Op-Ed
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If you are a Macintosh user, you might be interested in techNotes.

Y2K's real danger

I'm getting a lot of questions from readers, friends, family and virtually anyone who knows me: how serious is the Y2K thing really going to be?

First: no one really knows. Those with a vested interesting in selling solutions to the problem will certainly talk it up.

Those with a millenium-new-age-prophesy orientation have already assured the world that it will virtually end at the stroke of midnight (although they fail to recognize either time zones or that 1997 WAS the millenium if you're going by the birth of Christ; or 12/31/2000, not 12/31 1999, if you're using the calendar.)

OK: now, how about those computer cowboys who have sold everything they own and moved to fortified castles in the middle of the desert?

Well, maybe they are right, but I seriously doubt it.

Why? For one thing, simply because the backbone of this world is its economy: the world money markets in currency exchange and stocks. And let me tell you, THOSE powers that be are simply not going to let THAT system fall to hell in a handbasket. I mean, let's get real here.

Utilities? In the US, they are already 85% prepared.

So, what am I doing? Not much. But, I'm not going to be in an airplane; getting radiation treatment; nor in an elevator or driving my computer-controlled car.

Neither am I buying an Uzi.

I fully expect some inconveniences when smaller companies computers wig out. Might not be able to get bananas at the local supermarket for a couple of weeks. One of my favorite television stations might go down for a week or two. Some gas pumps might fail.

Miscellaneous inconveniences. Maybe a couple of serious ones (no, I don't have a clue as to what) but nothing that will bring civilization as we know it to its knees.

With one possible exception: panic built of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Folks, let me warn you now about what the idiots will be doing on the web and via email come August or September (or even sooner.).

You can expect a whole range of ridiculous rumors of impending doom. No doubt some very clever ones providing all kinds of seemingly detailed "facts." They will, like current hoaxes, be prefaced with "CNN says..." or "NBC reported today..." or "Today the US government announced..."

Remember, if the government is announcing a shutdown, they won't announce it by sending you email. If you receive email that contains, anywhere in it, "!!!!!!!!!!" you can be pretty sure that it's a hoax.


Rumors maywell be the real Y2K outfall and truest danger.

(A few years ago, we actually generated a toiletpaper shortage in a few cities based on a false rumor of same.)

If someone sends you a "!!!!!!!!!" email, check it out before you send it on! If it's wrong, tell them!

So: watch out for the sheep on the internet. Use your brains. Look up a suspicious rumor and verify the facts before you become a member of the sheep flock yourself.

As to Y2K, stay calm; be prudent.

Think!

If you need some help searching these things out, try:

· Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability at
<http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html>

· The Urban Legends Web Site at <http://www.urbanlegends.com>

· Urban Legends Reference Pages at <http://www.snopes.com>

· Datafellows Hoax Warnings at
<http://www.Europe.Datafellows.com/news/hoax.htm>

Those people who are still symptom free can help inoculate themselves
against the Gullibility Virus by reading some good, and serious, research material on evaluating sources, such as

· Evaluating Internet Research Sources at
<http://www.sccu.edu/faculty/R_Harris/evalu8it.htm>

· Evaluation of Information Sources at
<http://www.vuw.ac.nz/~agsmith/evaln/evaln.htm>

· Bibliography on Evaluating Internet Resources at
<http://refserver.lib.vt.edu/libinst/critTHINK.HTM>