Partying like it's 1999, redefined

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It's the waning days of 1999 and, like everyone else, the international company where this IT pilot fish works is staring down the barrel of Y2k.

"Most of our servers around the world were Unix-based, but mail and groupware were on Windows servers, so Y2k was an important issue at HQ and therefore for all local department heads like me," says fish.

"We had updates, tests, drills and contingency plans, including re-creating the complete infrastructure from scratch. All went very well, and I and my colleagues around the globe were confident we could weather what the bigwigs at HQ saw as the looming catastrophe."

Four weeks before New Year's Eve, everyone gets orders to organize 24-hour shifts, with the bigger local divisions also taking responsibility for divisions in smaller countries.

Fish's staff is considered "well versed and able" -- which means they get to cover for the IT departments of two smaller divisions over the Christmas and New Years holidays.

Then, just a week before the turn of the year, new orders come in: All servers, regardless of operating system, are to be shut down at noon on December 30 and restarted on the morning of January 2.

And since there won't be any need for anyone to babysit the darkened data centers, fish and his cohorts have reason to celebrate: They'll get New Year's off!

"Then an addendum arrived: 24-hour shifts would stay in place," fish sighs.

"So from December 30 to January 2, I sat in my office watching silent and dark servers through glass walls and talking on the phone to my wife and a lot of colleagues around the world. We even counted the year down over a conference call -- six hours in a row, because we were spread over six different time zones."

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