January 17, 2005

Two Bites About Y2K

Now hear this: I'm Y2K compliant. It's five (5) years ago now, but I remember clearly: when the year 2000 dawned, I did not mutate into a half-witted pumpkin who couldn't handle two (2) little zeros, oh no! Sure, I was drunk out of my mind, had a hangover the size of a Y2K ready Mahindra Scorpio - but I was, and remain, proudly Y2K compliant.

I know you remember those three (3) little letters (sure, one's a digit, you're a clever one aren't you?). Remember too how they once were a symbol of the finest techie pedigree this side of a millennium? Something to attach to your name, streets better than a degree. Take me, I ordered myself new visiting cards. In 12 (twelve) point Tahoma, they said: "Dilip D'Souza, Y2KC, CFBA." My credentials, didn't you know: "Y2K Compliant" and "Couldn't Finish my BA."

Still, for the pair of you who missed it, here's a synopsis of the Y2K issue.

More than 30 (0.03K) years (Y) ago, many computer programmers worked in a language called COBOL (which stands for Code to make yOu BellOw with Laughter). Because most were male, they suffered from a grave shortage of mammary. What's more, their dates came with only two (2). If you can imagine. So writing software in those days, they had a major limitation: they could give their dates just two (2) bites of mammary.

I know you're laughing and laughing that this was the case - which explains why COBOL was called COBOL. Thing is, nobody knew that in a mere 0.03K or so Ys, the mammary shortage would be ... well, just a mammary. Nobody knew that one (1) day, people could freely give their dates four (4) bites of mammary.

Circa 1999, there was all this bizarre software written by dudes who were preoccupied with mammary. See, they had had to make do with the mammary they had in hand, that's all. Can't blame them, I suppose, but there you are. Anyway, to this software, the year 2000 looked like so: "00". (Kind of like all that mammary, actually). So when 2000 rolled around, as it was likely to do after 1999, millions of computers were going to assume we had regressed to the beginning of time: before Kobe Bryant and the blog mela, would you believe it.

That, in a nutshell, and if mammary serves me right, was the problem.

Now it sounds pretty stupid, certainly low-tech, to call it "the problem in which computers equate 2000 to zero and putrefy into lumps of plastic and silicon." A snappier, tech-ier name was essential. So someone dreamed up "Y2K". Has that nice 21st Century ring to it, right? If I go about shouting "Y2K" every now and then, you can bet the world will worship the ground I walk on. In fact, I tried it this morning. People were very worshipful. They indulged in definite Y2K rite: they threw tomatoes at me. Messy, but I felt honored with each veggie that struck.

You see, we computer nuts have a startling ability to turn mundane into hi-tech, prestigious and futuristic. I mean, suppose I tapped you and said: "Hey, I know what comes after 1999: 2000!" What would you do? My guess is, you'd mutter an excuse and sidle quickly away, ensuring a city block or three (3) separated us. You'd think I was loony, and you'd be right.

But what if I said instead: "Hey, I'm Y2K compliant!"? Admit it, you'd look at me with new respect. Ask for my autograph, offer to take me out to dinner. (I like Thai).

But get this: saying "I'm Y2K compliant!" is just the same as saying "I know what comes after 1999: 2000!" Only, it sounds much better. See what I mean about mundane and hi-tech? Either way, I'm loony: but just using those magic letters (yeah, yeah, one's a digit, I got you) lets me pose as the second coming of Sabeer Bhatia. (I am Sabeer Bhatia).

All of which is why Y2K compliance got so widespread. Here in India, a prominent Pune builder was claiming to be Y2K compliant last time I visited; and Hyundai once pronounced that its car engines had "Y2K ready technology."

Right. You know how the carburetors in those engines get all hot and bothered by mammaries. Sure.

Still, we should have seen many more such claims. After all, cereal is Y2K compliant. The route 20,000 Bombayites took to run 7 km on Jan 16th is Y2K compliant. My President is Y2K compliant. Tomatoes, worshipful or not, are Y2K compliant.

In fact, with technology advancing so rapidly, these days even mammaries are Y2K compliant.

Though if I were you, I'd hold on tight to some nevertheless. Make that two (2).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That sure is one helluva humorous post ! Had a hearty laugh reading it ....