New York after the millenium : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Its funny to see you writing so intently about the millenium in this way. I remember the good ole days taking your structured programming course :). Anyway, I never knew you lived in New York.

I have to agree with you that if we get a few infrastructure failures after the rollover , things will get a bit hairy here. Think back to the blackout of '77. But we survived that and we will survive this as well.

I really feel a need to tho bring some current facts to the table here, regarding NYC.

1. Upon investigation Ive found that COn Ed (the electric company) has been implementing thier compliance stategy for the last three years. All critical systems are completed and certified compliant All remeaining systems will be compliant by end 2Q 99. This information is available from thier Customer Service Line and has been sent to all customers with Februaries bill.

2. Water shouldnt be a problem, as NYC is one of the few cities in the country which uses a natural, gravity fed aqueduct. Theres not a lot of computer controlled hardware in the way of getting us out water. Thats one reason those damn water main braks do so much damage.

3. Financially I think were pretty good. I myself oversaw the the Y2k testing for a Major metropolitan bank. There were problems , and they were fixed, we are now certified Y2k compliant and raring to to go. I know however this is not true of the smaller retail banks in the area however.

4. As far as Wall Street goes, the first street test was conducted last saturday. This is where the stock exchange simulates the first trading day in the year 2000. I dont have the results of this test yet, but will post them as soon as I find out. The important thing is, its being looked at, and since money is involved, you can be sure any problems will be promptly fixed.

5. What I cant speak for is city services. I myself would be taking a train or bus anywhere on midnight of the Jan 31 thats for sure. Likewise Trafic lights, EMS response and other essential infrastructure is also a good candidate for failure. Ill try to do some investigation, but the city certainly isnt bragging about anything 6. The Gas company is also strangely silent on this issue. Since I heat my home and cook with this stuff, One of the few modifications I plan to make is the installation of a fireplace and a healthy order of firewood. If the gas company comes through, Ill look at it as home improvement rather than survival.

I could go on and on about this, but in the end Ill be staying in NYC and fixing the bugs that arise wherever I can. As you say its a very personal decision.I just wanted to add some facts to the millenium bug story as far as NYC is concerned.

thanks for listening


-- nyc (, March 08, 1999


Dear nyc,

Everyone needs to make their own decisions about how best to deal with Y2K, and I respect your decision. Indeed, my family still spends a great deal of time in NYC, and I certainly hope that the city (and all other major urban centers in the US and elsewhere) get through the Big Day unscathed.

However, having said that, I have a few questions:

1. You say that Con Ed's "critical systems are completed and certified compliant." Certified by whom? Acording to what standards? Have you seen the certification documents? Is it on their web site? Is it part of their SEC 10-Q filings? Will they be able to continue supplying power if there are disruptions in other parts of the Northeast? How much reserve fuel do they have?

2. Re water: yes, it's wonderful that gravity is Y2K-compliant. But how do you propose pumping the water up to the 19th-floor apartments throughout the city if the power is out? How do you propose to operate the water purification systems if there is a power outage? As for "not a lot of computer controlled hardware", how sure are you of that? The water comes a long way from upstate New York, and goes through quite a lot of systems before it arrives in the century-old aqueducts underneath Manhattan. Has anyone from the city or state audited the status of the water system? Have you seen the reports?

3. Re the financial systems: I doubt if the folks in Harlem or Bed-Stuy give a damn. But the folks on Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue obviously do. Glad to hear that your "major metropolitan bank" is "now certified compliant". Ummm.... by whom? Can I see the certification report? Obviously not: according to the FDIC, it's against the law to show such reports. Nevertheless, I'm willing to accept the proposition that NYC banks are probably in better shape than other banks, etc. .... but remember that Chase Manhattan disclosed the fact that they've got interfaces with some 3,000 external organizations.

4. Re the Wall Street test: you won't be allowed to post the details of that test. By definition, all of the organizations that participate in the test have agreed that the ONLY organization allowed to publicize the details of the test is the Securities Industry Association (SIA). But in general, I'm willing to accept the notion that Wall Street is likely to be in better shape than most other organizations. But Wall Street is connected to the rest of the world. If the Bank of Japan, or the Bank of Italy, or the Bank or England, or the ... etc ... doesn't make it, Wall Street will have some big problems to deal with.

5. Re city services: yes, indeedy! One of the big problems that NYC and all other major urban centers face is the fact that some 10-20% of the population depends heavily on various forms of government assistance: food stamps, welfare checks, unemployment, etc, etc. If those get disrupted for more than a week or so, you're going to see some cold, hungry, pissed-off people out on the streets.

6. Re the gas company: hmmm, this sounds like Brooklyn Union Gas. And it implies that you live in a brownstone, or some such place where a fireplace and firewood are a realistic option. Any advice for the other 6 million people in the area whose apartments don't have such an option?

By the way, has Mayor Guiliani had any town meetings to explain to the residents what's going on? Are the hospitals ready? Is the airport ready? Are the bridges and tunnels ready? Are there any contingency plans in case Y2K problems do arise, and has anyone seen them? Does anyone besides a few IT people like you have any idea what's going on? I doubt it! One of the benefits of being in a small town is that it's a lot easier to form a local community group and get the mayor to show up and talk, face-to-face, with the citizens.

None of this is meant to be negative or confrontational, but merely to suggest that the problems may be bigger and more serious than what you've suggested. But I do wish you and your family, your friends, and your colleagues the best of luck in your efforts to fix whatever bugs may arise.


-- Ed Yourdon (, March 09, 1999.

Pray that New York's unemployment rate stays low. Pray that the just- in-time distribution system still works.

-- (z@zz.zzz), March 09, 1999.


Since I consider this an important topic Let me try to adress your points.

first Con Ed has a good deal of Y2k info posted at thier site

No they dont go into specifics about it but that I can understand, most readers wouldnt be interested in the standards of compliance. They seem to be willing to address those more specific questions individually. Since I brought the topic up, I am willing to find out those details. I will let you know my findings.

Its a bit bulky in this forum to move back and forth between message so I hope you will bear with me , if I have to answer your address your points in several pieces.

You bring up the the question of compliant by whom. Is there a specific standard you have in mind.

I can tell you that at the two companies I did testing in It went like this.

All systems and applications were identified.(ie inventoried) Users of these systems developed extensive test plans, designed to simulate all cases which would be encountered in the day to day use of the software. The same was done by the data centers responsible for the hardware/system software operation.

A seperate network was laid out to identically clone the production network. Full backups of all production software was laid down on it. The Tests began on January 29 and full test cases were performed for each business day through January 5. Weekend maintainenece schedules were adhered to. After end of day January 5, the date was adanced to February 27 and the process repeated through March 2 to evaluate the leap year issue. Many problems were identified. Testing ceased until the problems could be resolved. The tests involved all interconnected systems and interfaces between them There were individual test plans designed to test each applciation as well as integrated test plans to test the interfaces.

Testing thoroughness was handled by a seperated auditing department which randomly reviewed test case results.

There are tons of other details to these test much too extensive to go into here.

I will however investigate more on the water system issues.To me it seems straightforward, Your right those tunnels are a century old If they worked then , seems reasonable they should work now. But ill investigate more.

Im closing for now. Let me say this tho. Although you say your not trying to be confrontational, but you definitely seem to be trying to worry people. Lots of worse case scenarios, with no solutions. I agree with many of your points, however a few more facts and resources would be helpful here.

Till next time ,


-- nyc (, March 09, 1999.


In response to your question concerning how sure I am about the reliance of the water system on computer technology Ive tracked down the Depratment of environmental Protections website and have the following link.

They confirm it, now they could be lying, but why would they? Seems they are more concerned about the process control system used in sewage treatment. (Cant say I blame them, but they do seem to be on top of it)

Another interesting link concerning NYCs overall preparedness is

Apparently there is a house subcommitte which is monitoring state and local governments preparedness for Y2k. I wasnt thrilled at some of thier solutions, but at least they seem to be addressing it at some level

More to come.


-- nyc (, March 09, 1999.

nyc - The main issue those of us in the northern states will have if things break down at the rollover is heat. Congratulations on your fireplace. BTW, unless you get an insert, the area around the fireplace will be warmer, but you can expect to be drawing heat out from other areas of your home. So your pipes can still freeze. Plus, you have to gamble about how many days of wood to keep around. Where are you if you run out?

To me, the most criminal aspect of the advice to prepare for only 72 hours is that for some of us, with the kind of cold snap we had this year's New Year's, that is long enough to kill a whole lot of people from the cold. So where you do get off suggesting this is not a big deal for New York City? The "bump-in-the-road" mentality will keep most people from making even the paltry preps that you have chosen.

-- Brooks (, March 09, 1999.

Lee, I'm staying put in my suburban house, but if I lived in NYC, Philly, Detroit proper, etc., I'd be making some temporary bugout plans. Be sure not to forget the photo albums.

-- Puddintame (, March 09, 1999.

This answer is to Lee in particular and to everyone who finds it just a bit strange that the student is trying to educate the teacher.

I have been following the saga of Y2K since Jan. '97 when it was brought to my attention through Gary North's newsletter, which I had been receiving for years. For the first 6 months of the year, I read with some interrest, but certainly not alarm. By about June, I was searching the net for any and all info and the alarm bells were ringing.

I am from a very large family (1 of 9 sibblings), scatterred around the country. We are all "Boomers" with well secured, successful lives. I began alerting the others about the potential problems and the closest ones (geographically and emotionally) began to listen until...

Big Brother (not THE big one, MINE) let them know that all was well...don't worry, be happy. You see, he is a "computer scientist" and is a systems analyst working on navel projects. Well, once the word came down from the top, it really didn't matter that I had digested some 4,000 articles in a year and a half...the "expert" had spoken.

I did what every good and informed Y2Ker does; I spent a fortune on cartriges and printed out all those articles (well, not quite all) for there examination. I have spent time, energy, and lots of money on mailings (5 live out of state) and long, long distance calls.

What I'd like to point out is that on top of these very large packets of info that I poured myself into getting out was the TWO PAGE "ED Yourdon Biography". What I wanted them to see was that yes, Bro probably knows about that which he does, But he is by no means an "EXPERT". He could have been one of Ed's students, as you pointed out that you were, Lee. Now, I was a hairdresser for over 15 years, but I would never presume to know more than Vidal Sasson.

Anyway, Lee, it seems that, like big brother, you will do or believe ANYTHING to stay in denial. I honestly don't think that you will find much support here for your position...your research is not research but parrott talk. What bothers me most is that you will wave seeming credentials to anyone who wishes to hang out in the denial mall and prevent them from doing some real shopping.

Ed, thanks.

Ready and Waiting

-- Ready and Waiting (, March 09, 1999.

There is a persistent pollyanna myth that nyc just touched on: "The important thing is, its being looked at, and since money is involved, you can be sure any problems will be promptly fixed." Many times you see something like this, an argument that says that things simply have to be fixed on time, because the people who are responsible for doing the fixing have all the incentives to do so and all the disincentives to not do so.

There are two main problems with this myth:

1) You need to ask yourself why, if this indeed holds true, Y2K was not fixed a long time ago. I mean, why would these "responsible" people even put themselves in the very position of having their customers worried about Y2K? (E.g., why didn't banks simply fix Y2K so they would not now have to be so worried about people pulling out all of their money? Why can't they simply be in the position to say: "Oh, yeah, Y2K ... we fixed that years ago, of course!"

2) The myth assumes that the "responsible" people have control over Y2K. They do not. Rather, Y2K has control over them. It is too big, too vast, and there is too little time remaining. All the money and hard working people in the world will not solve the problem -- with extra time it could, but there is too little time and time cannot be lengthed by once single microsecond.


-- Jack (, March 09, 1999.


As far as the NYC water system being gravity-fed, let me say what I've learned about the NYC water system: "To a point." Without electric power to boost the pressure, NYC's water will only flow up to the fifth floor of most buildings in the city. I dare say, that an awful lot of people in higher floors are going to be endangered by having no water for drinking, sanitation and fire protection.

In fact, they may be forced out of their apartments and offices because of such problems. But even if they're forced into the streets in the middle of winter, they'll be at a level where they have water available. Small comfort and I doubt it will quench the rage and angry reactions to result from such Y2K problems.


-- Wildweasel (, March 09, 1999.

To Brooks,

Thanks for the input on the fireplace, to be honest I hadnt considered the waterpipes freezing. Excellent point. My current plan is have the chimney seated firmly on the foundation in the basement which is where the water pipes are. I have planned on an insert to aid in overall heating of the house. After all this is a home improvement. Having a big yard, I also figured on several cords of wood to give me a full supply for the winter. I would appreciate any further input you have on the topic of alternative heating.

As far as a service loss being limited to a 72 hour period, I dont recall ever saying that. Y2k is a serious issue and there are many unknowns. If any of the public utilities suffer a major interuption people will die . The point Im trying to make is that its not a given. Its something that has to be dealt with realistically and reasonably.

To the others, just a few points,

#1 Whether you agree with my points , thats ok .One of the things thats so great about these public BBS is the total freedom to post your own opinions

#2 As far as parrot talk goes, facts are facts, the facts I post here come from the same sources as the facts you post. Because they disagree with your viewpoints doesnt make them less factual.

#3 I have no desire to berate you or your opinions, however as various facts in the Information industry come to bear on this topic. I will post them here. I think its important in that when the uninitiated come to this board looking for information a balance of all the facts is important.

#4 As far as the student teaching the teacher, I think your off base. Ed points were made to me in his response, Some ive adressed and others are currently under investigation. Although slightly dissapointed with his spin on this, I do respect his concerns. Rather than fear for the worst tho, I simply choose the path of shedding some light on answers.

-- nyc (, March 09, 1999.


How many cords of wood is 'several'? I live in northeast Alabama, and have heated with wood all winter. I estimate I will go through 5 cords. Paul Milne lives 200 miles north of me (southern Virginia), and has been heating with wood for years. He has an insert, and consumes 8 cords per year, which sounds about right considering everything.

I've also found that wood consumption is not steady at all. I'll go through a log every couple of hours if the outside temperature is 40- 45, and about 4 logs per hour when its about 20 outside. At that rate, a cord lasts about 2 weeks.

All in all, when I lived in NYC it always seemed to be on the ragged edge of everything, with no slack anywhere. A traffic accident instantly jammed every street for many blocks. A few days of garbage strike and the entire city stank. One train breaks down and half of Manhattan can't get anywhere. So I sure hope you have a very high tolerance for inconvenience. In the best circumstances you can reasonably hope for, you'll need it.

-- Flint (, March 09, 1999.


Thanks, I find that info very useful indeed. Your information helps a lot for while a know a decent amount about Y2k testing I know next to nothing about about heating my home with wood.

I was born here in nyc and yeah I do have a fairly high tolerance for inconvenience. Living by the motto, hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Thanks again


btw any estimate on how many cubic feet a cord of wood occupies?

-- nyc (, March 09, 1999.

Hi Lee,

I live in NYC also, and have been studying this issue pretty intensely for a year. I'm convinced that it's easy for people to fall into the "myopia of locality." Focusing on the specifics of the infrastructure of where you live makes it easy to forget about what's going on in the rest of the world. Frankly, it's a big mess. I can see how NYC can get through the rollover with minor problems (actually, I can't, but let's assume it does) and still suffer consequences that will make it fall into an economic depression.

This issue is so much larger than simply "will the lights stay on," in the short run; it's also about will other countries and enough small, medium and large companies survive in the long run to keep the "economy" rolling at the pace we've grown accustomed to. I believe the answer is no.

My experience is that New Yorkers are very uninformed about this issue, and don't really seem to care much about it. My experience is also that New Yorkers do not have a "high level of tolerence for inconvenience." I live in Brooklyn, not too far from areas where I fear 72 hours without heat and/or electricity will cause "social unrest" on a scale this city has never seen before.

I hope that you take the time to inform yourself about all of the issues outside of the city and around the globe. Remember, much of the world is in sad shape right now. Events in Russia, for example, are truly frightening. Saudi desalinization plants and oil rigs are in trouble. You can now borrow a million bucks in Japan and pay 27 cents in overnight interest. The Chinese are running their country on pirated software. There's talk about shutting down the nuke plants in this country. Cities around the country are building bunker style "Command Centers." (like the one in the World Trade Center) the FedGov is planning to loan billions of dollars to small businesses, but probably won't get this money distributed in time to do much good. Asian nations are begging for money to START working on this. Expect a trillion dollars in litigation. Ad Nuseaum.

I'm planning on leaving the city permanently by Thanksgiving, if not sooner...

-- pshannon (, March 09, 1999.


As you make your plans for dealing with Y2K in New York next year, keep in mind this article from the Chicago Tribune about Y2K and Chicago:,1575,SAV- 9901010066,00.html

-- Kevin (, March 10, 1999.

nyc - Forgive my parochialism, but I don't think of big yards as typical of NYC. Fortunately, you have the luxury of room to store lots of wood. (I'm gambling that with the winter almost half over, 4 cords will get me to spring. And hope, of course, that life is manageable by the following winter.) Whatever the alternative heating source, it's a major investment from the point of view of a public that is being told y2k is no big deal.

I expect the lights to be on (less likely that my gas furnace will have fuel), but I'm absolutely not willing to bet my aged parents' welfare on it. Yes, it is a "personal decision", but one where I believe people have a moral responsibility not to be stupidly unprepared for it. I'm not immune to my community's lack of preparation.

-- Brooks (, March 10, 1999.

Someone recently posted an internal NYC audit of various city

agencies. It seems to have been done in the late fall of 1998, but

its pretty scary. Z6

And if I were a wacko terrorist, NYC would be number one on my hit list at rollover...

-- Lewis (, March 10, 1999.


I hope Lee will still be talking to me after this debate. I was the one who sent him the link. *waving innocently at Lee in NYC and smiling sweetly*.

Seriously though, just a few thoughts as I read through the thread. Let us all be careful to realize that we are all in a different place. I remember not to long ago thinking that anyone who thought they had to prepare for Y2K was a short a few cards from a full deck. But little by little, as the information came to me and I was *able* to process it, I realized that just like everyone else, I could NOT predict the future.

However, thinking through the possibilities of what could happen, I came to my own comfort level that I could emotionally and financially deal with. Each person has to do the same. And at their own time. I have found that information and a gentle answer are what people respond to, not criticism or insults.

When people ask me why I have decided to prepare for Y2K, I simply tell them this. I have four children and I am responsible for their safety and welfare. Not only now, but also for their futures. If I believe that there is a reasonable probability that our normal day to day activities will be affected by Y2k, then I have a responsibility as their Mom to do what I can. Preparing for Y2K is no different then buying health insurance, life insurance, dental coverage, etc.

And if by some miracle, I have no need for extra water, food, fuel and toilet paper, well then I guess I won't be visiting Costco for a few months!! But if city services do come to a halt for any amount of time, my children will be warm, fed, watered, and have plenty of books and games to keep them busy. I am not willing to take a chance that this joke of a government will protect them.

And gracefully stepping off my soapbox, I'll end with this: People only hear what they are ready to hear. But it doesn't mean they are stupid or foolish. Believe me, I understand the frustration of talking to people about this and they look at you like your from another planet. Usually mentioning preparing for the kids calms them a bit because they can suddenly see the correlation.

Thank you Lee for your time and energy you've put into this thread. And that you Mr. Yourdon for your responses. What it comes down to really is accurate information and then responsible action.

pamela ;)

-- pamela (, March 11, 1999.


8 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft = 1 cord of wood :o)

-- Mike (, March 11, 1999.

correction: *thank you Mr. Yourdon* is what I meant to type...


pamela ;)

-- pamela (, March 11, 1999.

911 system for Suffolk County (eastern half of Long Island) is not compliant. They hope to have it remediated by July. I wonder what NYC's 911 status is., specifically because I know people whose employers are requiring them to be at work Friday/Saturday/ Sunday of rollover weekend. I wonder if employers can require people to work in high rises if 911 isn't working?

-- argh (, March 11, 1999.

Cord= 128 cu. feet

-- none (none@none.none), March 11, 1999.


This is one of the biggest Y2k issues the city faces. This is the reality, not loss of electricity or water going only 5 floors up.

A few months ago we lost the entire 911 system do to a collosal management mistake. It took hours to reroute the calls to the contingency cite at 1 Police Plaza. The system was down for at least 12 hours ( a conservative estimate). At least one person in the city died as a result of not achieving prompt medical care. We can only hope that this was thier wake up call. This system must be replaced!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

just so you know im not a comlete naysayer to y2k problems


-- nyc (, March 12, 1999.

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