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I had a very good friend that was (and still is) a computer expert. He told me not to worry about anything, so I didn't.

I was one of those, back when. Unfortunately, the mid-sized organization I was working with at the time hadn't upgraded to better systems in awhile. And so, for them, there were a number of systems that burped over the transition; but, thankfully, none of the server equipment.

I suspect that was the general experience "out there" in corporate realms. Have newer, up-to-date systems that hadn't had the "Neanderthal" chip feature, then you were fine. Have older systems designed by chip engineers that didn't quite get the idea ... then you did.

Nicely, banking, airlines, and most governments seemed to have little trouble. I suspect that was largely due to them tending to have the capital budgets to keep "the good stuff" at the "good stuff" end of the spectrum. Sadly, at the time, many smaller organizations were just coming into their own but hadn't yet gotten with the program (to finer equipment).

It still astounds me, to this day, how gear designed in the early 1990s could have such a fatal flaw for a known occurrence that was coming in less than ten years' time. Any fool could see it coming. The engineers most of all. And yet, ...

Thankfully, it was largely a "bust." Could have been far worse.

Now, when we have another Carrington Event, people will begin to seriously appreciate the phrase "hardened systems."
 

IMA SOL MAN

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I was one of those, back when. Unfortunately, the mid-sized organization I was working with at the time hadn't upgraded to better systems in awhile. And so, for them, there were a number of systems that burped over the transition; but, thankfully, none of the server equipment.

I suspect that was the general experience "out there" in corporate realms. Have newer, up-to-date systems that hadn't had the "Neanderthal" chip feature, then you were fine. Have older systems designed by chip engineers that didn't quite get the idea ... then you did.

Nicely, banking, airlines, and most governments seemed to have little trouble. I suspect that was largely due to them tending to have the capital budgets to keep "the good stuff" at the "good stuff" end of the spectrum. Sadly, at the time, many smaller organizations were just coming into their own but hadn't yet gotten with the program (to finer equipment).

It still astounds me, to this day, how gear designed in the early 1990s could have such a fatal flaw for a known occurrence that was coming in less than ten years' time. Any fool could see it coming. The engineers most of all. And yet, ...

Thankfully, it was largely a "bust." Could have been far worse.

Now, when we have another Carrington Event, people will begin to seriously appreciate the phrase "hardened systems."
What? You've never heard the term "planned obsolescence"? Of course they knew what was coming, but if continuity of operations wasn't spec'd, hey, that's guaranteed more business in the future!

I think most people put off the hard stuff, look at our national debt, and the future of Social Security solvency, no one wants to make the hard decisions, and make the tough, unpopular choices, at least, the pigs at the trough. Uh oh, I'm getting into dangerous territory now.
 
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