Y2K. Second only to The Epoch, and maybe third to Y10K (when all software will break again), Friday, December 31, 1999 was a day that still strikes fear into any geek's heart.

In 1999, Twisti (hey, don't look at me, he insisted on being credited as "Twisti") was serving a year of social service, as required by German law. Alternatively, he could've chosen to serve in the army. Twisti lucked out by scoring an IT position in a large hospital among long haired hippies and geeks that also didn't want to serve in the army. This was a popular program, so the hospital was greatly overstaffed. Hippies, long hair, overstaffing, and no fear of being fired made this a laid-back, fun environment. That is, until late summer rolled around and Twisti's pointy haired boss heard about Y2K.

The hippies and geeks were broken down into several teams to "fix Y2K" — one covered the ancient Novell network, one covered the Windows 3.11 systems, and one covered MS Office. Twisti volunteered for the MS Office team, since the Office installations were on state-of-the-art Windows 95 systems.

It was easy. A few tweaks to a Word template, some updates to Excel spreadsheets, and he was almost done. There was just the matter of a gigantic, old, undocumented Access application. Microsoft had done a good job of making Access Y2K compliant, though in this particular application, there were several input forms for years that restricted input to two characters.

Twisti had a plan of attack, though. He'd write a handful of scripts that could update every two-digit date into a four-digit field. Of course, his PHB was already working on a much worse plan with a computer savvy friend (who we'll call Nick Burns).

Nick and the PHB had a meeting, in which Nick walked them through the proper procedure to update the forms. First, each form would have to be manually opened, and each year field would have to be manually expanded. Then each year field would be given the "emboss" property to give it a visual distinction from the fields that were not yet updated. Twisti raised objections, showing that his method was better, but his PHB would hear none of it. After all, scripts cannot be trusted! Each field would be manually extended and embossed. The PHB prepared instructions for Twisti on how to extend and emboss each field, as well as a schedule for the next four months to carry the process out.

Twisti spent the rest of 1999 the way any of us would. Lots of Solitaire, Minesweeper, Freecell, flirting with nurses (or, in my case, awkwardly fumbling through an introduction and running away crying), all the while telling his boss that yes, the year fields for the day had been embossed according to the procedure.

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