Thursday, December 13, 2007

New Year's Eve 1999

The New Millennium. The Year 2000. Y-two-K. However you want to say it, those three words were enough to put fear into the hearts of many a computer programmer. For most of 1999, the programmers for the company that I worked for, as well as those for pretty much the rest of the world ;-) were busy fixing code and checking it twice. I wasn't involved with the actual programming duties for my company, but I did help out with the testing aspect. As a program got "fixed" it would be installed into a test database and I'd put it through it's paces. Mainly checking to see that they didn't break something else while attempting to fix the main problem.

For financial purposes, the company worked on a four-week period, ending on a Thursday, as opposed to using a calendar month. That year the period ended on December 23rd, as did the accounting year. So most of the financial queries and reports were completed a week before the end of the calendar year.

December 31st that year was on a Friday, which was probably a good thing. It gave the programmer's a little extra time "just in case" things didn't work out as planned. As we all know, there were no major snafus, the world didn't end, the computers worked, life went on as usual.

It's been many years since I've gone out on New Year's Eve. That year it was spent in much the same way as those of the previous 10 years. At home with Mom. Ah, such an exciting life! My niece and her son came over that night too. We played card games for a while and watched television as they broadcast the various extravaganzas from around the world. Our neighbors chimed in with firecrackers and fireworks a few minutes before midnight and we went out and watched them light up the cold night sky.

I wasn't overly concerned that things wouldn't work, but I did make sure that I had printouts of my checking and savings account, and my 401(k). I didn't normally keep a lot of money on hand, but that year I made sure I had some extra cash "just in case". We didn't stockpile canned goods or food other than what we normally would have for a winter storm. We may have crossed our fingers a time or two and hoped that nothing drastic would go wrong, but essentially we were optimistic. And, thank goodness, we weren't proven wrong!

The following poem was making the rounds in 1999... Author Unknown.

'Twas the night before 2000 and all through the tower,
applications were failing, more by the hour.
The programs were running on the mainframe with care,
in hopes that the millennium bug was not there.

The programmers were seated in front of their PC's,
while visions of blank paychecks danced in their heads.
With Amy in her office and I at my desk,
we had just settled down for a night with no rest.

When up on my screen there arose such a ding,
I sprang from my chair screaming .. "I didn't touch a thing!"
Away from my computer I ran real quick,
tore open the drawer and picked up a stick.

I glared at the PC, evil and mean,
then realized ... it's just a machine.
What to my wondering eyes should I see,
but a miniature window, and a message for me.

With tired eyes, I gave a glance,
only hours left .. we don't have a chance!
More rapid than eagles the languages fell,
and we whistled, and shouted, and called with a yell;
"Now COBOL! now, NATURAL, Batch and On-Line!
Oh, FORTRAN! Oh SAS! Now CHORE went flat-line!

From the front of my face, to the face of the wall,
now bash away! bash away! bash away all!
As the team gathered together for one last try,
the word from management came... "Fix it or die!"

So they sat in their chairs, in the up-right position,
with a desk full of work, and a nasty disposition!
And then, in a dinging, I heard the speaker mention,
"Attention, everyone in the building, Attention."

As he tried to speak the next word,
the crashing of the mainframe is all we heard.
The programs were a mess, from start to end.
My screen was tarnished with an ugly abend.

The team assembled, into one huge pack,
we looked like hungry wolves, ready to attack.
Our eyes - how they twinkled! Our fingers typed with a clank.
Fix Payroll we said, because our paychecks are blank!

The sweat on my face was falling like rain,
while the coding of COBOL drove me insane!
The stump of a pencil I held tight in my hand,
I chewed nervously, hoping I would not get canned!

I coded some Windows and a Bridge too,
that took a program from version one to two.
I was tired, weak, and in a delusional state,
and I laughed when I saw it, in spite of fate.

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
soon let me know that bug was not dead!
It spoke not a word, but went straight to work,
crashing the remaining programs, then turned with a jerk.

I placed the cursor next to the bug,
pressed the delete key to remove the little thug.
But I heard it exclaim, as I erased the line.....
"Happy Millennium for now, 'cause I'll return in 9999!"

Note: Written for the 38th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The theme is: The New Millennium. Where were you when the year 2000 came around? How did you celebrate the New Year 2000...

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