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Glitches Of The Week
By Leonard Lee, Newsbytes MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA, U.S.A., 17 Sep 1999, 3:15 PM CST
This is a weekly column from Newsbytes featuring the latest in the weird, bizarre, and unfortunate when it comes to technology.
Three-year-old Girl Summoned to Jury Duty
Ellie Schuckman was called in to serve on a jury this summer. She didn't have to worry about getting out of work or school to fulfill her civic obligation though - Ellie is only three years old. In New Jersey, individuals are selected from a juror source list, which is a compilation of records from registered voters, licensed drivers and filers of income tax returns and homestead rebate applications. While Ellie isn't a driver or registered voter, her parents opened a savings account for her, which placed her on the list of income tax filers - a list that doesn't reflect a person's age.
"Great care is taken to obtain new data each year from the involved agencies in an effort to summons only those individuals who are eligible to serve as a juror. Despite these efforts, it is possible that an individual who is ineligible to serve as a juror may be summoned for jury service," said Superior Court Judy Manager Kathleen Andes-Stylianou. Because of an age requirement that jurors be at least 18, Schuckman is not allowed to actually serve on a jury, but summoning an ineligible potential jury member is not an uncommon occurrence. Andes-Stylianou was unable to estimate how often ineligible people are summoned for jury duty, but did say that the issue will soon be addressed by the New Jersey Division of Taxation.
9-9-99 May Have Caused Heart Monitor Problem
The "9-9-99" bug is being suspected as the possible cause of a problem with a heart monitoring device at the general hospital in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. A device, which tracks patient data including blood pressure and heart rate, malfunctioned at 9:09 a.m. on September 9. Officials with the prefectural government told the Daily Yomiuri that the computer-assisted monitor quit recording patient information. Instead, for five minutes, the data printout from the device was blank. While no patients were affected by the problem, the hospital has been ordered to investigate further into its cause. Although the 9-9-99 date is not reported to have any major problems in the US, some computer experts feared it had the potential to create problems because computers might interpret the four 9's as a signal to shut down the program.
Million Dollar Mix-up Leaves School in Lurch
Because of a computer error, delivery of $1.5 million to the Mapleton School District in Colorado was delayed almost two months, leaving the cash-strapped district having to get by without the money all summer. The money, which should have been received by mid-June, was finally received on September 10.
The cause of the delay was installation of a new computer system at the Adams County treasury department. "It was just one of those things that happens when a new computer system is installed," said Helen Hill, Treasurer for Adams County. "You can never say with full confidence, 'There won't be any problems or glitches.'" The new computer system was installed in April, right before one of their busiest times - May. School district officials said the delayed payment did not cause any significant problems in their operations. Earlier this month, the Mapleton School Board approved a plan to ask the district's voters in November to raise $2.5 million to provide summer school and, ironically, to improve computer technology.
Leonard Lee is a nationally recognized consultant and frequent speaker on computer errors. Readers are encouraged to e-mail news clippings of interesting computer glitches at http://www.homestead.com/doctorglitch.
Reported by Newsbytes.com, http://www.newsbytes.com
-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), September 17, 1999
Although the 9-9-99 date is not reported to have any major problems in the US, some computer experts feared it had the potential to create problems because computers might interpret the four 9's as a signal to shut down the program.
What a maroon.
-- Lane Core Jr. (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 17, 1999.
Lane, I have seen several references now to the 9s problems in embedded systems....while it appears rare, I do believe that this is plausible. I know for a fact that there were a good deal more devices affected on 1/1/99 due to the use of the year "99" as a special code.
-- FactFinder (FactFinder@bzn.com), September 17, 1999.