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Just read the Foxnews Homepage... Guess what... Y2k is making headlines....

Y2K Bug Is Already Showing Its Face 12.32 p.m. ET (1732 GMT) January 28, 1999 By Amanda Onion NEW YORK  As the next century approaches, there is increasing panic over The Moment  the midnight hour when calendars flip from '99 to '00 and malfunctioning computers send the world into confused havoc. But Y2K trouble may be much closer than 11 months away. In fact, it has already arrived. The Gartner Group, a consulting firm that has specialized in Y2K, estimates 40 percent of the largest American and European companies have already run into breakdowns stemming from the Y2K bug. Granted, these problems have not been life-threatening and have mostly amounted to nuisances in bookkeeping, but they could be indicative of more to come. "Y2K is going to mean more paperwork," said Howard Rubin, an information technician consultant. It may not be catastrophic, he added, but "it will be messy." In the coming year, as government records, fiscal year plans and payroll records project to the next century, these "messy" problems are likely to pop up even more frequently. The increased hassle, some argue, could offer valuable warning signs. "Suppose you bought a house 15 years ago and everything has worked fine," explained Leland Freeman, a Boston-based Y2K consultant. "Then the carpenter who built it shows up and says he designed it wrong and the whole thing has the potential to collapse in exactly one year unless he fixes it. You're going to tell him he's crazy." AP/Wide World Many students are taking advantage of the current glut of computer-related jobs by seeking training in programming specifically targeted at solving the year 2000 problem In order to realize the scope of the Y2K problem, Freeman argues, people need the equivalent of a leaky roof  a sign that the problem is real and things are starting to break down. By now most have heard about the maddeningly basic problem that poses catastrophic consequences to computer-operated systems. In the 1960s and '70s, when computer memory was scarce and expensive, programmers conserved space by shortening the year's date to the last two digits, so that 1999 would be scripted 99. The fear is, at the arrival of the year 2000, this coded shorthand will flip to "00," and computers will interpret those numbers as 1900, become confused and malfunction. Predictions of the consequences range from disastrous to simply annoying. Unless programmers manage to fix the glitch in time, some foresee the world grinding to a halt as confused computer chips and programs malfunction in everything from airplanes to heating systems to bank machines to locks in jails. Others predict a sticky start to the new century, but nothing to lose sleep over. "Most places are on top of this, and know what to expect," said Rubin, who, despite his optimism, plans to stay at home next New Year's Eve, "just in case." AP/Wide World President Clinton has signed legislation which will help provide businesses, governments and other organizations with the necessary tools to overcome the Y2K bug Government is also planning for trouble  just in case. The Federal Reserve plans to print $50-$75 billion extra dollars before the New Year to brace for an expected rise in account withdrawals due to the panic. And to allay public worry over the problem, the Federal government has set up a Y2K hot line: (888)USA-4-Y2K that will provide answers for common Y2K queries. But while government may be readying to address the panic, it's not yet clear if it has fully addressed the actual problem. President Clinton has assured that at least one government agency was on top of the problem, promising in December that "the millennium bug will not delay the payment of Social Security checks by a single day." Still, the readiness of one of the most crucial services, energy, remains in question. On January 11, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson offered incomplete assurances that utilities across the country will be able to keep lights burning and furnaces heating after the New Year. "We can be cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the industry meeting its Y2K challenge," Richardson said, adding that repairs and tests were not much more than half complete. Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll Government programs dependent on state-run bookkeeping appear to be the least prepared. In fact, some predict unemployment offices could be among the "leaky roof" harbingers of problems to come and could start experiencing glitches this year. In late December Labor Department officials named 13 states that were lagging behind on Y2K repairs and cited concerns that local systems used to project unemployment benefits are well outdated. Some states have set up temporary solutions, such as ending all benefits on December 31, 1999, or planning to issue checks by hand if necessary. The last minute finagling, some claim, could result in late or incorrect checks in 1999. "1999 is not going to see doomsday in terms of planes not flying or trains not going. This year's problems are instead going to be extremely large nuisances. And, if a number of people don't get their checks, you're going to see an awful lot of grumpy people," said Ed Yourdon, a Y2K consultant and author of the book Time Bomb 2000. 1999 Y2K Trigger Dates February 1: At least 12 Fortune 500 companies begin new 1999-2000 fiscal years April 1: U.K., Canada, India, China, Japan and New York State begin new fiscal years April 9: The 99th day of 99th year may be misread since some programs read 9999 to mean "end of file" July 1: 46 U.S. states, along with Australia and New Zealand, begin new fiscal years September 9: This date would read 090999 and may also be misinterpreted to mean "end of file" October 1: U.S. federal government begins fiscal year This year Yourdon moved from his home in New York City to a solar-powered house in New Mexico partly because of Y2K worries. He claims, despite assurances from New York agencies, that no one has been able to promise that 2000 will be disaster-free. Gary Davis, the Y2K project leader for New York State, only shrugs at such fears. New York State's fiscal year begins in April 1999, and Davis says the state's payroll departments have already been completely revamped and are ready to read dates past the year 2000. He also reports that 85 percent of the most vital systems, such as those operating security, power and water stations, have been reprogrammed and are now undergoing testing. The other 15 percent, he says, will be taken care of. "I think people need to respond to the fact that we've been at this for over two years and our systems are going to be compliant," he said. But it's these kinds of incomplete assurances, and the lingering sense of uncertainty, that have led thousands of people around the world to ready themselves for potential disaster. The American Red Cross has issued a set of guidelines on how to prepare for Y2K. A school board in Albuquerque, N.M. has voted to keep the city's public schools closed for the first week after New Year in 2000 to avoid trouble. And, in the frigid Canadian city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Frank Polich, like so many others around the globe, is taking precautions. He's buying a generator. "Heat is my main concern," said the retired building inspector. "Around here it gets to 30 to 40 below come January. If you don't have heat, you just don't survive." Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll A recent Fox New Opinion Poll indicates that an increasing number of Americans are thinking like Polich and are skeptical the problem will be fixed in time. In January 1999, 27 percent of those surveyed said they did not think the problem would be solved in time, compared to only 13 percent in 1997. One factor is, when asked if there really is need to worry about losing heat or power or about encountering trouble with bank machines or traffic controls come January 1, 2000, experts have been reluctant to give a definitive answer. In fact, the task of predicting Y2K troubles has been compared to forecasting the weather. While computers have linked worlds together, they've also created a chain of dependency where, if one link fails, the entire network could collapse. Telephones failing in Brazil, for example, could cause a coffee plantation to lose contact with its contractor, which could deplete bean supplies at Starbuck's and cause the business to suffer. The ripple effect of a Y2K failure can be as pervasive and difficult to predict as an El Niqo. "I always question when people say 'we're OK, we've solved our Y2K.' Solving your own Y2K problem, doesn't fix it. You're always interconnected with other agencies, and if they've got problems, you've got problems," said Freeman. Indeed, a Y2K ripple effect could well begin in developing countries where a computer glitch may seem insignificant compared to other national concerns. A recent World Bank survey of 139 developing countries showed that only 15 percent are taking concrete steps towards fixing the problem. AP/Wide World This family keeps a regular inventory of survival items which they keep stored in their home in preparation for the year 2000 It's these signs of unpreparedness across the globe that has led Ed Yardeni, chief economist at Deutsche Bank to say there is a 70 percent chance a worldwide recession will begin in January 2000 partly due to the Y2K problem. Despite somewhat unsettling predictions for the future, most believe the Y2K problems surfacing in 1999 will be manageable  compared to what could happen one year from now. "This year is going to bring big administrative problems, but it's nothing that we're seriously worried about," said Paloma O'Riley, director of the Cassandra Project, a nationwide organization that addresses Y2K concerns. "2000 is when the big problems begin  if they ever begin."

-- STFrancis (, January 28, 1999



-- Steve Hartsman (, January 28, 1999.

Jeez, so much for cutting and pasting...

sorry about that...


-- STFrancis (, January 28, 1999. 06.sml

-- Arnie Rimmer (, January 28, 1999.

I sincerely feel that if the Government was SO sure of themselves that this will not be a problem that they would be on the defensive in a bad way. It startles me that they are not more defensive. I think everyone is really unsure, and therefore I have decided it is better to be safe then sorry. I think everyone should try to do some planning ahead.

-- grute (, January 28, 1999.

"2000 is when the big problems begin  if they ever begin." - Paloma O'Riley

Look, Paloma's an optimist now?

Next, GN will move back into his Texas condo.

-- lisa (, January 28, 1999.

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