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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Y2K + 10

How's this for an amusing trip down memory lane? Ten years ago, on the eve of the millennium, the big "Y2K," I was reporting for work in the basement of Gilchrist Hall at the University of Northern Iowa. I was to staff the university's "Y2K Command Center," the strategic hub of UNI's efforts to thwart any disasters due to Y2K.

As we now know, very little happened due to Y2K. The fear was that any digital device that recorded dates with only two digits wouldn't know how to properly handle a year "00" and would behave unpredictably. This was a valid concern, but not a surprise so almost all such problems were fixed months ahead of time.

Midnight came and went, and things were pretty quiet around UNI. One of our maintenance staff discovered a ventilation fan not working properly (for non-Y2K reasons) and that was it. All the professional staff went home a couple hours after midnight, but Robert Shontz (great student, individual, and co-worker) and I stayed on until morning. Even though it was pretty evident that nothing bad was going to happen, we and some other ITS associates worked in shifts to keep the command center open for a couple days. All we did was watch TV, surf the net, play video games, and eat on the university's dime, but it was nice that the university stuck to their schedule and gave us the hours we had been promised.

It would have been a more exciting story if we had somehow actively warded off a disaster, but I'm still glad I was there. What's your story? Out partying? How dull. You'll get another chance to be the hero for Y10K. Five digit years are going to require software updates. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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