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AFRIK-IT  November 1999

AFRIK-IT November 1999

Subject:

The dogs in the street

From:

Patrick O'Beirne <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

African Network of IT Experts and Professionals (ANITEP) List

Date:

Sat, 20 Nov 1999 16:14:54 +0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (82 lines)

The news item below is about the president of the Y2K commission in the
Philippines resigning among accusations of conflicts of interest. I'd like
to comment on the business, technical and transparency aspects of this.
There are lessons here nearer to home.

 >>>
http://www.inquirer.net/issues/nov99/nov20/news/news_2.htm

In Davao City, Zamora said Aguiluz submitted to the President his
resignation letter and an explanation on reports that he set up the
Millennium Solutions Corp. through his AMA Group of Companies to sell
computer cards, designed to solve the date-related glitch, to private and
government agencies.
Two multinational firms, Dai-Ichi Inc. and Zuellig, said the cards they
bought from Millennium Solutions were defective.

Also see http://www.philstar.com/
and http://www.manilatimes.net/1999/nov/20/top_stories/19991120top1.html
<<<
A correspondent wrote "Recently it seems, some of his acts have been quite
brazen (companies are required to get y2k certification, and those who can
give the certification must be accredited by the y2k commission -- there's
a lot of opportunity for mischief there). "

Firstly, as I understand from reading his bio, Dr. Aguiluz is an
experienced and prize-winning entrepreneur. It would seem strange that he
would get involved in a scheme that is certain to be found out on a
specific date. It is not hard to imagine that politically motivated
opponents would claim some defect (using an impossibly restrictive
definition of "Y2K compliance") in the product  his company sold in order
to discredit him. An alternative explanation is that he set up the company
but did not supervise it closely. The company then went on to sell
superficial Y2K "fixes" to government and industry in the Philippines.

We know these "fixes" well. These PC hardware cards are, as has been
already commented at length on the mail list, merely an unnecessary
expense, they will perform the once-in-a-lifetime job to change the century
OK, it's just that there are more economical ways to do it.  The question
is, are the cards in question actually defective in themselves, in which
case there's a straightforward defective product problem. Or have the
companies discovered that the *representations* made by Aguiluz' company
were defective in that they thought they were buying a complete Y2K
solution and now discover that those cards only address one tiny layer in
the whole mess?

I find the same thing in audits here; companies will earnestly check their
PC hardware clock, even twice with different tools to be sure, and
completely overlook the software issues. The Asian co-ordinators can
scarcely be unaware of software and data problems as, at the Manila 2nd
Global Y2K Summit in March, I demonstrated an example of how MS Excel can
miscalculate Y2K dates and gave a handout with more guidance.

That leaves the question of what those companies can do now. If they have
got better advice and are now on the right road the question is what has to
be done and in time. If the national Y2K co-ordinators recognise this
situation, they know where to ask for help. But there's only a month left
for timely action, thereafter either errors get propagated or work piles up
unprocessed, unless contingency actions are possible.

Now let's look at the transparency angle. Whenever a scandal erupts in
Ireland, it is said "the dogs in the street knew that". meaning that it was
common knowledge all along. All I can say is, for much of what we heard
recently, there was not even a whimper from those same dogs at a time when
it might have been useful. Not much use shaking our heads in outrage after
the event.

And in this case, too, I have received emails from correspondents in the
Philippines who said that suspicions about the Y2K Commission were "common
knowledge".

So my question is ... are there any people reading this who know about Y2K
problems that will inevitably come to light but are not telling? You know
my email.




  -------------------------------------------------------------
  Patrick O'Beirne B.Sc. M.A. FICS. IT Systems Consultant
  http://www.sysmod.com  Tel: +353 (0)55 22294   Fax: 055 22297
  Systems Modelling Ltd, Tara Hill, Gorey, Co. Wexford, IRELAND

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