What failures are happening now?

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Is it really happening? Okay - so we've all read The Book, and we've read all the various news items on gary North, and we've subscribed to Amy@2000 to talk to people working on the problem. We're trying to prepare and we've got a nagging feeling that we just might be jumping on a millenium bandwagon, or "joining a cult" as was mentioned elsewhere and we'd like some help.

What's reallly happening out there? Are there actual failure, real Y2K failures happening, or are any failures really related to screwed-up programing, like the 19 million dollars in Smith Barney accounts because adding the 19 moved it over into a different box.

Please tell us about any actual occurances, actual failures. Y2K is showing up all over the place, but no one, or almost no one is taking it serionsly. Would it help to be able to point to some actual failures - a department store that tried to order 1 and 1/2 year ahead and could not do it, products returned, policies canceled, other failures that show it's not all a nasty little pipe nightmare.


-- Ann Sunderland (Anncat1@USA.net), June 15, 1998


-Condensed from a report in the Sydney, Australia _Sun- Herald_ of April 26, 1998, as reported in _World Press Review_, vol. 45 #7, July 1998, p. 14 ("Down Under, A Chilling Rehearsal"):

The water treatment facility in the town of Coffs Harbor, about 300 miles north of Sydney, was the subject of a y2k test. When workers set the system clock to to 'turn over' to 1/1/2000, the microprocessor controlled chemical dispensing system, which normally doled out chemicals in small regulated amounts, dumped the entire plant's holdings of purifying chemicals in the water being treated. Experts said this amount of chemicals could have proved fatal to the town's entire population. This experiment was significant enough to cause serious concern among police, health and transportation officials as to what other surprises might be lurking pending the arrival of 1/1/00.

How much detail do you need? There ARE some problems out there that are real and potentially dangerous. Peter de Jager reports 10,000 instances of failures in the US already. Some call him an alarmist too. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. I don't know enough to be able to tell at this point. But I can afford to be wrong either way.

Can you?


-- Lee P. Lapin (lplapin@hotmail.com), June 15, 1998.

At one time (haven't checked lately myself ) Gary North had links for the Chrysler and General Motors web pages detailing their now legendary tests done at two plants near Detroit. A Chrysler y2k test team rolled the clock forward at one plant and then watched in horror as the whole place shut down. The security system even locked the test team inside the plant when it crashed. Apparently almost all the robotic assembly units and plant systems were date senstive. GM heard about it and tried the same test at one of its plants and got the same result, except its security system unlocked all the doors before it crashed. Neither company thought it had a y2k problem at the factory floor level, but the embedded chip problem was more prevalent than they suspected. Reportedly, both companies -- and Ford as well, I suspect -- are now frantically combing through their assembly plants trying to find and test chips as well as programs.

-- J.D. Clark (yankeejdc@aol.com), June 15, 1998.



-- Rocky Knolls (rknolls@hotmail.com), June 16, 1998.

Well, I can give a timely, local response: today my state, New Mexico, announced that it had accidentally sent out some duplicate state tax refund checks because of a Y2K bug.

Hawaiian Electric (Honolulu) found that its Energy Management System (EMS) failed last year during a Y2K test, forcing emergency shutdown. There have been general, unconfirmed reports of other power plants failing various Y2K tests, including, supposedly, one in Texas when a date-dependent, emission-monitoring PLC failed in a power plant smokestack, triggering plant shutdown.

One major food retailer in Britain reported problems with its computerized inventory control (i.e., mistakenly rejecting food shipments as "expired"). A survey some months ago of UK microprocessor-controlled assembly lines found that 15% would fail come 2000; a Tech Web article recently reported that 44% of U.S. manufacturing plants surveyed had already experienced some Y2K production line failures. There's a superb article in the April 27, 1998, issue of "Fortune" detailing "embedded system" problems in manufacturing plants. According to GM's Chief Information Officer, when GM did Y2K tests on its 135 plants worldwide, they "found catastrophic problems in every plant." Oh well, with many GM plants now idled by a strike, GM techies can get in there and fix the problem, huh?

There's still widespread denial of the embedded system problem, incidentally. Recently, according to a VNU article, Rolls Royce CEO Sir Rolf Robbins told a shareholders' meeting that Y2K embedded microchip problems on the floors of British manufacturing plants were a "myth."

-- Don Florence (dflorence@zianet.com), June 19, 1998.

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