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NHNE Y2K Report 15
Sunday, February 21, 1999

 

"News,
Inspiration,
& Consumer Protection
for Spiritual Seekers"

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NHNE Y2K Report 15
Sunday, February 21, 1999

NHNE is also the force behind the wild2k Website:
http://www.wild2k.com/
"The Best of the Best of Y2K"

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A NEW SPECIES IS AWAKENING

"The life force will resist 'the disease called Man' by bringing a higher form of life onto the planet -- a form which will recognize the laws governing nature and live in accordance with them. The human race as we know it, in all its combative, divisive, exploitative, self-centered inhumanity-to-man, will go the way of the dinosaur. The widespread signs of world unrest and cultural collapse around us indicate that an historical epoch, a world age, is ending.

"Simultaneously, a great awakening is going on around the globe. It isn't merely a generation gap or a communications gap. A new species is awakening to its cosmic calling and -- in the face of the threatening dominant species -- is asserting its right to live. The planetwide uneasiness and societal upheaval being seen today is fundamentally an expression of people straddling old and new worlds as they try to find out what species they belong to. The dominant species is ego-oriented, technology-mad and unconsciously bent on self-destruction through its materialistic addictions and their unforeseen effects on the biosphere. The emerging species, on the other hand, is life-embracing. It seeks to live in harmony, create a unified planetary culture founded on love and wisdom and, as Native Americans say, walk in balance on the Earth Mother."

--- John White, from "The Meeting of Science & Spirit"

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CONTENTS:

Y2K HEADLINES:

White House Fears Y2K Panic
Y2K Top Concern in U.S. Government
Many Companies Giving Up on Y2K Testing
Plan for Three Days Without Basic Services
Y2K Fears Spark Search for Phone Alternatives
BT to Halt Non-Urgent Work In 2000 Run-Up
California Unprepared for Y2K
Alabama Computers Won't Be Ready for Y2K
Milwaukee Schools Ready to Serve as Shelters
NRC Petitioned to Require 60-Day Stockpile of Fuel
Potential Year 2000 Chaos In Italy
Congress Fixes Own Y2K Bug
BankAmerica Hires PR Company to Spin Y2K
PG&E Warns Customers of Possible Y2K Service Interruptions
Y2K May Be a Problem for a Million Telex Users

FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK:

Spin Wars

Y2K GLITCH WATCH:

Clinical Equipment Fails Y2K Tests Despite Vendor Guarantees
Y2K Fixes Spin Off New Bugs

Y2K STORIES:

Oil Supply Threatened
Y2K Compliance In German Nuclear Power Plants Doubtful
Still Sailing Into a Storm
Protecting Tax-Deferred Investments from Y2K
Lessons from the Euro Changeover
Dispelling the Railway Myth

Y2K RESOURCES:

Resilient Communities Videoconference, Part 2
A Seminar for Y2K Journalists
List of Noncompliant Products

THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:

Orders for Next Year's Volkswagen Beetle Sluggish

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Y2K HEADLINES:

WHITE HOUSE FEARS Y2K PANIC
(Source: Declan McCullagh, WIRED NEWS, 2/18/1999)

Fear of public overreaction to the Year 2000 problem is commanding an increasing amount of attention from government and corporate officials. At a closed-door meeting of the President's Y2K council in January, members debated what advice agencies should give their workers. White House officials fear that federal agencies which advise employees to begin personal Y2K preparations could unduly alarm the public. Executives and bureaucrats are torn between prudence and their desire to be frank with employees -- though not necessarily the public -- a problem compounded by uncertainty about Y2K's impact and what preparations are necessary. A representative from the STATE DEPARTMENT cautioned against "double standards," saying the agency as a rule doesn't withhold information from the public that they have already given to their employees. The Department plans to publish country-by-country travel advisories for nations that have not adequately confronted Y2K. Meanwhile, Council Chairman John Koskinen has entered into discussions with a public relations firm to devise a media strategy designed to thwart overreactions to Y2K, including the possibility of bank runs and stockpiling-sparked shortages. (JG)

Link: http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/17986.html

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Y2K TOP CONCERN IN U.S. GOVERNMENT
(Source: COMPUTER WEEKLY, 2/18/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

A survey by INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA (ITAA) of chief information officers (CIO) working at U.S. government agencies shows that their primary concern is the Year 2000 problem, closely followed by the difficulties in recruiting key information technology (IT) staff. The CIOs said that the resources being consumed by Y2K work are preventing them from fulfilling demand for key IT applications and developing strategic applications such as E-commerce and dealing effectively with security issues. (JG)

Link: http://www.computerweekly.co.uk/cwarchive/daily/19990218/c
wcontainer.asp?name=C2.html

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MANY COMPANIES GIVING UP ON Y2K TESTING
(Source: Joseph McKendrick, MIDRANGE SYSTEMS, 2/9/1999 via Y2K NETWORK)

According to a recent survey by CAP GEMINI, ultra-tight deadlines are leading half the companies U.S. and European not to test their Y2K-remediated systems before they are put into production. Project timetables are now so tight that a three-month slippage -- not uncommon for IT projects -- would place a third of companies at risk, Cap Gemini concludes. In the U.S. alone, $655 billion has already been allocated to Y2K, with most of this money (59 percent) going toward staffing, 22 percent toward software, 17 percent toward hardware, and two percent toward embedded chips. Over the past six months, project cost estimates have risen by 20 percent. "As we approach the final, 1999 lap of this race against time, there are three critical messages," says Geoff Unwin, Vice Chairman of the Executive Board of Cap Gemini. "First, work must continue at an unremitting pace. Second, organizations must prioritize to ensure that, even if they cannot finish everything, they do complete work on their business-critical systems. Third, organizations must develop business continuity plans to cope with the very real danger that not everyone will complete the race in time." (JG)

Link: http://www.midrangesystems.com/article.asp?ID=2599104608AM

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PLAN FOR THREE DAYS WITHOUT BASIC SERVICES
(Source: Bob Nunnally, MSNBC, 2/16/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

State emergency management directors meeting recently with John Koskinen, the nation's Y2K management expert, learned from him that while the federal government thinks they will be ready for Y2K, there could be problems on the local level. The emergency management officials returned to their respective states warning that people could be scrambling for basic services in the first few days of the Year 2000. For example, Nancy Dragani, spokesperson for the EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (EMA) in Ohio, says the EMA there is anticipating sporadic outages and disruptions across the state, but isn't expecting widespread catastrophic failures. The EMA recommends that people prepare like they would if they were expecting to be snowed in for a few days and stock up their cupboards by Dec. 31. The EMA doesn't believe there's any reason to panic about Y2K, but a full tank of gas, full cupboards and a few other precautions would be a good way to start the new millennium anyway. (JG)

Link: http://www.msnbc.com/local/WCMH/86871.asp

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Y2K FEARS SPARK SEARCH FOR PHONE ALTERNATIVES
(Source: Bill Goodwin, COMPUTER WEEKLY NEWS, 2/18/ 1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

Multinationals are drawing up emergency plans to use satellite telephones and short-wave radios to communicate with their overseas offices, as fears grow that the Year 2000 problem will disrupt phone services in parts of Africa, Asia and South America. Despite repeated requests, phone companies in developing countries are failing to come forward with satisfactory assurances that their networks will function properly in the Year 2000. "When we do get statements, they are often bland and don't give us the specific information we need." said Nick White, head of technology and telecoms at UNILEVER, which is looking at using low earth orbiting satellite networks, such as IRIDIUM, to communicate with far-flung offices. CITIBANK has written to more than 60 overseas telecoms companies but had only received replies from 18, according to Vice President David Moore. REUTERS is investigating satellite, short-wave radio links and ISDN lines as alternatives to its existing leased-line network. (JG)

Link: http://www.computerweekly.co.uk/cwarchive/news/
19990218/cwcontainer.asp?name=C24.html

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BT TO HALT NON-URGENT WORK IN 2000 RUN-UP
(Source: COMPUTER WEEKLY, 2/18/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

BRITISH TELECOM (BT) has announced it will stop all non-emergency work on its telephone systems and networks from November to mid-January to ease the strain on its networks caused by a combination of millennium celebrations and people making phone calls when their computer systems unexpectedly fail. "We are concerned about how much more of a load we can take before problems hit us," said Lizzie Beesley, Year 2000 Director. BT is asking 10,000 staff to work or be on standby over the millennium holidays as part of its Year 2000 contingency planning. (JG)

Link: http://www.computerweekly.co.uk/cwarchive/Xtra/19990218
/cwcontainer.asp?name=C26.html

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CALIFORNIA UNPREPARED FOR Y2K
(Source: Greg Lucas, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, 2/19/1999 via the Y2K NETWORK)

According to state auditors, more than two-thirds of California's most critical computer systems are not ready to handle the Year 2000 bug. In all, 11 of 14 state agencies, which operate 20 of the government's most important computer programs, have not finished testing their revamped systems and half have yet to assess the threat posed to their operations by date-sensitive embedded chips. Governor Gray Davis had made an earlier announcement that 75 percent of the state's essential computer systems were Y2K ready. Under an executive order issued by former Governor Pete Wilson, the state's most important computer systems were to be bug-free by December 31, 1998. California has so far spent $342 million on the problem. What's particularly troubling for Auditor General Kurt Sjoberg is that no single agency oversees Year 2000 preparedness of the state's electric and telephone utilities. "However well any of us is converting our computers over to the 2000 thing, they won't work if they have no power." (JG)

Link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/
archive/1999/02/19/MN60444.DTL

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ALABAMA COMPUTERS WON'T BE READY FOR Y2K
(Source: THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 2/17/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

In a speech to legislators, Alabama Finance Director Henry Mabry has admitted that the job of updating state's computers to deal with the arrival of the Year 2000 will not be completed in time. Mabry, who only took over as finance director a month ago, criticized former Gov. Fob James for the lack of preparation for the Year 2000 computer phenomenon. "I think the James administration was not necessarily interested in this particular issue," he said. Alabama has spent about $45 million on the millennium bug problem. Mabry said the state needs to spend another $65 million. Gov. Don Siegelman has demanded contingency plans from all state agencies. (JG)

Link: http://flash.al.com/cgi-bin/al_nview.pl?/home1/wire/AP/Stream
Parsed/BAMA_NEWS/j8454_PM_AL--Y2K-Alabama

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MILWAUKEE SCHOOLS READY TO SERVE AS SHELTERS
(Source: Joe Williams, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 2/18/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

In anticipation of possible havoc triggered by the Y2K bug, the MILWAUKEE PUBLIC SCHOOL BOARD (MPS) is prepared to open many of its schools as emergency shelters if needed. Last month, the school board asked administrators for a report on how the district has been preparing for Y2K. In the recently-tabled report, the administrators emphasized that while that they don't anticipate serious problems, they are taking the challenge seriously. Of particular concern is that gas and electric utilities will not be ready. The district intends to purchase power generators and will spend an unspecified amount of money to improve communication systems for administrators. "Community leaders must have the ability to interact using fail-safe communication systems. This will enable the mobilization of intervention strategies in a coordinated manner if needed," says the report. In addition, key administrators may be asked to be on duty during the millennium transition. (JG)

Link: http://www.jsonline.com/news/0218shelt.asp

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NRC PETITIONED TO REQUIRE 60-DAY STOCKPILE OF FUEL
(Source: Y2KNEWSWIRE, 2/16/1999 via Y2KNEWSWIRE)

The NUCLEAR INFORMATION AND RESOURCE SERVICE (NIRS) has petitioned the NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION (NRC) to shore up contingency requirements for nuclear power plants. Among the recommendations is the requirement that all nuclear power plants have backup diesel generators and a 60-day supply of fuel. The petition also calls for nuclear power plants to provide alternate means of back-up power sufficient to ensure safety, such as solar power panels, wind turbines, hydroelectric power, and biomass power. (JG)

Text of petition: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?d
bname=1999_register&docid=99-1594-filed

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POTENTIAL YEAR 2000 CHAOS IN ITALY
(Sources: BBC NEWS, 2/16/1999; Y2KNEWSWIRE, 2/17/1999)

Italy is expecting a flood of 25 million Catholic pilgrims in the Year 2000 to celebrate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ. The influx of visitors is expected to put a tremendous strain on the country's infrastructure: transportation, food services, electricity, medical facilities. Given the potential of Y2K to disrupt the party, the Italian government has created a panel of unpaid experts to promote and enforce Y2K compliance, but has given them no support staff to carry out their recommendations, no telephones, and their office is still under construction. To help with the impending crisis, the head of Italy's Y2K committee, Professor Ernesto Bettinelli of PADUA UNIVERSITY, has suggested that the military's computer experts be conscripted into service to fix the nation's Y2K problems. (JG)

Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_279000/279929.stm

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CONGRESS FIXES OWN Y2K BUG
(Source: Declan McCullagh, Y2KCULTURE, 2/12/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

When the House Inspector General recently announced that the current payroll system for members of Congress must be replaced, the usually sluggish legislators approved $770,000 for a new payroll computer with uncharacteristic swiftness. Perhaps their motivation was that without the new Y2K-compliant computer, they couldn't count on receiving their $136,700 salaries after Oct. 1. -- the date when the federal government enters its 2000 fiscal year. The new computer system is scheduled to be up and running by the end of July. Congressional aides get paychecks from a different system -- it's still not Y2K-OK. (JG)

Link: http://www.y2kculture.com/reality/19990212.congress.html

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BANKAMERICA HIRES PR COMPANY TO SPIN Y2K
(Source: Ken Elkins, THE BUSINESS JOURNAL (Charlotte, NC), 2/8/1999 via Y2KNEWSWIRE)

BANKAMERICA has hired national public relations company KETCHUM to help convince customers that the worst won't happen on Jan. 1, 2000. Ketchum's plan is to tell customers that BankAmerica is on schedule. "They've been working on Y2K since 1995," says Carol Hassell, account leader for the BankAmerica project. "They're committed that Year 2000 is going to be a nonevent." The bank will likely publish brochures and craft messages for customers that will be relayed in forums and information sessions and media interviews. In a similar move, FIRST UNION BANK has already sent letters to 100,000 of its major customers to convince them that the bank is well along in compliance. (JG)

Link: http://www.amcity.com/charlotte/stories/1999/02/08/story8.html?h=y2k

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PG&E WARNS CUSTOMERS OF POSSIBLE Y2K SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS
(Source: SPOTLIGHT, 2/1999, thanks to John Steiner)

PACIFIC GAS AND ELECTRIC (PG&E), the major provider of electricity and natural gas to central and northern California, has taken the extraordinary step of warning its customers to prepare for possible major Y2K service interruptions. Customers received the warning in a brochure included with their February bills ("Spotlight" Volume 9 Number 2). Buried in the lead article ("Meeting the Challenge of 2000") is this statement: "We also encourage you to consider your special needs. Make your own contingency plans in case communications, transportation, power or financial services may be interrupted by Y2K. No one knows if or how long any of these services might be affected, but being prepared helps in other kinds of emergencies, too. Because of the complex ways that computers and communications interact, and because we're dependent on other firms and groups, we regret that we are not able to issue any Year 2000 guarantees. But be assured that PG&E is taking strong measures to avoid service interruptions due to Y2K." PG&E says they expect to have all essential systems and equipment Y2K-ready by the end of the third quarter of 1999. (JG)

Link: http://www.pge.com/whats_new/news/spotlight/february99/

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Y2K MAY BE A PROBLEM FOR A MILLION TELEX USERS
(Source: Sylvia Dennis, NEWSBYTES, 1/7/1999 via GARY NORTH'S Y2K LINKS AND FORUMS)

Telex machines are still used by some large organizations because the documents are considered legal in a court of law. Because of this, the majority of the one million telex users today tend to be specialist users in markets such as the banking and shipping industries, financial/trading sectors, and governments. But recent research has shown that many telex users have not yet arranged to have their telex systems adapted to cope with the Year 2000 issue. Time is running out, and a major worldwide campaign by telex specialists UNITEL and NETWORK TELEX is now under way to inform telex users of the problem. (JG)

Unitel's website: http://www.unitel.nl

Link: http://www.cnnfn.com/digitaljam/newsbytes/124042.html

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FROM THE EDITOR'S DESK:

SPIN WARS
By James Gregory

Y2K analyst Larry Sanger recently posted the following comments on his excellent Y2K news and analysis website: "Since about mid-January, I've noticed a decline in the amount of hard-hitting...let-it-all-hang-out reporting about Y2K; at the same time...I've noticed a rise in the amount of high-level press releases saying that Company 'X' or Industry 'Y' or Nation 'Z' will be just fine; these often accompany admonitions not to panic." Given this alarming trend, Sanger has adopted the following editorial policy for his REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS: "In the future, we'd like to have as much substantial information as possible (as opposed to mere opinion) [and] we will be including few and only the most important/influential position statements on either side."

WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000 analyst Charlie Register agrees with Sanger's position and adds, "Self-reporting is a license to 'put things in the best light'....Reports may sound good, but...unless there is verification, trust is slow in coming. From this, doubt and uncertainty flourish in a community that is starved of any legitimate information that might be useful in preparing to ride out any Y2K induced disruptions."

Fortunately, some news reports have become very energized over Y2K. The BOSTON GLOBE, for example, recently ran the results of a survey on local industry, government and business Y2K preparedness called "How Prepared is the Region?" The survey consisted of four very direct questions:

1. What percentage of your mission-critical systems are ready?
2. Will your company be ready to operate by 1/1/2000: yes or no?
3. What is your target date for readiness?
4. Do you have a formal, documented contingency plan: yes or no?

Here are some of the responses to the Question 1 (percentage ready in brackets): BOSTON EDISON (55 percent), BOSTON WATER & SEWAGE (90 percent), AT&T LONG DISTANCE (100 percent), BELL ATLANTIC (66 percent), MERRILL LYNCH (95 percent), THE NEW ENGLAND MEDICAL CENTER (80 percent), GILLETTE (90 percent), POLAROID (50 percent), and the State of Massachusetts (70 percent). The Globe intends to revisit the same companies and agencies later in the year to see what progress they have made towards 100 percent compliance of mission critical systems.

NHNE applauds such bold initiatives -- widely-published statements put pressure on government and industry to make accurate disclosures and stand by their commitments. We too have been buried by a flood of Y2K news reports and press releases that have very little content other than bland reports, sugar-coated promises and idle speculation. We renew our commitment to report on hard, verifiable news stories and useful resources so our readership can be informed and prepared to confidently handle whatever Y2K has in store. (Sources: Larry Sanger, SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS, 2/16/1999; Charlie Register, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 2/16/1999) via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

Link: http://y2ktimebomb.com/Media/creg9907.htm

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Y2K GLITCH WATCH:

CLINICAL EQUIPMENT FAILS Y2K TESTS DESPITE VENDOR GUARANTEES
(Source: Paul Brislen, YEAR 2000 NEW ZEALAND, 2/1/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

In a test of six intravenous pumps owned at TARANAKI HEALTH CARE CENTER (TH) in New Zealand, four were found not to be compliant and would have administered double doses of medication on Jan. 1, 2000. TH still has eight more pumps to check. "We expect half of them fail as well," says Andre Snoxall, Manager of TH's Information Systems. The most disturbing aspect of this discovery is that Snoxall has a written statement from the manufacturer assuring him that the devices are Y2K compliant.

Snoxall says he is also concerned about the infrastructure -- electricity, water, waste disposal -- on the day itself. TH has back-up generators, but there are pitfalls even there. "We ran them for a full day to test them under load and discovered that they stopped running after three hours." Now, Snoxall says, they are debating whether or not to hire back-up generators for the back-up generators.

If there's one piece of advice that Snoxall would give Y2K managers, it's this: "You've got to test. You can't take anybody's word for it. Once you know, then it's not an issue -- you can replace it or put in a procedure to deal with it." (JG)

Link: http://www.year2000.co.nz/y2kcw31.htm

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Y2K FIXES SPIN OFF NEW BUGS
(Source: James Coates, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/15/1999 via THE YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

Computer experts are coming to realize that the very weapons they use to fight the millennium bug are themselves buggy. "Bad fixes" are emerging as a major source of concern as the world's computer programmers scramble to unsnarl all the hardware and software built and programmed to keep track of years by the last two digits only. The latest studies of the bad fix problem by such research houses as CAP GEMINI, MATRIDIGM and REASONING SYSTEMS have shown rates as high as 1,200 bad fixes per 100,000 lines of computer code repaired. "While this error rate is pretty close to the error rate of regular programming projects," points out Y2K analyst Yourdon, "it is quite serious because in the case of Y2K we have a fast-approaching deadline to finish the fixes and get them right." There are lots of ways to patch the software and fix the Y2K glitch -- but the fix itself often inflicts other problems. Here are some examples:

- In January, Mica Hill and a group of partners developed a program called "Shelter Harbor 2000" to let personal computer owners test their systems for millennium bug problems. The bug fix software worked by setting the computer's date forward beyond Jan. 1, 2000 and then examining how the machine and its software handled the event. In the lab, the software performed its task perfectly, creating a printed report showing exactly how each machine handled the transition from the 20th Century to the 21st. But when the product was first released on the market, 80 percent of the customers found that using the Y2K disk triggered a virus called "Monkey V" that had been lurking in their machines waiting for a trigger date to pass. Once the machine's clock was moved forward to 2000, it assumed that the date had passed and locked up the infected computers. Fortunately, once alerted, programmers were able to quickly repair the problem.

- Programmers can hatch new bugs simply by making ordinary mistakes, such as typing the wrong word for a command or ordering the software to jump to the wrong routine. The FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) found this out the hard way in 1997 when its programmers missed large numbers of flawed instructions while combing through the millions of lines of software code in the ENHANCED TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (ETMS) designed to spot major traffic bottlenecks. As a result, after the FAA's software reported that the ETMS setup was fully fixed, it crashed during the first test and a subsequent analysis found that 150,000 lines of software had to be rewritten.

- Programmers write remedial software that works fine internally but that is based on faulty assumptions. Such a bug is written into "Microsoft Windows 98", which is supposed to automatically detect the start of daylight-saving time and advance the computer's clock one hour. But the software will fail to note daylight-saving in 2001 because the algorithm for keeping dates in Windows 98 assumes that the changeover happens on the first Sunday after the first Monday in April when, in fact, Sunday, April 1, 2001, will mark daylight saving. This error was written into Windows 98 as part of Microsoft's massive effort to make the operating system Y2K compliant.

- Programmers sometimes fail to anticipate problems when one part of the programs they fix interacts unexpectedly with other features in the same system. The U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR encountered this sort of bug in early January when a problem with a Y2K fix in the department's Internet software caused it to publish the widely followed data for the PRODUCER PRICE INDEX (PPI) one day earlier than it should have been sent out.

Most industry observers agree that these cases are the tip of an iceberg of bad fixes that either will be found and fixed quietly or will slop through and cause problems when the millennium arrives. Richard Balough, a Chicago attorney specializing in Y2K issues, noted that a large number of consulting companies involved in fixing Y2K problems have stopped guaranteeing their work out of concern that they can't catch all their bad fixes quickly enough. Analysts at FORRESTER RESEARCH INC. have predicted that the eleventh-hour shakedown to iron out bugs will be so extreme that much of the traditional industry will grind to a standstill sometime between July and September as companies and governmental bodies stop creating new software and buying new equipment and work furiously to make sure what they already have is ready for the deadline. (JG)

Link: http://chicagotribune.com/version1/article/0,1575,ART-23362,00.html

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Y2K STORIES:

OIL SUPPLY THREATENED
(Sources: Patrick Crow, David Knott & Anne Rhodes, DEJA NEWS/OIL AND GAS JOURNAL ONLINE, 2/17/1999 via the Y2K NETWORK)

The U.S. imports about 50 percent of the oil it consumes, and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve holds only about 60 days' worth of imports. The fact that most oil-producing countries are months to years behind the U.S. in identifying and correcting Y2K problems poses a direct threat to U.S. oil imports, says John Warner Jr., Executive Vice-President of SCIENCE APPLICATIONS INTERNATIONAL CORP. in McLean, Va. To protect national interests, the U.S. government is planning policy changes to protect companies working to fix the Y2K bug, and a U.S. coalition of about 90 large companies and trade organizations have drafted a legislative proposal to forestall Y2K lawsuits. On a broader scale, the ORGANIZATION FOR ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT has established an electronic data clearinghouse to help chemical producers prepare for and prevent chemical accidents that could result from Y2K errors.

Noting that oil exports are the lifeblood of many nations, and, if interrupted, their economies and governments may fail, Warner recommends that the U.S. act to help other nations with the problem. Some of his suggestions are:

- President Clinton should stress the urgency of the threat to other countries and offer the services of key U.S. agencies to promote awareness.

- Establish an international Y2K knowledge-sharing program.

- Establish a national security Y2K loan fund of $3-5 billion to help nations whose solution of Y2K problems is in the U.S. national interest. (JG)

Link: http://www.ogjonline.com/ogjregis.html

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Y2K COMPLIANCE IN GERMAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS DOUBTFUL
(Source: Paul Nellen, translated from German by David Schrag, ZEITBOMBE-JAHR2000, 2/12/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

Most nuclear power plants in Germany are seriously behind schedule in their Y2K compliancy efforts, according to independent security testing institution, TUV. There are five crucial steps to make nuclear reactors Y2K-compliant:

1. Inventory/Analysis
2. Mission-critical repairs
3. Testing
4. Fine tuning
5. Back-up plan in case of an emergency shutdown

In July 1998, the GERMAN INSTITUTION FOR THE SECURITY OF NUCLEAR REACTORS (GRS) sent a briefing to all nuclear reactors in the country "recommending" for the first time that the millennium bug be considered in future checks of a nuclear reactor's systems. According to German Y2K expert Prof. Klaus Brunnstein, this starting date was "much too late" because testing and repairing such complex systems require 24 to 36 months alone. "The firms which own the nuclear power plants are barely in the inventory phase. Besides the famous January 1, 2000 date, they also have to consider many other dates, like September 9, 1999 -- many programs 'understand' those four 9s as an order to shut down their operations." Then there is the matter of whether there are even enough qualified specialists available to accomplish the job. Concludes Prof. Brunnstein, "I don't see how they will make it in time." (JG)

Link: http://www.zeitbombe-jahr2000.de/zebo.y2k/inh./y2k.cont./German_nucl_power_plant.html

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STILL SAILING INTO A STORM
(Source: Edward Yardeni, ZDY2K, 2/16/1999 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

According to Y2K analyst Ed Yardini, the Year 2000 Problem is a very serious threat to the U.S. economy, and if the disruptions are significant and widespread, then a global recession is likely. When he first began studying the potential impact of Y2K during the summer of 1997, he concluded that there was a 30 percent chance of a worldwide recession in the Year 2000. One year later, he raised the probability of a global recession to 70 percent.

As of February 1999, Yardini still sees a 70 percent chance of a severe global recession. While he is now less concerned about the readiness of the U.S. government and is more optimistic about the electrical power grid, air transportation, and banking, he is more worried about serious disruptions to our global just-in-time manufacturing system because many countries around the world are seriously lagging behind in fixing their computer systems. He is also disappointed by the lack of global leadership, pointing out that the U.N. only held its first conference on the issue at the end of 1998.

Yardini, who is the Chief Economist and a Managing Director of DEUTSCHE BANK SECURITIES (North America), predicts that the recession could begin as early as the fourth quarter of 1999, if the public becomes alarmed and takes precautions. For example, if stock prices fall sharply later in 1999, the resulting loss in confidence could cause consumers to retrench and trigger a recession. (JG)

Ed Yardini's Website: http://www.yardeni.com

Link: http://www.zdnet.com/enterprise/zdy2k/stories/0,6158,2209302,00.html

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PROTECTING TAX-DEFERRED INVESTMENTS FROM Y2K
(Source: Jim Lord, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 1/18/1999)

While most analysts agree that the chances are good that Wall Street's computers will be ready for Y2K, there is still significant concern with utilities, telephones, foreign stock markets. This uncertainty is likely to motivate many investors to avoid potential Y2K problems by simply pulling their assets out of the stock market all together.

Since cashing out tax-deferred investments can invoke severe tax consequences, many investors, to maximize the safety of their assets, are considering a move into physical gold and silver, but there are many obstacles to that strategy. The INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, for example, will only allow one form of direct ownership: Gold and Silver Eagle coins minted by the U.S. Treasury. Plus buying, insuring, shipping, handling, storing and accounting for the coins is very labor-intensive, making ownership cumbersome and expensive.

Y2K analyst Jim Lord has come up with a way to own gold and silver assets without all this hassle: the CENTRAL FUND OF CANADA (CFC). CFC is a closed-end gold and silver bullion holding company, meaning the company has a fixed number of shares and requires that 90 percent of investment assets must be held in the form of the physical metals.

In spite of its name, Central Fund is not a mutual fund, which typically owns shares of somebody else's equity or debt. CFC doesn't depend on anyone's promise of payment; they simply hold physical gold and silver in a ratio of one ounce of gold to fifty ounces of silver. The gold and silver bullion assets are stored in segregated areas within the mechanically-operated treasury vaults of the CANADIAN IMPERIAL BANK OF COMMERCE, the second largest bank in Canada. CFC is fully insured by LLOYD'S OF LONDON against all forms of loss of its bullion holdings. The CFC administrator retains hard (non-computerized) copies of all records.

According to Jim Lord, the Fund has two small weaknesses. First, the precious metals are kept in a bank vault and Y2K is a threat to the banking system. In this case, however, the bank is simply being paid to provide storage for the physical property. Second, CFC might not have access to the assets for a period after Jan. 1, 2000, but Lord figures that you are unlikely to lose them altogether.

If, after all this, you think CFC is for you, investing is as easy as calling your broker and placing an order. (JG)

Link: http://www.y2ktimebomb.com/Tip/Lord/lord9903.htm

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LESSONS FROM THE EURO CHANGEOVER
(Sources: Patrick O'Beirne, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 1/26/1999; HET PAROOL, 2/81999, both via GARY NORTH'S LINKS AND FORUMS)

Last year, critical observers, pointing out that IT projects were rarely delivered on time and bug-free, predicted that Y2K and the euro transition would both be painful experiences. But in January 1999, industry observers were surprised at how smoothly the transition to the euro went. Does this mean Y2K transition will be easier than predicted as well? Y2K analyst Patrick O'Beirne says no, and gives the following reasons:

1) The euro changeover is nothing like the Y2K project. The crucial difference is that Y2K is a mass change project to remove date-related defects; the euro is the implementation of new functionality. Add to this the complexities of Y2K introduced by a fixed deadline, embedded chips, and the lack of financial resources and trained personnel. Plus the fact that the euro conversion was essentially restricted to a relatively small portion of the world, and did not have the life-threatening global implications of massive power failures, banks runs, loss of heat in the dead of winter, transportation gridlock, food shortages, and an incredibly-complicated interconnectedness.

2. There are still three years to go. On January 1, 1999, the changes were essentially only on paper in the central banks and stock exchanges. Significant problems are still anticipated when euro coins and bills actually get into the hands of people on the street, and all financial transactions in 11 European countries are transacted in the euro and no longer in the national currencies.

3. It is likely that many problems were squashed internally. Nevertheless, in a recent story, the Dutch publication HET PAROOL reported that European banks have lost track of billions of guilders, because payments now must run through a number of different computer systems and addresses. ABNAMRO BANK, DEUTSCHE BANK, and RABO BANK confirm that they have been forced to manually correct about 600 transactions a day, up from 100 before the euro changeover. The "Foreign Payments Correction Department" of the Amsterdam branch of ABNAmro Bank is no longer able to keep pace with the increased workflow, despite its workforce of 350 employees. In the public sector, a number of alarming reports did come to light, such as a systems crash at the French national post office due partly to problems arising from the euro conversion. Riot police had to be called to calm angry clients at the Marseilles branch of LA POSTE, after they were unable to access their accounts.

4. Success was linked to multiple rehearsals (four rehearsal runs were not uncommon) and well-managed projects. According to O'Beirne, Y2K project managers who manage their process well, use good estimating and tracking techniques, and go through at least three rehearsals of their database conversions, regression tests, and future date tests, "are in good shape for success." As for the rest...(JG)

Link: http://www.y2ktimebomb.com/International/pobeirne9904.htm

Link: http://www.parool.nl/nieuws/275006858.html

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DISPELLING THE RAILWAY MYTH
(Source: Bradley K. Sherman, DEJA NEWS, 3/5/1998 via the Y2K NETWORK)

The following are edited excerpts taken from a posting on the "comp.software.year-2000" Forum in DEJA NEWS by Bradley K. Sherman, an employee with a major railroad:

"Back in the 19th century, railroads used steam locomotives, communicated using telegraph, and had manned switch towers at each rail junction. But times have changed. Today, railroads are heavily into computers. For example, there are basically two types of locomotives in use today on America's railroads:

1. 'Dumb' locomotives were mostly built in the 50s, 60s and 70s. You start them up, yank on the throttle and the train begins to move. Nothing hi-tech about them.

2. 'Smart' locomotives were built in the 80s and 90s and all of them have micro-processors on board. You start them up, yank on the throttle and the train starts to move. The on board computer uses a small radar unit that looks down at the track and determines how fast the train is moving, the grade the train is on and whether or not any of the locomotive's wheels are slipping. If one of the wheels is slipping, the computer reduces power to that wheel while continuing to apply full power to all other wheels. This is why it takes only two of the new high-tech locomotives to replace three or four of the older dumb locomotives.

"In the old days at each junction and crossover location, a man in a switch tower using levers connected to rods and pulleys, lined switches and cleared signals under the instruction of the train dispatcher through telegraph. Nowadays, the old tower has been replaced with a trackside box filled with relays and micro processors linked to the dispatcher by telephone circuits, radio links or satellites. At the dispatcher's end is a computer workstation showing his railroad territory. Everything the dispatcher does is recorded (FRA requirement) and date stamped in the standard MM/DD/YY format.

"Many lines are single track. Using signals via radio, the dispatcher keeps the traffic flowing. Without a central authority to keep everything running, nothing would move out of fear of meeting another train head on. Going to a timetable system or token system would take weeks or months to implement and would greatly reduce capacity of an already overloaded railroad system.

"At one time, the 'man in the tower' kept an eye on all passing trains for any defects that might cause a derailment. This was in addition to the conductor riding in the caboose on the rear of the train. Now that the towers and cabooses are all gone, the railroads have installed trackside defect scanners that directly warn the train crew or dispatcher.

"At one time, there were hundreds of clerks to keep track of where railroad cars were and on what train they were on. Today, these clerks have been replaced by trackside scanners that 'read' magnetic tags on each car. This information is feed directly by telephone lines to the railroad's central computer.

"Also, let's not forget that massive amounts of diesel fuel are needed to run all those trains. A Y2K problem in the oil industry could cause shortages of diesel fuel.

"Saying today's railroads could continue to operate if the Y2K bug crashed all their computers would be like saying the airlines could continue to fly if the air traffic system crashed." (JG)

Link: http://www.dejanews.com/[ST_rn=ap]/getdoc.xp?AN=349794353

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Y2K RESOURCES:

RESILIENT COMMUNITIES VIDEOCONFERENCE, PART 2
(Source: Amanda Butcher, RESILIENT COMMUNITIES PROJECT, 2/16/1999)

NORTHWEST REGIONAL FACILITATORS and WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY COOPERATIVE EXTENSION invite you to participate in the second videoconference of the three-part Resilient Communities series: "Common Sense, Common Ground: Preparing for Y2K," with futurist Robert Theobald and international Y2K activist Cynthia Beal. The conference will be available via satellite downlink on April 8, 1999 from 9:00 a.m. - Noon (Pacific Time) at a cost of $10 U.S. per person.

The goal of this project is to view the millennium bug as a catalyst for change. The first videoconference was broadcast to 100 communities across North America on January 22, 1999. It featured a discussion between Robert Theobald, and noted Y2K commentator Margaret Wheatley, author of "The Simpler Way." Shifting global dynamics and new forms of leadership for the new millennium were the topics.

Preparedness and sustainability practices will be the focus of the April program. The third program in the series on May 27, 1999 will provide ways people and communities are approaching the full spectrum of issues relating to resiliency: from personal and family to community and the ecology.

For more information on the Resilient Communities Project and videotapes of the first program visit the Resilient Communities Website or contact: Amanda Butcher, (509) 484-6733, "amandab@nrf.org".

Resilient Communities Website: http://www.resilientcommunities.org

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A SEMINAR FOR Y2K JOURNALISTS
(Source: Tom Atlee, 2/17/1999)

Reporting accurately and authoritatively on the millennium bug is one of journalism's big challenges this year. Providing the tools needed to do the job well is the focus of a daylong conference for journalists at THE FREEDOM FORUM's Media Studies Center in New York City on Tuesday, February 23. Faculty and speakers include leading experts on risk assessment and preparedness such as: Dennis Grabow (MILLENNIUM INVESTMENTS), Ed Yourdon ("Time Bomb 2000"), Dr. Robert Alloway (NATIONAL LEADERSHIP TASK FORCE ON Y2K), Victor Porlier (CENTER FOR CIVIC RENEWAL), and Rick Cowles ("Electric Utilities and Y2K").

This seminar is targeted for reporters and editors who need better background information in order to cover the millennium bug story throughout 1999. Attendance is limited to working journalists from print, broadcasting and new electronic media. There is no registration fee, but you must be pre-registered to attend. Register by phone: (323) 851-7372; by email: "facs@facsnet.org"; or online: <http//www.facsnet.org>.

This conference is part of a continuing series of educational programs on science and technology conducted by FACS in association with the CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE FOR TECHNOLOGY. FACS is a non-profit educational institution dedicated to improving public understanding of issues through a more informed news media. FACS programs are interactive and do not advocate points-of-view.

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LIST OF NONCOMPLIANT PRODUCTS
(Source: Y2K.LMI.ORG Website via GARY NORTH'S LINKS AND FORUMS)

Here is an exhaustive alphabetized list of noncompliant items posted hidden away on a government-sponsored website. Comments Y2K analyst Gary North: "Will all the users of these products find out in time? Of course not. It would be nice if every manufacturer of each of these products would post these warnings in plain sight." (JG)

Link: http://y2k.lmi.org/gsa/y2kproducts/noncompliant.cfm

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THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:

ORDERS FOR NEXT YEAR'S VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE SLUGGISH
(Source: Thomas Bruck, 2/17/1999, thanks to Ellen Cooper)

The "new and improved" version of the VOLKSWAGEN Beetle has so far been a huge success -- the first production run was sold out before the new model hit the streets in 1998, and the '99s also sold out in advance. So given this popularity, officials at Volkswagen are scratching their heads to explain the sluggish response to next year's model. It seems that no one wants to get stuck with a Year 2000 Bug. (JG)

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Copyright 1999 by NewHeavenNewEarth

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