How kind you are, my readers, to introduce the verb "to sarson" into the English language, albeit to counter my definition of that other verb "to guenier", which I coined last month on this page. The definitions of "sarsoning" offered by readers a fortnight ago, however, were as monstrously unfair as my definition of 'gueniering'. Let me therefore offer the correct definition, so that everyone knows where I stand.
To "sarson" is almost synonymous with to "meldrew". Like Victor, I have one foot in the grave. What can be a better stance from which to observe the follies of young whizz-kids faced with the Millennium Bug?
One element of sarsoning is to affirm that the younger generation is rubbish and we did things much better in "our day". For instance, the systems analysts planning the first computerised Army Officers Payroll and pensions system on Lyons Electronic Office (LEO) in 1958, "gave a moment's thought to what would happen after 31 December 1999. In a further moment, it was decided that it would not be our problem!" (I quote from User-driven Innovation, the world's first business computer, by the designers of LEO.) The LEO men had at least realised that there was a problem 42 years ahead. They were giants in those days.
I am sarsoning, therefore, when I demand that today's supposedly clever IT chaps and chapesses think more than two and a half minutes ahead.
See what a mess they have landed us in by not doing so.
The other element of sarsoning is to insist that if Richard Sarson, that is a normal human being with limited intelligence, but with 45 years in the computer industry, doesn't understand something, then it must be wrong.
And this is what got me about the millennium bug and its prophets. I knew it was there, but nobody told me exactly where, in words of one syllable.
I attended endless meetings where I was told I should hire a consultant to guide me through the issues. I have no money to spend on consultants.
But, I have been around. So, please, please, tell it to me straight, in a way in which I can solve the problem for myself and not patronise me by saying I must get outside help.
Only in the past few months have people come down to my level and explained the Y2K problem in words I can understand. I was delighted when Action 2000, in one of its first actions, gave a list of the software packages which are millennium compliant. That seemed to me really useful. Conversely, a week or two ago, I was pleased on behalf of the users of Windows 95, 98 and NT4 that Micro Equipment Consultants (MEC) had outed all these operating systems as non-compliant. Now, the users and developers know where they are, unpleasant though that may be.
But why hasn't Microsoft told its customers that this is so? I thought that this kind of thing is what registering is for. Similarly, it would have been nice if Microsoft had told me whether the elderly version of Office that I use on my nice safe Mac is safe to use or not.
Last week, I got a press release from Eurosoft, that pinpointed the Compaq and Dell CMOS real time clocks as needing fixes to make them Year 2000 compliant. That's great. Now we know, and hopefully anybody who is offering application software built on those RTCs will apply fixes, and will tell their customers who is to blame.
Eurosoft, incidentally, should be given a sarsonic award for alerting, years ago, its local MP, David Atkinson, to the Y2K problem. Since then he has been valiantly trying to raise private member bills, without success so far, alas, to oblige company directors to state the level of their Y2K readiness. He is the real hero of the Great British Y2K fiasco, because he alone has tried to do something that would hit the bosses where it hurts - in their pockets.
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