Thursday, December 31, 2009

Millennium Bug memories

It's quite amazing to think that it was ten years ago today that we were all getting ready for the Millennium Bug to hit, watching news reports coming in from Tonga, my native New Zealand and other places ahead of the UK in terms of time to see what had (or, as it turned out to be the case, not) broken.

At the time I was working as the webmaster for Telewest, responsible for building and deploying our web server estate along with the sites that ran on them (everything from web design to web server configuration), and it's fair to say that the Bug came as a distraction.

In December 1999 we were gearing up for the launch of the UK's first commercial broadband service - blueyonder - which we went to market with on March 31, 2000 (we brought it forward a day just in case!) and were doing the final testing of all the systems that would support it, as well as building servers and websites. The first version of the blueyonder website can be found here thanks to the Wayback Machine:

I'd also just moved house and got my superfast (not) ISDN line installed so I could work from home, so it really was a completely manic time.

Come the night in question we had a whole team of engineers and other tecchies on call in case of problems, and I remember spending the millennium moment itself logged into our Apache servers checking configuration and refreshing web pages to check they were still working.

On reflection, we spent a lot of time and money upgrading systems in the latter half of 1999 and that probably contributed to the event itself being smooth along with all the preparation for the day - when we also had plenty of additional helpdesk staff in should customers have been experiencing problems.

One man though went well beyond all others in his confidence that there would be no impact - my colleague (and, at the time, boss) Fergal Butler, who decided to spend the millennium holidaying in Cuba - one place where missiles were bound to launch against if the US defence systems did have a problem!

1 comment:

  1. Blueyonder was my first broadband internet connections; moving from the States in 2001, the blue whale was the first thing I saw on my new home desktop - the blueyonder guys cabled to my office on the 2nd floor - cabling still going fine after 9 years