Let's make Y2K friends...CA style

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-- PJC (paulchri@msn.com), November 30, 1999



monitor shows maybe 1" of somthing weird blue (sky?) then your computer locks up.

Link address looks like it's comming from a newspaper server.

-- STOP (don't@go.com), November 30, 1999.

Monday, November 29, 1999 | Print this story

Even Countys Y2K Expert May Enjoy New Years Leo Crawford has invested 24 months in the millennial moment. Hes certain of one thing; Something minor will go wrong.

By DAVID REYES, Times Staff Writer

On New Years Eve, Leo Crawford will have his beeper on, cell phone and car keys at the ready, and a bottle of aspirin at bedside. As Orange Countys Y2K computer guru, Crawford has spent the last 24 months ensuring that he will grab the keys and not the aspirin.

Maybe. Im optimistic, he said, but I guarantee we will have missed something, some little thing that wont be life-threatening. But theres just too much to make an assumption that nothings going to go wrong. With more than 200 computer systems in dozens of county departments and agencies, Crawford has had to devise a method for fixing an entire network, including mini-networkssometimes as a boss, sometimes as an equal cajoling other department headsto make sure nothing goes haywire when 2000 arrives. As a precaution, Crawford has restricted vacation time for workers assigned to the countys data center and plans to have a small army of techies at the center at midnight and through the New Year weekend running tests. In September, 80% of the vast county system was Y2K compliant. Since then, compliance has risen to 97%, Crawford said. Most of the bigger agencies that rely heavily on information stored on computersthe Health Care Agency, Superior Court, assessors office and Sheriffs Departmenthave installed new systems and upgraded and tested older ones. John Wayne Airport officials have worked closely with the Federal Aviation Administration and say that airport operations are expected to run smoothly during the busy New Year holiday. In his role as chief of information, Crawford has been the Y2K point man, who with only a secretary and another executive devised a Y2K plan and then, like a Hollywood agent, marched around county offices selling it to department heads. It wasnt easy, he said. Here I am at the same level as they are and Im telling them, well, not really telling them, but suggesting to them what steps they should take. Described by co-workers as savvy and gregarious, Crawford met with department- level executives only after persuading Jan Mittermeier, the county executive officer, to give Y2K a high priority. Weve been working on this issue for about two years now and feel very comfortable that our systems are ready, Mittermeier said. For the most part, reaction to Crawfords style has been positive. Garbed in business suit, tie and his favorite suspenders, the 56-year-old guru was a welcomed sight as he made his rounds. With Leo, its not a dictatorial thing, said Robert Griffith, chief deputy director at the county Social Services Agency. He doesnt come into meetings and say, Im the chief information person here. Instead, Leo makes us feel like were a customer of his. Not all technical people do that. In addition to county departments, Crawford served as an advisor to the countys independent agencies, such as the Sheriffs Department and Superior Court. We have every system tested past Jan. 1, but we have minor fixes still to go, Crawford said. For example, we had a problem with leap year not recording and a hard-coded printout that, instead of saying 2000, read 19xx, but those are small and cosmetic. On the mainframe, were pretty much doing additional testing and were ready, other than checking on interfaces with the state. The interfaces, or electronic handshakes in techie jargon, have been undergoing tests since the summer and have had few glitches, said Elias S. Cortez, state information officer. Orange County has been one of the leaders, as well as L.A. County, with respect to compliance, Cortez said. The state has suffered delays, but is now 97% compliant, he added. * * * In Orange County, the cost of complying is $26.6 million, a sum that includes $7 million for the Sheriffs Department and $1.6 million for the courts, though both are outside Crawfords jurisdiction. Sheriffs officials are extremely confident that no major system incident linked to Y2K will occur to lessen the safety of residents living in the unincorporated areas and 10 contract cities, Sheriffs Capt. Ron Wilkerson said. A new, $3-million computer emergency 911-dispatching system was tested and went online last month, replacing an older system that received a $250,000 upgrade and will serve as a backup. Preparations have impressed state law enforcement officials, who selected Orange County as the backup site for the state Department of Justices telecommunications system, which allows police to find out if a suspect has arrest warrants. Sheriffs officials also are confident that the departments jail facilities, which house 5,400 inmates, are in compliance and safe, Wilkerson said. Other precautions include having sheriffs technical staff working at midnight on Dec. 31, and opening the countys emergency operations center to monitor any incidents locally and on the East Coast, which reaches the New Year three hours earlier. Southern Californians already got a glimpse of what a Y2K meltdown could be like when a readiness test triggered a massive sewage spill in the San Fernando Valley in June. Crawford said one of the things that would make 2000 a nightmare would be a huge regional power failure. When you think about it, as long as the telephones work and theres electric power, things will be manageable, he said. We will work our way out of it. If a system is down for a day, so what? That happens now. The trouble that Crawford expects may come not from a disastrous system collapse, but in the form of nuisances like inoperable card-entry systems and parking lot gates, which are so- called embedded systems, operated by a computer chip found in a vast array of devices. But most of the 200 buildings the county owns or rents have a clean bill of health, said Robert Wilson, a spokesman for county facilities. Dealing with the Y2K bug has turned into a bonanza for departments with outdated systems. The Probation Department, for instance, has Y2K to thank for a new computer system under Crawfords fix it or junk it rule of thumb: I said dont fix a piece of junk because what do you have at the end of it? A piece of junk. Crawford said taxpayers may raise eyebrows at the $18-million price tag for upgrades and new systems, but he insists its worth it. I went to department heads and said, I want you to look at your systems to determine if theyre meeting your business needs, not whether they would be Y2K ready, Crawford said. If they werent, he suggested that officials find a strategy for replacing outdated systems, if time was available. If you have a 10-year-old car that needs a new transmission, the head liner is falling apart and it needs new wiring and new brakes, you ask yourself, Can you fix it? Sure you can, but the car is worth $1,000, and youre going to spend $4,000 to fix it. Its probably time to buy a new car. For Crawford, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force, preparing the countys Y2K plan has been one of his biggest challenges. He joined the county in 1987 as a computer operations manager after leaving the military, where he provided telecommunications and data processing support for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the White House. Left to devise his own plan, Crawford took contingency planning out of the hands of computer wonks and gave it to department heads, who must sign the final November report. He is confident but savvy enough not to make promises. I didnt say I was stupid, he said. I know my beeper will probably go off and that Ill be making the drive from my home in the middle of the night to my office, he said. But if somethings going to happen, it wont be life-threatening and I believe it wont involve any critical disruption of services.

* NEIGHBORLY ADVICE Fear of the Y2K bug is a good reason to get to know those around you. B6 * * *

Getting Ready A long effort to make Orange Countys computer systems Y2K compliant is nearly complete. All but three agency systems, dependent on noncompliant state computers, will be ready by Jan. 1. A look at the stragglers: Agency Dept.: System Function Expected Completion: Completion Agency Dept.: Community Services System Function: Accounting Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Switching to Excel  Agency Dept.: District Attorney System Function: Credit reporting Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Awaiting state interface compliance  Agency Dept.: Health Care System Function: Medi-Cal claims filing Expected Completion: 7/00 Comments: Awaiting state interface compliance  Agency Dept.: Health Care System Function: Budget balance explanation filing Expected Completion: 7/00 Comments: Awaiting state interface compliance  Agency Dept.: Health Care System Function: Drug/alcohol dependency reporting Expected Completion: 7/00 Comments: Awaiting state interface compliance  Agency Dept.: Planning & Development System Function: Grading fee tracking Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Testing new system  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Fleet management mainframe Expected Completion: 12/99 Comments: Replacing system  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Weights and Measures Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Replacing system  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Database Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Storing data on backup system  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Leasing/insurance application Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Storing backup data  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Weather monitoring Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Upgrading system  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Parking system Expected Completion: 12/99 Comments: Replacing system  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Juvenile Hall personal duress system Expected Completion: 12/99 Comments: Installing system  Agency Dept.: Public Facilities & Resources System Function: Desktop computers Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Testing 95% complete  Agency Dept.: Sheriff-Coroner System Function: Desktop computers Expected Completion: 11/99 Comments: Testing underway  Agency Dept.: Treasurer-Tax Collector System Function: Benefits tracking Expected Completion: 12/99 Comments: n/a Source: County of Orange Y2K Critical Systems Compliance Report, September 1999 Los Angeles Times


Sorry - too lazy to reformat (:-(

-- dw (y2k@outhere.com), November 30, 1999.

Gee just recently i got flamed for a shorter article with a run on paragraph now this one takes the cake for sure

-- Susan Barrett (sue59@bellsouth.net), November 30, 1999.


Always look before you leap...when your mouse passes over the link it should make sense. A lot of bad links are posted on this forum because we GIs are so intense!

-- Slobby Don (slobbydon@hotmail.com), November 30, 1999.

From: Y2K, ` la Carte by Dancr (pic), near Monterey, California

Slobby Don: What doesn't make sense about http://www.latimes.com/editions/orange/ocnews/19991129/t000108907.html ? BTW, I go to the page without trouble.

-- Dancr (addy.available@my.webpage), November 30, 1999.

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