Koskinen on CNBC: Leap Year Computer Bug?

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You will need Windows Media Player as this iws an audio/video feed from CNBC.

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


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TRANSCRIPT of Broadcast:



FEBRUARY 28, 2000

SUMMARY: The potential "leap year bug" may cause some computer programs to interpret the day as March first instead of February 29th. Koskinen comments on the success of Y2K preparations. He says the President's Council on Year 2000 will fold up on March first.

Bill: Just when you thought it was okay to forget about Y2K, along comes yet another potential computer glitch, the leap year bug. Yes, it is leap year if you didn't already know. And not just any old leap year, but the first time in 400 years that leap year falls at the beginning of a new century. What's the big deal, you ask? Well, the fear is that when tomorrow rolls around, some computer programs might interpret the day as March 1st instead of February 29th. Here with an update on the situation is Y2K czar, John Koskinen, joining us from the White House this afternoon. Nice to see you again. Welcome back.

Good to be here.

Bill: What are your expectations for tomorrow?

We think it will go smoothly, primarily because while it is a problem, the banks, financial institutions and other large users of information technology tested for this problem the same time they are testing for the January rollover date. So, the biggest risk will be smaller or medium sized company that slid by January 1 without paying too much attention and might get surprised, but we don't see any major problems occurring.

Bill: The weather computers in Japan, was that a leap year computer problem?

It is because there haven't been too many in Japan, the only one we were heard of, able to fix it. It was a dating problem, send out March 1 rather than February 29.

Bill: Anything an individual consumer or small business owner needs to think about for tomorrow.

If you are running a small business, make sure the computer boot up with the right date, so the information in the files will be accurate and what we're telling consumers is what we told them January 1. When you get your financial statement from banks or credit card companies and others in March, double check them to make sure there hasn't been a glitch that crept in, but we don't they many people will have a problem.

Bill: Looking back, you were at ground zero, had to keep tabs on the industries and preparations for Y2K. Was the warning overdone or was the warning necessary and the fixes in place worth the hundreds of billions of dollars that were spent?

I think the problem was real as shown by the give or take a little hundred failures that occurred around the world and demonstrated that if you didn't if I can the systems and had a problem, the systems at risk. What we learned was as a result of unprecedented cooperation and information sharing both within the United States and around the world is if everybody gets together and works on one of these problems you can have a great success. The only thing that happens in the last three or four months of 1999 is we were putting out information saying we thought the problems were solved and no major issues. Some were predicting if the world didn't end as we know it there would be more major problems. There was a problem people believe the government reports and reports from industries, which turned out to be accurate.

Bill: I know you are packing boxes, where do you go next?

All I know is the end of March, we will fold up the president's counsel. I have the only job in government, so we'll be out of here bit end of the month.

Bill: You will work in the high-tech industry still?

I don't know, I haven't come to conclusion, looking at a couple of thing, but I'll spend time after Tuesday or Wednesday, taking a hard look at that.

Bill: Thank you, maybe the last time we'll do it for this, talk about your new incarnation, whatever it is.

That would be fine.

Bill: John Koskinen, Chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 conversion talking about one more potential problem, the leap year bug.

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

Guess this is one of those small to mid-size businesses that he's not concerned about ...

Date: Mon Feb 28 2000 11:23 Chrisophilos ID#289200: entered a limit order with my on-line broker, with a "good until" date of 02/29...it defaulted to an error screen, "invalid date entered...please re-enter valid date"...these boyz have a lot of work to do before midnight.


-- Cheryl (Transplant@Oregon.com), February 28, 2000.

<He says the President's Council on Year 2000 will fold up on March first.>

GEEZ. For how much money, time and manpower was involved setting this whole deal up, you'd think they'd wait at least a week until AFTER leap year date change to fold up their operation.

I hope all goes smoothly. I just think timing is D-U-M-B.

-- Cheryl (Transplant@Oregon.com), February 28, 2000.

Ooops - yes to all, these (like the tax, salary programs, and other business applications still failing even today) remain here to remind everybody that problems remain.

Fortunately, they probably aren't large enough - aren't simultaneously occurring often enough to indicate catastrophic multi=point failure in the near future .... but that is small consolation to those immediately affected.

Even Ed's "death of a thousand cuts" appears to have been averted through the good efforts of those concerned .... Great!

Now, if we can only avoid this pesky inflation and recession....though it appears that if a recession isn't publicized, the recession isn't made worse - The only ones who notice are those who are still trying to make both ends of rapidly shrinkiing dollar meet ......

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 28, 2000.

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