back to article Sysadmin paid a month's salary for one day of nothing

Yes, we know that On-Call is supposed to be weekly and appear on Fridays. But we let some writers go on holidays and our mailbag is overflowing after recent stories of Microsoft help desk staff hanging up after 15 minutes and the reader paid to do nothing for three months. So when reader “Will” wrote with a similar story we …

  1. DougS Silver badge

    Wow

    I've heard of time and a half for overtime, and double and in a few cases triple pay for holidays. But a month's pay for a night's work is like 20x! Surprised they didn't have a line of volunteers a lot longer than the number of slots they wanted to fill. Sounds like the CIO promised a trouble free Y2K and had a bonus based on that large enough that he was willing to spend almost anything to insure it.

    I had a (mostly) memorable night in the largest crowd Bourbon Street had ever seen that night, in retrospect I'm glad I have those memories rather than the extra month's pay.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      20x ? That was probably danger money !

      I didn't get paid any extra, as nobody thought I needed to be on-call - but I checked all of my systems and everything rolled over as expected. There was nothing I could have done anyway, as the Estates boys decided to lock up and chain the doors of any buildings that were unoccupied over the Christmas break.

      A neighbouring institution decided to shut everything down, and fared worse. The Y2K bug didn't wave antennae in their direction either, but lots of kit was taken out by a lightning strike.

      Moral of the story: Mother Nature can mess up your DR plans in ways you can't possibly imagine.

      1. Reality Dysfunction

        Re: Wow

        We worked hard for months certifying everything in advance and looked forward to some on call only to be told IT were not needed as we had done our work too well but that Estates who had done nothing would be on a weeks overtime for the night just in case one of their untested systems (Alarms etc) had an issue.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Wow

          "We worked hard for months certifying everything in advance and looked forward to some on call only to be told IT were not needed as we had done our work too well"

          Which is pretty much why the rest of the world saw the Y2K "problem" as scaremongering. A lot of people put a lot of time and effort into making sure it wasn't the disaster the media were predicting. Well done to all involved. Have another one on me.

          (I was also one of the ones making sure in advance nothing broke, but I also wasn't one offered humongous sums of cash to work that night either!)

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Wow

            "Which is pretty much why the rest of the world saw the Y2K "problem" as scaremongering."

            I saw 3 Y2K issues and none of them happened on December 31st.

            1: Alarm systems tended to regard 9/9/99 as an impossible date or a test code. Unpatched ones around the world either didn't work at all on that day or went off and wouldn't shut down.

            2: A lot of NTP implementations represented utime as a signed long. There were a LOT of embedded systems and routers which went into reboot loops on "halfway through the epoch" day.

            3: A NEAX61 which got a new software load for y2k fixes turned out to have scribbled all over its memory and been writing garbage to backup tapes for at least 3 years. 60,000 lines got knocked out for 12 hours when it was rebooted and came up brain-dead. A very old backup was found to work and then all journalled changes had to be written back into the switch. It took more than 6 weeks to replay that journal.

            The only one which did happen on Dec31 was on a very old SCO unix system which a law firm was using. They were sensible enough to back everything up and it booted up fine with no operational problems - but every time it rebooted the cmos clock would be set to Jan 1 1970. The workaround was simply to set the clock at every startup. It was replaced with a NT server system by March 2000.

          2. Kobus Botes
            Boffin

            Re: Wow

            We also tested everything in advance - the really old machines that could not be patched were replaced and the ones that could be fixed were fixed (I think it was a BIOS upgrade that needed to be run). I was on leave during that December and my boss and the PFY spent the night playing games until he was reasonably sure that nothing untoward would happen and then left to party.

            The more interesting thing about that time happened in late October. The company that I worked for had recently merged with another company and IT had only just finished merging their operations. We were in two seperate buildings (across the street from each other). Anyway, in October a directive was sent out by Head Office that each branch had to procure, rent or otherwise obtain the following prior to 1 December:

            A power generator capable of running the office, in case there was as total meltdown and the power utility could not provide power. The most important requirement was that all PC's and the server room must be operational.

            Portable loos in case the municipality had a total meltdown and there were no water to flush the toilets (there were much gnashing of teeth in the press that automated systems would not be able to run in the absence of the expected power failures, or should their computerised systems fall over).

            Tanks to store water - primarily to run the loos.

            The local directors then called me in to get my take on that and to give them some guidance, as they had discovered that, IF they could get a suitable generator, it would cost almost their year's profit (supply and demand - the forward-thinking people having long ago secured what they needed at reasonable cost). Ditto for loos and water tanks.

            So I said, let's look at this logically: what good would keeping the servers and PC's running do, in case of total meltdown? There would be no telecommunications, as the telco's back-up systems could only run for a limited time in any case. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that the entities we needed to communicate with, would have the capability to do so. So all we would be doing is generating power at huge cost to create Word documents and spreadsheets and store it locally. We have been doing that manually for donkey's years (wide-spread PC's only came into use late in the 80's, so most people still knew how to do it - in fact, there were a fair number of die-hards who still ran manual systems next to the computerised system, as they did not fully trust the new-fangled way of doing things) and could easily revert. Once the expected chaos has subsided, we could then just scan or copy everything, or type the hand-written documents if push came to shove.

            We also did not need power for lighting (it being summer down here) and air-conditioning is really just a luxury that we can dispense with if needed.

            As far as loos and water was concerned, I told them that I am sure all the valves could still be manually operated, so I do not foresee any interruptions there. As far as water was concerned, if there were no pumps to pump water into the reservoirs, having tanks on the premises would be redundant in any case, since there would be no water to fill the tanks to start with.

            The end result was that a nice letter was sent back to HO, stating basically that they have discussed the matter and, given the possible scenario's, have decided to do none of the suggested steps, for the reasons I gave and the crippling financial burden were they to try and implement it.

            And everybody was reasonably relaxed about the whole thing afterwards. Yes, there were plans made on how to handle total melt-down, and procedures circulated on how things would need to be done if everything was to be done manually again, but people were happily continuing as always.

            That said: there is nowadays a lot of smirking about the non-event that Y2K turned out to be ( I suspect mostly by people who were not there at the time, or who did not know what had been done in order to avert problems), but that was only (as said by many in the know) because a lot of hard work and testing had been put in by a lot of people beforehand to make it so.

            In some ways I think that they (we) had been too successful and did it too well, so that the general feeling was that a lot of unnecessary hype had been created.

      2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

        Re: Wow

        I "worked" that nght too, for a certain large bank originally based in Halifax. Was paid the equivalent of three weeks pay to stay until 5am.

        Mostly, I spent the night sat around, watching the telly with my feet up.

        When I staggered out of there, with nothing having happened whatsoever, I was most pleased to find that the partying had barely subsided at all and was able to get a few drinks in before breakfast.

        Not a bad night at all!

      3. Robin

        Re: Wow

        > the Estates boys decided to lock up and chain the doors of any buildings that were unoccupied over the Christmas break

        Where I come from, the estate boys tend to un-chain and break into any building that's unoccupied.

    2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Wow

      Remarkably generous. I only got an extra half week's pay, but I didn't have to be at work, merely carrying a company phone for the night. We didn't actually expect problems as we were Unix based (so the problem is 2038) but the customers were nervous after all the coverage of Y2K. As it was I didn't get a peep, which was a good thing as I probably wouldn't have been compos mentis enough to handle a problem given the party I was at.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wow

      I managed to get paid for being on-call from the 31st-4th at my standard day rate from two different customers of the reseller I was working for and apart from remaining sober, it was easy money. I had spent the last year at both sites testing they readiness/patching/upgrading etc so we weren't expecting any problems.

      The guys that managed to get on-site cover at 24/7 sites where they spend ~8 hours from 8PM-4PM playing 3D shooters, eating pizzas and fizzy drinks provided by the customers and the only issue was with a game that crashed shortly after midnight (it was flakey so no idea if it was Y2K related...) in addition to being on-call made the big bucks...

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Wow

      Some countries (parts of Asia) have a yearly bonus concept called the '13th Month Pay'. Perhaps 'Will' was working overseas in such a location.

      When his superiors were looking for someone to work over the New Years Eve, the sneaky boss asked,

      "Hey. That new guy, named Will... ...does he know about the '13th Month' Year-End bonus?"

  2. a_mu

    I took the other way

    Having spent the past few years sorting out the &* *& mess on a few projects,

    ( COBOL and Fortran 4 on my CV was suddenly of use )

    and having done to much OT,

    On basis that if things did go &*&*& at midnight 1999 / 2000,

    it was going to be a monumental &*&*&

    Me and some friends took the other option.

    We found a small island in the Maldives,

    with no internet, very little technology, analog phones to main land,

    a small bar, lots of stock, its own diesel generator, and Great diving ,

    On basis it would be a great place to be 'stuck' for a month or two.

    When we recovered first week in January, we had mixed feelings about how millennium it had all gone so well. ....

  3. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

    Sounds familiar

    Worked that night too (although not for quite that much money...) along with a colleague, plus the missus came in too and brought a TV and bottle of bubbly.

    Was there to support all the European customers in case things went tits-up, and the company had set up a fairly nice system to help us do the support (we're the European arm of a global company, the db was worldwide).

    So comes the time, and of course we only had problems with the "millennium bug" on one system. And yes, of course it's the one you guessed, the support database went gaga. But as there was absolutely no issue from any of the customers, we just savoured the irony along with the champagne, the extra pay and the coverage on TV.

  4. jake Silver badge

    I made quite a few dollars leading into the last days of the 20th C ...

    ... that said, it never was a problem to begin with.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: I made quite a few dollars leading into the last days of the 20th C ...

      Jake, considering the things you've done in your life, I had you pegged as being a bit older than 16!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: I made quite a few dollars leading into the last days of the 20th C ...

        @John Brown (no body)

        Eh? I was 40(ish) in the last days of the 20th Century ...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I made quite a few dollars leading into the last days of the 20th C ...

          I know. I was poking fun at your comment about Y2K not having been a problem in the first place. It was certainly overblown by the media, but it wasn't a complete non-event and there were still systems which were overlooked as we have seen in the comments here.

  5. Gordon Pryra

    Easy money

    I was paid by a bank to spend the evening there for a months wages

    My job?

    To ensure that fax machines we still working the day afterwards.......

  6. OzBob

    On Y2K, I was working. I had 3 days of food

    but only 3 cigarettes. That was a close run thing, let me tell you.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    An extra week off

    I worked at a school, and the administration decided it would be prudent to extend the x-mas holiday an extra week instead of coming back on Jan 3, 2000. IT and maintenance however were back at work January 3rd.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Millennium - Bah Humbug!

    I saw in the new millennium in the control room of an electricity distribution company in NZ with a plastic cup of warm flattish lemonade in my hand. We all held our breath and ... nothing happened. Whew, it worked!

    So I said goodnight and went home to a sleeping wife and children.

    New Millennium - Bah Humbug!

    :-)

  9. Chris Miller

    Back in early 1999, we agreed an on-call payment of £750 for being available 31/12/99-01/01/00. In mid-99, the business decided to close the European HQ where I worked and manage all the countries direct from the US (guess how well that worked?), so we were all made redundant. But we still got the £750 added to our (generous) settlement.

  10. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    OT

    God, how I tried to get on the list for Y2K changeover but failed.

    Everyone wanted a slice.

  11. Dale 3

    Opposite

    I was a volunteer engineer for a community radio station. Was on standby but at a new year party on 31 Dec 1999. It hit midnight and our main on-air system went down (i.e. silence). So my story is the exact opposite - I wasn't paid, millenium bug did hit us, and I had to leave the party to respond.

    Turns out the UPS monitoring software couldn't cope and shut down the UPS. Line power and everything else was fine, so I just pulled the monitoring cable and restarted, then went back to the party (and later fixed it up properly).

  12. BigBadAl

    I was working for a large Ship Management company and was offered two incentives in 1999. The first was a 50% salary bonus to stay for a minimum of 12 months (which covered the millennium) And over the New year period of 3 days was given a bonus of £250.00 per day to be on-call. All in all not a bad deal. An yes due to the diligent work before hand - no ships sunk or crashed - and none of our systems went down. One old database needed to be reset every Monday morning but hey we could live with that.

  13. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Y2K

    Oh come on, guys! It was exactly the mentality that causes people to compress "year 2000 bug" down to y2k that got us in the mess in the first place.

  14. Admiral Grace Hopper
    Windows

    In 1999 our data centre was in Shropshire. It's still so far behind the times that I doubt they're in the C21st even now.

    1. string

      shropshire backwards joke

      That's hilarious!

      do you know any more?

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: shropshire backwards joke

        I wasn't joking.

        I like Shropshire, it's a beautiful county with some lovely people living there. I spent most of Sunday afternoon climbing on Pontesford Rocks - nice rock, fantastic situation, slightly sparse protection, but you can't have everything. That data centre, however, was something out of the Ark until the day I walked away whistling.

  15. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    OK, I've posted it here maybe a couple of times before but...

    Client had two not-quite-same systems running a product which wasn't Y2K compatible in the version they were running. One of the systems could run the later version, the older one couldn't. The older one was the hot standby, allegedly kept ready to roll by an overnight NFS copy.* Their decision was to replace both boxes with new ones running the current S/W and cut over between Xmas & New Year. I had a contract for several weeks to install and oversee UATs all of which was successful, in other words the sort of work which generally made Y2K the non-event which the great uninformed insisted proved the work wasn't needed.

    The bean-counters flat-refused to let us cut over before New Year as their accounting year was also the calendar year and they wouldn't take the "risk" of using the new system until they'd closed down the year which took them into the middle of January. The actual risk they took, of course, was that the old system wouldn't handle the new data properly. It didn't & we had the vendors dialling in two or three times a week to fix corrupted data until we were finally allowed to cut over.

    Yup, Y2K did have the makings of a lot of stuff going wrong if the remedial work hadn't been done.

    *One of the things I discovered was that the data had grown too big to be copied within the overnight window. The tapes from the main system would have been OK but if the main had gone titsup the hot standby wouldn't have worked.

  16. Andy A
    Pint

    Yes, I volunteered to cover the Big Rollover. In the afternoon of January 1st.

    The place where I worked closed on Christmas Eve and reopened on the 3rd, pretty much the same as every year.

    This being Big, someone had to come in and check that the world had not collapsed, so I said "yes, but not in the middle of the night".

    I, and the rest of those responsible for keeping the infrastructure live, ended up with a decent payout (triple time, including for travelling), for not an awful lot of work (turn a machine or two, log in, check the date..) AND a couple of bottles of champagne arrived from head office the following week.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Y2K farce

    Yes I too worked on Y2K. Actually we found and fixed our only Y2K bug some time in '98 when we found that futures mnemonics (which end of a 2-digit representation of the delivery month) we not rolling into 2000 and beyond correctly.

    At the time, the media was issuing alarming stories that peoples microwave ovens would start blowing on on the morning of 01 Jan 2000, so corporate leadership was rather twitchy about business continuing normally.

    Along with numerous contractors, I was asked by my boss to be 'on call' through 31 Dec 1999, and when I asked what my retainer would be to make this sacrifice I was told that we would be paid overtime - if called. Not a very motivating deal.

    I phoned my agent at the time who pondered this, and responded - "well you can't be called if your phone is off right?".

    As it happened, I was in the middle of nowhere at a massive new years party, where it turned out there was no mobile signal at all. A great time was had by all, and when we all returned to work the following week absolutely nothing had gone wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Y2K farce

      I made more than enough scratch between 1998 and December 31, 1999 on the Y2K hoopla, knowing that the real problems had been identified in the first days of 1970.

      Many mortgage houses discovered, within the first weeks of 1970, that their COBOL programs would not properly generate amortization into the year 2000 on 30-year mortgages. It was quick work to fix them and no threat to civilization and the laws of physics to do so.

      Anyone who had been around then, working in COBOL and Fortran systems, took this lesson with them for the next thirty years.

      However, it was a dead cinch that every business manager afraid for his oxfords and retirement wanted to have evidence that his systems were tested and free of up-coming threat. And we were glad to provide this hutch of frightened rabbits with testing, support, and documentation to demonstrate that planes would not fall from the sky, pacemakers would not cease, and jails would continue to securely house society's most dangerous. (We could not assure them regarding society's most dangerous, as they were all on Christmas break from congress and were not accounted for.)

      But the last eight months of 1999 proved to be quite lucrative, being able to charge confiscatory rates for our certification regarding systems that has been fixed decades before because, it seems, COBOL programmers of the 1970s were far more intelligent than managers in the 1990s.

    2. Kobus Botes

      Re: Y2K farce

      ...that peoples microwave ovens would start blowing...

      You won't believe how many people were worried that their cars would not start on 1 January 2000! Most cars then had analogue clocks or, at best, a digital clock that was not connected to anything at all.

      That was the type of fear-mongering that got big captions in large fonts in newspapers, that had many people in a tizz, worrying about Y2K.

  18. Custard Fridge

    Planning, testing, replacing, relaxing.

    I worked for a house builders way back then, and we replaced the old database that couldn't do the year 2000 in 1998. Of the 300 PCs I tested, just 1 was too old for the year 2000, so I replaced it in September 1999.

    I got paid two day's money over New Year's just in case, but I tested everything from home without incident. No drama, no worries.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sticky platters

    I was 'by-default' sysadmin of a small research group's network. The decree from the University was to power down all non-critical systems over the Christmas/New Year period, which we followed.

    When we powered the systems back up, the domain server (which had never been powered down before in several years) wouldn't boot because its HDDs wouldn't spin up.

    Fortunately, some gentle percussive maintenance eventually unstuck them and we could continue working; an upgrade was quickly scheduled in.

    1. Down not across

      Re: Sticky platters

      When we powered the systems back up, the domain server (which had never been powered down before in several years) wouldn't boot because its HDDs wouldn't spin up.

      Fortunately, some gentle percussive maintenance eventually unstuck them and we could continue working; an upgrade was quickly scheduled in.

      I had that quite a lot with some Convergent MiniFrames with Micropolis disks. Ended up having a rubber mallet in the toolkit. Obviously frustrated kick could work too, but had the risk of being too hard, or causing other damage.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Sticky platters

        Yes, stiction was a serious problem back then. Disks without load/unload ramps had to rest their heads on platters, so any types of percussion had to be administered very carefully.

        The gentlest way to handle it was to take the disk out and shake it gently along the spindle axis. Chances were pretty good it would start after that.

        1. Sandtitz Silver badge

          Re: Sticky platters

          "Yes, stiction was a serious problem back then. Disks without load/unload ramps had to rest their heads on platters, so any types of percussion had to be administered very carefully."

          When was 'back then'? I parked my hard drive heads back in the 80s before turning off the PC. There was a distinct clunk and then it was appropriate to reach the power flip switch - located handiy behind the PC.

          Or are we talking about different things here?

          I've also succesfully used the rubber mallet technique with hard drives that refused to spin up. Obviously you needed to hit the side - sometimes rather hard too.

          1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

            Re: Sticky platters

            "When was 'back then'?"

            Preceeding two comments were talking about nineties. Load ramps started to appear in notebook drives after 95 or thereabouts, and it took few more years to see them in server drives.

            Older drives used a dedicated parking track. But heads could still get stuck on that.

            1. Sandtitz Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: Sticky platters

              Thanks!

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Sticky platters

        "I had that quite a lot with some Convergent MiniFrames with Micropolis disks. Ended up having a rubber mallet in the toolkit. Obviously frustrated kick could work too, but had the risk of being too hard, or causing other damage".

        Part of my Y2K preparations included "Retire any old clunker still running with Micropolis disks", the savings on power and aircon alone made that one viable.

        Dealing with "stiction" problems on the bigger DEC RA-series and Fujitsu Eagles needed something more substantial than a rubber mallet, and I once "cold-booted" a MicroVAX II quite literally by giving it a swift kick !

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, we got that too!

    I worked for a finance company at the time and we spent a year working on the Y2K lead up. We were offered a months money as bonus if we agreed to work from midday on 31st Dec 1999 until 9pm on the 1st Jan 2000. 3 people covered it in the office, 2 worked while another could kip every so often for an hour or two.

    We had to sign an agreement to not tell anyone what the deal was for working that "fateful" night, the terms of the agreement was a secret apart from the management and HR obviously. Add to that we also got our regular year end bonus!

    In the end, due to all the hard work and prep nothing happened, it was the second easiest month's money I made!

    The easiest money I've ever been paid was a redundancy of 3 months full pay, plus 2 months bonus for being at home on call for just 6 servers! I simply had to carry a mobile at all times. I got called just once in those 3 months when someone wanted to know how to shutdown a Unix server, 30 secs work for 5 months pay! Magic!!

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      Re: Yep, we got that too!

      rm -rf / ?

      You could have got another few months out of it.

  21. Velv Silver badge
    Go

    My boss caused chaos in the January sales :)

    The office was across the road from a large shopping centre. There were around 50 IT staff in the office on the 1st and no catering staff. So for lunch, the boss went over to the shopping centre and joined the queue at Burger King.

    On reaching the front, he started:

    "Can I have 20 Whoppers, 20 Angus, 20 chicken sandwiches, 20 hamburgers, 20 cheeseburgers and 100 large fries please"

    The rest of the queue were not impressed.

    1. HmmmYes Silver badge

      How did he carry it all?

      1. phat shantz

        Bit-wise math

        He did "SHL, BK, 2" and carried them back in two boxes.

  22. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    that must have been nice

    In 1999/2000, I was the site IT manager of a chem plant for what was then a smallish manufacturer and, like most of the folks here, spent months ensuring my site was compliant, ready, etc. I, too, had to be on site all night during the rollover. My compensation for all the work? A small cash award that was barely enough to buy a nice steak dinner for myself and Mrs. Kiddingme.

    1. matchbx
      Unhappy

      Re: that must have been nice

      I can understand that... I worked for an automotive manufacturer at the time.... they never spent squat on IT. We were the red-headed step child shoved under the HR Department.

      1. Aus Tech

        Re: Re: that must have been nice

        It would have served them right if everything went tits up then.

  23. werdsmith Silver badge

    For the millennium rollover I just went into the office on the 1st Jan to check everything, nobody was due in to the office until the 4th anyway. Nothing much to report, as expected. Bit of a bonus, £250 I think.

    Better was when our company was taken over and the systems moved lock and stock to the new sites. After their training and handover, they did DR testing before golive. I had to be available for 2 weeks in case any questions came up. Didn't even have to go into the office, just wandered round entertaining myself and living in a hotel by the sea carrying a phone. Brought the family down for a holiday and got paid for every hour away.

  24. eSeM

    I was onsite at a private bank for 4hrs on New Years day, 2000. Didn't have to do anything but got paid enough to buy a new Ducati 748 :-)

  25. Herby Silver badge

    Amazing how paranoia spreads...

    From the looks of it (evidence in comments) the problem was mainly in "management" that really had no clue how to handle the "problem", assuming that it would be catastrophic in its nature. The response was typical: Throw more money (people) at it to make sure that there won't be a problem. The better solution was to do some brief testing to make sure there isn't a problem, and fix the problems encountered at a reasonable pace (not at 11PM on the 31st.).

    But as we all know, our best laid plans rarely get followed, because "the boss" thinks he knows "better" because his cousin's brother in law told him so. Us IT types just nod and get paid lots of $$ just to babysit things that we know are going to be OK.

    Then there is the problem with 2038, but that doesn't bother me either, since we now have 64 bit machines, or since time only moves forward, could treat time_t as unsigned. Life goes on.

    Then again, dealing with systemd is a pretty big problem (*SIGH*)

  26. Herby Silver badge
    Joke

    Humor...

    There was the Cobol programmer that wanted to escape the Y2K mess, so he gave instructions to cryogenically frozen until after the Y2K had passed. He was awakened a little later and he asked about Y2K, only to be told: "We understand you are a Cobol programmer, and we have this problem with years rolling over from 9999 to 10000".

  27. ma1010 Silver badge
    Happy

    Only one small problem

    Our Y2K went mostly without a hitch. We had one routine that printed a check with a date in January of 1900. Didn't feel too bad about missing ONE spot in all those many thousands of lines of code. It was an easy fix done in just a few minutes, and everything was fine.

  28. Johndoe888

    I was working remotely for a very large ISP at the time, when I logged in on the morning of the 1st there were great celebrations going on as no bug had struck or been found, I then informed my manager that the date on the search page had rolled over to 1900 :)

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      > I then informed my manager that the date on the search page had rolled over to 1900 :)

      There were quite a few reporting the date as 19100 too.

  29. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I was on-call for this...

    Being in a remote office, there really wasn't much impact as far as workload. But the company was paying a 25% retention bonus if you were there from Jan. 1st , 1999 until Jan. 3rd, 2000. Came Christmas 1999. They paid those of us in the remote offices (just me with 400 worker bees in my office) triple time to be on call for a live test over Christmas. They pushed the main time server to rollover the year and everything worked. Same deal for New Year's. At the main offices and the larger branches, everyone was given a bottle of champagne at 2 am and sent home. On the third, I got the bottle of champagne delivered along with the bonus check.

  30. David 132 Silver badge
    Happy

    We HAVE made progress as a society since 1999...

    ...reading down the list of comments, everyone seems to have spelled "millennium" correctly.

    Around the time of Y2K, half the populace of the English-speaking world thought it was spelled "milenium" or some permutation thereof with insufficient Ls and Ns.

    So, if nothing else, the Millennium raised awareness of how to spell it.

    Good job.

  31. Faceless Man

    We spent 18 months ensuring all our systems were Y2K compliant, which a number weren't, particularly recently purchased PCs had dodgy BIOS that needed to be patched, so from a software point of view we were pretty safe.

    Nevertheless, it was decided we should power down as much as possible on New Year's Eve, and power it all back up on New Year's Day (which was a Saturday, as I recall), just to make sure. This included every PC, which wasn't as silly as it sounded since the PCs we had at the time had a failure rate of about 10% on power cycling, due to dodgy power supplies (part of the problem with a competitive tender process for PC supply driven by line item accounting).

    So on Friday afternoon, a group of us go around telling everyone to shut their computers off and go home, until we get to our Comms guys who refused, on the grounds that all this Y2K work was unnecessary and nothing was going to happen. So we moved on.

    Saturday morning, a group of us comes in to power everything up, and make sure it's all working, including all the PCs, so we can replace any that die before people return to work on Tuesday. Thanks to our preparedness everything was working fine, except the phone system. Because the Comms guys who had decided there was no way anything could go wrong, did nothing to update the ancient system the PABX was running on.

  32. Jim Ettles 1

    Easiest $A300 i ever earned. Two phones and a radio at the New Year party, sober until 0100. The only glitch we had was, as I predicted (to the ire of the "Y2K trainer") the day/date on my wife's car radio. However the non-shown year reverted gracefully to 1972 so no drama.

  33. Dagg
    Happy

    Not all money

    I was fly in fly out implementing a new banking package. I didn't get massive amounts of money but over a million frequent flight points, accommodation points and loads of free accommodation for a good hotel chain.

    We didn't spend much on holidays for a couple of years.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can't even remember what was going on in 31 Dec 1999. I must have been with the ex-missus. We must have been arguing I guess. I had recently graduated meaning I no longer cared about the machines in the University, and I had not started working at my new workplace yet, meaning I could not have cared much about the Y2K rollout for the SCO Unix and Unixware shit servers they had.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes!

    Triple pay for overnight cover plus a day off. The guy with a month's pay may well have justified that had anything gone legs up and he'd had to implement some hot patches.

    The myth about Y2K is that nothing went awry and it was all a great big scam by IT. The reality is that we did a lot of preparatory work examining key systems for potential issues and fixed them in advance. In the financial multinational where I worked it was only years later that I heard (from someone involved) that there had been a 1 Jan 2000 issue calling for urgent remedial work. Everyone involved was sworn to secrecy. The view was that there was a risk of over-reaction by the financial markets should it be known that we had an incident. Doubtless there were similar instances elsewhere - I've heard rumours of both nuclear and airline Y2K incidents needing a maximum priority fix.

  36. biolo

    I was working for an SME, and was paid £500 to come in on 02/01/2000 and check out all the systems were working correctly before the company re-opened for business on the 4th. Just before we broke up for Christmas 1999 they asked me if would be on-call for the rollover itself. I asked if they were going to pay me for that too, they said no. I said I'd only agree to be on call if they agreed I didn't need to be sober. Strangely they were happy with that, and even arranged to have one of the company vans and a driver on hand to pick me up from the party I was planning to be at should it be necessary. Don't think I'd have been capable of helping them by the time the bells sounded that evening, but wasn't called.

    Came in on the 2nd, checked everything worked as expected, checked it all again to be sure, and was walking out the door again 1 hour later. My best hourly rate to date.

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