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The Bug Blog: The New Millennium Mistakes

With software bugs costing the economy billions of dollars each year, it seems ridiculous that companies would not spend the money to eliminate many of them through proper testing. The year 2000 was not a good one for the software world. Let’s start by looking at the famous, yet ever so costly Y2K bug.

2000 -The Y2K bug

Not a true software bug, but an error produced by a developer, it is said that the the Y2K cost over $500 billion dollars to fix the legacy software, even though no real computer problems occurred. The practice of using two-digit dates for convenience predates computers, but was never a problem until stored dates were used in calculations. To save storage space, legacy software stored the year as two digit numbers, such as “97″ for 1997. This would mean the software would interpret “00″ to mean 1900 rather than 2000. When the year 2000 came along, various systems would be unable to correctly calculate anything involving time.


Source: britannica

Souce: National Geographic

2. 2000 - The Love Virus

The LoveLetter virus infected Windows users via e-mail, Internet chats and shared file systems. “ILOVEYOU” was the email subject line and it included and attatchment "LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.txt.vbs". At the time, Windows would automatically hide .vbs extensions, making the file seem like an other text file. When the user opened the attachment, the virus would infect the user’s computer, overwrite image files on the machine, and send itself to the first 50 contacts in the receiver's address book. The LoveLetter virus infected millions of computers (an estimated 10% of all internet-connected computers!) and caused over $8 billion dollars in damages, more than any other computer virus in history.


Source: wikipedia

3. 2000 - The Instituto Oncológico Nacional (ION) Incident

Once again software shows that it makes mistakes which can cause fatal deaths in medical research and therapy. The Instituto Oncológico Nacional (ION) in Panama provides treatment for cancer patients using radiotherapy. Twenty-eight patients were given improper amounts of radiotherapy, resulting in 17 deaths, and 11 injuries due to a improper radiation doses. When new, computer calculated, treatment times were implemented, they were not tested manually by physicians and compared against past treatments. The Lessons and Recommendations documents that were written by the group of experts investigating the incident were shared immediately with other insitutes to help prevent accidents like this from happening again.

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