MIT's advisory on Y2K: Beware - Preparations are extensivegreenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
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MIT's advisory on Y2K: Beware Preparations are extensive
By Peter J. Howe, Globe Staff, 12/17/99 AMBRIDGE - If any organization in the world can be counted on to be ready for the Y2K computer bug, it should be the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, home to more technologically brilliant people per acre than maybe any place.
And while some critics already contend that alarmists have overhyped the risk that the date change- over to Jan. 1, 2000 will cause computer chips to go berserk, MIT officials are taking nothing for granted.
MIT has not gone into panic mode, but given the technology brainpower it represents, the institute's preparations could serve as a warning to the rest of the world not to downplay the possibility Y2K could bring serious computer mishaps, power failures, and technological breakdowns.
In other words, beware.
Besides ensuring an ample supply of flashlights, cots and blankets, and hiring elevator technicians to be on site on New Year's Eve, institute officials are urging that every one of MIT's estimated 20,000 computers and servers that can be shut down be turned off no later than Dec. 30, a full day before computer clocks begin flipping over to 2000.
''If you don't need the machine on and you shut it down, you have that much more time to deal with any issues that come up,'' said Gerald Isaacson, who is leading Y2K efforts for MIT.
While it is far from an official dictate, MIT's recommendation seems to reflect a growing consensus among computer experts that people who can should avoid having their computers on and avoid surfing the Web or logging on for electronic mail during the time the world's clocks change over to 2000 - what some specialists call ''crossing the millennium boundary.''
''I think it's a smart piece of pragmatic advice that MIT is giving its community,'' said Gary Beach, publisher of the 135,000-circulation CIO magazine in Framingham, a publication for top computer systems managers.
Because Jan. 1 will arrive in New Zealand as early as 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time on Dec. 31, and any problems there could ripple across global computer networks, Beach said, ''I would advise people here to turn off their computers no later than 7 a.m. on the 31st and kick them back on the morning of Jan. 2. ''
Ken Donoghue of Stratus Computer Corp. in Maynard, which manages systems that must run around the clock every day for critical uses such as processing credit card and banking transactions, said he also thinks MIT's advice is wise for those who can heed it.
''If it's not going to affect your ability to do business, why not? What's the downside?'' Donoghue said.
In order not to lose MIT's trove of pioneering research, the institute, which estimates it has more than 2,200 research labs and facilities, is also urging professors and students to back up data no later than Dec. 30 on a central storage system. Automated transfers of data to the storage system regularly scheduled for the 31st of each month are being moved up 12 hours to begin at 6 a.m. on Dec. 31.
The Y2K issue relates to fears about the date changing over from 12-31-99 to 1-1-00. Some computers and microchips found in everything from automobiles to appliances might read the new two-digit date, ''00'', as being 1900 rather than 2000, and shut down or malfunction.
The theory behind shutting computers off well ahead of that date change is that should a problem develop, it would be far easier to fix when rebooting the computer a day or two after the new year than it would be if the computer were on, connected to the Net, or running a program at the moment the date changes.
Some specialists also fear that computers will be exposed to computer viruses sent by electronic mail timed to wreak havoc on Dec. 31. Last month, university executive vice president John R. Curry issued a lengthy set of warnings and recommendations that filled two pages of the institute newspaper ''Tech Talk.''
MIT originally planned to shut down all its elevators for 30-minute periods straddling both the Greenwich Mean Time change to 2000, occurring at 7 p.m. New Year's Eve in Boston, and again for 30 minutes beginning at 11:45 p.m. on the 31st.
That plan was based on fears that power failures related to Y2K could leave someone stuck between floors if they happened to be riding an elevator right as midnight arrived in London or Boston. Tests have shown the computer chips in elevator microprocessors throughout the campus are fine, and MIT's own power plant, which serves most of the campus, is expected to be fully Y2K-ready, Isaacson said.
Isaacson said officials have since concluded that ''the cure may have been worse than the potential problem'' and will leave elevators running all of New Year's Eve. But, he said, ''We have elevator mechanics who are normally on call who will be on site'' to work on any problems that arise.
Curry also warned researchers that ''it may be safest to curtail [if possible] the more hazardous experiments during the transition weekend, as safety systems and emergency response resource capabilities may be strained.'' It also urged scheduling hazardous waste pickups early.
In an interview, Curry said, ''It's awfully hard to prepare for everything that's unforeseen,'' and added that ''we have to be sure there's not a psychological snowballing. Things go wrong in our labs every weekend. Things go wrong on our desktops every day. We've got to be sure we understand what's really inherently Y2K'' if any problems arise over the New Year's holiday.
All of MIT's residence halls already have cots and blankets in case of a power failure or civil disaster unrelated to Y2K. Just to be safe, however, MIT officials, with help from a crew of students hired to help on New Year's Eve, will be setting many of them up ahead of time. One factor that helps the situation is that most of MIT's 9,900 students will be gone for vacation starting next week.
However, many people on the MIT campus are less than anxious about Y2K. Frank Dabek, a senior from Cincinnati who is editor of the student newspaper ''The Tech,'' said, ''I certainly don't plan to turn my computer off over the holiday, but for people who can, it certainly wouldn't hurt.''
''People that I've interacted with are not worried'' about Y2K, Dabek said. ''Most people are more worried about finding a good New Year's Eve party.''
And CIO publisher Beach said, ''Why would anybody want to be sitting at their computer on New Year's Eve unless they absolutely had to?''
-- Michael Taylor (email@example.com), December 18, 1999
Solomon, if you wish to take a jaunt down the Bible Avenue, bring it on. YOU would do well to remember the words about deceit wish are so vividly written in St.John's Vision of the Apocalypse.
Do NOT make me laugh with your erroneous take on the Bible. Such a penchant makes you a fool.
trees, please feel free to check out this link and get back to me. BTW, I am positive there is nothing 'funny' about AIDS and that was not the point in rendering my opinion of Forrest's post. No, the fact that such an individual can CONTINUALLY make such comments...and thereby attaract what can now only be called a cult is incredible.
-- Bad Company (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 18, 1999.
Apologies, Michael. I do not know how this post ended up here.
-- Bad Company (Johnny@perplexed.com), December 18, 1999.
Johnny Bad Boy has been providing some of the best humor at TB2000 lately. First, he flamed Troll Maria, mistaking her for a "doomer" (LOL!), then he posts a rant about the Bible on a thread about MIT (LOL!).
Michael, there's an earlier thread where Diane posted an e-mail from Greenspun indicating he had no intention of shutting down this server for rollover. Hope he doesn't change his mind.
-- (TrollPatrol@sheesh.now), December 18, 1999.
Would think NASA has its puter stuff together too but news said if they didn't get off by next week to fix the Hubble they're postponing till mid Jan due to THEIR y2k worries about THEIR programs.
BC Johnny just outed himself. Bye, bye.
-- Carlos (email@example.com), December 18, 1999.
Let me ask. Should we turn our puters off for several days? How am I going to follow the sun with my puter OFF.
WHAT SAY YEE.....
-- Tommy Rogers (Been there@Just a Thought.com), December 18, 1999.
From this it sounds like Phil may not have a choice in the matter if this forum is on an MIT server. Depends on who controls the plug, I suppose. Sounds like this forum may not be the place to watch the CDC after all. The more I've read and heard here and elsewhere, the more I'm inclined to stay offline for about 3 days.
-- Dick Moody (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 18, 1999.