Assembly's power brokers prepare for Y2k outage (CA) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread


Tuesday, December 28, 1999 | Print this story

Assembly's Power Brokers Prepare for a Y2K Outage


Can you imagine a legislative body being silenced, straitjacketed, unable to act--because of a power failure? Neither can the California Assembly. So, in case Y2K turns out to be as bad as doomsayers say, it has a backup plan: Manual typewriters. Although the Assembly's computer systems and power sources have been brought into Y2K-OK status, Assemblyman Bob Hertzberg (D-Sherman Oaks), who chairs the general-housekeeping Rules Committee, is erring on the side of caution. Staffers dispatched to track down new manual typewriters could find none nearby, but an Internet search found Italy's Olivetti typewriter company, and the order went out for six, at $259 each. "We'll keep them in the closet and pull them out if we need them," said Hertzberg. "Six should be enough." Yes, but do people remember how to use carbon paper? Even if typewritten bills make it to the Assembly floor, votes are tallied electronically; how would a powerless Assembly exercise its ballot power? Just as it once did. Hertzberg aide Paul Hefner has a chalkboard and hand-held cards ready to record "yea" or "nay" votes as legislators holler them out one at a time. Over in the state Senate, where oral roll calls are still SOP, Y2K raises no such fears. Says Senate secretary Gregory Schmidt, "We have plenty of quill pens and inkwells, voting cards and pencils." * * *

-- Homer Beanfang (, December 28, 1999


Back-ups are wise.... especially in earthquake country.


-- Diane J. Squire (, December 28, 1999.

I actually remember the "manual" days for the California State Legislature.

I just love it when people say, "We'll do it manually."

Back in the early 70s, the legislative printing was done by the State Printer's Office. At the end of each day, all the recorded details had to be printed overnight for the next day. There was a huge "room" (size of a football field) filled with linotype machines. Each machine was about the size of a dumpster. An operator sat at the machine and "typed" on a "keyboard". Molten lead was spit out in the form of type.

This was what they called "typesetting" back in the old days. These operators were highly skilled and very interesting men. I saw no women, although there may have been some. They were in demand and could and did travel around working wherever they felt the urge to go.

I was on the team of programmers who were charged with computerizing the legislative printing. We wrote the text editor (in assembly language) that was later used to enter the information to be printed. It was a very specialized text editor, in that we had to capture all of the typesetting (I don't remember what they call them - it's been almost 30 years) commands. I always felt bad for the linotype operators. We put them out of there jobs. Some were able to make the transition to working on a computer terminal, but others wanted nothing to do with them.

Anyway - there's no way they are going back to manual on 6 typewriters. What a joke!!!!

-- Sally Strackbein (, December 28, 1999.

In the early 1980s, I was a regional trainer for manual claims processes and underwriting (among other things) used in the insurance industry. I even helped to automate some of these processes by delineating transactions into questions that could be answered in a "yes" or "no."

I have since gone on to other things. I wonder if technically challenged" companies will try to bring us oldtimers out of "retirement."

-- anon (anon@anon.calm), December 28, 1999.

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