Bunkers, bugs and busts

Good grief. There goes another year that was. The new millennium (yes, I know) fireworks exploded over our cities, blasting the new century into our healthy atmosphere. We all went ahh. The Y2K bug hit with all the impact of a seagull going under your wheels. We all went huh.

Yes, of course, it would have been Armageddon without that frenzy of 20th century Cobol coding and expensive new systems work needed to prevent 99 clicking over to 00, bringing our sort-of new economy to a halt. I did hear about a downtown café with troublesome cash registers. But how did the relatively non-fussed, ill-prepared Italians avoid the second Dark Ages?

I had a hell of a time using ebay.com.au to shift my year's supply of baked beans, frozen yoghurt, air freshener and the lease on a 7 x 6 metre Miller's storage bunker. Not that I believed all that hype. At least I had enough cash to avoid ATMs for nine months or so.

Round about Easter, when some of us were still hoping for the second coming of our bank accounts via an IPO or a savvy investment, e-commerce reality collided with e-commerce myth, and the so called 'tech wreck' ensued. The closure of the 'virtual doors' at sites such as buy.com.au, effective 11:00am Tuesday November 21, seems to sum up year end 2000. If only I had borrowed a hundred grand and thrown it at ***@@ back in '96; bugger.

Not that the plunging dotcom fortunes spared us from overdrive in the e-space. Thankfully the messages were now a little more sober, with leading vendors touting real e-solutions for real organisations, with real business plans. But get real, the IT industry couldn't operate without some level of visionary hyperventilation about things like ASPs, B2B trading hubs, XML, and WAP. Microsoft had .Net, and I'm told there is real substance in SOAP. We're still waiting for affordable broadband, I think, and according to commentators no less than Bill Gates, Australia's future depends on it.

Unfortunately the Australian industry was not spared the usual level of business busts, scandals involving Caribbean tax havens, government agencies buying back their own computer gear, and the politically-driven outsourcing outrage. Just in case the IT year looked a bit cruisy, there were also distractions such as the staffing crisis, GST, LoveBug worm, and the Olympics for Sydney folk.

Drive carefully. See you in the Next Millennium.

Look out for the bird with too many chips in its belly.

David_Beynon.com.au

Editor in chief

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