READ THIS AND LAUGH, HARD TO BELIEVE : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

From Wired News, available online at:,1294,32695,00.html

Night of Living the Y2K Dread by Lindsey Arent

3:00 a.m. 24.Nov.1999 PST When the Gregorian odometer finally flips to zeros in California, if all goes well, state officials will have already endured the dawn of Y2K enough times to be prepared for anything.

State emergency officials have developed a 'Follow the Sun' program designed to keep tabs on any disastrous effects as Y2K as it crosses from east to west across the globe.

Read ongoing Y2K coverage More Infostructure in Wired News

"It's sort of an early warning system for California so we can understand what's going on in other parts of the world and if that will have an impact in the state," said state emergency services spokesman Eric Lamoureux.

Members of the state's Governor's Office of Emergency Services and the Department of Information Technology developed the strategy as a way to track any technology problems that might occur across the globe and assess the likelihood of similar problems occurring in California.

Selected staff in nine state foreign trade offices under the Department of Trade and Commerce, also including Taipei, Mexico City, London, Johannesburg, Jerusalem, and South Korea, will be on the lookout to track any disruptive events as they happen.

"We're looking for telecommunications interruptions-- anything that interrupts the stream of commerce," said California Trade and Commerce Agency spokesman, Mike Marando.

Why all the fuss? California has a US$1.1 trillion economy, the eighth largest in the world -- twenty percent of which is dependent on foreign trade, investments, and exports, Marando said. "That s why were taking a global approach to this."

Technology leaders Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard and Hitachi -- members of the California Year 2000 Business Council  along with many other companies with a stake in the stability of California's technology infrastructure -- have donated staff and office space around the globe to serve as information hubs during the state's Y2K watch.

The alliance of so many diverse companies and public agencies is a rare first that perhaps only an event like Y2K could bring on, said Oscar Gonzales, spokesman for the governor's Y2K project.

"This program is unprecedented, because typically, these companies are competitors," he said. "Traditionally, the state of California has neglected to capitalize on the wisdom of the technology sector."

While there's good reason to keep a watch on how Y2K effects California's commerce, the technology employed in the "Follow the Sun" program is decidedly low tech. Staffers around the world will use "conventional methods" to report on the effects of Y2K, such as by tuning in to local radio, television, and just plain looking out the window, Marando said.

Foreign trade offices will communicate with the California headquarters via email, telephone, or, in the event of telecommunications problems, through satellite phones.

The program will spring into action when the first reports of Y2K come in from Auckland, New Zealand, at midnight on 31 December -- 20 hours before California's own New Year's celebration.

As the New Year begins its journey across the planet's many time zones, staffers at a state operations center in California will be receiving and analyzing reports from across the world to see how they could apply to their state.

"We'll try to understand the severity of the incident. If its a telecommunications problem, we'll try to understand what the system is for that particular city, and see if there is any similarity to California," said Lamoureux. "If there is, we'll try to notify the agencies that have jurisdiction over it and try to determine a contingency plan."

Take, for example, a mass power failure in New Delhi, Lamoureux said. "It may not have an impact in California because their system is different than ours, but we will try to understand that system so we can then decide what we need to do to prepare ourselves."

While Lamoureux said he doesn't expect Y2K to result in any severe problems for the state, he acknowledged that it's far better to be safe than sorry.

"This is so incredibly unique because you have a situation that you can prepare for, but we dont know what the magnitude is," he said. "If nothing else, it will give people an opportunity to learn about how to prepare for things of this nature."

Related Wired Links:

A True Y2K Disaster: the Movie 20.Nov.1999

New Year's Wish: Ban the Bomb 19.Nov.1999

Wall Street: 'Y2K? Whatever' 12.Nov.1999

Report: Schools Failing at Y2K 28.Oct.1999

Laying Tracks for Y2K 7.Oct.1999

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-- thinkIcan (, November 24, 1999


The "Follow the Sun" program. Well we've got 10 hours to fix this, that should be more than enough time. LOL

-- thinkIcan (, November 24, 1999.

Yeah, Right!! Its so stupid that I can't even laugh about it. If communications go down in NZ they will have it "fixed" in California 20 hours later. They won't even FIND it until after theirown system goes down. And fix in 20 hours? Find "it" in 20 hours? I don't thiiiiink sooooo!!


-- Taz (, November 24, 1999.

While Lamoureux said he doesn't expect Y2K to result in any severe problems for the state, he acknowledged *that it's far better to be safe than sorry*

I guess that statement only applies to Big Biz/Gov. Not to us hoarders!!

Quote From Y2K the Movie "...its the embedded chip in the smoke stack..." Yah, thats the ticket!

-- whatajoke (, November 24, 1999.

This is too much. They are putting an early warning system in place and you laugh. Oh I forgot, people will just sit around when things fail, they don't react to fix the problems, they just go home.

Early warning buys time to put work arounds in place and use backups.

-- you (make@me.laugh), November 24, 1999.

Sure, you guys scoff at this. Apparently you've already forgotten the abilities of people like Nick Cromwell.

-- CD (, November 24, 1999.

Watching NZ gives them 20 hours head start to get the hell out of town. They are 'no dummies'

-- Me Too (, November 24, 1999.

Ok, it won't bail them out, but it might give them time and INCENTIVE for an orderly shutdown. Remember, there are some managers out there who still think this is all hype. So some nagging underling got them to grudgingly buy off on this watch-the-world network.

When stuff starts to go blooey in NZ, some denialist managers will get an instant wakeup call. That gives them a few hours to call in whoever will come to work, it gives them time to warn 911 that they are in more trouble than they thought, time to do a quick backup and powerdown the mainframes. Yeah, it's not a solution, it's not gonna save the Titanic, it just wakes up passengers and tells them to put on life jackets.

What's their alternative? Guzzle champagne and then be called in at 1:00 am drunk, to try to fix it? For some agencies, just getting this much buy in was probably a major victory.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), November 24, 1999.

This may just show to what extent they are willing to do everything, no matter how idiotic, that they can think of to fix. I really don't get it. When we take every precaution, we're prudent. When they add another layer of precaution, they are idiots. How about if we applaud every good thing, no matter how small.

-- walt (, November 24, 1999.

Walt ---- how compliant do you think you school system is? Would love to know.

-- thinkIcan (, November 24, 1999.

"Follow the Sun" seems like having an Earthquake plan based on waitng for the "P" wave to decide what preparations to make before the "S" wave hits.

Uh... good disaster plan guys.

Back to Costco. More beans and rice.

-- Linda (, November 24, 1999.

If something happens in NZ, Australia, or Japan it gives the California PTB a chance to prepare their spin.

I would have preferred the funds they spent to have been used for remediation (the legislature grossly underfunded) and have just piggy backed with the feds who are doing exactly the same thing.

-- Dana (, November 24, 1999.

Doesn't the New Year begin for much of the world's interconnected trading nations at 00:00:01 GMT?...the first strand of the Web...then?

Ray in OKC

-- Ray (, November 24, 1999.


I'm the technology coordinator here at the school, and here's my take.

Electricity-- Local supplier has been working since 1995. We had a big snowstorm in Oct 1997, (brought down a lot of trees that still had leaves, juice was out for up to a week in spots) and they found the weak spots in their contingency plans. They have been announcing readiness for about a year now, and I believe them.

As for the school itself...

We are a private school, not a multi-building district, and everything is done on PC's.

We got a fix from the company that wrote our financial package about a year ago. We always try and do Dec paychecks before Christmas vacation, so the mission critical items are taken care of. :-)

Our network is Novell, and we have installed their patch. If it doesn't work, who cares, we can set the date back, because nothing we do depends on dates. All our PC's get their dates from the network when they log in. If not, we set them back, old dates won't effect word processing, net surfing, or student work.

Our heat is electric, with individual thermostats. If the power is on, we are warm. (On the other hand, you wouldn't believe how many students would rather wear their coats than leave them in their lockers. Now if we could get them to adopt that attitude about bringing their books and homework to class.) :-)

Our transcript programs always allow us to set or change the year. No problem

Our scheduling (as usual)is already done for next semester.

Our bell and phone and intercom system are all tied together and new. They failed (from old age) late last spring. We were without them for the last couple of weeks. The principal used a compressed air powered horn in place of the bell. It worked then, could work again. Our security system has never worked. Sunday, we played basketball for an hour before the alarm sounded, saying it had sensed an intrusion in the gym. I didn't turn it off when I came in, because I didn't think it could be turned on. My point is that if the alarm system fails, we already know how to handle it.

If you knew the incredible amount of flexibility we have to use to get through an average day around here, you would feel (like I do) that we can cope with about anything.

In reality, barring societal or infrastructure collapse, it will be business as usual around here.

(Remember that we are in Nebraska, and are planning on taking Jan 4 off so everybody can watch the bowl game.) [g]

-- walt (, November 24, 1999.

I think you're on the right track Ray, just because it's not midnight yet in the US doesn't mean that Europe, et al, couldn't possibly drag us under in the suction when it goes down.

New Zealand will affect Australia and Asia, meanwhile when Australia and Asia have troubles, the dominoes start falling toward Europe and the Americas. Even without a worst case 9 or 10 scenario, North America could feel the accumulated weight of the rest of the computerized world. Well before 12am on 01012000.

-- Powder (, November 24, 1999.

Walt ---- Thanks for the detailed update on the status of your school. Its very good to have positive imput on this forum, seeing that it has a "large" audience of "doomers" and unfortunatly I have to classify myself within that audience. However no one is hoping it is "just a bump in the road" more than I do. Your students are fortunate to be attending a school that is aware of the Y2K problem.

-- thinkIcan (, November 24, 1999.

The biggest impacts won't be visible - they will the "1000 insect bites" over the entire period from Jan 01 (now really) until April 15...maybe later.

These guys are imagining only immediate casualities and failures - which is very short-sighted....those will be merely be the most visible part of the problem.

By the way - NZ and OZ are "ahead" of the dateline in Greenwich England: what do they synchronize their systems to?

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, November 24, 1999.

Robert: GMT( or Zulu or Coordinated) is the same worldwide. To get local time you have to add if you are in the eastern longitudes and subtract when in the western longitudes. The trick as I understand it is some organizations run on GMT and others on local. New Zealand if my memory serves me correctly is either GMT plus 8 or 9 hours. That means if an organization in NZ has its computers based on local time they could see problems 31 Dec 99 @ 1500Z.That puts it early New Years Eve for us to watch. Confused? Me too.

-- Neil G.Lewis (, November 24, 1999.

If you will be one of those wondering how it's going? A good rule of thumb will be; Watch the crowds celebrating rollover. When you see the SAME person walking around, BUT in different clothing...get the hell outa Dodge!

-- Michael (, November 25, 1999.

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