Ranting and raving and carrying on

Just a few random thoughts about random stuff. Warning - may contain profanity

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Location: Toronto-ish, Ontario, Canada

Just a guy... Bit of a geek, but who isn't these days?

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Y2K + 5

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Between "the Italian job" (AKA how I learned to hate the Romans), personal health issues (a seven-week cough and a bout with the flu), and family health issues which I don't want to talk about right now, I've been busy. Add in the holiday season, and things have been a little nuts in the cat-house.

I was just watching "King of the Hill" (only briefly), and it was a "Y2K" episode. Five years after the fact, it's pretty easy to look back at the minor panic of December, 1999, and laugh. At the time, it was no laughing matter, and for good reason.

The truth is, nobody knew how good (or bad) it would be. As society became more inter-connected and dependent on computers, the total system grew too large for any person or people to understand all of it. It's as interconnected as any major system you'd care to mention, and a failure in one spot could have a cascade effect throughout the system.

Of course, there are failsafes built into it, and they generally work. Further, we had lots of advance warning (like, about 40 years) that this would be a problem. So we (as an industry) were able to work on it in a fairly concerted manner for several years.

I wouldn't say that Y2K was a total non-event, personally. There were some fairly interesting Y2K "readiness tests" that the public never really heard much about, a few major system failures that almost escaped the news, and even today you can sometimes see webpages where the date is given as something like "19104" (instead of 2004) due to some bad coding.

Anyway, to pull this back to the present, society is (if anything) even more interconnected today than five years ago. If another pervasive threat like that arose (say a really kick-butt computer virus), it would probably wipe out civilization as we know it.

The only question is, would that be a bad thing?

Anyway, my point is that the "survivalists" might have a point. I'm not advocating we all move to the hills and stockpile food and ammunition (although sometimes Toronto does get to a person after a while...). However, even Emergency Preparedness Canada recommends people have an "emergency kit" in case they have to leave home for an extended period, and to stockpile a bit of canned food just in case. Every time there's a major storm brewing or whatever you see the people lined up down at the local store stockpiling all sorts of crap. It's pretty stupid.

Preparedness is simply a matter of "being prepared" (just like the Boy Scouts, only without snazzy uniforms). People buy insurance in case something happens, they wear seatbelts in case something happens (ok, the seatbelt laws might have something to do with that one...). Why wouldn't you have a couple of pairs of socks and underwear in a bag, together with copies of important papers? And maybe a small bottle of vodka, to make the evacuation somewhat more pleasant...

Ok, this is enough for now - I can't remember where I was going with it.

If I don't post again before tomorrow night, Happy New Year! If I do post again, disregard that.