Putting the puzzle together

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After reading RC's article on oil & gas I decided to post a summary of the information available I have in other areas, and put some more of the Y2K puzzle pieces together.

My background is as a instrument and control systems technician, and a computer hardware consultant.

The first piece. If you go to the Gartner groups website and read their summary you'll find that 71% of all companies reporting Y2K compliance rely on vendor reports stating their equipment is compliant. This seems reasonable until you red two articles. The first article is from a Florida newspaper quoting a manager from the Florida Baby Bell. He stated that after testing was completed by an independent verification and validation consulting firm, they found that almost 50% of the vendors had lied about the Y2K compliance of the equipment they supplied. This number has been upheld in another recent article, and my company has seen many cases of vendors lying too.

The net result- 71 out of 100 companies have no real idea if their systems are truly compliant or not. in most cases they aren't.

Her's another piece. In October, the FCC anounced that they had found problems with remediated equipment when they did their own testing. They found systems that had been compliant had been corrupted by noncompliant systems. How did this happen? The testing of critical telecom equipment was carried out on an isolated basis in a laboratory environment. The equipment was not tested in actual operation where it interfaced with other equipment. The FCC posted a notice they felt the industry was ready, but in light of this new information, would give no guarantees about the smooth operation of the telecom system in this country.

Another piece, two of the three largest oil exporters to the US have established a `fix it when it breaks` attitude, despite the fact major oil companies have offered to work with them, and told the press they were "pleased with the progress".

Remember the "iron triangle" of power, communications, and finance? In Saudi Arabia, they have anounced their oil production, water sytems, and power grid are ready. However; their telecom industry has made no attempts to remediate their systems, instead they jumped straight to contingency planning. This info was from the Dept of Commerce's website in October.

The IEEE posted a white paper in October criticizing the following areas: a. Self reporting is unreliable, many instances have shown where it was easier to report progress than actually do the work. b. There is no common definition for Y2K compliant, Y2k Ready, and mission critical. No standard methodology has been established to remediate and test for Y2K problems. Therefore, there is no way to determine the true effectiveness of a companies Y2k efforts. c. Most problems associated with Y2K will be caused by a gradual degradation of operation from more subtle Y2K problems. If an international consortium is not put into place that establishes engineering standards for solving the various problems, the global technology infrastructure will degrade to the point of collapse. To date, no such consortium exists.

Independent testing has shown that 10 errors are introduced into a system for every 100 code fixes generated for Y2K remediation. Even with independent testing, the number still averages 1 error per 100 fixed. Many companies have not been able to test their systems because of operational requirements.

Cap Gemini has shown that approx 40% of the top companies surveyed will NOT have their desktop systems compliant by years end. This can cause corruption of their remediated mainframes if work is carried out with the desktop network.

According to infoliant's database of commercial software Y2K compliance, there have been a record number of reversals each month of products that were compliant. Thes products wer downgraded from compliant to non-compliant or action required. In addition the reort for October showed that 118 companies that were not compliant, wihtdrew their products from the reporting list. Another article pointed out that Microsoft has reversed the Y2K status on almost 500 of their products in the last 3 weeks.

Many companies that have reported they are ready Y2K use software off this list, yet none of them bothered to reverse their announcements even when affected by these reversals.

Interconnections. A report in Business today laid out the percentage chance of business disruptions base on a companies number of connections to external resources. Here are a couple of the estimates

%chance of type of business failures/#of connections %chance catastrophic 10.4%/1000 1.1%/100 %chance critical 87.8%/1000 19.0%/100 %chance disruptive 99.9%/1000 52.9%/100

Notice, the bigger the company, the greater the chance of a business failure. To date the large corporations have concentrated on their own systems and ignored testing of their interconnections with other businesses. A recent article quoting a consulting firm stressed this fact and has their experts worried. To give an example, GM has well over 2,000 interconnections to worry about.

More pieces, the government said to prepare for a 3 day storm, yet the director of the IEMA (international emergency managers association) testified before the Senate Y2K committee in Sept and recommended 7- 10 days stockpiling of food and water as a minimum.

There are many other pieces- here's one for the oil & gas industry. You can view a slide of a DOD presentation where they were required to respond to Sen. Strom Thurmonds request about how the military will function if this nation loses 70% of it's refining capacity due to Y2K. I found his source for these numbers- it was an article by a control systems engineer in a oil industry trade publication.

This is not a pretty picture, but the future is even scarier if there are no major problems associated with the date rollover. If this happens the IEEE's plea will fall to the ground unheeded by anyone and their worst case prediction will come to pass.

Finally, in Sept of 1999, a Canadian online paper carried excerpts from an internal IBM publication (IBM has been fighting this issue for years, many of their older systems were at the heart of this problem). In the article it quoted these statements: ""In planning for the transition to 2000, nothing is being taken for granted, and few scenarios are too far-fetched." "Stock non-perishable foods, water and medications you use regularly," the IBM publication says. In fact, IBM's graphic descriptions of Y2K interconnectedness and interdependencies aren't radically different from the dire falling-domino theories of such Y2K doomsayers as Dr. Gary North and Joe Boivin. "It's not enough to convert your own business, because you're not ready until your entire supply chain is," IBM says. "It's not enough to live in a Y2K-ready neighborhood unless all its interwoven threads -- businesses, schools, neighbourhood associations, police and fire departments -- are ready. Y2K will throw these interconnections into sharp relief.""

Enough said,

Sam Walker

-- Sam Walker (swalker2000@earthlink.net), December 28, 1999


Sam, great post. I wonder if we are not connecting logical threads into an illogical conclusion? I have been in preparation for seven months now, but continue to second guess my planning everyday. On the face of it, the mounting evidence seems irrefutable. Your summary pulls concrete evidence together into a very logical scenario - which should prompt great concern among our leaders - to urge individual prepardness. However, this has not happened.

This has led me to two conclusions; either 1) **nobody** really has a grasp on the 'big picture' and therefore to go out on the limb early on was a risky proposition or, 2) If TSHTF those with the big picture are convinced that they can handle multiple failures simultaneously for many months. Having worked as 'the manager' for many years in local government, I tend to believe the first scenario. Our ability to cope with multiple incidents simultaneously (ie - fires, ice storm, small scale civil unrest) gets pretty chaotic, and mistakes are made. (and this is usually for a definitive time period!)

Thus, if our logical progession of the data are in fact predictive of large scale mulitple failures, leaders will 'manage, handle' the storm. I see this logic in my own organization. However, the preps are similar to previously known occurances, and the possible scenarios described by many on y2k boards will quickly overwhelm the govs ability to cope with the situation. Those that have been doing this now for many years would know better. Therefore, I believe no one truely has the big picture and was moved to mobilize citizens. By the time all the pieces were finally put together late in the year (remediation activities not sufficient to avert major problems), it was probably too late to do anything, anyway.

Good luck to all in coming months, I pray for a 2-3.

-- timw (mtimwilliams@att.net), December 28, 1999.

Mr. Walker, thank you very much for this enlightening piece of information. However, it's the same thing that's been said, over and over, and no one seems to catch on. The operative word is "interconnectedness" and from all that I've read, this simply hasn't been done to any extent, if at all. It's that old saying about "one bad apple, will spoil 'em all."

No, I don't believe 1-1-2000 is going to be a bolt of lightning. But, by mid-January and gasoline is $45,000 a gallon, and a pound of salt is in the millions, we'll see what happens then.

-- Richard (Astral-Acres@webtv.net), December 28, 1999.

...yet the director of the IEMA (international emergency managers association) testified before the Senate Y2K committee in Sept and recommended 7- 10 days stockpiling of food and water as a minimum.
This is Very telling.

-- Dan G (thepcguru@hotmail.com), December 28, 1999.

People don't get it because the only research they do is watching nightline and reading the local paper. The question I always have to deal with is- "Well we should be able to fix it and if it's that bad, why don't we hear about it in the news."

I have done several Y2K presentations where all I did was point out the facts (the hard statistical kind, not the feel good opinions)and let people draw their own conclusions. After a short 15 minute presentation you could have heard a pin drop as I set down. I have met some of the people since then and they have made preparations. Almost every individual I have sat down with has made some kind of preparations. But, here is the answer to your question about why people don't prepare. 1. Insufficient or incomplete information 2. Figure the government will handle any problems that arise 3. Many people preparing are to blame. They start off telling their friends to stock up for 6 months in case the world ends. This is like asking someone to swallow an elephant in one bite. I found it very effective to tell people to start with 2 weeks. It was doable on nearly any budget. Once they hit that landmark, I'd feed them more information and they'd usually ask me "do you think I should get some more?" I'd give them the "what do you think?" line and a expectant look. Most made the decision to add some more. If this approach had been taken, most people could have prepared without being pushed out of their comfort zone.

Last, you'll always have the ants and the grasshoppers.


-- Sam Walker (swalker2000@earthlink.net), December 28, 1999.

"There are many other pieces- here's one for the oil & gas industry. You can view a slide of a DOD presentation where they were required to respond to Sen. Strom Thurmonds request about how the military will function if this nation loses 70% of it's refining capacity due to Y2K. I found his source for these numbers- it was an article by a control systems engineer in a oil industry trade publication."

Sam, I think we'd all greatly appreciate it if you provided some more information on the trade publication. (I'm assuming a link is not available.) What does the engineer specifically say? I remember that testimony, and it was quite a shocker at the time, coming so early in the Congressional hearings about y2k.

Thanks, you provided a terrific wrap-up.

-- Brooks (brooksbie@hotmail.com), December 28, 1999.

no standards...no standard definition

In the Age of Clinton that is the problem.

Kosky and his buddies have defined their way out of the problem. Too bad the embedded systems aren't listening!

-- cgbg jr (cgbgjr@webtv.net), December 28, 1999.

For those interested, I have downloaded copies of every article mentioned (except the cap gemini on desktops, I'm trying to find it). At one time I had almost 600MB of articles and info on Y2K. I triimed it more recently to the more recent articles. If you would like a copy of one of these, e-mail me and tell me what you'd like me to send.

As for the slide, it's on a government website,but I downloaded the image for that too.


-- Sam Walker (swalker2000@earthlink.net), December 28, 1999.


Thanks for the effort. I remember most of the material you alluded to, including the Canadian IBM reference. One thing that Infomagic alluded to, the Van Nuys sewer system has not been fixed but has been worked around, I found useful to very subtlely nudge a Polly control engineer who works for a well known controls outfit to begin to realize just how vulnerable some of the Avionics are for some of the workhorse aircraft by a household name manufacturer.

Let me just say that I will NOT fly in the first few months of the year 2000 unless the Cockpit Crew size is increased.

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in just 78 hours.com), December 28, 1999.

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