OK then, MOSTLY fine

Flashback to January 1999, when this IT pilot fish is hired by a small software company with a very specific customer base -- and no Y2k concerns.

"They developed software to manage all aspects of medical offices: billing, appointment book, patient notes, etc.," fish says. "I asked the owner if he had done any Y2k testing. 'It's fine,' he assured me.

"By late fall, I was getting concerned that he had not done any formal testing, so I conducted some stealth code reviews. The code, surprisingly, never assumed the century, and the calculations all used an appropriate algorithm for calculations that would work just fine after January 1, 2000.

"I felt a little better after that, but I still had a nagging worry, given the lack of formal testing.

"January 2, 2000, rolled around, and we got a panicked phone call: A user had run a clean-up program on the appointment book, and it deleted every single entry.

"The user had made a backup before the end of the year using the homegrown backup program. But when we tried to restore the data, we discovered that they had never changed the program's default setting to not backup the appointment book.

"I have no idea how a doctor's office can operate without an appointment book, but I do know how to issue an emergency update -- and one went out that very afternoon."

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