BBC: "Rubik man 'solves Y2K bug'" (chips) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Monday, February 22, 1999 Published at 10:35 GMT


Rubik man 'solves Y2K bug'

Mr Bossert helped thousands solve the Rubik's puzzle

The man who at the age of 12 helped thousands solve the Rubik's Cube puzzle is reported to have found a solution to the millennium bug problem.

Patrick Bossert's 1981 best-selling guide was seen as a godsend to a generation of parents and children baffled by the toy.

Now, Mr Bossert is a 30-year-old father of two and technical director of WSP Business Technology. His latest challenge is the so-called Y2K bug that computer experts fear could lead to global computer meltdown.

Systems programmed with two-digit dates may crash if they fail to recognise the year 2000 on New Year's Day.

The Rubik's cube genius and his team have developed a device called the Delta-T that claims to be able to detect whether chips embedded inside electronic equipment will fail when 1999 becomes 2000.

"We have been working on the millennium bug since 1995, and thanks to the Delta-T probe we have confirmed that the work we have done on equipment with embedded chips has been spot on," he told the Times newspaper.

He said that up to one in 500 chips could cease functioning on 31 December, preventing the systems they control from operating.

Among the companies trying out the device are Sainsbury, the supermarket chain, and British Aerospace.

Listening device

The Delta-T probe consists of a lap-top computer linked to an analysis box attached with clips to the back of the chip.

The device "listens" to the chip operating and the analysis box is able to establish whether the chip processes the date and time.

If it does, the lap-top computer records the lines of computer code in the chip responsible for that function and sends them off by e-mail for analysis. This shows whether or not the chip is likely to fail.

"Only a very small percentage fail critically. One in 100 might develop faults, but these might not be critical - a fire system might log alarms in the wrong order, for example," said Mr Bossert.

"But one in 500 might fail in a way that would prevent the equipment working at all."

The company's website shows an endorsement by Action 2000, the government agency in charge of encouraging companies to beat the Y2K bug.

-- Old Git (, February 22, 1999


Sounds good. Now all we need is a few hundred thousand Delta-T probes in the hands of a few hundred thousand trained techs and the problem is solved. And we've got a whole 10 months to get it done! Piece of cake. ;) One in 500. That's a much greater failure rate than Gartner Group and Koskinen suggests. Scary.

-- (, February 22, 1999.


-- *!@#$% (, February 22, 1999.

"Sounds" to me like another "silver bullet" just whizzed by.

"Sounds" from a chip? Sheesh!

-- vbProg (, February 22, 1999.

For all I know, this device might have a useful range of application. But from this writeup, I couldn't begin to guess what it might be. It doesn't appear to apply to anything I've worked with, but I haven't worked with fire alarm logs either.

-- Flint (, February 22, 1999.

If it works - more power to 'em.

Might mean more power, water, fuel, phones, and natural gas to us eventually.....

Ref: getting "sounds back" - don't know - I suspect it (the story) could be confusing something technically there - for example, it (the sounds) could be a audio telemtry signal like the telephone/fax digital response - it's sounds alright, but they only mean something when read by the right machine at the right frequency. Just a guess.

Ref: percent failures - my instinctive feeling is that he is about on target - 1% to 1/2% fails, but only a few of those fail catastrophically. Could be. The failure rate would be less than that predicted last year, but in the realm of what others have reported. (ATT, I think had 1/2% chips failing.)

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 22, 1999.

0.001% has been the number for awhile now. Those in the business will verify. 1 in 100,000 with actual rollover failure. Software interfaced with the percentage of the other 99,999 that have a date component is still the problem. The problem still looms , but the ratios in this piece are factually wrong and facts are good things to base decisions on. We've got little time left to be chasing leprichans and it's best spent fixing systems based on the lessons learned from empirical data and facts.

-- PNG (, February 22, 1999.

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