The future's looking pretty good from this partygoer's viewpoint.

Why 2K is Better Than 1

The future's looking pretty good from this partygoer's viewpoint.

Mid-December, 1999—By this time you’ve had your fill of annual, centennial, and millennial retrospectives, Auntie hopes. Enough trees have been sacrificed for millennium topics to have supplied oxygen, unfortunately, to the entire Federal government, and it won’t end until long after we cross 12 a.m., January 1. So, the last thing Auntie feels like doing, while my Fabio mixes up a batch of his notorious FireWallBangers, is to pound out a few more words on the keyboard in a look back to a date in 1656 when some scientist, before his obligatory beheading, discovered that combining phlogiston and saltpeter in the presence of DOS LXIV resulted in the creation of limeade and Rush Limbaugh.

Auntie prefers to take stock of the present and look ahead. In our insular world of information technologies, the present is darned good. There’s plenty of work for those who’ve kept up their skills and been willing to put in the effort to deliver quality work and solutions to employers and customers. The money’s good if the work’s good. While the past several months have been a bit slow due to Y2K lockdowns, we all know that if business makes it through Y2K in decent shape, there’ll be a lot of catching up and plenty of business in 1Q00.

By the time you read this, Windows 2000 may have been officially released to manufacturing. At the time of this writing, Win2K is at the RC3 stage, and it hasn’t blown up any box Auntie’s seen it on. It’s feature-complete and fairly impressive. Early adopters have deployed it in beta and RC. How will it perform on your WAN?

We have a new OS with a stronger security subsystem and an integrated directory service, which developers can leverage for new applications. Exchange 2000 is just around the corner, a key selling point for Microsoft as it encourages migration to Win2K. Exchange 2000’s improved development environment and use of the Active Directory may very well accomplish this, and how many of us would’ve believed that six months ago?

Still, Auntie has some sage advice: Don’t try to migrate an enterprise to Win2K without serious planning (so, the advice is also obvious). This isn’t a “pop in the CD and let ’er rip” upgrade. Your customers may groan at the time spent, but they’ll be grateful in the long run. And even if they aren’t, you’ll have already been paid.

Look for the next year to be busy in bookstores and testing centers, as we mentally vacuum in study guides and Win2K books and physically engulf triple soy decaf hazelnut cappuccinos. If it hasn’t sunk in yet, Win2K is a heck of a lot more complex than NT. Expect the new exams to be a challenge; Microsoft is going to make sure that we earn the MCSE-Win2K certification.

Maybe Auntie’s a bit maudlin, but it wouldn’t hurt any of us a bit to give thanks (to whomever or whatever you give thanks to) for our relatively good professional fortune. The next time you’re grumbling about your job, step back and get some perspective. Despite the market being in flux, Y2K challenges looming, and new technologies keeping one step ahead of you, if you agree that these things make life and a career in IT better, write to me and tell me why. If you disagree, also let me know (but don’t just write, “Auntie, you’re nuts.”).

One More for the Y2K

Okay, so Em is eating her words. I haven’t written much this year about Y2K, except for the occasional survivalist joke. It’s well-covered in other media, and I see no point in adding to the deluge. By now, you’ve done your checks. If not, Auntie has no sympathy for you whatsoever.

I’m no seer, and I have no idea what to expect come New Year’s day. I hope that IT professionals around the world have been diligent enough that any Y2K issues that do crop up only result in inconvenience, and that no human being suffers physical harm because someone was sloppy or lazy or because some business or government didn’t give a damn to check their systems fully. What a coda that would be for a millennium. In Woody Allen’s movie, Sleeper, Miles Monroe is told that civilization was destroyed when a man named Albert Shanker (in 1973, he headed New York City’s teacher’s union) got hold of a nuclear warhead. Let’s not give Woody any grist for his next film, okay?

Just in case, this gal and her Fabio have laid in extra supplies of snacks and ferret treats, and we’ll be withdrawing a few extra dollars out of the bank—but that’s about it. May all the survivalists be proven wrong, and may none of them be too disappointed that they didn’t get a chance to use their bunkers.

As for you, best wishes for the holidays, and may your New Year’s celebrations be joyous and otherwise uneventful.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.