Y2K News Center: January 19th Y2K-related news stories now up...

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[Today's Y2K-related news stories are now up on the Y2K NEWS CENTRE page. Summaries are give below: you'll find full newspaper links for each story on that Web page]

JANUARY 19th, 2000:

BOSTON GLOBE: "R.I. court computer glitch delays some arrests" - 'A glitch in a new computer system in the state courts led officers to wrongly arrests some Rhode Islanders and forced police to delay apprehending true suspects. The problem poses no significant public safety threat, as most of the cases involve misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct, failing to appear in court or failing to pay fines, officials said. Since the system went online last month, it issued about 350 inaccurate warrants, while confusing the names of about 1,500 past and present suspects, The Providence Journal reported Tuesday. At least eight people were arrested for misdemeanors they didn't commit and at least two were jailed overnight before the mistakes became known in court the next day.'...'The $12 million computer system was part of a four-year project to modernize the courts' 1980s computer network. The system holds records of 342,000 criminal cases and 40,000 warrants and tracks suspects for prosecutors, defense lawyers, police and prison officials. The problems arose from bad records in the old computer system that gummed up the newer, more sophisticated network. Technicians already have found the inaccurate warrants and expect to fix the remaining problems this week. Harrall estimates the repairs will cost around $50,000.'

VNU News: "Ikea store cards fail Year 2000 test" - 'Ikea has been bitten by the millennium bug, forcing its store card customers to endure another two weeks of payment problems at tills in UK stores. The store card of the Swedish home furnishing giant is not being accepted by computer systems ecause of a Year 2000 problem, causing card transactions to be wrongly rejected for over-shooting the expiry date 12/99. Ikea has admitted that the problem will not be resolved until the end of this month.'...' "The card was rejected and my first thought was I had forgotten to pay the bill, but then the cashier told me it was a millennium bug problem," she said. "Ikea head office had to authorise the payment over the phone so it could be coded in manually. "There were queues and queues of people in the store and it took six times as long to pay," she added. Jens Rom, managing director for Ikea's card programme in the UK, claimed that he had received only one complaint about the cards and that the problem was not the Y2K bug, it was just "millennium-related".'...' "If it hadn't been for Y2K, we could have put a much later date in, but our account system would not accept dates beyond Y2K," he admitted. Ian Hugo, assistant director of millennium bug watchdog Taskforce 2000, said: "This problem comes in the Y2K sphere. '12/99' was the latest date to be used on the card, as December 1999 had special meaning as the end of time." In a recent report, analyst GartnerGroup said that despite no apparent major disasters, "the rollover has not been near as smooth as most governments and the media state"...'

MODERN HEALTH CARE: "The bug did show up: Providers received Medicare funds from bank days late" - 'A small Chicago bank has successfully mended a Y2K glitch that early this month delayed electronic Medicare payments to healthcare providers in at least eight states nationwide. The computer snag, which was detected at Highland Community Bank late Jan. 3, caused payment delays of up to a day and left some hospitals temporarily unable to access their newly deposited funds. The problem was corrected within three days, sources said. It's not known how much money was involved...'

ZDNet: "Government falls victim to Y2K -- it thinks" - 'Is it a bug, or isn't it? Don't ask the Office of National Statistics, it's a load of trash... Jane Wakefield reports' - 'The government admitted to ZDNet UK News Tuesday that it has been the victim of the millennium bug -- although it is still confused about how to recognise exactly what a millennium bug is. The Office of National Statistics confirmed it experienced a "date change glitch", which saw computers in registry offices up and down the country printing incorrect dates on birth certificates. Anybody requesting a birth certificate after January 1 2000 were sent hand written copies because affected computers printed out copies dated 2200. Initially a spokesman claimed it had nothing to do with the millennium bug. "This is a non-millennium problem, it is a software issue. It is not about hardware or embedded software," he said. Later the same spokesman admitted it might be a Y2K issue. "It has very little to do with the millennium bug," he said. Later the spokesman conceded it was impossible to tell what caused the problem. "I can't tell you it is definitely not [a millennium bug issue]. Who is to say what is and what isn't," he said. "It is a very trivial error. The idea that thousands of babies have got hundred year old birth certificates is complete trash," he said. A Cabinet Office spokesman was more willing to put the glitch down to Y2K. "This is the type of minor glitch we thought likely to occur," he said. He also admitted there had been others, but could only offer one solid example. "Aberdeen weather centre found the bug had affected its observation equipment. They phoned in the weather reports while the equipment was fixed," he said.'

WASHINGTON POST: 'Computer Blamed for Late Pay' - 'About 2,000 employees of financially troubled Integrated Health Services Inc. did not get paid as scheduled Friday morning because of a computer error, a spokesman for the Sparks, Md., nursing-home company said yesterday. More than half of those workers received their biweekly pay before the day was out, but some were not expected to get their money until today, IHS Executive Vice President Marc B. Levin said. The problem affected only employees who get paid by an electronic transfer of funds to their bank accounts, or direct deposit, the company said. Over the weekend, the company began handing out cash to workers "who could encounter hardship" waiting for their deposits, as the IHS payroll department phrased it in an internal e-mail message Friday. Many of the workers "make very little money--they've got to be living hand to mouth," an employee said...'

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: "Problems mount with AT&T's service. Many local phone customers complain about charges, special features, assistance" - 'Overwhelmingly, AT&T Corp.'s new local phone customers say they switched from Southwestern Bell because they wanted simpler bills and better deals. Many of them got exactly the opposite. Subscribers by the hundreds have been charged for local calls as if they were long-distance. Others lost calling features that worked fine with Southwestern Bell. And numerous customers report long waits on hold with AT&T customer service - and little help once a representative does take the call. "We made a five-minute call to a neighbor; that was five times $4-something a minute," said Dallas resident Sharon Walker. AT&T corrected its calculating error quickly, but her phone bills still show the erroneous charges. "After calling several times and being on hold for up to an hour, they still said it will take a month or two to correct," she said. AT&T acknowledges the failures. "We have had some start-up problems," said Phil Tonge, president of consumer services for the Southwest region. "Starting a new telephone company of the size we've essentially started is not without its complexities."...'Deborah Perl of East Dallas signed up for AT&T in November but wasn't switched over until early January. "All of a sudden all of my phone services I had with Southwestern Bell didn't work, which is the only way I knew I had AT&T service," she said...'

PETROLEUM WORLD.COM: "Venezuela's PDVSA declares force majeure on gasoline exports" - 'Venezuela state oil firm PDVSA declared force majeure Tuesday for an unspecified period on its exports of gasoline from the Paraguana peninsula, where the company's 2 export refineries are located. The force majeure comes after PDVSA was forced to shut a gasoline-producing unit at its Amuay refinery while a similar unit at the neighboring Cardon plant was being restarted after a 2-month shutdown'...'The Cardon and Amuay plants process 940,000 barrels per day of crude oil. Production from the plants is exported to the US and Latin America. Venezuela's other 2 refineries are operating normally but typically serve the domestic market.'

REUTERS: "PDVSA says Venezuela cracker out for 24-30 days" - Venezuelan state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela said Tuesday a 108,000 barrel per day (bpd) catalytic cracker, shut down unexpectedly because of a technical fault Sunday, will return to service in 24-30 days. The unit at the Amuay refinery on the Caribbean coast produces about 70,000 bpd of high octane gasoline for export and also some gas oil. ``We have advised our clients that there will be interruptions in deliveries through a force majeure,'' a company spokesman said, confirming earlier reports by regional oil traders. Venezuela is the largest supplier of crude oil and refined products to the United States, and the Amuay cracker is the country's largest such unit...'

REUTERS: "US oil products jump on cold, refinery outage" - 'A big jump in New York Harbor heating oil as cold weather gripped the northeast and firmer gasoline due to a refinery outage in Venezuela lifted the oil products barrel on Tuesday. February NYMEX heating oil gained about 4.5 percent or three cents a gallon as Weather Services Corp (WSC) said a cold snap in the US northeast is likely to last for another 10-12 days and possibly for another week beyond that. Oil dealers said cargoes of Russian heating oil were heading for the U.S. but would be too late to meet prompt demand in New York harbor...'

REUTERS: "Commodities - Oil jumps to 9-year high, soybeans up" - 'Crude and heating oil prices jumped to nine-year highs on Tuesday as OPEC production cuts and cold weather in the heavily populated U.S. Northeast fueled buying.'...'Gold prices rose as the higher energy markets appeared to spark buying of the precious metal as a hedge against inflation.'...'At the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude oil prices rose as weather forecasters said the U.S. Northeast, the region that consumes the most heating oil in the world, was likely to remain in the grip of a cold snap for another 10 to 12 days. ``It does look as if we're settling in for a lengthy cold spell in the Northeast,'' said Joel Burgio, a meteorologist with Weather Services Corp. Until now, much of the United States has had an unseasonably warm winter. The cold forecast added bullish fuel to a crude oil market that has bounded higher since members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last week voiced support for extending production cuts. Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi suggested on Thursday that production cuts, currently scheduled to expire in March, could continue throughout 2000. Also encouraging buying was a report issued on Tuesday by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, who said Iraq's crude exports could drop by about 200,000 barrels a day unless the United Nations approves funds for Iraq to upgrade its oil facilities. Gasoline prices rose on news of an unscheduled shutdown of a big production unit at Venezuela's Amuay refinery, which exports oil products to the United States...'

MIDLAND REPORTER-TELEGRAPH: "Oil outlook is better following developments" - 'The year 2000 should be looking better to Permian Basin oilmen after a number of developments during recent days. Among them were:
- The first big rally by oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange Tuesday that pushed the price of a barrel of oil to $25.77. At that point, some analysts were saying that $30-a-barrel oil is possible within the next several months, a level many analysts would have believed unrealistic a few months ago. However, it seemed much more realistic after Friday's close listed the price as $28.02 with a posted price of $25.25
- An indication by Iran Deputy Oil Minister Kazempour Ardebili that there is a strong sentiment among leading producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to maintain production quotas and current price levels for at least another quarter beyond their scheduled March 31 expiration.
- A rosier outlook for the oil industry in 2000 as predicted by Phil Dow of Minneapolis, managing director for equity strategy with Dain Rauscher Wessels, and Glenn Little of Midland, president of Little & Co. Both men forecast a good year for the industry, and Little speculated that if oil prices hold up, "people will start spending money on field operations." '

KIEV POST [Ukaraine]: "Y2K software firm sued" - 'While Ukraine is proudly boasting of effectively subduing the millennium bug, U.S. investigators are trying to find out if Y2K software purchased with U.S. government money for the country's nuclear power plants was itself faulty. U.S. federal courts are presently hearing a lawsuit, which was filed by the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission in October against the Denver-based computer company Accelr8 Technology Corp. The SEC claims that Accelr8 misrepresented the capabilities of its software, which the U.S. Department of Energy had bought for checking nuclear power plants in Ukraine, Lithuania and Russia for possible Y2K-related malfunctions. In addition, the agency seeks monetary penalties from the three named defendants and an injunction against future violations of anti-fraud provisions of federal securities laws. "This is an investigation we wrapped up very quickly, within a couple of months, because of our concerns with the Y2K program," said SEC spokesman Dan Shea, on Nov. 22. The SEC alleges Accerl8, its chairman, Thomas V. Geimer, and President Harry J. Fluery, misled the public, including investors, about the usefulness of the company's Year 2000 software tools through marketing materials, press releases and commission reports issued from 1997 through 1999. Accelr8's CEO, Thomas Geimer, called the charges "extremely upsetting" and threatened to counter-sue the government. "Many people read a story about the SEC filing a suit and come to the conclusion you did something wrong or they wouldn't have sued you," Geimer told the Denver Post on Nov. 17.'...'The Navig8 2000 tool was purchased after Ukrainian and American officials demonstrated it to Ukrainian, Russian and Lithuanian nuclear power plant specialists during a specially organized seminar in Kyiv last July. The project was part of a larger effort by Western governments to help Ukraine deal with the Y2K problem which was taken in response to growing international fears that the cash-strapped country wouldn't muster the necessary resources to address the issue properly on its own. Ukraine's nuclear power plants, especially the troubled Chernobyl plant, were a source of major concern. Some Western media did not hesitate to warn that a disruption at any of the facilities might result in an accident like the 1986 explosion of a reactor at Chernobyl, the world's worst civil nuclear disaster. Ukrainian official steadfastly downplayed the fears, but did not object to receiving some $2 million in Western aid targeted specifically at accelerating the inventory of digital systems at their nuclear power plants. Hundreds of thousands of dollars allocated for the inter-governmental Science and Technology Center's (STC) Y2K Program was spent by DOE to license Accelr8's Navig8 2000 software. Although computer engineers noted numerous and substantive deficiencies in the Accelr8 software, particularly its inability to process code written in Cyrillic, their critique, as well as formal negative evaluations submitted to the STCU earlier by Ukrainian specialists, were not enough to prevent the Department of Energy from purchasing a license to use the software tool in Ukraine. American and Ukrainian officials have since been tight-lipped on the issue, and it still remains unclear how the Navig8 2000 tool has been actually employed by Ukraine's five nuclear power facilities...'

BUSINESS WEEK: "No Shortage of Power Plays in the Battery Biz" - 'Sales are booming, but lack of brand loyalty and fierce competition keep the squeeze on the top players" - 'A few weeks ago, Ejaz Syed, head of Geocom Inc., a small Web development company in Evanston, Ill., stocked up on batteries. His wife Kathryn had just given birth to their first child, and the couple wanted plenty of flashlights on hand for Y2K. Now, Syed has to rummage through his kitchen storage area to determine that the batteries he bought were Duracells, the leading U.S. brand. He also finds a pack of Energizers. That about sums up the U.S. battery business. Fueled by Y2K, the hot economy, and a proliferation of portable electronic devices, battery sales in the fourth quarter were the best in history -- up 19% vs. a year earlier, nearly twice the normal growth rate. All told, some 3.5 billion alkaline batteries were sold through retail outlets last year, the industry figures...'

EDMONTON SUN: "Airline numbers go opposite ways. Canadian blames Y2K fears for low numbers" - 'In contrast to its new owner, Canadian Airlines passenger traffic fell 14% in December while Air Canada's traffic rose 4.1% for the final month of 1999. Canadian's capacity for the month fell 5.5%, resulting in an overall load factor of 60.3%. Load factor is a widely used industry measure of airline efficiency. Montreal-based Air Canada became the ruler of Canada's skies earlier this month as it closed its $92-million acquisition of struggling Canadian, its longtime rival. While the two airlines remain separate, they have begun to cut overcapacity in the Canadian airline industry by trimming some duplicate flights. That overcapacity has hurt the bottom line of both airlines in recent years. Air Canada reported last week its capacity for December rose 7.8%, resulting in a passenger load factor of 63.4%, compared with 65.7% in December 1998. The airline's passenger traffic rose 4.1%. However, Canadian Airlines noted that less travel over the millennium holidays contributed to the decline in its December's traffic. "December's year-over-year decline in traffic was not unexpected as the travelling public chose to stay home for the Y2K celebrations," said Doug Carty, Canadian's senior vice-president and chief financial officer. "We expect to see performance improve in the new year with the capacity rationalization taking place in the domestic market." Canadian's domestic traffic during the month fell 16.2% and capacity decreased 10% compared with December 1998, resulting in a load factor of 60.8%. Its international traffic was off 13.3% while capacity decreased 3.6%, resulting in a 60.6% load factor.'

EVENING MAIL [UK]: "Bug set to leap ahead" - 'The Leap Year could yet prove a major Millennium hurdle for small businesses throughout the Midlands, it is claimed. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants says February 29, 2000 could put the bite back into the Millennium Bug. David Harvey, head of ACCA's Small Business Unit, said: "There is a danger in writing Y2K issues off as the century's biggest scam. "It is likely that many bug-related problems have yet to surface, while any temporary solutions currently in place will need further maintenance in the coming months. "Certain tests have demonstrated that February 29 may cause more disruption than January 1. "Small businesses must ensure that, should difficulties with telecommunications networks and computer systems arise later on in the year, the internal systems initially installed in preparation for January 1 are able to continue to identify and cope with these."

INTERNET WEEK: "A Y2K Resolution: Don't Put It Off" - 'I hate the end of the holiday season. It's not just because I miss the the eggnog and champagne (my head only hurts a little bit now), but because I've now lost my best excuse for procrastination. You know what I mean: "I'll finish that project-after the holidays." "I'll go on a diet-after the holidays." "I'll put myself on a budget-after the holidays." It's sort of a National Rationalization month. For IT departments, Y2K has served much the same purpose. Over the past year (and in some cases, longer), IT staffers have been putting off major projects in order to find and fix the date bug. Application upgrades, ERP projects, e-commerce initiatives-all have been delayed, in whole or in part, by Y2K. Although the temptation may be to sit back and enjoy the relative absence of Y2K troubles, now is the time when IT must find its fuel reserve. A plethora of pent-up projects, many critical to the business, still remain to be done. Just as the next few months will separate this summer's bathing beauties from those wearing muumuus, they will separate the companies that compete from the ones that can't. Some business managers will be looking to cut IT expenses, now that the danger of the millennium bug has finally passed. Don't let them. IT departments will need those additional resources to develop new e-business capabilities-and to Web-enable those Y2K-compliant legacy apps...'

INTERNET WEEK: "Y2K Fallout: Government Witch Hunt Begins" - 'Now that the Y2K disaster has been successfully averted, a new general media frenzy will start. It will center on the lack of Y2K-related problems. There will be inquiries as to the amount of money spent to avert a problem that did not materialize, and many competent government IT managers will lose their jobs The main focus of this discord will be government IT managers and their "overreaction" to this "non-event." The innocent will be punished for "wasting taxpayers' money." This will not take place in private industry, where managers will be praised and rewarded fairly for a job well done. This has to do with the nature of government service. In the private sector, the governing principle for all businesses is profit, or expected profit. Business managers are rewarded for their management of stockholder or corporate assets, especially when it comes to internal investment, where all private IT expenses reside. These "tools of truth" do not exist in government enterprise. The reward and punishment cycle of department managers is much less straightforward. IT is based on the power balance between the executive branch, the bureaucracies, managers, legislative branches and the lack of newsworthy items available to the nation's large-city press...'

INTERNET WEEK: "Forget Y2K Blame; Count Your Blessings" - 'I really was looking forward to writing a post-Y2K Armageddon column. Not that I was hoping for problems per se, but you understand a writer's thirst for good copy. And Y2K seemed so...well, thirst-quenching. Instead, I got out-hyped by my own industry. Not that the world slid by completely unscathed. Even before the big day, you could find trouble if you went out and looked for it. According to outside news sources, a regional bank in England had 20,000 ATM machines on the fritz as early as Tuesday the 28th because of some four-day transaction periods. In a strange panicky move for a people renowned as warriors, German company Audi actually pulled its Web site down prior to Y2K just to avoid the scare. Wimps. But after the big day, there was still precious little smoke to clear. From what I can tell, the government reported the most problems. The Air Force lost communication with a number of its spy satellites because of the bug; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms temporarily lost the ability to allow gun dealers to register for licenses. And Al Gore's Internet Town Hall Web site was reporting a 19100 date; you have to love the irony in that one. While many of us are breathing a sigh of relief (especially those of us who were a mite lax in fully updating the desktop nodes in our test labs), there are many pundits who are now bashing software developers for making this mistake in the first place. Lots of figures are being thrown around. Most notably, even without any major outages, Y2K probably cost the human race $200 billion to $600 billion-not including blood, sweat and heartache. It's the start of the great blame game...'

COMPUTERWORLD [Australia:] "Scarcity of Y2K problems leads many companies to end systems lockdowns" - 'Big companies such as Sears and Allstate, which have experienced few if any Y2K-related glitches, have started to end self-imposed Y2K systems lockdowns and are moving full-steam ahead with information technology projects that had been put on the back burner. Still others are busy posting press releases and nailing up new door plaques as CIOs at several companies switch gears or depart altogether in post-Y2K job shuffles. And all around, the mantra seems to be speed, speed, speed. Retail giant Sears, Roebuck and Co., for example, is already in the thick of developing a new freight tracking system, which, like all IT projects to be launched by the retailer this year, has a required turnaround time of less than six months. Web-based projects must be completed in three months under the company's new, stricter IT project deadlines. "I think all of us wanted to do a lot of things last year, but we were reluctant to take the focus away from Y2K," said Sears CIO Jerry Miller. Unlike some other companies that had planned to freeze changes to their systems until February or March, Allstate Corp. had always planned to lift its ban by Jan. 15, said Rich Harris, assistant vice president for the Y2K effort at the Northbrook, Ill., insurer...'

BUSINESS WEEK: "Another Fat-and-Happy Year for PC Software. Post-Y2K spending and the drive to build e-commerce will lead to plenty of investment choices" - 'If you're a PC software maker or an investor in one, heaven knows you've suffered a few distractions over the past 12 months. You've heard again and again how corporations were postponing new purchases until the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1. You've watched Microsoft, the alpha company of the group, fail to shake off federal antitrust prosecutors. You've even seen Bill Gates cede his CEO role to his buddy, Steve Ballmer'...'In one sense, of course, PC software boils down to Microsoft: The company, after all, has a 90% share of the operating system market'...'Still, the other guys deserve a look. Demand for PCs this year is set to increase by about 20%. And the entire software industry is getting ready for what could be one of the biggest technology sending sprees of all time: The e-commerce drive. In fact, International Data Corp., a Framingham (Mass.) tracker of technology spending trends, predicts that e-commerce spending over the next couple of years could surpass the $320 billion it says big companies spent on Y2K....'

CREDIT UNION TIMES: "Some post-Y2K glitches surface in financial and other sectors" - 'Y2K didn't pass as meekly into the history books as first thought during the days immediately following New Year's. Some post-Y2K glitches have surfaced that show what could happen if just one link of a long compliance chain failed. A Y2K-related glitch involving point-of-sale terminals reminded all involved with tackling the Y2K glitch of the scope of the problem. Point-of-sale merchants failing to upgrade to the Y2K compliant version of their credit card verification software caused duplicate transaction postings on some credit card customer accounts...'

ACCOUNTING WEB: "Seven per cent of firms affected by Y2K bug" - 'Seven per cent of UK companies reported Y2K problems, according to a survey published by the Office Of National Statistics (ONS). Most of the hiccups occurred with computer systems, but high wage demands and long holidays were also a factor. A small number of firms even had to lay off staff due to the Millennium bug...'

SMART MONEY.COM: "The Real Y2K Effect" - 'WHY, 2K? WHY? At last check, it appeared that the world had not ended with the advent of the 21st century. Planes and elevators did not hurtle to the earth at the stroke of midnight. NORAD computers did not launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against Yemen. And here at SmartMoney.com's midtown New York offices, the microwave is still working perfectly. But before investors and other humans get carried away with the relief of the moment, they should at least remember to restrain their giddy optimism around company officers at Compuware (CPWR), Inacom (ICO) and a host of other technology firms. For executives and investors in these companies, it was far from a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as stumbling revenues and fumbling earnings proved that there indeed was a Y2K effect, and it was bad. Y2K-related earnings and revenue warnings for the last quarter of 1999 and the first quarter of 2000 have been popping up all across the technology sector, most prominently among corporate computer hardware and software distributors and vendors. The warnings have nothing to do with actual Y2K computer bugs and everything to do with customers having reduced their information technology (IT) spending on new projects until the Y2K specter had been declawed. Considering that we've made it past the Y2K demarcation line, it would seem that the declawing has already come to pass. Well, not quite. "The bad news is that Y2K's effects aren't over yet  those contingency plans that helped companies reduce Y2K risks will act as a drag on the economy in early 2000," writes Carl Howe, research director at market research firm Forrester Research, in a recent note. "But the good news is that the brakes will come off by the second quarter and spark record technology buying."...'

BLOOMBERG: "IBM Expected to Report Lower 4th-Qtr Profit as Y2K Reduced Mainframe Sales" - 'Business Machines Corp. will report lower fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow [Jan 19th] as customers delayed buying mainframes from the world's No. 1 computer maker to focus on Year 2000 issues. IBM warned in October that earnings would fall, when it said profit would be 15 cents to 20 cents below the year-earlier period's. Analysts expect that profit dropped to $1.06 a share, the average estimate from First Call/Thomson Financial. That compares with a split-adjusted $1.24 in the fourth quarter of 1998. Sales were unchanged at $25 billion, analysts said. Mainframes run the most complex functions in a business and companies were reluctant to buy new ones until they determined the impact of the Year 2000 date rollover. Analyst Kurt King at Banc of America Securities estimates that IBM's fourth-quarter mainframe sales tumbled as much as 87 percent to $200 million from $1.5 billion a year earlier. ``It was a completely unusual quarter because of the Year 2000,'' said King, who rates IBM a ``strong buy.'' ``Mainframes were very weak.''...'

PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: "Unisys sales hit by Y2K fallout. The firm's earnings rose 76% in 1999, but sales grew just 4%. A second-quarter turnaround is forecast." - 'Although the Year 2000 computer problem failed to shake up the world, Unisys Corp. is feeling the aftershocks - in the form of stagnant sales. The Blue Bell company, which provides computer hardware, software and services, said yesterday it ended 1999 with a 76 percent increase in earnings, but Y2K-related spending slowdowns and unfavorable foreign-exchange rates held sales growth to just 4 percent for the year. For the fourth quarter, sales dropped 4.8 percent. Hardware sales alone fell nearly 15 percent, while services revenue was flat. The sales drop had been expected, and the company forecasts a turnaround beginning in the second quarter. Unisys said customers reversed their normal spending patterns last year. They bought a higher-than-normal proportion of their hardware early in 1999 in anticipation of the Y2K problem. In the latter part of the year, hardware sales fell as customers froze spending and waited out the date change. Chairman and chief executive officer Lawrence A. Weinbach said the Y2K spending freeze should be over by mid-February, though not in time to help the company's first-quarter sales, which are expected to be flat...'

REUTERS: "AMR Profit Drops, But Beats Views" - 'AMR. Corp., parent of American Airlines, on Wednesday said fourth-quarter profits before one-time items fell 37 percent, as skyrocketing fuel costs and a New Year's traffic lull sparked mainly by Y2K fears dampened results...'

NEW YORK TIMES: "UAL Operating Net Up Despite Fuel, Y2K" - '...``Our record fourth quarter performance was achieved despite the impact of rising fuel costs and the Millennium factor,'' Rono Dutta, UAL president, said in a conference call with reporters. Airlines canceled hundreds of flights over New Year's because demand was slack. Some people chose not to fly due to fears the Y2K computer glitch would make flying dangerous, while others had to work and stayed home...'

BERGEN RECORD: "Fuel hike, holiday slump mean fee at Continental" - 'A significant increase in jet fuel costs and a $30 million loss of business because of Y2K fears are forcing Continental Airlines to add a $20 fee to round-trip fares and encourage customers to book on line, the airline announced Tuesday. Continental, which has a hub at Newark International Airport, reported that its 1999 fourth-quarter profits dropped by 50 percent, largely because jet fuel prices soared from 43 cents a gallon in 1998 to 77 cents at the end of 1999 and air travel was down during the normally busy holiday season. In response, Continental added a $10 fuel surcharge -- $20 for round trips -- to all domestic flights. The increase is effective Feb. 1...'

NEW YORK TIMES: "Warner-Lambert Soars Past Estimates" - 'In the midst of its embattled search for a merger partner, Warner-Lambert reported fourth-quarter and 1999 earnings that exceeded expectations. For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, net income rose to $487.3 million, or 55 cents a diluted share, from $348.7 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier. The Morris Plains, N.J.-based pharmaceuticals firm was expected to earn 52 cents, according to analysts polled by First Call/Thomson Financial. Net sales rose to $3.5 billion from $3.0 billion a year ago. According to the company, that figure was not inflated by patients stocking up on drugs before Y2K, as some analysts had expected...'

BW HealthWire "PCS Efforts to Prevent Y2K Drug Stockpiling Prove Successful. Study Shows No Increase in Prescriptions Per Person During Last Quarter of 1999" - 'Procedures put in place by PCS Health Systems and its health plan customers to prevent Y2K-related drug stockpiling proved to be successful, a PCS study shows. PCS is one of the country's largest pharmacy benefit managers. Industry observers had predicted that patients would order extra refills of their prescriptions during the latter part of 1999 and hoard drugs due to fears about Y2K computer glitches causing problems at the pharmacy. These fears proved to be unfounded, due to extensive Y2K readiness planning by PCS, health plans, pharmacies, and the health care industry...'

NORTHERN TRUST COMPANY: "Is Greenspan "Spiking" the Punch?" - '...In sum, the recent explosion in the M3 money supply appears to have more to do with a fundamental underlying strong demand for credit in this country than Y2K issues. If so, then this rapid growth in M3 will not reverse simply with the abatement of Y2K concerns. Rather, it is likely that the Fed is going to have to raise interest rates more to curb the demand for credit. Although Fed Chairman Greenspan might not exactly be spiking the money and credit punch himself, it sure appears as though he is looking the other way as others do...'

REUTERS: "US still grappling with big bank risks-Fed's Meyer" - 'U.S. regulators are still grappling with the challenges of overseeing the big banks that increasingly dominate the U.S. financial landscape, even as the potential economic risks posed by such institutions has grown, Federal Reserve Governor Laurence Meyer said on Friday. ``The official response of the banking agencies to the changes in banking is, I think, incomplete,'' Meyer told a economic conference in Islamorada, Fla. A text of his remarks was released in Washington. ``The growing scale and complexity of our largest banking organizations ... raises as never before the potential for systemic risk from a significant disruption in, let alone failure of, one of these institutions.''...'

THE JOURNAL [UK]: " Leap year sets up a new hurdle for SMEs - Millennium bug could bite on February 29" - Just as businesses are beginning to think the millennium bug had been squashed another infestation could be looming on the horizon. Despite many commentators now claiming the fear and hype was unwarranted and costly, warnings are being directed at small businesses in the North-East about leap year 2000 when computers may not recognise February 29 as a date. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) stresses this potential computer hitch could put the bite back in the millennium bug. It said that while many anticipated Y2K problems were successfully resolved in the first working days of the New Year, it is far too early to declare the region a "bug-free zone". David Harvey, head of ACCA's small business unit, explained: "There is a danger in writing Y2K issues off as the century's biggest scam, but it is likely many bug related problems have yet to surface." Some tests show that the date February 29 - 2000 being a leap year - may cause more disruption than January 1...'

REUTERS: "FX options - Dollar/yen expirations rush in focus" - 'LONDON, Jan 17 - Dollar/yen options deployed for Y2K risks will expire en masse this week and will keep currency markets choppy, particularly as the spot dollar fell on Monday to a sensitive strike price zone, traders said. Since option market-makers rode out the Y2K changeover with largely neutral positions, the expiries should in theory be a neutral factor. But the sheer size of the at-the-money options maturing was keeping the market cautious, traders said. "Because no one had been trading options expiring in the first two weeks of the new year, a lot of January expiries have been bunched up right around here," said Hiroyuki Kobayashi, a manager of Sakura Bank's trading group in London. A bulk of the expiring options had strike prices around 105 yen, and Monday's dollar selloff toward that level was already stirring up short-dated option prices. "We've got some really good sized ones -- tomorrow at 105 (yen), we've got at least a billion dollars worth," noted Mark Moor, European director of foreign exchange at Thomson Global Markets in London. He added that comparable amounts were maturing on Monday and Wednesday, while euro/dollar options were not experiencing a similar expiration jitters...'

NEW YORK POST "What Friday's Inflation Report Missed [John Crudele]" - '...Worse, if the Fed wants to calm the bond market, it will be forced to drain an enormous amount of the liquidity it put into the banking system in anticipation of Y2K problems. If it doesn't remove the money from the banks, worries about inflation will be even greater than they are already destined to be. How long will it take before concerns about inflation and rates start poking holes in the Wall Street bubble? That is anyone's guess.'

BOSTON GLOBE: "Survivalist Gritz fights for freedom in a Connecticut court" - 'Bo Gritz is, as usual, on a mission. But unlike the former Green Beret's high-profile exploits - searching for POWs in Laos, talking Randy Weaver down off Ruby Ridge, scouring the North Carolina woods for accused bomber Eric Rudolph - he's being uncharacteristically quiet about it. The reason is, this time the 60-year-old celebrity freedom fighter is fighting for his own freedom. This mission is to save himself. Gritz, a Vietnam War hero who is now a leader of the ultraconservative Patriot Movement, is on trial here for attempted kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, and three other charges that could land him in prison for up to 40 years'...'Gritz spent much of last year promoting his Y2K preparedness courses. When chaos failed to arrive as he predicted on Jan. 1, his detractors pounced. ''Gritz is fundamentally an opportunist, a parasite who has been living off people's fears concerning the `End Times,''' said Mark Potok, editor of Intelligence Report, a magazine on the radical right published by the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala.'...

MSNBC: "Northeast U.S. still in deep freeze. NBC's Robert Hager reports Tuesday on the cold gripping the U.S. Northeast." - 'New Englanders and Northeasterners who went outside in T-shirts just two weeks ago to play golf in 60-degree weather got a bitter reality check as the week began. Winter, once a distant memory, is back, and forecasters say the cold weather has settled in until at least late this week. At one place in upstate New York, it was too frigid even to make ice. The Olympic Regional Development Authority at Lake Placid, N.Y., was forced to delay icing its new mile-long luge track Monday. The elements simply wouldnt cooperate. "Water has frozen up in the lines and we cant wet the track," said Sandy Caligiore, the authoritys director of communications. At the summit of Whiteface Mountain, a ski area not far from Lake Placid, it was 33 degrees below zero, with an estimated wind chill a mind-numbing 100 below'...'Below-zero wind chill readings were common across Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut New Hampshire, Maine and upstate New York, where Saranac, N.Y., had the coldest thermometer reading in the continental United States on Monday at 26 below...'

ROANOKE TIMES: "Generators stolen from farm supply store" - 'A farm supply store had 18 generators stolen from a trailer behind it earlier this week. Police responded Monday morning to the C&T Country Supply Store in the 2900 block of Hershberger Road Northwest , where an employee told police 18 5,000-watt generators valued at $900 each were stolen from a trailer between Sunday night and Monday morning. Each of the generators weighs a few hundred pounds and is about three feet long, a manager said. The generators were stocked for Y2K.' [scroll down the linked page for this story]


-- John Whitley (jwhitley@inforamp.net), January 19, 2000


Thanks John for the very informative post.............

-- kevin (innxxs@yahoo.com), January 19, 2000.

Thanks for the post John! =)

-- Dee (T1Colt556@aol.com), January 19, 2000.

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