*Crucial test looms for Y2K* - BBC - Sunday 1/2/00 -

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Sunday, 2 January, 2000, 13:11 GMT

Crucial test looms for Y2K

Workers test systems on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange

Testing is continuing over the weekend to ensure that businesses and financial institutions around the world will operate normally when they open for business for the first time in the new millennium.

Financial systems, telecommunications and utilities all functioned normally over the holiday period, but experts have warned that the real test of the millennium bug will come when companies open for business on Monday or Tuesday.

In Britain, where Monday is a Bank Holiday with most businesses closed, the minister with responsibility for the millennium bug warned that some companies could still be vulnerable.

"We have had a good millennium, but January 4 could be a critical day when businesses go back to work.

"We may see some small businesses who have not prepared lose some information," said Paddy Tipping.

In Europe, Sunday was a day of testing for stock market computer systems.

Stock exchanges conducted mock-trading sessions that went without a glitch in Madrid, Paris, Milan and Brussels.

The Paris bourse said it had begun receiving orders in a pre-opening exercise on Sunday and that operations were progressing smoothly so far.

Stock markets in Europe will open for business at 0800GMT on Monday.

In the United States, the securities industry said it would continue Y2K testing until January 6, the day that trades made on January 3 are first settled.

"We're A-OK," said Don Kittell, executive vice president of the Securities Industry Association.

"But this is, in a way, early days for us...we have not yet traded anything in the year 2000."

Some doomsayers had predicted widespread computer failures from machines that could not recognise the year 2000 - which would trigger a collapse of telecoms and electricity networks and cause devastation to the world economy.

But so far there is little evidence of any disruption to major computer systems.

A massive investment, estimated at $500bn world-wide, seems to have averted the failure of key systems, but a further test will come on Monday and Tuesday, when workers return to offices and production lines and switch on their computers.

An accumulation of small glitches, with individual PCs spewing wrong data and machines malfunctioning, could yet prove to be costly.

Gartner Group, a consultancy specialising in technology research, is predicting that fewer than 10% of all Y2K-related failures will occur during the first two weeks of the millennium. More than half of problems would hit during the rest of the year.

Gartner Group analyst Andy Kyte compared the bug with a "debilitating disease" that would gradually weaken computer systems before finally toppling them.

Asia first to give all-clear

New Zealand and Australia were the first major economies to make the transition to the new millennium and report that the date change had made no impact.

The central banks in both countries said that their banking systems had handled the changeover without any problems.

The Sydney stock exchange said it had successfully completed Y2K tests on its internal systems and external tests with almost all market participants.

In Hong Kong, the stock exchange completed two mock trading sessions without any problem.

Japan's Financial Supervisory Agency said there were "no reports of disorders related to Y2K affecting financial institutions' customers and operations".

However, a test session of the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Sunday found an error in terminals at 12 companies using an internal administrative data processing system developed by Nomura Research Institute. A spokesman for Nomura said they were in the process of fixing the system.

With the exception of Bangladesh, Egypt and Oman, all stock markets were closed. In Dhaka stocks ended their first session of the year slightly up in quiet trade on Saturday, extending a market rally for a seventh straight session. In Cairo, Egyptian stocks traded normally in the first session of the new year on Sunday.

Singapore, India, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and other key economies in the region were quick to give the all-clear as well.

Europe, Americas glitch-free

This was encouraging news for staff manning Y2K crisis centres in Europe and the Americas.

There big business and financial institutions had deployed a vast army of computer experts to tackle any malfunction.

They had to watch two millennium bug deadlines, for systems operating on Greenwich Mean Time, and those making the switch at midnight local time.

But both times, computers were working normal, whether in Moscow, New York, Frankfurt or London's City.

Instead of going through thousands of lines of computer code, information technology experts could pop champagne corks while listening to the quiet hum of their computers.

The assessment of Philippe Giraud-Sauveur of the French Banking Association was typical: "We have not found any problems at all."

Now, with the tests over, businesses around the world will begin their first working day on Monday.

The UK, South Africa and Japan have an extra day to prepare, with a Bank Holiday in effect.

'Business as usual'

But Carol Walker of the Gartner Group warned that not all companies would want it known if they had problems. "A lot of companies are not really going to be sharing that kind of information. If there are going to be any glitches, we're probably going to hear about them next week," she said.

The world's largest computer maker, IBM, reported that all the company's "internal computer systems are operating as they should around the world".

US banking giant Citigroup was similarly optimistic. A spokesman said it was "business as usual". The company spent some $950m to fight the millennium bug, more than any other firm.

But it will be small and mid-sized companies that may be hit hardest by the bug's impact. They are big enough to need computer systems to function but too small to have done a lot in advance to remedy any computer problems.

Gartner Group's Andy Kyte said these companies would "need to be most nimble to put in alternative mechanisms".

URL : http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/business/newsid_587000/587961.stm

-- snooze button (alarmclock_2000@yahoo.com), January 02, 2000


Also posted here, along with Electronic Telegraph article:


-- Old Git (anon@spamproblems.com), January 02, 2000.


-- Linkmeister (link@librarian.edu), January 02, 2000.

I've been lurking here off and on for several months, occasionally posting as the mood hit. I've essentially been a Y2K agnostic from the beginning; I was unable to get worked up over it in either sense, "polly" or "doomer."

But I have to say that some of the posters here -- most notably Andy -- surprise and amuse me. Don't you realize what a terribly significant "test" of remediation occurred over New Year's Eve?

The telcos, comsats and utilities faced a "brick wall" deadline. They couldn't fake, punt, or blow smoke. The calendar wouldn't wait; they had to be READY. There was no way for them to switch off most of their computer systems (save, perhaps, for billing and accounting). They had to be READY.

The Doom Prophets said they couldn't make it. The Doom Prophets said (repeatedly) that they were lying when they said they WERE ready. Yourdon even finished the year with "I know what I know" -- the usual argument that all software projects finish late, and so on, and so on. (Yawn.)

But they WERE ready. How can that be?

Even if you want to believe that Bad Things lie ahead, PLEASE explain to me how this could have happened? You can't say that more manpower and money was expended in these areas, and that's why they managed to squeak through at the deadline. That's just not so. Kappelman and Gordon were SCREAMING about this up to a few days before New Years: that utilities and chemical companies hadn't taken Y2K seriously ENOUGH. MORE needed to be done, they yelled (to anyone who'd listen).

It doesn't matter than only "10%" (IF you believe that statistic, which I don't; it's too low) of all computer systems were actually in service. 10% is a good statistical sampling. Assume that it's best- case; that we can expect things to get TEN TIMES WORSE than they were on New Year's Day.

Fine: 10 x virtual nothing = virtually nothing.

Or, let's take worst-WORST-case: assume that it gets ONE THOUSAND TIMES worse than what we say on New Year's. Can you handle that? I think I can.

I'm not talking about the moderates here. To be fair, there are a lot of you. I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about the people, like Andy, who are in absolute, abject, utter denial, INSISTING that the Coverup Continues, and that Y2K will eventually bring down the system.

They are jokes, and if you people don't want to become a laughingstock, you'll start countering them YOURSELVES. They're posting every little failure that they can dig up, claiming a coverup, when the most obvious PROOF that Y2K was a non-event stares them in the fact: their monitor screens are lit (ie, they have power) and they're able to POST THEIR PARANOID NONSENSE FOR ALL TO SEE (ie, communications still work).

People like Andy are absolutely unbelievable to me, and they are a complete embarrassment to YOU. You should do something about them.

-- Sempronius (sempronius@netzero.net), January 02, 2000.


Excuse me.

I do not know one way or the other that New Year's Eve = virtually nothing as you assert.

What was played out on the TV was entertainment not news; elaborate staged events with months of planning and capital invested in the celebration. ABC, CNN and others did little or new investigative journalism and little or no follow-ups even though they had journalist stationed around the globe.

CNN Pakistan did feature a voice only no video feed stating " revelers were celebrating shooting off guns into the air, the streets were crowded with car loads of teens on they way to celebrate at the beach." Is this true - maybe yes and maybe not? Could it be true in a Moslem country? during Ramada? I think not!

More likely every effort was made to "buy" more days for remediation of bugs as they appear. Hopefully, 'they' catch and fix them.

Perhaps you can point to follow-up sources saying that the rest of the world is working with business as usual. For me it is still too early to call.

-- Bill P (p[orterwn@one.net), January 02, 2000.

The above poster should in no way be confused with me, a humble doomer, friend to all.

-- semper paratus (dang@imposter.he_is), January 05, 2000.

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