Disaster perverted!

If you're disappointed that Y2K wasn't ushered in with calamity, take heart: Spoof sites revel in the year 1900.

Published January 7, 2000 5:00PM (EST)

OK, the chronometers have spun us into a new millennium, and there was no apocalypse. You were checking the news all week -- and no disasters. Not to worry; thanks to some geeks who were going to party like it's 2037 no matter what, the Web is rich with celebratory spoofs of Y2K problems.

Users of the World, a Brookline, Mass., Internet service provider, found its home page replaced by a newspaper with headlines from 1900 (Women Jailed For Exposing Ankles On Beach) and, of course, the big Roman numeral date change: from MDCCC to MCM. The "World Banner" also included a tongue-in-cheek look back at "the grandest century there shall ever be," with delightful morsels like this: "Food safety has been perfected thanks to waxen paper which does not stick to even the gamiest horse meat."

Fake problems came in all shapes: Webmasters at Massachusetts Institute of Technology substituted a new Error Message 1900 -- "Web Not Invented Yet" -- for their original page-not-found haiku. And a Web log at the University of Washington appeared, impossibly, upside-down on visitors' screens, while Web pages around the world dallied in the 1900 motif.

Matt Ashburn, a 17-year-old high school senior in Martinsville, Va., began collecting screenshots from the Y2K spoofs. But lest you think that Y2K was all in jest, he's also displaying screen shots of real errors he's sighted -- evidence that the Y2K bug was with us after all.

"I just started seeing the problems," he says, "and decided that it would be pretty humorous to collect them all. After all, these are not major mistakes, but they are good humor." He spotted trouble at the BBC Online, on America Online's search engine, on the official Pokimon site and on the "Jubilee of the Year 2000" page at Catholic.Net. Since Monday Ashburn's Y2KMistakes.com page has received nearly 50,000 visits, and he's collecting more screen shots contributed by the site's vistors.

Others have spotted errors, too. One late-night surfer claims to have seen the date January 1, 20100 on Apple's site. And the bulletin board software at USA-Talk.com is still displaying dates as 19100 in user
posts -- and
as 1/2/100 in the message

But with no major castrophes reported, and the Y2K bug mostly a no-show, some geeks are a little sore about all the Y2K fuss. There's even an open letter to the Y2K bug, which prompted the nerds at Slashdot to start venting
about having to work "while the rest of the world was celebrating something we'll never see again in our lifetimes."

Well, we've been entertained by the glitches -- both minor and faux. Still, we raise a glass to those whose toil may have spared us from worse: Here's hoping that old predictions be forgot and never brought to mind!

By David Cassel

David Cassel is an Oakland, Calif.-based freelance writer covering the Internet and popular culture.

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