Gas station glitch : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Just came from the local Chevron station.This is a large new station that opened about six months ago.The pumps,car wash and cash registers were not working .Three or four employees were hunched over the computer .They told me that their computers had been messing up all day.I then drove over to the Texico station to find it closed.It is normally open twenty-four hours a day.

-- Rose (, January 09, 1999


It is interesting to note, that today is 1/9/99.

Three nines, one for the day and two for the year could cause some "creative" computer programs to exit loops... I used to think that would be far-fetched because, "who would use a date to exit a loop?"...

Could also just be one of those "we're going to do our testing in 1999" things... Maybe the test isn't going so well right now.

-- Reporter (, January 09, 1999.

Not enough to know - but when they aren't running right, computers fail in wierd and wonderful ways.

Did you notice that they were "hunched over the computer" rather than pumping gas? Did they accept cash at all? Could they "manually pump" if the computer "link" to the cash register was dead? (And all this when the power was on, and in daylight! With an "unconcerned" (not panicked) public.)

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw GA) (, January 09, 1999.

The clerk at a "medium-sized" local grocery store a couple days ago said I could only use my ATM card in Visa mode because they haven't been working in ATM mode "for about a month now". Pretty wierd, considering the same system had been working withouy a hitch for two years. My guess is that the ATM transaction company that this grocery chain uses couldn't handle the "99" factor and had to take their system down in late December to attempt a drastic fix, and they're still not done with it yet.

Maybe it's not a 99 could be a coincidence, but I doubt it. The timing is just *too* good.

After working with many different systems, six different programming languages (and multiple dialects), anyone should agree with Cory H's comment on how hard it is to get a computer to do what you want it to.

My current company's old "home-brew" system ran on a dialect of COBOL called "Dibol". The data is stored in ISAM files. I can't imagine swimming thru every line of that code to find date operations. I can't imagine hiring an additional programmer in 1997 and still getting it re-coded and tested in time...and we would be considered a "small-medium" size what, we still supply "irreplacable" products and services to our customers.

Thankfully we implemented a new "Y2K" compliant system last year. The manufacturer of this MRP/ERP system says *for sure* that it is Year-2000 ready. I still don't trust it. Many of their clients are still going to do a time-machine test. So will we soon.

Code on, comrades! Maybe we'll make it...but looking at the current date and knowing human nature, I doubt it.

Better snag that boxwood stove before they're all gone.

-- Grizzled Programmer (, January 09, 1999.

One of the employees was out front ,telling people NOT to use the gas pumps.I tried to buy a coke and was told that they could not sell anything until they got their computers running again.

-- Rose (, January 09, 1999.

Did you convert the ISAM files to VSAM? There are some systems level problems with VSAM libs re:date labeling/generation sets and expiration. I think some of the same problems might occur with ISAM libs but its been 15 years since I handled ISAM sets.

-- RD. ->H (, January 09, 1999.

Ok, please don't flame me on this one, as I don't necessarily attribute this to Y2K, but it fits with this thread.

Thursday morning I was waiting behind a couple of ladies at a Rite- Aid drug store wondering why they were not being checked out. It turns out the woman had tried to use her debit card at the check-out and the card was refused, so she tried to use the cash machine located in the store to obtain the cash. I watched as she tried 3 or 4 times to complete the transaction. She finally got her money then paid the cashier.

When it was my turn to check out, I asked the cashier, "Y2K problem?" and she answered that she didn't know but they had a lot of problems lately. I then asked if it was just debit cards and she said it was the credit cards too and that she knew of a couple other local stores (which she named) that had had similar problems.

Y2K? Who knows, but I hope people here keep reporting on this kind of thing. Of itself a report like this may mean nothing, but an escalation in stuff like this...well, you know.

-- christa (, January 09, 1999.

Around where I live, all my cards were working, and all shopping systems I encountered seemed to be functioning fine. People were doing their shopping thing, cool as cucumbers.

-- Blue Himalayan (bh@k2.y), January 09, 1999.

Only the old system had ISAM files. The "new" system uses dynamic DB files. Fortunately, the old system has a utility to convert the ISAM files into fixed-width ASCII. This is how we imported the data into the new system, with some "on-the-fly" subroutines to filter/convert the data.

RD: Thanks anyway for your VASM suggestion!

I realize that this doesn't mean much to the "non-tech" folks out there...but this discussion is an important illustration of how complex of a task it is to get a "small-to-medium" company's system Y2K-compliant.

Seeing my company's own situation is one of many reasons why I am making real-life preparations for my own family. Maybe there will only be a "moderate" recession and a hard "bump in the road"...or maybe it will be TEOTWAWKI. Nobody knows for sure. The potential definitely exists for TEOTWAWKI more than the cold war. I am not betting the life of my wife and children on it for the sake of our own current lifestyle and comfort.

Wake up folks. Computers have no mercy. Not just one bad line of code, but one bad *statement* in that line of code can slam a mission-critical process. I deal with it every day, as do many others.

Wood-burning stoves are great. Wood burns very hot, hotter than natural gas. It can heat a large area and cook dinner at the same time.

Isn't progress wonderful? We have some to rely on the very things that could be our undoing.

-- Grizzled Programmer (, January 09, 1999.

Also don't know if y2k related but: Shopping at Albertsons yesterday, the manager was checking receipts and muttering about the clock being off and "get ---- over here. Somethings with this computer.It shouldn't be doing this."

-- Maria (, January 10, 1999.

"Wake up folks. Computers have no mercy."

Grizzled Programmer

Thank You for this phrase. I have read many suggestions for *the* saying apropo to Y2K. I think yours says it all and says it right!

-- Elbow Grease (, January 10, 1999.

"Wake up folks. Computers and bureacrats have no brains, only standard routines."

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw GA) (, January 11, 1999.

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