Y2K Is Back: Does Anyone Care?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

[ Fair Use: For Educational / Research Purposes Only ]

Feb 27, 2000 - 12:08 PM

Y2K Is Back: Does Anyone Care?

By Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Leap year's extra day arrives Tuesday carrying the possibility of Y2K-like glitches. But given the calm that greeted the new millennium, few computer consultants are worried this time.

There's no government call to stock up on food or water. Any problems will likely affect billing and office systems rather than power supply or airplanes.

Still, Y2K planners will be watching, if for no other reason than to celebrate.

"Once we're through ... the chances of multiple failures and multiple problems at once become almost nonexistent," said Kendra Martin, spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute.

Computers long have had trouble registering Feb. 29 - treating it as March 1, or March 1 as Feb. 30. - and there are greater risks of programming errors this year because 2000 is an exception to an exception. An extra day is added every four years, except for years that end in "00" unless divisible by 400. So 2000 is a leap year, but 1900 is not.

The potential for confusion is not a surprise.

"I can't imagine there would be any Y2K consultant irresponsible enough to fix New Year's Eve and not, while he's there, do something about Feb. 29," said Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who heads the Senate's Y2K advisory committee.

In fact, the extra attention might make Tuesday's transition smoother than in leap years past, said Matt Hotle, research director for the technology consulting firm Gartner Group.

Patrick Dorinson, whose group monitors California's power grid, said he expects the transition to be as low-key as "switching from standard time to daylight savings."

The Feb. 29 problem is different from Y2K, which stemmed from a programming shortcut of using only two digits for a year. Left uncorrected, the Y2K bug could have fouled computers that control power grids, air traffic and phone networks. The leap year problem could simply throw off computer's calendars by a day.

Y2K glitches that appeared were largely quirky, along the lines of Web sites displaying the year as 19100 or bills showing 1900.

A few were worrisome, such as a Pentagon computer failure that interrupted the flow of spy satellite information. Some merchants posted duplicate credit card charges. Courthouse computers in Italy mixed up prisoner dates by 100 years. And hospitals in Sweden, Egypt and Great Britain reported non-lethal bug bites in medical equipment.

But widespread disruptions never materialized, largely because programmers killed the bug in time and consultants overestimated infrastructure systems' dependence on technology.

The price tag for Y2K preparation and repairs was estimated to be $100 billion in the United States alone.

Any Feb. 29 glitches that might occur should be quickly repairable.

Microsoft Corp. issued an update to take care of a Feb. 29 problem with Excel 2000 spreadsheets, while other software packages incorporated Feb. 29 into a general Y2K fix.

Most consumers need not worry if they already updated their computers for Y2K, but it would be wise to review billing and other statements that come from businesses, said John Koskinen, President Clinton's Y2K czar.

Some Y2K pessimists, however, note that Jan. 1 fell on a weekend and that businesses shut nonessential systems for the transition. Tuesday will be business as usual.

Other Y2K-related dates have passed with little fanfare: Feb. 4, 1999, when most airlines began booking tickets for this year; Sept. 9, or 9-9-99, a "stop" code in older computers; and Oct. 1, the start of federal fiscal 2000.

Future potential problem dates include March 31, when businesses generate quarterly reports, and Dec. 31, the 366th day of the leap year. Beyond that, Unix computers that count dates in seconds might run out of space in 2038. And programmers who used a common, short-term Y2K fix known as windowing will face another rollover in 10, 20 or 30 years.

Government and industry officials aren't holding their breaths. The International Y2K Cooperation Center of the United Nations and World Bank will turn in its keys this week. Koskinen's domestic Y2K council will dismantle in March. And many companies and states have already shifted Y2K responsibilities to regular maintenance teams.

"Y2K is dead," said Kazim Isfahani, formerly the Y2K analyst with Giga Information Group. "Let's all leave it well and move on."

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), February 27, 2000


[ Fair Use: For Educational / Research Purposes Only ]

Feb 27, 2000 - 12:08 PM

Y2K-The Sequel

A sampling of Y2K glitches since Jan. 1:


-The Oregon Statewide Year 2000 Project Office relied on an electronic device that stamped Jan. 1, 2000, as Dec. 32, 1999. A glitch also delayed processing of food stamps and other benefits for one day.

-A video store in upstate New York tried to charge a customer $91,250 after computers showed a rented movie was being returned 100 years late.

-Web sites for Vice President Al Gore's campaign and the U.S. Naval Observatory, the nation's timekeeper, showed the year as 19100.

-Computers at 33 airport weather stations in Iowa briefly stopped sending reports.

-At the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee, Y2K disrupted a computer that tracks weight and type of nuclear material. Plant operations were unaffected.

-Merchants who failed to upgrade software from CyberCash posted some credit charges multiple times.


-In Sweden, Y2K shut down equipment used to interpret electrocardiogram data at some hospitals, though the EKG machines were not affected.

-France's defense satellite system lost its ability to detect equipment failure but continued to operate.

-Heat failed in apartments for about 900 families in Pyongchon, South Korea.

-Data banks in Venice and Naples, Italy, listed prisoners due to be released Jan. 10 as having completed their terms Jan. 10, 1900.

-Eight computerized traffic lights failed in Jamaica.

-Up to 30,000 older cash registers in Greece printed receipts showing the year 1900.

Hhhhhmmmm, leaving a few things out?


-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), February 27, 2000.

Thanks Ashton & Leska. This could be an interesting one! Always look for posts with your name on, you're such a great source of reliable information.

-- suzy (suzy@nowhere.com), February 27, 2000.

Thanks, Suzy. We used to post a lot, but the Forum changed, and the serious discussions dwindled while the flames waxed hotter ... Homer started posting amazing articles, most of which got no response ... hhhhmmmm ...
anyway Pre-Rollover we felt from what we were observing that life would become uncomfortably difficult (to say the least), and we went through the gamut of emotions evaluating the pros and cons of Life On Earth.

It helped immeasurably to prep, to research and take action that intelligently provided tools for self-reliant survival, and to come here for commiseration, therapuetic humor, and angst catharsis.

Since Rollover we've been extraordinarily relieved and happy, feeling appreciative and blessed, and much more relaxed :^), and concluding that Y2K is now a business competitiveness issue.

It's been an incredible education, one we're very grateful to have participated in, and proud of our contributions.

The time is here for us to go back to being our happy hermit quiet Selves, immersed only in the Infinite Joy of the Lord ...

-- Ashton & Leska in Cascadia (allaha@earthlink.net), February 27, 2000.

The time is here for us to go back to being our happy hermit quiet Selves, immersed only in the Infinite Joy of the Lord ...

Take me with you! :-) But seriously, it's not over. We've only just begun the long, slow slide down into a recession...

-- (bigmouth@home.now), February 27, 2000.

Ashton & Leska ..... As I said in an earlier thread , if I were an egotistical terrorist/disgruntaled employee/programer I would consider putting my virus/program killer in for the 29th because:

1. If the 1-1-2000 was a crash and burn situation , my efforts would be lost in the crash , and I couldn't brag later , "That was I who caused that one ."

2. If it was a dud , which it was basicly , they would expect the same for the 29th .

3. Those that were ready for 1-1-2000 would probably be " asleep at the computer controls .." on the 29th , and would NOT stop it before maximum damage .

4. I might want time to change jobs , location (leave country ?) and/or make myself hard to find by assuming a new identy .

Just a posibility no one else has commented on to date. By the way , why were all those supposed viruses NOT a problem ? Eagle

-- Hal Walker (e999eagle@FREEWWWEB.COM), February 27, 2000.

Y2K ( sniviling ) Pro ( at what ? ) .... Didn't you take your nap today ? My , my ! We are in a foul mood today . Must be your bottle is empty TOO ! Eagle

-- Hal Walker (e999eagle@FREEWWWEB.COM), February 27, 2000.

A & L,

Thanks for all your thoughtful input.

I agree that we have been blessed that a worst case Y2K scenario did not occur.

I also believe that much of the Y2K-type predicted impacts may yet occur but perhaps not directly due to 2K programming flaws. By that I mean a global financial crash; continued oil shortages; summer power brownouts as we approach peak demand; increased unemployment; wars and rumors of wars. It still appears to me that best case scenario for 2000-2001 is a recession.

Hope you continue to post, I do read Homer's and Carl Jenkins' news posts but do not see a need to comment to each one. This forum does an excellent job taking and reporting the pulse of key issues.

Best wishes.

-- Bill P (porterwn@one.net), February 28, 2000.

Hey, guys.... yep, we're lucky, so far, but something's cooking on the economic scene..... whether Y2K exacerbated it or not we'll probably never know, but nobody on this forum can say they never saw what hit 'em, should it start slowly HTF.

Mi Amigos.

-- lisa (lisa@work.now), February 28, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ