Y2k report says time is running out (...technical report disputes the myth that embedded systems can be ignored if they don't appear to use a date.)

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Y2K Report Says Time is Running Out

Story Filed: Wednesday, December 01, 1999 4:04 PM EST

UPPER SADDLE RIVER, N.J., Dec 1, 1999 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Century Corp, in collaboration with The US Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), has published EMBEDDED SYSTEMS AND THE YEAR 2000 PROBLEM. The November 22, 1999 technical report disputes the myth that embedded systems can be ignored if they don't appear to use a date. This misconception has caused testing procedures to miss many critical time dependent functions that should have been tested.

The report also concludes the vast majority of Y2K embedded failures will occur on January 1, 2000 and therefore very little time is remaining to test and correct.

Reactions to the report include those of Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley as stated in his November 22, 1999, press release "urging American businesses to redouble their efforts to test for year 2000 computer problems that are hidden away in a variety of machines other than computers."

"Ferreting out all the Y2K connections in the systems that run manufacturing plants, provide services to consumers, and control a host of operations that we all rely on is a tough job. We urge businesses to be especially vigilant in testing embedded systems."

"The Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology and Century Corp., a computer consulting firm, have assessed the range of testing methods industry is using. They conclude that it is possible that many important systems have not been tested adequately. NIST strongly recommends that all critical systems be tested literally from end to end."

Michael Cherry. President of Century Corp. has stated, "In my opinion, the most vulnerable industries include utilities, chemical, energy, manufacturing and defense."

As a non-regulatory agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce's Technology Administration, NIST strengthens the U.S. economy and improves the quality of life by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurements and standards through four partnerships: the Measurement and Standards Laboratories, the Advanced Technology Program, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Baldrige National Quality Program.

Century Corp. is a consulting firm that provides testing, expert witness and remediation services to solve the Y2K embedded systems problem. Recently, they co-authored the U.S. Department of Commerce, NIST, Year 2000 embedded system test guidelines, available on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/y2k/embedded.htm and the U.S. Department Of Commerce, Nist Embedded Systems and the Year 2000 Problem, available on the NIST Web site at http://www.nist.gov/y2k/embeddedarticle.htm

-- Homer Beanfang (BaTS@inbellfry.com), December 01, 1999



You provide an invaluable service to this board. Thanks.

-- Vic (Rdrunner@internetwork.net), December 01, 1999.

-Vic......I'll 2nd that. Hat's off to you Homer :-)

-- kevin (innxxs@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.

excellent article you posted homer. thanks much ..


-- lou (lanny1@ix.netcom.com), December 01, 1999.

This article needs to be re-posted every hour or so to keep it at the top.

This is critical information.

Thanks Homer, you hit a homer.

-- snooze button (alarmclock_2000@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.

Hmmmmm. I wonder if Michael Cherry of Century Corp. could be Mr. CEO? Somebody sure lit a fire under NIST..........

-- Brian Bretzke (bretzke@tir.com), December 01, 1999.

Can we see this in the light of what Mr. CEO - the specialist on emb sys perhaps might wanted to tell us before he decided not to speak?????????????? Good bye power grid!

-- Rainbow (Rainbow@123easy.net), December 01, 1999.

Yep, spectacular monumental disasters to herald the New Millennium. CDC no kidding. Sure erosion will be persistent and crumble away civilization throughout the whole year, but the fireworks will kaboom on January 1, 2000.

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), December 01, 1999.

Homer, whomever you are, we all owe you ..... BIG TIME!

Thanks so very much!

-- Wilferd (WilferdW@aol.com), December 01, 1999.

Another great catch by Mr. Beanfang. Gracias.

-- Not Whistlin' Dixie (not_whistlin_dixie@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.


http:// www.nist.gov/y2k/embeddedarticle.htm

-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.



-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), December 01, 1999.

Yes, another salute to Homer! Thank you sir.

Also check out the above mentioned link: http://www.nist.gov /y2k/embeddedarticle.htm. I believe it was posted here a while back, but it is worth another look.

Tick... Tock... <:00=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.


Bless your cotton socks.

-- flora (***@__._), December 01, 1999.

I wish this cache problem was resolved. It would have saved me a post, Diane!

Well, not really. I still would have posted the Homer salute... <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.

High Five Beanfang!

-- Will continue (farming@home.com), December 01, 1999.


Love ya Babe!!!!!

-- ;-) (karlacalif@aol.com), December 01, 1999.

Thanks Homer.

I wonder if Oprah knows about this...

-- GoldReal (GoldReal@aol.com), December 01, 1999.

I very much appreciate Hoffy taking on the Rotterdam report, I only hope at least Flint will take a crack at this one.

Come on you guys, for those of us looking for those silver linings around those clouds.

"There's no place like home, there's no place like home..."

-- flora (***@__._), December 01, 1999.

Thank you Homer!!!!! Your posts are much appreciated.

-- marsh (armstrng@sisqtel.net), December 01, 1999.

Homer, I agree with everyone above!!! Keep Postings

-- Bill (sticky@2sides.tape), December 01, 1999.




I do believe that you have truly lived up to your name with this post alone!

Thank a heap, guy(?) for ALL the posts that you have researched and posted here.

IF we don't get TEOTWAWKI at ANY time next year, then, when it is safe, and the Internet useable, maybe you can post your TRUE identity(like Zorro or Batman going public). Unfortunately, this report seems like it is the "end-around" PLAN B to the cancellation of Mr. CEO, and, as such, could mean no I-net to talk on very soon.

-- profit of doom (doom@helltopay.ca), December 01, 1999.

Well. A firm that provides testing and remediation services "discovers" the urgent need for companies to do testing and remediation. They "find" that the testing being done is inadequate. Whatever happened to this group's wonderful ability to read between the lines?

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), December 01, 1999.

Holy sh*t!!

Homer, I do believe you hit the jackpot. I also thank you!! Maybe some of the local trolls and pollies should take a gander at what you've come across. Shut them up for a little bit!!

God bless ya, brother!!

-- Familyman (prepare@home.com), December 01, 1999.

Homer: Well done sir! I needed a bit more info on that issue.

Flint: Nice job scanning, now read it over please. You'll discover the commerce dept. was half author of that document. Think about the implications of a gov't agency *admitting* the job's not done, and it's now 30 days to impact...

-- (Kurt.Borzel@gems8.gov.bc.ca), December 01, 1999.

Homer, out of everything my husband has heard and read on Y2K, it was the embedded chips that convinced him we are in trouble. Thank you for your hard work.

-- bardou (bardou@baloney.com), December 01, 1999.

Could this be the smokin gun report? This ranks up there with Jim Lords report on the Navy. Outstanding find. thanks.

-- Kings kid (smokingun@doomcity.net), December 01, 1999.


I just had this spontaneous vision while reading your predictable comments. I can imagine you going to the doctor because it's time for your annual checkup and, well, you have had a few days of not feeling so good. The doctor looks you over and sends you over to the hospital for some tests. The tests come back and a surgeon sits you down and tells you that you have some cancer, but if you let them operate right away, they think they might be able to get it out of there. You tell them you'll think about it. When you get home, the wife asks how it went, and you say "forget it honey, just a bunch of hucksters trying to scare me into spending a lot of money. Phoooey on them! I can read between their lines."

LOL. Doesn't that pretty much sum up your attitude? Good luck Flint.

-- Gordon (gpconnolly@aol.com), December 01, 1999.

Thank you Homer! I always read your posts first.

-- Hatti (klavine@tco.com), December 01, 1999.


Here we have a firm with a stated vested interesting in saying *exactly* what you'd expect them to say. If a candy company said candy is good for you, would you see perhaps some self-interest there? So we have a testing company saying testing is required. Amazing! And a whole thread full of people who just can't see even so much as a hint of self-interest. Gorsh, it's the pure truth, objective as just anything, golly, smoking gun, these people wouldn't have *any* reason to advertise their services, oh no.


-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), December 01, 1999.

Come on, flint, isn't it little late for a code remediation company to be drumming up business? I think you need to clean your glasses.

-- cody (cody@y2ksurvive.com), December 01, 1999.

My old friend Flint. He always seems to have an answer. He may ignore the facts, but he always has an answer.

How about some comments on the ComputerWorld article, posted here and here.

And you know Flint, I am serious. You may be a polly, but I do consider you a friend. <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.

Sysman, et. al:

Come on, why is everyone allowed to heavily discount all reports of substantial compliance on the grounds of vested interest, but NOBODY is permitted to discount a clear vested interest in postulating possible problems? Hell, NIST is outright *recommending* that companies "redouble their efforts" to perform precisely what NIST does for a living. They "strongly recommend end-to-end testing." How very convenient. The only thing missing from this article is "For Immediate Release" at the top.

I'm NOT saying hidden date dependencies don't exist, or that there are no devices that use the date in nonevident ways. I know of at least one such device myself, though that failure already has a workaround in place, good for another 100 years.

What I'm saying is that these people are as sure to exaggerate the scope of this problem just as a life insurance salesman is sure to emphasize the plight of your children should you croak. This is a boilerplate sales pitch. There may even be isolated cases where NIST's services might be cost-effective. But this is NOT a general description of the certainty of widespread failures from hidden date functionality.

And again, I thought the people here *prided* themselves on their ability to see through even subtle indications of self-interest. I guess they just somehow can't see it, no matter how howlingly blatant, when it's in their favor. And GI's are *smarter* than ordinary people? Snicker.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), December 01, 1999.


One last time:

1. NIST is 1/2 author of this document. 2. NIST is a government representative, not a business. 3. There is not enough time to fix it all, so advertising for more work is a moot point. 4. This document emphasizes the concept of a deadline to get things fixed.

Is an alarm bell considered "an advertisement for alarm bells" in your world?


-- (Kurt.Borzel@gems8.gov.bc.ca), December 01, 1999.

And Flint, Tell us again, What exactly is it that you are selling?

-- MoVe Immediate (MVI@yepimhere.com), December 01, 1999.


Sorry. I meant to write Century Corp., which apparently did the "research", consisting (as far as anyone can tell) mostly of making the assertion that their services are still required.

I know how much time is left. Apparently Century Corp. feels there's enough time to "redouble your efforts" and to be "especially vigilant in testing". They emphasize that "very little time is remaining". They conclude that it is "possible" that testing has been inadequate in "many" systems so far, because it's a "tough job" for which you need real pros like Century. Is yours one of them? You better hire Century Corp. right quick and find out!

Kurt, this is a sales pitch, plain and simple. The gist of this piece isn't to warn people like you and me to prepare, it's to get anyone they can reach to hire Century to test and fix their hidden problems. And if some companies are too late, well, they can hire Century to clean up and fix on failure.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), December 01, 1999.

Well to Flints defence there isn't to much new in the report that hasn't been known for years if you have read the Big 3 remediation guidelines or the IEE site, (or the Pulp and Paper industry in Canada) but like Cory I find it to late a date for anyone to gain financially.

Why would the DOC issue a (doomer) press release such as this late November? This is an unusual release at anytime by the US .gov. Why now?

Last year at this time would have made more sense, yet it didn't happen. Wierd.

Flint did do a review of the NIST article in the link below.

***Embedded Systems and the Year 2000 Problem***

-- Brian (imager@home.com), December 01, 1999.

Dear Flint;

Your suggestion that this is what you would expect out of a validation, remediation, and consulting firm would be EXACTLY correct, if this were December 1, 1998, or 12-1-1997. However, since this is December 1, 1999, the suggestion doesn't hold water. If Century Corp were trying to drum up business, they would have tried to get NIST to release this a year ago.

Mow, NIST from the Commerce Department let this contract, probably hoping that the answer would validate BJC's approach. Imagine their surprise when the joint study returns the wrong answer. As I am sure youn are aware, studies like this, while MAINLY staffed by consultant/contractors also have high profile, heavy hitting participation from the .gov agency involved.

In my experience, NOBODY actually gets to prewrite this kind of study. The contractors MIGHT like to have it their way, but with the agency wanting the opposite, THAT wasn't goin' to happen.

The fact that they actually published this should surprise EVERYONE. This FLIES IN THE FACE of EVERYTHING we have been told by .gov and BJC and his designated scapegoat(s). This smells like another one of the litle packets of truth that will be/are trickling out. (Ref MO of current Admin. Deny Deny Deny, Spin Spin Spin, trickle truth out after everyone is too bored to pay attention).

Alternatively, it's CYA time for the .gov folk.

Night train

-- jes an ol footballer (nighhttr@in.lane), December 01, 1999.

Flint -- you slipped on this one. This smells of a big shock/slap in the face that wasn't expected, hence the "appearance" by heavy- hitters from Commerce. Sure, like everything, we don't "know" do we, until January 1 and thereabouts ... but this is CYA born out of fear because SOMETHING VERY NASTY was discovered.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), December 01, 1999.

I'm a bit confused also by the "redouble your efforts" exhortation. It seems a bit late in the game for that. I wonder if Century put this together some time back, and is now tearing out their hair that the government sat on it too long to do anyone much good.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), December 01, 1999.

Wondering WHY this was released is a dead-end argument. The fact remains that it was released. The contents of the document come as no surprise to anyone.


Warning bells anyone? "Good Morning Sir. This is your friendly .gov morning wakeup call... big problems... 30 days to impact... we're pulling a Kosky here... lotsa arm waving to cheer the geeks on... we're not gonna make it... HAVE A NICE DAY."

-- (Kurt.Borzel@gems8.gov.bc.ca), December 01, 1999.

Flint, if you are suspicious of them saying "redouble your efforts," what would you have them say? Please write out a more appropriate response. Should they have written, "don't redouble your efforts, because you're hosed"? Should they have written, "well, heh heh, you've got a lot of work to do, but you won't get it done, so why not just empty out your IT budget and buy some really good crack, 'cuz you're so hosed you might as well be comatose so's you won't feel it too harshly"? Your comments on this thread have been whittled down to this pathetic little snippet. They shouldn't write "redouble your efforts"? I have students who, with five days left in the semester, would certainly benefit from personal attention from me to the tune of an hour a day each, but I can't do this for all of them, so I tell them all "don't give up. You have a paper and a final coming up. Redouble your efforts. Apply yourselves. Do what you can." Should I instead tell them, "Ah, the chances of you getting a passing grade are slim, so why not just get drunk the next week"?

-- Kurt Ayau (Ayau@iwinet.com), December 01, 1999.

First of all, HI MVI, long time no see!!!


I guess we'll talk about the ComputerWorld story later.

OK, Let's assume that this a sales pitch, even though I think of it as a "warning" from a .gov agency. I'll give you that one.

Based on our past talks, I do respect your opinion on BIOS and/or embedded issues. But one thing that I have noticed in your comments, is that "most" systems use an epoch type of time calculation. Please note the following snip from the link:

"This last factor is especially pernicious since many embedded devices use real-time clock calendars that were developed during the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and early 90s when the date and time were used as a single string consisting of year, month, day, hours, minutes, seconds, etc. in the form YYMMDDhhmmss. Using this type of embedded device, calculating elapsed times required the use of the date in addition to time.Later devices provided the date in the form of an epoch or base date, and a counter of elapsed units of time, typically seconds, since the epoch. For example, with a base date of 01/01/80 and a counter with the value 31,536,000 seconds, we could compute the date as 01/01/81. Elapsed time calculations using the counter were performed with a straightforward subtraction of the start count from the end count. The date played no part in elapsed time calculations."

So it is true that most NEW systems do use an epoch calculation. But what is the ratio of new vs. old systems, in production, in today's world? Some here say that things like the power grid are "old" and don't use "modern" technology very much. But based on the above, the very problem is with older technology. I know that you have much more experience with "chips" than I do, but how much Flint? How much of the "real world" stuff have you seen? How much "date processing" have you dealt with?

My experience goes back to the late 60's. Most of it on the mainframe, but some in the PC world, and other micros like the Z-80 and 6502. I have seen TOO MUCH date processing in my days, on all platforms. I guess maybe that's why we're so different.

Tick... Tock... <:00=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), December 01, 1999.

Flint, MVI, Sysman, BD, et al,

Bless all yer cotton sox.

-- flora (***@__._), December 01, 1999.


Further to your observation about the power industry using older embedded systems, would you not think that given the extensive testing the utilities have done this particular problem (the one Century asserts exists) would have come to light (pardon the pun) sooner than now?

Also, it would have been nice if the article had mentioned some specific systems (for purposes of illustration) that might have been overlooked because they had originally been thought to be date- insensitive. That way, some of the people working in the field might have something to chew and comment on.

-- Johnny Canuck (j_canuck@hotmail.com), December 01, 1999.


You wrote

>>but this is CYA born out of fear because SOMETHING VERY NASTY was discovered.<<

Are you assuming this is something Century discovered? Or something discovered by NIST?

Either way, wouldn't such "nasty" info - if it does indeed exist - be circulated on the lists that go round in engineering circles? Factfinder has often talked about being able to view test results and findings from other utility companies, for example.

Just wondering.

-- Johnny Canuck (j_canuck@hotmail.com), December 02, 1999.

Hi Johnny,

We all hope that folks like NERC are doing their job. We hope that all power companies are sharing their test results. But what is this article about? Are they testing systems that "appear to have no date function"?

I've got to go with people like Mr. Cook on this one. He is a nuclear power engineer, someone with experience, someone that I consider an expert. He is asking the right questions, are we doing enough, end-to- end testing? I sure hope so.

And yes, I agree, it would be nice to have specific examples. We know that they do exist. The question is why DON'T we have those examples??? <:)=

-- Sysman (y2kboard@yahoo.com), December 02, 1999.

Where is that Cheri debunker chick...she claims to be an embeded systems expert....I want to hear what she says about this!

-- C. Hill (pinionsmachine@hotmail.com), December 02, 1999.

NEVER ASSUME that people in charge know what they are doing.

Even if there is a large amount of money riding on the outcome.

Here's an example that just about made me jump out of my skin.

I am a football fan. I used to assume that highly paid NFL players would have the best health care available since their livelihoods depended upon it. Wide receivers can make 1.5 to 2 million dollars a year if they are any good at all, and this they can get for an average of 5 years. For most people this is real money. There was a receiver a couple of years ago who was dropping passes and jumping for the ball too early. It cost him and his team a LOT of money in crucial game situations. Why was he dropping passes? HE DIDN'T GET HIS EYES CHECKED AND HE NEEDED GLASSES OR CONTACTS. Wasn't this part of the team's annual physical? I guess not. Yet this guy probably lost out on 3 or 4 million because he had never spent $50 for a pair of glasses.

People in charge don't always know what they're doing.

-- nothere nothere (notherethere@hotmail.com), December 02, 1999.

Homer, I've thanked you before, but I must thank you again, along with everyone else here. Your efforts have been simply monumental, and your contributions are right to the point. As someone else said, I too, literally look for your posts first, because they are never garbage, hearsay, or opinion. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your caring concern for your fellow humans. Our government could learn a lot from your willingness to share information of great import to the citizens! May God bless you and yours for all you have done.

-- Elaine Seavey (Gods1sheep@aol.com), December 02, 1999.


From BUSINESS WIRE, as posted by Homer above -- "Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley... stated in his November 22, 1999, press release "urging American businesses to redouble their efforts to test for year 2000 computer problems that are hidden away in a variety of machines other than computers."

From Flint above -- "Apparently Century Corp. feels there's enough time to 'redouble your efforts'"

From Flint above -- "I'm a bit confused also by the 'redouble your efforts' exhortation. It seems a bit late in the game for that. I wonder if Century put this together some time back"

FLINT, it's Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley who is urging "American businesses to redouble their efforts" , NOT Century Corp! Please read carefully before engaging in knee-jerk obfuscation! Your credibility just slipped by one Richter factor.

-- RPGman (tripix@olypen.com), December 02, 1999.



-- Familyman (hookedon@phonics.com), December 02, 1999.

Mr. Flint,

As a cop in a large NE city for the past 18 years, and as a member of our local Office of Emergency Management for the past 8 years, I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of meeting Mike Cherry of CenturyCorp on sevaral occasions. I CAN say:

1. The man knows his stuff. 2. He's trying to help. 3. He convinced me months ago that Y2K is gonna be trouble.

You may email me personally if you so desire.

-- RJ (LtPita@aol.com), December 02, 1999.

And the plot thickens (coagulates; society will have a stroke):

Kosky speaks about Embededs (not good)

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), December 02, 1999.

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