Good article from USA Today : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

USA Today Tech Report, 1-13-1999


Hear that "fffffft" sound? It's some of the air going out of the Y2K issue.

Supposedly, we were going to get a big fat fistful of the Y2K bug early this month. As everyone who's at least half awake seems to know by now, when the date clicks over to 1/1/00, a programming glitch could cause many computers to think the "00" is 1900 and either crash or mess up their functions. Because a good number of programs project out a year, the rollover to 1/1/99 was supposed to stir up serious trouble. The opening of 1999 "was clearly the biggest challenge so far," says Jim Woodward of computer consulting firm Cap Gemini America.

So what kind of doom has been visited upon modern civilization in January?

Well, let's see, you can call companies and consultants, you can scan the factual and the apoplectic Y2K sites on the Internet, and most of what you'll find is really pretty feeble.

In Hong Kong at midnight on New Year's Eve, the harbormaster's computers froze up because of Y2K. He couldn't track the boats sloshing around out there. No ferries ran over junks or anything like that. The system was fixed in a few hours.

In Stockholm, computerized taxi meters incorrectly calculated fares, undercharging riders. Several thousand Swedes could afford a few extra meatballs. A software patch fixed the problem within hours.

On Long Island in New York, a security system at an insurance company office failed from Y2K and locked out employees on Monday morning, Jan. 4.

In a potentially serious tale, a Blue Cross-Blue Shield system that manages prescription drug benefits for 3.7 million workers locked up Jan. 1. It denied drugs to 96,531 members at 47,000 pharmacies over the next 20 hours. Most of the pharmacies gave their customers the drugs anyway, and the system was fixed by the next day.

There are a few things of note here. First, there have been so few serious Y2K problems to stoke the fires that the goofy stories above are getting passed all around like valuable discoveries.

Second, the impact of each glitch was confined and negligible. A Y2K glitch in one place didn't spread through interconnected systems and zap other computers, as feared. A stalled car on a freeway during rush hour has a worse domino effect than those Y2K bugs.

Finally, each bug was caught and fixed pretty quickly.

Now, certainly a lot of Y2K glitches happened away from public view. A survey by Cap Gemini found that 55% of companies responding have already experienced a Year 2000-related computer error. "Most failures caused processing disruptions or financial miscalculations," the survey reports. But they haven't been bad enough to grab headlines or get industry wags talking.

"Either people are being very tight-lipped or it's just not happening," says Marc Pearl of the Information Technology Association of America. Of Y2K glitches he has heard about, "people have been working them through and working them out."

"It looks better than what we expected, which I think is good news," says Woodward of Cap Gemini, which helps companies solve Y2K issues and so would probably just as soon have a full-blown crisis on hand. "There are still reasons to wonder how bad it really was, but from what I've heard, it's better than it could've been."

Before you get too comfortable, the Y2K doomsayers are still preaching disaster come Jan. 1, 2000. That's when 90% of possible Y2K problems are supposed to start hitting, and as the problems compound, they might not be able to be isolated, like the ones this month. Then again, remember where the extremists are coming from: They've already paid for the compound in the mountains, the year's supply of freeze-dried food and the shotgun, so they have a vested interest in keeping Y2K gloom alive.

It's probably not a bad thing to continue to expect the worst. The Federal Emergency Management Agency -- your friendly neighborhood disaster people -- has launched a road show to help communities get ready for Y2K. Several states are supposedly putting National Guard troops on alert. Suburban get-togethers are bubbling with conversation about emergency power generators and how much cash to take out of banks before the year turns.

But this easy January is the first sign of hope that Y2K won't devolve into a worst-case scenario. I don't know about you, but I'm happy for that hope.

By Kevin Maney, USA TODAY

-- Jethro Bodine (, January 14, 1999



Again, someone has forgotten to take the embedded systems problem into account. The embedded "chip" problem is what's going to really hurt us near January 1, 2000.

Let me suggest another recent story from USA Today called "Y2K: Minor glitch or major disaster?" Here's the link, followed by a quote from it:

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."

-- Kevin (, January 14, 1999.

Trains link at

Bottom line - trains cannot deliver enough coal to power plants to have them operate effectively.

Joe-bob says check the link.

-- Andy (, January 14, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ