Bug delays business at clerk of courts office

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Bug delays business at clerk of court's office

By BRAD HAHN, Sun-Sentinel Web-posted: 12:20 a.m. Jan. 22, 2000

A glitch in the Palm Beach County Clerk of Circuit Court computer network is causing mortgage, deed and other files to disappear from the system's index, the clerk's office said on Friday. The problem was making it impossible for local title companies and other investigators to conduct their business. Technicians were working around the clock to identify and repair the problem, and expect to have it solved soon, said Linda Scarlett, chief deputy clerk in Clerk Dorothy Wilken's office. In the meantime, those who rely on the records are left to wonder when the system again willbe fully functional, and whether records already used by telemarketers, banks and others were accurate. "The main problem is that everyone in the title industry, real estate and anyone who uses the computers is affected by this," said Janie Campbell, owner of Costal Title & Research Services. "It might be two months or two years from now that somebody says, 'Where did you get this?' " The clerk's office in November spent $194,000 to upgrade its computer indexing equipment, replacing a black and white character-based system with a Windows-type network. Customers used the new system daily until nearly two weeks ago when a researcher complained about a file that was not appearing on the network index. Employees investigated and found the problem spread beyond that file. Technicians were called in after the Jan. 11 discovery, and the records division shut down public viewing Jan. 12 and Jan. 13. Operators continue to enter data into the system while experts try to fix the index problem. Documents have not vanished, Scarlett said, just the computer's listing of them. Clerk's employees have corrected 642 listings so far, and technicians are setting the system to automatically repair other errors, she said. Until a resolution is found, it is impossible to say how many listings are missing. Only files entered or altered since November are subject to the glitch. "We know their business depends on us having a reliable system, and when we didn't have an immediate solution, we felt they should know," Scarlett said. "We're absolutely committed to maintaining the quality and accuracy of our records and we're doing whatever is possible to restore that. Unfortunately, it's not in our control." Businesses depending on the information worry that real estate and other transactions already may have been made using inaccurate listings. Others, like Donna M. Perez, are anxious for the system to get back to full speed. Normally, records appear electronically within a day of being filed, but the glitch has slowed production. As of Friday, it was stalled at 10 days behind. For Perez, who makes more than half of her income from selling information daily to telemarketers, a day with no data means a day with no pay. "I get paid on delivery," said Perez, who runs her own document and information service. "I don't deliver, I don't get paid." Brad Hahn can be reached at 561-832-2905 or bhahn@sun-sentinel.com.

-- Homer Beanfang (Bats@inbellfry.com), January 24, 2000


I really feel sorry for those telemarketers.

-- Earl (earl.shuholm@worldnet.att.net), January 24, 2000.

"We're absolutely committed to main taining the qualityand accuracy of our records and we're doing whatbever is possible to restore that. UNFORTUNATELY, IT'S NOT IN OUR CONTROL."

"Business depending on the information worry that real estate and other transactions already may have been made using innaccurate listings." Meaning: the degree of corruption of transaction/recording data from vanished or incorrect listing nos. is indeterminable. How would you track down identify and unwind a transaction having an incorrect listing/recording number? My guess is, the number and identiy of the transactions "affected" -- if any -- will remain indeterminate. Got paper copies of your deeds, etc?


-- Squirrel Hunter (nuts@upina.cellrelaytower), January 24, 2000.

I just finished a post on the "NJ-Possible total system failure...." thread, where I seriously questioned its connection with Y2K.

Well, this thread gets me back into my normal Doomer mood. Having worked as a real estate agent for a bit, which included spending some time in County Clerk offices -- I can appreciate the seriousness of what may be happening in the Sunshine State. Looks like it may be in for some stormy weather. .... On the other hand, Y2K is a hoax, isn't it?

-- William J. Schenker, MD (wjs@linkfast.net), January 24, 2000.

Hey, I forgot to add one important point, that could make this case a horse of a different color than the NJ fiasco:

Why in Heaven's name would an organization change out its basic, well-proved-out system (ANY Black & White, character-based system still being used in 1999 HAD to be a REAL war veteran.) just before the looming 1/1/2000 date, the date that had America worried enough to put up a $50M command bunker in DC?

Possible answers:

1) It could be just a computer-naive bureacrat's absence of knowledge/experience about such matters.

2) It couldn't be that 'Old Betsy,' the B&W system, didn't like year dates beginning with 20!

Bill, wondering about icebergs again.

-- William J. Schenker, MD (wjs@linkfast.net), January 24, 2000.

I can't see any evidence at all linking this to a y2k failure. Please show me where the connection is.

-- Mr. Sane (hhh@home.com), January 25, 2000.

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