Maybe Texans are starting to GI : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I found this to be some what encourageing.

Updated: Friday, Nov. 19, 1999 at 23:46 CST

Many Texans expect Y2K trouble, poll says By Jan Jarvis Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Large institutions from banks to utility companies have assured the public that the Y2K computer bug will cause no serious disruptions Jan. 1, but more than one-third of Texans recently surveyed are not buying it.

Of 1,000 adults who participated in the Texas Poll, 40 percent said they believe Y2K will cause a serious problem that affects their daily lives, compared with 55 percent of Texans who do not expect a threat.

The poll results surprised many in government and industry who have spent millions of dollars making sure their equipment is Y2K-compliant.

But it did not shock others who recognize that many people -- 45 percent, according to the poll -- know little or nothing about Y2K computer problems.

"For most average Americans, the working of even one computer, much less a giant network of computers, is undistinguishable from magic," said Ray Eve, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Arlington. "People are afraid all the time that a computer network will push their lives around without them understanding how it is happening."

To quell worries, TXU Electric & Gas has posted Y2K updates on its Web site and held meetings to inform the public about what the company is doing.

"We're just trying to get the word out to as many people as possible," TXU spokesman Rand LaVonn said. "If someone will invite us, we will go."

The telephone poll, which was conducted Oct. 13 through Nov. 1, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Although 66 percent of those polled said it is unlikely that 911 systems will fail, 27 percent considered it likely. Even more -- 36 percent -- said there will be traffic-light problems, and 30 percent said telephone computer failures are likely.

The concerns are sparked by the so-called Y2K bug, the year 2000 computer glitch that may affect some software and computers.

Because of a programming technique used in early computers, some software views years in a two-digit format, such as "99" for 1999. The two- digit representation of 2000 would be "00," which some computers could interpret as 1900, creating the potential for problems with date-sensitive equipment.

Allison Copas, who sells supplies at Best Price Storable Foods in Dallas, said she believes that small businesses will have problems but that, overall, things will go smoothly.

"In my opinion, I feel like there will be glitches, but I don't think it will be as bad as some people think," she said.

Gary Pipes, Arlington's emergency management coordinator, said that people should be prepared but that there is no need to panic.

For starters, traffic signals are not date-sensitive; they are on a 24-hour cycle, he said.

The telephone and 911 systems are also in good shape, Pipes said.

But failures could be a self- fulfilling prophecy if everyone ignores warnings not to pick up the telephone needlessly, he said.

"People need to realize that if everyone in the city picks up the phone at 12:01, they are going to overload the system," Pipes said. "Don't call, particularly 911, unless you have a true emergency."

Although 61 percent of those surveyed said they do not believe electric company computers will fail, 32 percent said power shortages caused by computer problems are likely.

But TXU, which has spent about $40 million on its Y2K program, is 100 percent compliant, LaVonn said.

"We're proving every day that everything is working," he said. "The Handley Plant in Fort Worth is operating on Y2K time now."

Food supplies, hospital equipment and air traffic control systems were viewed as being slightly less at risk than banks and utility companies.

Twenty-five percent of those surveyed said they believe hospital equipment will fail, 29 percent said air traffic control systems will fail and 27 percent said food and distribution systems failures are likely. Thirty- three percent said it is likely that banking-system failure will cause errors in account balances.

Problems with government computers raised the most concerns, with 44 percent of those polled saying computer failures will cause delays in Social Security checks and child- support payments; 49 percent considered such problems unlikely.

Half of Texans polled said that if there are Y2K problems, they would last only a few days, but 22 percent said the problems will last for several weeks.

Nearly 40 percent plan to buy food, water, gas and batteries in preparation for Jan. 1, but 58 percent have no such plans. Karen Anderson, author of Y2K for Women, said that persuading people to stock up is difficult.

The hardest thing in the world to sell is prevention, she said.

"We're so accustomed to suspending our disbelief that when we hear something is happening, nobody does anything about it," Anderson said.

Although she is confident that there will not be any major problems, Shannon Porterfield, the state's Y2K project director, said people should be prepared.

"Individually, reports we've been getting are positive, and we feel confident, but you can't test everything," she said."And we don't have any way of knowing if everyone has fixed everything."

-- Marli (can'tget@it.duh), November 22, 1999


Marli: This was posted yesterday. I'm in the DAllas area, and I don't see many folks getting it here. Unless they are doing it really really quiet-like!

-- preparing (, November 22, 1999.

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