Danish Y2K

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I live in Denmark, which is supposed to be one of the best in terms of Y2K status. There has been almost a total silence on the subject from all sources, inclusing the media. Today, however, this appeared in the Business Section of one of the main Copenhagen newspapers (Berlingske Tidende) - my translation!.

WARNING ABOUT Y2K: The Government's Y2K-Office urges businesses to check their computers for Y2k problems.

Even though small and medium-sized businesses may believe that they have installed Y2K-ready software, that may not be the case, it appears. That is to say, computer problems may be much worse than first thought. The warning comes from the Government's Y2K office, which urges small businesses and the public to go through their computers with a fine tooth-comb. Even if you ascertained 6 months ago that your programs were Y2K-ready, there willstill be problems when computers talk to each other, said Sven Bentzen, head of the Y2K-Office. What can go wrong is that the Y2K problem has been solved in each program in a different way. For example, you could write a letter in a word-processor as usual, but when you send it to another program, there could be problems, because the two programs handle dates differently. You should try to update your programs with the latest versions, which is a free service from most software companies. Even if you obtain the latest versions before New Year, that is still no guarantee that you will avoid problems. Most programs are still all too unstable and error-prone. For example, thee world's largest software company, Microsoft, will not guarantee that their programs are free of Y2K errors. "Development is too fast, and testing is too limited, before a product is released", said Sven Bentzen. At Microsoft they are sure that there is a lot of software around the country which should be updated. "Call us and we will send you a CD-ROM, or you can download the fixes over the Internet. The CD has the advantage that it finds the programs itself, and it is very user-friendly", said MS sales-chief Soren Rasmussen, who nevertheless would not guarantee that it would solve all problems. "But it will be a good help. It would be frivolous to give a guarantee, for there are errors in all software, and the problems in getting all programs to work together are very complex", said the sales-chief, adding that you should not assume you have bought an error-free product just because it is new. "You need to continually watch for news on the Internet. But I don't think people object to that nowadays!"

-- Risteard MacThomais (uachtaran@ireland.com), November 12, 1999


WHAT? But... but... are you saying that putting the clock forwards on a system to ensure that it runs robustly - internally and in isolation - with a post 2000 date isn't sufficient? That you have to test it with *deliberatly* spurious input and confirm that it's not sending out spurious output to remote systems?



But really... 8@ (angry shouty)

-- Colin MacDonald (roborogerborg@yahoo.com), November 12, 1999.

Another report on Danish readiness in "Computer World" today (again, my translation):


Despite Y2K-Office reports that all elictricity suppliers are Y2K ready, it is possible that only two thirds of them are. No cause for panic. The supply sector is ready! 99 per cent of customers get power from Y2K-ready companies. That's the good news from the Y2K-Office ebsite, but the facts are that nobody knows how far along the sector is with its Y2K-readiness plan. The Y2K-Offics information is based on a September survey, done by their workgroup on the supply sector. This survey showed that 66 per cent of customers get power from companies which were Y2K ready, while 33 per cent from companies which would be ready in October. That means that the Y2K-readiness of 99 per cent is based on the assumption that all companies finished as expected in October. The problem is that noone apparently thought to follow up on whether this has actually happened. Neither the Energy Supply Sectort, nor the Y2K-Office have plans for further surveys. The leader of the Y2K Office, Sven Bentzen, doesn't see anything wrong with reporting that 99 per cent of customers are safe, even though the number is based on an assumption. "We read the conclusions of the report and put them on our Website, and it could be that they aren't completely accurate, but it's my impression from the business that they have things under control", said he. It was the workgroup for the supply sector which performed the survey, and the group's chairman, Henrik Andersen, admits that the group wasn't precise enough when they gave the result of the September survey at the beginning of November. "We knew that academically it would have been more correct to say that 66 per cent of customers'electricity supply was Y2K-ready, but at publication time it would not have been correct, and in the light of each month's numbers, we chose to take the numbers from October", said he. Henrik Andersen underlined that there were no grounds to believe that the Supply Sector would not make it. "It is only the smaller things that aren't yet in place, and nothing in any way concerned with the electricity supply itself".

-- Risteard MacThomais (uachtaran@ireland.com), November 12, 1999.


Thanks for going to the trouble of translating the two stories.

While all of us are busy dealing with the problems in our own backyards, it is easy to forget that the real threat from Y2K, IMHO, is the interconnectedness factor. And that means regional as well as international connections.

Hope your preps are going well and stay in touch.


P.S. What is your sense of people's Y2K awareness level in Denmark? Is it getting much media coverage?

-- Midas (midas_mulligan_2000@yahoo.com), November 12, 1999.

It is my understanding that Novo Pharmaceutical based in Denmark has the patent and supplies about 70% of the world's insulin.

My info may be dated - do you have any knowledge of this?

-- Bill P (porterwn@one.net), November 12, 1999.

You may think that Denmark is a small country, and what happens here doesn't matter much, but the interconnectedness issue makes this manifestly untrue. The news is mixed - official reports are encouraging, but there is almost a total silence from the media, and Danes are NOT preparing to any noticeable extent. On the other hand, the companies that I work with have been conducting very well-managed (IMHO)remediation programs from an early date, so LOCALLY things may be OK. But it may not be so rosy when global relations are taken into account. For instance, one of the Danish companies which has done a good job is Maersk Line (the world's LARGEST container freighting company) - they used a fixed windowing technique. But a lot of the day-to-day running of their computer systems is done from New Jersey: if NJ is 'toast' much of the world's freight (including oil) may be in trouble.

Re Novo, it does produce a large proportion of the world's insulin - I have no insider knowledge on their status, but here is what they said in their August 99 financial report. (I would strongly recommend anyone who needs insulin to get an extensive supply before year-end).

The Year 2000 issue: In compliance with regulatory requirements, including those from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, various aspects of the Year 2000 or Y2K issue are reviewed below.

State of readiness: Novo Nordisk (the Company) initiated a Year 2000 Project in August 1996. The Company has identified three main areas of Year 2000 risk where software and/or hardware failures due to processing errors arising from using the Year 2000 date could occur:

Internal information technology ('IT') systems, eg, for financial, logistics, administration, and other systems;

Internal non-information technology ('non-IT') systems, eg, embedded chips for computer-controlled devices for laboratory equipment, automated production systems, facility systems, such as door locks, alarms, power supplies etc;

IT and non-IT systems of material third parties with which Novo Nordisk does business, including financial institutions, raw material suppliers, clinical research organisations, transportation companies, water and energy suppliers, other vendors, telecommunications service providers and customers ('Material Third Parties').

All three of the above areas are susceptible to the Year 2000 risk and could be disrupted and/or fail, causing an interruption or decrease in Novo Nordisk's ability to continue its operations. The Company has completed an assessment of all potential significant problems in all internal IT and non-IT systems. The Company has analysed potential problems resulting from the Year 2000 risk, and remediation and final testing are in process. 98% of the Company's potential internal IT and non-IT problem areas are Year 2000 ready. The work continues in the third quarter of 1999 as activities are linked to the close down of plants for the summer vacation. When possible, tests will include integrated operation of systems and equipment using dates set before and after the year 2000. Substantial Y2K 'live tests', in which the system clock on the hardware platforms is set to a date in 2000, have been performed for the majority of business critical IT systems. The Company has identified its critical Material Third Parties and has completed a formal correspondence with these parties to determine their Year 2000 status and any probable impact on Novo Nordisk. Follow up meetings will continuously be conducted as deemed relevant.

Costs to address Year 2000 issues: Costs incurred by the Company to modify or replace non-compliant systems have not been material to date. Based on current assessment the Company does not foresee its Y2K remediation costs to be material. The main components of such costs have been the acceleration of system migrations and application projects.

Risks of Year 2000 issues: Based on information known to date, the most reasonably likely worst case Year 2000 scenario is as follows: (i) disruption of non-IT production systems, (ii) temporary interruption in the delivery of supplies and services from sole source vendors to Novo Nordisk, eg, water and power.

The Company continuously develops contingency plans as required. A Year 2000 Risk Analysis of all business critical processes has been completed and additional Y2K contingency plans will be developed as deemed required by the risk analysis. The Company expects its Y2K contingency plans to be in place by the end of the third quarter 1999.

After having carefully evaluated the potential additional patient demand for the Company's products in 1999, a contingency plan has been developed. In order to ensure sufficient stock levels to meet a potential additional patient demand for products, the Company has increased production volumes and will carefully monitor sales patterns in the remainder of 1999.

Due to the possible risk of a short disruption in utilities (electricity, water etc) supplied by third parties, a contingency plan will be developed for production plants. A part of this plan will be to schedule a shut down of certain plants around the turn of the millennium. The Company has also initiated a formal process for development of plans and procedures for surveillance of critical IT and non-IT systems at the turn of the millennium. The Company believes its planning efforts are adequate to address its internal Year 2000 concerns.

There can be no assurance that the IT and non-IT systems of internal and Material Third Parties, on which the Company's systems and operations rely, will be Year 2000 ready or converted on a timely basis. If a significant number of internal or Material Third Parties experience failures in their computer systems or operations due to Year 2000 non-compliance, such events could materially adversely affect the Company's business and revenues for a period of time.

-- Risteard MacThomais (uachtaran@ireland.com), November 15, 1999.

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