Fear called Y2K enemygreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Panel members at C.R. forum predict only minor disruptions
By Steve Gravelle Gazette staff writer
He died 55 years before the end of the century, but Franklin Roosevelt may have delivered the best advice on the much-noted Y2K phenomenon: All we have to fear is fear itself.
"What I think it is, is the reality of people trying something they otherwise wouldn't do" to avoid the effects of massive computer failures, Cedar Rapids Finance Commissioner Ole Munson said last night. "That may be the biggest fear that all of us have."
Munson joined a dozen other representatives from law enforcement, utilities, communications, banking, and other critical services to reassure about 150 people that life as they know it won't come to an end with the century. The Cedar Rapids "Y2K Community Conversation" was one of approximately 250 such public meetings staged nationwide by the President's Council on Y2K Conversion.
The fears arise from predictions that problems will occur when computers, programmed to read only the last two numbers of a date, treat 00 as 1900 rather than 2000.
The panelists' unanimous message: There may be some minor inconveniences caused as computer calendars turn over at midnight Dec. 31, but basic services should continue as usual. Any precautions should approximate those taken for more familiar natural events, suggested Pamela Wegner, Alliant Energy vice president.
"There are a lot of things that can happen in the winter that perhaps we should be better prepared for," Wegner said.
Wegner fielded several questions about the utility's preparations for 2000. She said Alliant planners have identified about 170,000 devices containing microchips that could be vulnerable to New Year's confusion. But only about 3 percent have the potential to disrupt service.
"Only a very small number of the chips that are affected are going to influence those devices," Wegner said.
Similarly, Rick Higgins, US West public policy manager, said the telephone company's suspect devices could affect billing and record-keeping but not service itself.
McLeodUSA Vice President Bryce Nemitz agreed, adding he's more worried the system may be slowed by customers calling friends to share the news that their phones are still working.
"If you want to wish anybody a Happy Millennium, try to work it out on the 31st," Nemitz said.
"We don't want this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy," agreed Phil Peterson, Mercy Medical Center's chief financial officer. He noted pharmaceutical suppliers are already taking steps to prevent hoarding of prescription drugs.
Jeffrey Siegel, the Chicago-based regional consumer regulation director for the FDIC, said customers should keep their checkbooks balanced and hold on to their monthly statements -- good advice in any year, he noted. Some banks have dusted off their old ledgers to meet the agency's requirement for a backup system to ensure customers' access to their accounts.
"The banks are a little upset with us," Siegel said. As for making a precautionary withdrawal as New Year's nears, money will be safer in the bank, he said.
Cedar Rapids city departments are nearing completion of a comprehensive compliance program, Munson said. The Water Department is prepared to deliver its product for up to a week in case of a massive power outage, and city snowplows and emergency vehicles will have sufficient gasoline supplies.
All those precautions should enable the city to weather more likely disasters, according to Munson.
"You should really think of this in terms of a major winter storm," he said. "I'm more concerned about an ice storm or a tornado with respect to electrical disruption than I am about Y2K."
This story was originally published in The Gazette August 24, 1999.
-- y2k dave (email@example.com), August 31, 1999
Just like then, this statement is garbage.
Ignore objective reality, only look at your feelings. Everything will be just fine as long as you wish it to be so.
No wonder this country is going to the dogs.
-- Jollyprez (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 31, 1999.
We don't want this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy," agreed Phil Peterson, Mercy Medical Center's chief financial officer. He noted pharmaceutical suppliers are already taking steps to prevent hoarding of prescription drugs.
Sorry, I missed this. Just what steps have pharmaceutical suppliers taken to prevent hoarding?
-- Bill P (email@example.com), August 31, 1999.