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BKY2KSUG.RVW   990319

"The Y2K Survival Guide", Bruce F. Webster, 1999, 0-13-021496-5,
U$19.99/C$28.95
%A   Bruce F. Webster bwebster@bfwa.com
%C   One Lake St., Upper Saddle River, NJ   07458
%D   1999
%G   0-13-021496-5
%I   Prentice Hall
%O   U$19.99/C$28.95 +1-201-236-7139 fax: +1-201-236-7131
%P   544 p.
%T   "The Y2K Survival Guide"

    "Don't buy guns, cash all your stocks, withdraw your savings,
    and move to South Dakota unless you already had a good reason
    for doing so, and maybe not even then.  It's really cold in
    South Dakota, and the last place you probably want to be is
    out in the countryside with a lot of other folks armed with
    guns and waiting for Armageddon."

While those from South Dakota may bristle a bit at the impugning of
their home state, the rest of us may be glad of a little sanity in the
year 2000 debate.  (On the other hand, maybe the population of South
Dakota will be just as glad that someone is telling the nuts to stay
home while Ed Yourdon [cf. BKTMBM2K.RVW] is yelling that we're all
gonna die.  This is, in fact, the book that Yourdon could have
written, were he not so busy trying to make application to the
Charlton Heston fan club.)  (Also, since Webster's roots go 'way back
in South Dakota, they'll probably forgive him.)  Webster does not so
much occupy the middle ground as look at the entire spectrum of
reactions to the situation, and tries to remain rational throughout. 
Whoever did the cover design caught the tone perfectly: an ostrich
with its head in the sand in the foreground, and a mushroom cloud in
the background.  And an awful lot of territory in between.

Part one looks at how we got here.  Chapter one starts with an
overview of the problem and its cause.  Unfortunately, while there are
some very good points (such as the statement that it is a century,
rather than millennial, problem) the basic explanation is somewhat
confused, and doesn't rise above the generally available material on
the topic.  Whatever faults chapter one may have, though, are more
than made up for in chapter two, which gives a clear and almost
lyrical description of why the problem happened.  Starting with
limited hardware, continuing through software bloat, and ending with
the seven deadly sins, the lessons are clear and unflinching.  (I can
even forgive the mention of the scandal du jour, given the deft manner
of its inclusion.)  A number of the myriad barriers to getting the job
done are examined in chapter three.  Chapter four reviews a number of
myths in regard to Y2K.

Part two looks at preparation in this last year before the deadline. 
This section is full of suggested actions you can take, to a greater
or lesser extent, to get ready.  Chapter five looks at laying a
foundation: how to plan what to protect.  This may seem facile, but it
has a real purpose.  If you can't do everything, and you probably
can't, make sure you do what is most important.  To you.  Where other
books may have a bibliography, chapter six lays out some guidelines
for actually getting yourself educated for what might come.  The
discussion of health ranges from the possible failure of Medicare to
starting a fitness program (so as to generally improve your health and
avoid the possibility of hospitalization), in chapter seven.  Chapter
eight reviews planning for home needs.  Food concerns, in chapter
nine, tend to be weighted towards flour, dried foods, and other items
that need preparation (and therefore, in most people's minds,
electricity and water) but the exercise and some pointers are quite
helpful.  The "career" plan in chapter ten is probably appropriate to
any situation, quite apart from the possibility of a recession, and
the financial planning in chapter eleven is pretty sound.  Building a
community and support network is possibly the most important thing you
can do to prepare, and is hardly ever mentioned apart from this book's
chapter twelve.

Part three is again preparation, but more of a mental type.  Chapter
thirteen looks at the value (and danger) of trying to see what's
ahead.  A variety of scenarios, ranging in severity, are presented in
chapter fourteen.

Part four talks about getting on with life after Y2K, and whatever it
brings.  Chapter fifteen suggests taking stock and making an
assessment.  The lessons we should learn from the year 2000 fiasco are
reviewed in chapter sixteen.

Two of the appendices are from work the author did with the
Washington, DC Year 2000 Group.  Appendix A contains testimony
presented to Congress, and Appendix B gives the results of two surveys
of the group members.  Appendix C has a very useful set of resources
for further study, heavily weighted to Internet sites.

Like the more sensationally named "Time Bomb 2000" (cf. BKTMBM2K.RVW),
this book is aimed at the general population.  It does a much better
job of presenting the reality, and, at the same time, suggesting
useful ways to address the issue.

I think it's appropriate to close with another quote from the book,
this one only a few sentences after the one that opened this review:

    "Focus on solving as many problems as you can in your own
    circle of influence, starting with your own life and family,
    but including your community.  Build social cohesion.  Do the
    same sensible personal preparation ..."

copyright Robert M. Slade, 1999   BKY2KSUG.RVW   990319