"Throw In The Towel" Articles

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Surprise, surprise. "They admit they won't be ready."
This can be our Confessional Article thread ;-o

U.S. Firms Prepare For The Worst Of Y2K

By Andrew Hay
NEW YORK (Reuters) - The new millennium and its much-anticipated computer bug is still a year away but many U.S. companies are already throwing in the towel.

They admit they won't be ready.

Companies are beginning to make such frank statements on Y2K risks to cover themselves against possible securities litigation, analysts said. The statements also provide ammunition for their own suits.

Companies such as Chevron Corp. and AT&T Corp. say their systems may be vulnerable to significant failures as they grapple with the Year 2000 date change. McDonald's Corp. and DuPont Co. are more confident their machines can handle the date change. They are less sure about those of suppliers and local governments.
With Year 2000 errors putting profits at risk, industry consultants report companies doubling or tripling spending to ensure key systems are Y2K compliant and insulated from outside failures.

``The fundamental cost of Y2K is the risk of business interruption,'' said Jeff Ray, a vice president at Compuware Corp., a leading software testing company.

Companies have still not done most of the tedious and costly work to fix Year 2000 computer bugs.

``It appears that over half the work will be crammed into 1999,'' said Steven Hock, chief executive of research company Triaxsys Research LLC.

Of the 500 largest U.S. companies, 70 percent have been reporting in Securities and Exchange Commission filings on their progress with the Y2K bug. As of the end of September, those companies had spent 42 percent of their year 2000 budgets, according to a report by Triaxsys.

At that rate, the Missoula, Mont. company estimates many companies will fall short of fixing all their computers and machines by the Year 2000.

As companies realize they and their partners may not achieve full compliance, they are planning back-up systems and looking for alternate vendors.

Coca-Cola Co. has contingency plans for the failure of power, water and phone systems. They include stockpiling raw and packaged materials, increasing inventory levels and securing alternate supply sources.

McDonald's and DuPont are developing plans to handle problems that may arise if a number of vendors do not fix their computer bugs.

While some companies devise contingency plans, others are still wrestling with modifications to their own systems.

The technologically complex telecoms sector ranks dead last among all other industries in progress toward completion of Y2K projects, according to Triaxsys. Also behind are the utilities industry and the energy sector.

Industries leading the race are banking, securities and insurance, all of which began looking at Y2K up to 10 years ago largely because of regulatory requirements. Most telecom companies only began looking at the issue two to three years ago.

Chevron has said it will not fix all its systems by Dec. 31, 1999, and Year 2000 business interruptions could prevent it from making and delivering refined products and producing oil and gas.

AT&T has acknowledged the potential for failure across its systems and has cranked up Year 2000 spending by more than 50 percent.

While disclosing such problems in SEC filings may protect them from lawsuits, it won't keep the business running if the computers operated by the companies and their vendors don't work.

``You can't announce to your shareholders that you went out of business because of a vendor...but you're going to sue,'' Ray said.
This is not as happy-face an article. :(
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-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 01, 1999


Great article! I thought it was funny, sort of, the quote: "The fundamental cost of Y2K is the risk of business interruption". It seems like it is still taking a while for people to understand what this "business interruption" really means: collapsed banking system, dead power grid, immobile transportation system. Maybe we need one of those

When they say: ..., what they really mean is: ...

type tables to interpret these articles!

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), January 01, 1999.

CHICAGO IS TOAST !!! The next article is really llooooonnggg. So here's the URL; then I'll put in parts of the article. This is a BAD NEWS article, folks, a major deviation from the fluff in the public press we've been seeing.

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-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 01, 1999.

Leska: Sobering, to say the least. Thanks.

Jack: The return on investment for a company to get Y2K OK is to stay in business. This has been a major factor as to why some companies started so late. Can you imagine being a middle-level manager going to the brass saying 'we need to spend x million dollars to be Y2K OK'. The brass asks 'does this increase our productivity', answer 'no'. Does it reduce our operational costs: answer no. Does it give us market share or competitive advantage right away: answer no. Will it help us with a new product or to get existing products to market faster? answer: no.

Then why should we spend x million dollars on this? answer: to stay in business and be where we are now, if we are lucky and all of our key suppliers do the same, and the power is on, and the banking system is up and running, and, and, and, and, and...

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), January 01, 1999.

Leska, Very interesting Chicago article. It sounded one brick shy of panic mode for the reporter. But lets face it, life will go on if the Intoximeters don't work. Now the nuke plants that power Chicago are another matter entirely....

-- RD. ->H (drherr@erols.com), January 01, 1999.



By Peter Kendall, Cornelia Grumman and Jon Hilkevitch, Tribune Staff Writers. Tribune staff writers Robert Becker...

January 01, 1999
Despite several years of warnings about the Year 2000 Bug and more than $1 billion already spent to fix it, much of the hard work required to make sure Y2K doesn't create Y2-chaos across the Chicago area has been left for the final 365 days.

Water purification plants and pumping stations in Chicago and the suburbs have not yet been checked to make sure their electronic controls will operate on Jan. 1, 2000.

Local hospitals don't yet know which defibrillators can be relied on to save heart attack victims, which intravenous pumps will let medicine flow, and whether thousands of other medical devices will work.

The Chicago Transit Authority isn't finished looking at what devices need to be replaced to keep trains rattling along.

Although Commonwealth Edison has largely determined which of its systems would not function properly in 2000, the utility has finished just a fraction of the repairs needed to keep the grid juiced up.

As of November, only 20 percent of Illinois cities and villages had taken an inventory of the kind of computerized systems that are needed to keep local infrastructures and governments working but could fail at the dawn of the new millennium.

Because computers and microchips that might fail 12 months from now are embedded in countless devices hard-wired into the infrastructure of modern life, the Y2K Bug is much more than just a computer or software problem.

The inability of some computers and electronics with "embedded chips" to cope with a date that ends in 00 has grown into an electricity problem, a train problem, a bank problem, a factory problem.

Many of the problems already have been solved. But even those, hidden away in odd places, only serve to give a hint of the many more problems that have not yet been found.

"Anyone who says they are ahead of the game on embedded (chips) is lying," said Liz Fieweger, who is heading the City of Chicago's hunt for microchips that will stop working in 2000. "The whole world should have been doing this two years ago.

"In some ways, we are behind. But everybody is."
She and most others fighting the Millennium Bug say they still have time to snuff it out, that firefighters will have the water to fight fires and 911 systems will alert police to emergencies. Armies of workers and consultants are looking for the chips, analyzing them and hoping to have testing done by summer.

But even the most optimistic concede that the next three or four months will be critical in determining whether the job is finished by year-end.

Reasonable estimates of the potential havoc next year run from a minor inconvenience that slows traffic at a busy intersection to economic chaos that sparks a world recession. Most experts imagine something in between and surely closer to inconvenience.

"There's still time, but quite frankly, we've got to get started," said Randall von Liski, manager of the state's Y2K Technology Task Force.

Ultimately, though, because it's impossible to know if every critical, vulnerable device has been found, the unknowns about Y2K will linger right up until clocks around the world start striking midnight on New Year's Eve, 1999.

Based on the current state of readiness, experts say 1999 should be the year of contingency planning. Businesses and governments need to realistically assess which systems they'll be able to fix in time, then make plans for how to cope should any of the rest go awry.

"For people who are getting started now, yes, there is a problem," said Priscilla Walter, an information technology attorney with Gardner, Carton & Douglas. "And they will have potential legal liability to the extent that they don't do it in a systematic way."

For those who think the bug is so much techno-malarkey, consider this:
The top 25 companies in Chicago combined expect to spend more than $1.8 billion to keep the problem at bay. For the City of Chicago, the bill will reach $52 million; for the State of Illinois, it's $114.5 million.

Although many of the replacement systems will be more efficient than the old models, shareholders and taxpayers generally will get little more than the status quo for all that spending.

The good news is that consumers won't have to directly spend much, if anything. The vast majority of the electronics in the home and under the hood of the car have no known Y2K problems.

Chip hunt
Elsewhere, though, glitchy chips capable of creating electronic mischief are indeed turning up. By most estimates, about 5 percent of the chips embedded in all sorts of devices will malfunction on Jan. 1, 2000, if they are not replaced.

And they are being found in the most unlikely places.
Nearly half of the 600 Breathalyzers used by police departments across Illinois to identify drunken drivers have a Y2K-incompatible chip in their electrical innards that would render their printouts unusable in court. The glitch, of course, would have surfaced just at the moment that champagne corks were popping beneath cheers of "Happy New Year!"

The University of Chicago Hospitals discovered its pneumatic tube system, which whooshes blood and tissue samples around the sprawling complex, needed to be replaced to keep it working in 2000. "It would have choked," said spokesman John Easton.

Computer screens attached to each of the 300 manufacturing robots at Ford's South Side assembly plant would have reverted to gibberish if technicians there hadn't discovered that a single chip in each one was not Y2K compliant.

They found and fixed the problems, of course, because they looked.
Ultimately, beating the technology epoch's greatest and most exotic snafu boils down to an exercise in taking good inventory. Solving the Y2K problem requires finding every potentially vulnerable device, figuring out who made it, then asking the manufacturer if it was tested to see if it would work past 2000.

But that's harder than it sounds.
"We don't know how many embedded chips there are," said Elizabeth Boatman, the Y2K boss for Chicago. "We know what machines we have, but they don't come with a label that says, `This has a chip in it.' You have to guess."

And the tedious and time-consuming process of finding these embedded chips and determining if they will operate is just beginning in many places, especially in the public sector.

Many businesses are months, even a year or more, ahead of many governments.

Navistar International Corp., for example, has completed the analysis of 247 suspect devices in its engine building plant in Melrose Park. The company is well along in replacing the 29 units that had problems, including a computer that tested the emissions of every engine built there, according to Jim Schlusesmann, director of technical systems at the plant.

The Cook County Bureau of Health Services, on the other hand, has a long way to go at its three hospitals, including County Hospital. The bureau has 20,000 electronic devices that should be checked. Because that job is too big to finish in the time remaining, the county has triaged that number down to the 3,000 most important devices to check now.

A ventilator needed to keep someone alive must be checked before a mammogram machine, according to county records.

So far, the bureau has contacted just half of the manufacturers of its most critical devices and has heard back from only about 10 percent of those, according to county records.

While looking for these embedded chips, technicians also have to deal with the problem of rewriting computer software. Although this part of the Y2K problem has been understood longer, some government agencies also are behind here too.

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, lagging behind all other state agencies, has 48 people working full time rewriting its computer programs and needs to hire 10 more.

Those workers just finished fixing its most critical system, one that tracks child abuse and neglect cases, by painstakingly scouring 245,348 lines of computer code and rewriting nearly 37,000 of them. The agency doesn't hope to finish all of its 39 important systems until late summer, though.

Agencies around Chicago are beginning to develop contingency plans in case the bug causes real trouble.

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, for example, has determined it can go to manual collections at all booths if its I-Pass system shuts down.

Metra has canceled all vacations in December 1999 for personnel in the commuter rail's operations and safety areas.

And like many municipalities, Des Plaines is buying an electric generator for City Hall in case of a Y2K blackout.

Water, power and gas

Ask Chicago's Y2K boss what single issue worries her most, and she'll answer in a snap.


Chicago's water purification plants not only serve millions of people in the city, but pipe drinking water from Lake Michigan to dozens of suburbs as far away as DuPage and Will Counties.

Pumping, filtration and chlorination is governed by systems built years ago and controlled in part by equipment that contains embedded microchips.

"It is the only place where we have process-control equipment, and that is an area of the biggest problems," Elizabeth Boatman said. It wasn't until mid-December that Chicago hired the consulting company to go in and inventory the devices at the city's filtration plants and 12 pumping stations.

According to the work plan, the consultants are to finish their inventory and analysis in March. Only then will it be clear how big or small the problem really is.

Some parts of the drinking water system are beyond the control of the City of Chicago, however.

Oak Lawn, for example, operates a pumping station that distributes water from Chicago to nine other suburbs. That pumping station has pressure monitors known to have a Y2K problem, and consultants will begin working on it in late January, said Oak Lawn village officials. Because it takes electricity to purify water, the City of Chicago is shopping for back-up generators.

"We want to order that now," Boatman said. "I think everybody is going to want one, and we don't think the manufacturers can supply everybody."

Indeed, most everyone recognizes that keeping the electricity grid juiced up is the single most important step in preventing widespread problems a year from now.

The North American Electric Reliability Council noted in a September report to the U.S. Department of Energy that because each power company is connected to its neighbor, "the overall system may only be as strong as the weakest link."

"Will the lights go out?" the report asked. "The answer is that no one knows for certain yet what the effects of Y2K will be."

For their part, Commonwealth Edison officials say they will be ready by July.

To get there, though, the company still has plenty to do. ComEd has completed just 13 percent of the repairs needed to systems with embedded chip problems, according to company publications.

In one especially topsy-turvy twist from Y2K, nuclear power plants, some of the most complex machines around, are turning out to be relatively free of Y2K Bugs.

ComEd had previously planned to fix Y2K problems at eight of its reactors by next summer and wait to update the remaining two. But company officials now say Y2K problems are so minor that all will be fixed by mid-year.

Nicor Gas continues searching its system for any millennium glitch that could cut the flow of natural gas but hasn't yet found anything that substantial, company officials say.

Beyond the Chicago suburbs lie seven mammoth, buried sandstone rock formations into which Nicor pumps huge quantities of natural gas each summer for use the following winter. Those storage fields are filled and emptied by giant turbines governed by controllers that have microchips in them--microchips the company still is assessing for susceptibility to the Y2K Bug.

Nicor also is concerned about the telecommunications network needed to dispatch repair crews.

"What if the communication isn't out there?" said Jean Davis, who has headed up the company's Y2K efforts. "What are we going to do? Are we going to depend on radio? Are we going to drive information around? We haven't detailed all that yet."

Fred Kowitz, Ameritech's Year 2000 director, said his firm has participated in 1,500 tests sponsored by a telecommunications industry group and found only seven minor glitches.

"We don't expect anything to happen," Kowitz said.

Jail doors and defibrillators

Will County has learned the hard way that Y2K problems have made their way into law enforcement and public safety.

In the course of installing a new $5.3 million radio system over the last year, officials discovered it would not function in 2000.

It had never occurred to anyone to put Y2K compliance into the bid specifications.

"I don't think anybody knew about what Y2K meant at that time," said Will County Sheriff Brendan Ward, who chaired the committee that picked the system in 1996. "Who paid attention back then? Computer geeks."

Still under warranty, the system is now being updated by the company. Will County also has Y2K problems at the jail. The aging system for locking nearly 300 cells and security doors would likely fail in 2000, requiring guards to use keys to open cells manually, officials said.

"If we had an incident within a cellblock--say, a fire--it would take a lot longer to get the cell door open with keys," Ward said. "I just hope they get it done by next year."

The request for bids to do the repair work went out in December.

Rockford police found that their 34 on-board, squad car computers would fail and must be replaced. More surprisingly, though, was the discovery that one of the department's two Breathalyzers would spit out inaccurate times and dates come the new millennium.

"We're just going to throw out the old one and get a new one," said Jim Coffey, Rockford's data processing manager.

There are an additional 275 Intoximeter 3000s in the state that some local police departments might not yet realize need replacing, according to Larry Etzkorn, who heads the inspection of the devices for the state's Department of Public Health.

The machines can be found in police departments from Evergreen Park to Harwood Heights, Orland Park to Bensenville. Chicago police have about 30 of them, at least one in each district.

Because the reports would be inaccurate, they would have to be supported in court by expert testimony about why the machine failed. Etzkorn said the state is awaiting word on a possible federal grant that might pay for the machines before contacting all the local departments.

In Chicago, Police and Fire Department officials don't yet know how much of their equipment could cause problems in 2000.

Police radios, computers and 911 equipment are fine, officials say.
The consultant who will answer questions about much of the other equipment the forces use was hired in mid-December.

The Fire Department's 83 ambulances, 130 pumpers and 89 aerial trucks all must be scoured for embedded chips, which can be found in carbon dioxide detectors, defibrillators and even the trucks themselves.

"Fire ladders are a huge thing we will focus on," Fieweger said.

Hospitals, too, are finding their hands full with checking out medical equipment. Even facilities that are ahead of others have much work to do.

The University of Chicago Hospitals have found 8,600 medical devices that must be checked for Y2K problems but still have to investigate approximately two-thirds of those, hospital officials said.

So far, they know that about 50 devices have to be replaced, including an intravenous pump that allows patients to administer their own doses of pain medications, said Patricia Becker, who is heading the hospital's Y2K efforts.

"Even with the massive effort that this is, we might miss one or two things and so we are developing contingency plans," Becker said. "One of our contingencies to think about is what to do if other hospitals turn out to be non-functional. What are we going to do to take those patients?"

Planes, trains, automobiles

At O'Hare International Airport, the hard work has been done on the most critical systems, such as those that track operations of runway lights. Technicians have determined which systems might fail, and work to repair them will begin later this month, according to Aviation Commissioner Mary Rose Loney.

Already they know that ID badges airport employees use to open doors would stop working next Jan. 1. Not only will the system have to be updated, but 50,000 employees at O'Hare (and 10,000 at Midway Airport) will be issued new badges in coming months.

In order to finish work on such critical systems, technicians have had to delay checking less important ones, such as those that operate lighting, heat and elevators in terminals.

Finishing work on those secondary systems could take until late in the year. "But we are still targeting to complete the work by December '99," said Dennis Culloton, a spokesman for Chicago's Department of Aviation.

In the meantime, there is contingency planning, which aims to cover even the smallest details.

"If the computer of our supply-chain vendor crashes on Jan. 1, we won't get 2,000 rolls of toilet paper on Jan. 4," Culloton said. "In that case, a truck driver would go out and manually purchase the paper goods for our facilities."

The Federal Aviation Administration is now working on fixing the 430 critical systems that guide airplanes around the country. The agency plans on fixing these systems at O'Hare and other airports before July, according to an FAA spokesman.

But even this is months later than the General Accounting Office, which is monitoring federal readiness, had hoped.

"The criticism that we got off to a late start is justified," said Paul Takemoto, a spokesman for the FAA. "We didn't have a centralized Y2K office in place until Feb. 4, 1998. (But) we have caught up to where we need to be."

On the ground, there are still questions about what needs fixing to keep the transportation infrastructure running in 2000.

The Chicago Transit Authority expects to spend more than $10 million ferreting out and correcting Y2K deficiencies, said Craig Lang, a senior vice president who heads the agency's technology development division.

But the final cost is still unknown, because technicians haven't determined how deep the problems run on "L" trains, at maintenance facilities, and in control systems on newer buses.

They do know that the bus fueling system has to be reprogrammed. But they don't yet know whether the rail switches on the "L" and ground-level grade-crossing systems that separate Brown Line trains and automobiles will work.

"We're still probing," Lang said. "We haven't completed our survey of embedded code and categorizing the issues."

Although it may be hard to convince commuters, there is an unanticipated up-side to the fact that one-fourth of the CTA's nearly 2,000 buses still are operating beyond a recommended 12-year lifespan:
There's no Y2K Bug in those old machines because they have no chips. Traffic signals for automobiles, one of the most commonly cited Y2K bugaboos, are in fact one of the least troublesome.

Virtually none of the 6,500 traffic lights in the area is controlled by devices with known Y2K problems because they work on 24-hour cycles, not on calendars, according to state and municipal officials. In Chicago, the traffic signals are generally controlled by devices so old they don't have microchips in them.

Instead, Y2K problems might be lurking in less expected places.

At least a dozen of the movable bridges that cross the Chicago River are controlled by microprocessors that could have a Y2K problem, Fieweger said.

Officials expect to know by March whether equipment in the bridge houses needs to be replaced.

Spreading the word

As project manager for the state's Y2K Technology Task Force, Randall von Liski's job is to warn villages and cities that the Y2K problem is real.

His seminars across the state have been only sparsely attended.
"The thing I'm most skeptical of is when somebody says, `It's taken care of,' " he said. "You're not going to know if your community is OK unless you start a project, and time is running out."

In November, the task force finished a survey of all 2,800 municipal, township and county governments in Illinois, with troubling results. Only 14 percent of the local government units even responded, and of those that did:

- Only about one in four had a comprehensive plan for dealing with the problem.
- Four said they would finish preparing for 2000 sometime after 2000.
- Only about one-third said they had contacted their suppliers to see if they would be able to get goods or services in 2000.
"We're behind in the process," acknowledges Jennifer Swearingen, who only started coming up with a Y2K plan for Oak Lawn in October.
She hopes to have her inventory of potential Y2K problems completed by the end of January. "Then I'll move to triage," she said.

In North Chicago, officials plan to spend about $200,000 to replace an aging mainframe computer and a computerized water control system.
But while attention there has been focused on the city's large systems and PCs, no one has started hunting for embedded chips. No overall inventory has been made. No priority list has been written.
"We're not going to develop any fallout shelters regarding Y2K," said former city administrator Gerald Smith. "I think people are overplaying it."
In Will County's DuPage Township, however, Joe Haines is nervous enough at only just getting started on the Y2K problem that he's created a two-page list with 45 items of every possible electronic device contained in the township's main building, its senior center and its road and bridge building.
The list starts with the computer used to cut about 30 general assistance checks each month and even includes the automatic sliding door into the senior center.
Now, according to Haines, comes the hard part--persuading township authorities to spend money replacing non-compliant items.
"Do they have awareness? I don't really think so," he said of the officials who control the purse strings. "It's a tough argument. We have to convince them they have to spend money just to keep it the same."
In DuPage County, emergency management officials are preparing for the worst, although they don't expect it.
They are recruiting ham radio operators to form a communications chain if telephones fail, finding shelters that have generators and offering training sessions to families to make them self-sufficient for 72 hours after a disaster.
Tom Mefferd, coordinator of the DuPage County Office of Emergency Management, doesn't expect any of these measures will be necessary.
"There are people who will say go out and hoard a whole bunch of food," Mefferd said. "At this time, I would say preparedness is important, but we don't see a need to build a fortress in the back yard."
Others, perhaps at one extreme, aren't so sure.
The Midwest Christian Center in Tinley Park has produced a brochure with 13 steps to prepare for Y2K, including storing a month's worth of food, stashing away gold and silver coins and learning how to safely dispose of human waste.
"The Scriptures tell you what's happening," said John Palladino, a church official. "We believe we are in the last days of the world, and this will help propel the situation."


-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 01, 1999.

As Y2K bash rages next year, techies will party like its 1999

.... A Cincinnati Financial spokesman says gallows humor about the night is seeping out already. When we told the programmers theyd have to come in that night, they all said, Whats the use? Theres not going to be any power or any telephone service,  he says. ....

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-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 01, 1999.

Brother, chicago is toast and so are all my clients!

-- Moore Dinty moore (not@thistime.com), January 01, 1999.

Koskinen starts talking real problems! He's morphing. This is enough to make PollyAnna have trouble sleeping.

Y2K: Minor glitch or major disaster?

USA Today Tech Report, 12/31/98

Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, especially in a computerized world.
Consider the looming Year 2000 enigma.

Awareness of the impending computer glitch, when computers might shut down because they don't know how to calculate the year 2000, has spread to the point where a new breed of techno-survivalists is earnestly stockpiling food, water and emergency generators.
"'Complacency is wrong,'' says John Koskinen, the federal Y2K czar, assigned by the White House to oversee government's response to the computer bug. ''This is a problem that doesn't solve itself.''
Think of Y2K as a force of nature much like an earthquake or tornado. It is very real and quite powerful. Damage is certain to result from colliding head-on with this phenomenon or from the unfathomable consequences it is likely to spawn as computers try to cope with a year that ends in double-zero.

''This is a very real problem,'' Koskinen says. ''If it hits, like a hurricane, full force, we will have a disaster.''
But the U.S. railroad system, oil and gas pipelines and segments of the power grid remain a top concern.

''We are deeply concerned about the railroads,'' Koskinen says. ''We have no indication that they are going to make it.''

The rails maintain their own telecommunications system, which provides computerized operation for vital systems, such as switches and warning signals, Koskinen says.

If railroads are forced to slow down so automated functions can be carried out manually and to provide a greater margin of safety, then a broad cross section of the economy, from heavy industry to fresh foods, could be affected.

The computerized systems that control the flow of various energy products, oil, natural gas and electricity throughout the USA are still being examined. There is no way to know how well the power grid will hold up because it can't be shut down for testing.

Similarly, large banks that control their own financial networks are given a far greater chance at success than small banks or credit unions, which are dependent on others' facilities and lack the resources to pay for costly renovations.

Things that flow

The common quality of all things potentially threatened by the millennium bug is that they are ''things that flow,'' says Marvin Langston, director of the Defense Department's Y2K program.

''The flow that keeps the world running is the energy flow, telecommunications flow, food flow, water flow, money flow, information flow and every one of those things has something to do with computer systems,'' he says.

''My concern is that even if the United States gets everything fixed, the world is so interconnected that if we don't get the rest of the world largely fixed to support this international flow of things, we'll (face) a big impact.''

Many leading oil-producing nations  such as Venezuela, Niger, Mexico and Saudi Arabia  are estimated to be at least six months to two years behind the United States in efforts to address Y2K, according to a study by Science Applications International Corp.

If the flow of oil slows, which many analysts feel is unavoidable, long-depressed oil prices could soar, raising electric costs and damaging the U.S. economy. Even more vulnerable are nations like Japan, which has no domestic oil production and is suffering economic distress that already has been felt in U.S. markets.

A World Bank study released this summer found that just 18 of 127 countries (14%) had created a national Year 2000 program. Only 28 countries (22%) reported working on the problem.
Universally, from the president's adviser to the solo computer practitioner, the advice is the same:

Think locally.

''Every person needs to address this at a personal and local level,'' Koskinen says. ''They need to be asking about their local power company or water purification plant. Ask the bank. What's the local hospital doing these days to prepare?''

The Securities and Exchange Commission requires public corporations to file disclosure reports on what they are doing about Y2K, although many have found legal loopholes to provide answers vague enough to be meaningless.
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-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 01, 1999.

Wow, Leska, its as if the media and The Powers That Be decided to declare 1/1/1999 as some kind of "coming out" day!!!! I can't believe Koskinen is actually making sense!!! (More than Peter de Jager these days....)

-- Jack (jsprat@eld.net), January 02, 1999.

Yes, Jack, makes ya rub your eyes, huh! He must've read Diane's NDE prediction for him ;-)

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 02, 1999.


Read what Koskinen said on September 10, 1998:

"A final issue that depends a lot on you is how we do contingency planning. I was out with the Intelligence Agency CIRs yesterday and I told them the same thing I told our council, which is that we're about finished with the proselytizing and organizing phase. We're moving into the monitoring and assessment phase, and we're starting to do contingency planning because ultimately we are going to move into the crisis management phase. And the council will be responsible for coordinating the Government's response to this situation domestically and abroad."

http://www.ncs.gov/N5_HP/Customer_Service/XAffairs/SpeechService/SS98- 025.htm

"National Communications System - Telecommunications Speech Service"

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), January 02, 1999.

Well it certainly took long enough!! What these guys have needed, the last several months, is a good nag to constantly hound them into informing the public in order to prevent panic. I hate to brag, but I am a professional nag; I should have offered my services. hee hee

Seriously, I heard about Chicago's problems in July. CILCO, which provides power for southern Illinois, and St. Louis, with Union Electric, which is in my area, said that it would separate itself from the grid it shares with the Chicago utility, ComEd, if it seemed the grid would be in jeopardy. Naturally CILCO's statement wasn't popular with ComEd powers-that-be becaue they were unprepared for y2k to begin with.

-- gilda jessie (jess@listbot.com), January 02, 1999.

Gary North just posted the above Chicago article on his site. Called it Kiss Chicago Goodbye. He's also said it's unmatchable reporting thus far. Notice how Mr. North's links come after we hash 'em out here? Does he lurk here, post here in cognito, or get eMail tips from a regular?

Chicago is having the 3rd worst snow storm now -- if the power goes out, maybe more ppl will get the hint there and prepare. Their contingency plan will be: "We recommend you move. Those with names beginning A-G, in March; H-M in April;" etc.

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 02, 1999.

Hi Leska: Yes, Gary has posted here (at least once that I know of), which means he either lurks or has the Name Robot turned on to notify him when his comes up. LOL.

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), January 02, 1999.

Hi Rob! Is there really a Name Robot? Mac version? Where does one buy/download it? Can it be programmed for key words, then alert you whenever those words are typed? That would be useful! Just yesterday sent in my $20 for MacOS8.5 Update, which has Sherlock, a powerful new search engine. Am curious to see what its capabilities will be. This was just before the possibility of donating for a search engine was announced. Oh well ... Sherlock supposedly can search anything, everywhere, anywhere. Will see ...

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx x

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 02, 1999.

Leska: I have seen references to the name robot idea on other threads, but do not know if it is just another of our forum jokes (likely). Maybe someone will post to tell us.

The answer to your question to me regarding solving the glove problem was "embedded" in my limerick post on this thread - should work for golves too, and have the added bonus of emancipation of your odd mittens. Ductgloves! (just ignore the fruitcake ice skating blade part, unless you want to make ductboots).

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), January 02, 1999.

Uh, Leska... the post I was referring to (gloves) was on the other thread, not this one.

-- Rob Michaels (sonofdust@net.com), January 02, 1999.

Uh, Rob, sweetie, um, do you have threaditis? You keep confusing me, Leska, with Tricia -- a great honor, yes. I never posted on the mitten thread, and I can't find your embedded limerick post here. Is it me having postitis? There is a thread about posterioritis at the moment. Hhhmmm. But that isn't what the towel is for ...

xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 02, 1999.

Oops, I was posting that while you were posting that -- post toast or positis?

-- Leska (allaha@earthlink.net), January 02, 1999.

Not sure what this qualifies as... a 75 percent chance we'll do it in California??? -- Diane

State making progress, but no guarantees on Y2K readiness

JENNIFER KERR, Associated Press Writer Thursday, December 31, 1998

URL: http://www.sfgate.com/ cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/news/archive/1998/12/31/ state1803EST0078.DTL

(12-31) 15:03 PST SACRAMENTO (AP) -- Over at the Department of Motor Vehicles, lots of computers are chattering away with other computers about your driver's license, your car, your car insurance and all your tickets.

DMV computers talk to counties, courts, insurance companies, automobile dealerships, leasing firms and car rental companies -- more than 1,000 outside computer connections.

Those connections, called ``interfaces'' in computer talk, are one of the biggest problems still facing state government in the final year before Year 2000 fully hits the computerized world.

With one year until the problem known as Y2K or the Millennium Bug, California's state agencies aren't fully ready to deal with the glitches, ranging from annoying to life-threatening, that could occur when the calendar switches to Jan. 1, 2000.

The state's major crucial computer systems are almost all fixed, officials say. But huge questions persist about the state's interfaces with outside computers that may or may not be fixed and about embedded chips that run automatic systems ranging from heating equipment to prison security fences.

``I think finally the state is working hard and understands there's a problem,'' says state Assemblywoman Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara. She chaired the Assembly Information Technology Committee during 1998 and held several hearings on the state's ability to deal with the Y2K problem.

``I think there's a 75 percent chance we'll do it.'' she adds.

And no one can guarantee that everything will work, no matter how hard state computer experts labor over the next year.

``Preparation for the possibility of failures is essential because the actual impact of the Year 2000 will be unknown until the failure date has passed, and the potential impact of failures to California can be extremely broad, conceivably affecting all sectors -- public, private and governmental,'' warned the latest report by the state agency overseeing the issue.

The new administration of Gov.-elect Gray Davis will inherit the problem, which has been handled by the 3-year-old Department of Information Technology. It has been coordinating, assisting and prodding state agencies' efforts to fix their 2,400 computer systems. The total cost is expected to exceed $500 million.

``I think we're handing over the reins of a Year 2000 initiative that's well on its way to success,'' says John Thomas Flynn, who is departing as director of DOIT.

Outgoing Gov. Pete Wilson in 1997 ordered all state agencies to have their ``mission-critical'' computer systems fixed by the end of 1998. Those are the 640 computer systems that provide the most important services to Californians.

While the results won't be tallied until early February, Flynn estimates that about 50 systems are not meeting the governor's conservative deadline. However, he said all should be fixed within a few months and before their failure dates. The failure date occurs whenever a computer must first deal with the year 2000, not necessarily next Jan. 1.

That will leave most of 1999 for state agencies to test their interfaces with other agencies and to find and fix the thousands of embedded chips that run automatic systems, mostly in buildings.

The Y2K problem is occurring because most computer programs and chips manufactured in the last 30 years assume that all dates fall within the 20th century. To save once-scarce memory, years were written with two digits -- 99 for 1999. That means computers having to deal with 2000 would probably assume it is 1900. The result could range from inaccurate data to system failures.

To fix the problem, computer experts must either replace programs or chips or go through all the complex computer code and rewrite all references to dates so that years in the 21st century are recognized correctly.

For example, DMV programmers had ``7 million lines of software that someone had to go through with their eyes, one line at a time,'' says Leo Verheul, chief information officer for the department.

DMV has been working on the Y2K problem for a decade, because it has senior identification cards good for 10 years and in 1990 started running into ones that expire in 2000.

It also has been issuing driver's licenses expiring in the year 2000 and later for four years and in January must start issuing car registrations that expire during 2000.

The department has been testing its software on a special computer -- called the ``time machine'' -- that is programmed to believe it is now the year 2000, he said.

``In general, I think we are the department that is going to go through that date with very little problem,'' he said.

Verheul said DMV chose to deal with the interface agencies the easy way by letting them keep using two digits, but writing a special program that allows the DMV computers to recognize dates for the next 30 years.

Many local governments have not made as much progress as the state in dealing with Y2K. A survey conducted last summer by a DOIT-backed organization of local government computer experts found that 74 percent of the cities and counties that responded have a Year 2000 plan, but only 42 percent had the money budgeted to pay for the repairs.

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), January 02, 1999.

Quoting Diane above ...

.... local government computer experts found that 74 percent of the cities and counties that responded have a Year 2000 plan, but only 42 percent had the money budgeted to pay for the repairs.


Also - thinking of the toll booth problems when two or three lanes (now rapidly and automatically processing a car by scanner have to return manually cycling cars by hand. If the DOT remembers to call in extra toll takers for ???? weeks until the program is fixed. If there is lights and power at the "reprogramming site". If the source code can be found. If a programmer can be found, not occupied on critical mission programs like taxes or salaries. Etc.

Most fixes now are for mission critical items only. So things like toll programs won't take high priority until they fail.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), January 04, 1999.

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