NHNE Y2K Report 24
Sunday, May 2, 1999
& Consumer Protection
for Spiritual Seekers"
NHNE Y2K Report 24
Sunday, May 2, 1999
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U.S. to Contribute $1.5 Billion to Russia's Ailing Nuclear Industry
Chernobyl Official Acknowledges Y2K Issues
NRC: Y2K Audits at Nuclear Plants a Success
Canadian Companies Stretching Truth About Y2K Compliance?
U.S. Securities Industry: All Bugs Have Been Eradicated
FSA: Millions At Risk of Losing Life Savings
UK Firms Dumping Data to Avoid Y2K Problems
BellSouth & AT&T Complete Successful Year 2000 Testing
The Fifth Element
DOE: Fill Your Oil Tank Before the End of the Year
Whitehouse: Government-Wide Y2K Testing Day Unnecessary
Florida to Audit 1,400 Florida Agencies In 45 Days
"Vendor Will Not Test" Approach Gaining Momentum
Kenya Refusing Non-Compliant Computers
Microsoft Sales Slowing Down As Customers Seek Y2K Fixes
Y2K Problems With Windows 95 & 98
Northwest Airlines: Every Major Application Would Have Failed
Sunfellow In Spanish
The Need for An Occasional Reminder
An Assessment of the Second Quarterly Summary
Russia: It's Cheaper to Evacuate People
How Bad, How Long, How Likely?
Death by A Thousand Cuts
VCR Fix or Fiction?
Just In Case
100 Items to Disappear First
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:
Seven Faces of Y2K
THIS WEEK'S NEWS SOURCES
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WHAT A DIFFERENCE A BUG MAKES!
"To paraphrase Mark Twain, the difference between the right program
and almost the right program is like the difference between lightning
and a lightning bug. The difference is just a bug."
--- Danny Hillis, in "The Pattern on the Stone"
U.S. TO CONTRIBUTE $1.5 BILLION TO RUSSIA'S AILING NUCLEAR INDUSTRY
(Sources: REUTERS, 4/22/1999; Eugenia Volynkina, NEWSBYTES, 4/28/1999)
The U.S. will contribute $1.5 billion to pay for programming to correct
the millennium bug in computers that are used to operate Russia's, Armenia's,
and Kazakhstan's nuclear and hazardous substance facilities. The INTERNATIONAL
SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL CENTER (ISTC), headquartered in Moscow,
is administering the funds, which will be used for equipment, salaries
for scientific and technical experts, as well as support of Y2K crisis
centers and distribution of urgent information. The program was launched
following consultation on the Year 2000 problem in the Russian MINISTRY
OF NUCLEAR POWER, MINISTRY OF FUEL AND POWER, and MINISTRY OF EXTREME
SITUATIONS, as well as a number of other national and international
agencies. The ISTC has been accepting proposals and applications from
scientific and technical teams in Russia and other countries. Preliminary
decisions on funding for these programs are expected to be in mid-May.
The U.S. is considering providing batteries and generators to Russian-designed
nuclear power plants to ensure safe shut down in the event of a Y2K-related
emergency, according to John Koskinen, Chairman of the COUNCIL ON YEAR
2000 CONVERSION. "The preliminary information we have is that...those
plants cannot have a significant Y2K risk," Koskinen said. "The Year
2000 risk is in the grid." Nuclear power plants need a continued source
of electrical power to safely shut down. There are 65 Russian-designed
plants running in nine countries. (JG)
CHERNOBYL OFFICIAL ACKNOWLEDGES Y2K ISSUES
(Source: Reuters, 4/23/1999)
Earlier this year, Ukrainian nuclear officials indicated that Y2K would
not affect the ex-Soviet state's nuclear plants because of their unsophisticated
computer equipment. Now, Yury Neretin, Deputy Chief Engineer at Chernobyl,
site of the world's worst civil nuclear disaster, admits that this earlier
assessment was incorrect. Y2K concerns in secondary computer systems
at the Chernobyl nuclear plant have been discovered. "We understand
the importance of this problem and have to say that it will affect our
station." Neretin also says the problem could threaten only computer
programs not linked directly with the electricity production or operating
a nuclear reactor, with the assurance, "We have already started working
on this problem and are sure that Chernobyl will be ready to come into
the Year 2000." Thirteen years ago, Chernobyl exploded, spewing a cloud
of poisonous radioactive dust over Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and part
of Western Europe. (JG)
NRC: Y2K AUDITS AT NUCLEAR PLANTS A SUCCESS
(Source: REUTERS, 4/28/1999)
According to a NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION audit of 12 U.S. nuclear
plants, the facilities are on schedule to address their potential Year
2000 computer problems and meet the industry's target date for readiness
of July 1. "No problems were found at the plants that will interfere
with the ability of their computers to control key safety systems starting
next year," according to the agency, which conducted the audits on-site
between last September and January of this year. The plants audited
included Brunswick in North Carolina; Hope Creek in New Jersey; Davis
Besse in Ohio; Wolf Creek in Kansas; Monticello in Minnesota; Seabrook
in New Hampshire; Watts Bar in Tennessee; Limerick in Pennsylvania;
Waterford in Louisiana; North Anna in Virginia; Braidwood in Illinois;
and WNP-2 in Washington State. Since many nuclear plant operators own
more than one site, the corporate-wide nature of the Y2K audits have
prompted the NRC to claim successful results at 42 of the 103 operating
plants in the country. (JG)
NRC Website: http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/NEWS/year2000.html
CANADIAN COMPANIES STRETCHING TRUTH ABOUT Y2K COMPLIANCE?
(Source: Howard Solomon, COMPUTING CANADA, 4/27/1999)
Serious doubts are being raised about the validity of the figures in
the latest STATISTICS CANADA report on the nation's Year 2000 readiness.
"It's bullshit," says Jennifer McNeill, President of Calgary-based CIPHER
SYSTEMS and Chair of the WESTERN CANADA Y2K USER GROUP. She and others
are enraged at the astonishing completion performance being forecast
by large organizations: While only 18 per cent predicted their mission-critical
systems would be ready by the end of March, 52 per cent think they'll
be ready by July, 67 per cent by the end of August, 92 per cent by the
end of October, and virtually all large businesses say their systems
will be ready to face the millennium bug by December. "Companies are
being unrealistic about their completion dates," declares McNeill. "Every
project I go into, their schedules and milestones are off, some by as
much as six to eight months. These are large companies that have missed
their milestone dates over and over again. What makes them think they're
going to hit them this year? I'm not a doomsayer -- I don't think the
end of the world is going to come -- but I think people have to use
their heads and be prepared." "To even have mission critical deadlines
in the fourth quarter of '99 is an indication of total incompetence,"
adds Y2K analyst Peter de Jager. "It boggles the mind that an IT person
would have that schedule. If I were their manager, I would fire them."
U.S. SECURITIES INDUSTRY: ALL BUGS HAVE BEEN ERADICATED
(Source: USATODAY/AP, 04/29/1999)
Six weeks of tests by the SECURITIES INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION (SIA) have
found only rare instances of Year 2000 computer problems. The tests,
which simulated the execution of 850 mock trades involving 260,000 transactions
for the period of Dec. 29, 1999 to Jan. 3, 2000, turned up problems
related to the Y2K bug in just 0.02 percent of the transactions. "The
Y2K issues were rare and quickly repaired," said Donald D. Kittell,
Executive Vice President of the group that represents 740 investment
firms. "Our contingency plans will be much more thorough as a result
of what we've learned." SIA contingency planning committees continue
to make preparations for any possible glitches, such as power or telephone
outages, but as far as the action that takes place on Wall Street, all
bugs have been eradicated, according to John Panchery, SIA Year 2000
Project Manager. "We've proven the stock exchanges and clearing corporations
involved in all the tests can all process in the Year 2000, and we did
it with seven months to spare," Panchery boasted. (JG)
FSA: MILLIONS AT RISK OF LOSING LIFE SAVINGS
(Source: Alicia Wyllie, THE SUNDAY TIMES (Britain), 4/25/1999)
Two of England's biggest companies are not on track to beat the millennium
computer bug, and millions of people with bank accounts, investments
and insurance policies risk losing their life savings, according to
the British watchdog agency, FINANCIAL SERVICES AUTHORITY (FSA). Gwynneth
Flower, Managing Director of ACTION 2000, the government agency set
up to tackle the millennium bug, says, "There is no immediate risk to
consumers, but we are increasing pressure on the FSA to ensure these
firms get their systems up to scratch." The FSA has refused to name
the firms involved for legal reasons, but it said they would be shut
down if they did not make good progress soon. While the FSA said most
companies were on track to solve their millennium problems, not a single
one has been given the all-clear. (JG)
UK FIRMS DUMPING DATA TO AVOID Y2K PROBLEMS
(Source: Sylvia Dennis, NEWSBYTES, 4/22/1999)
Businesses in the UK are dumping up to 90 percent of their data, rather
than face the cost and resource demands of complex Year 2000 data conversion
programs, according to INFORMATION SYSTEM INTEGRATORS (ISI). ISI, which
specializes in implementing Year 2000 online warehousing systems, claims
that many major companies are finding that historical data cannot be
transferred from the old systems because there is no simple upgrade
path to the new system, and so often as little as 10 percent of the
original data is converted onto the new Year 2000-compliant systems.
Many organizations have aging mainframes holding financial and other
important historical information which they need to keep for legal and
auditing purposes, but also as a primary tool for delivering customer
service. One way to work around the problem, according to Phil Johnston,
ISI's Director, is to take the historical data from the non-compliant
mainframe, compress it and archive it on a PC server-based system. The
data is then kept online using complex data-retrieval software. "Our
clients are finding they can complete a Year 2000 data conversion task
within weeks, rather than several months, with lower opening expenses
too, as storing compressed data on a PC server is much more economic
than on a mainframe," says Johnston. "Some customers have also found
they can dramatically reduce the amount of mainframe capacity they need,
to the extent that once they have transferred the data, they can sometimes
stop the original application and decommission the mainframe." (JG)
BELLSOUTH & AT&T COMPLETE SUCCESSFUL YEAR 2000 TESTING
(Source; Grant Buckler, NEWSBYTES, 4/21/1999)
BELLSOUTH and AT&T have successfully completed a series of tests
to make sure their telephone networks will work together as dates move
from 1999 to 2000. The two companies said the extensive tests give them
confidence not only that their own and each other's networks are Year
2000 ready, but that their links with other carriers should work properly
as well. BellSouth and AT&T set out to recreate as nearly as possible
conditions in the public switched telephone network, said BellSouth
spokesman Clay Owen. The tests covered local and long-distance calls
between wireline phones, between wireless phones, and from wirelines
to wireless. The companies also tested 911 emergency services, toll-free,
operator-assisted, calling-card, and international calls. The companies
said the tests, which had run since September of last year, were 100
percent successful. Since regional Bell operating companies' networks
are all quite similar, the tests conducted with BellSouth are "a very
effective testbed" for determining the Year 2000 readiness of AT&T's
links with BELL ATLANTIC, SBC COMMUNICATIONS, US WEST, and AMERITECH,
as well as other local carriers. Owen believes that the results of the
joint tests with AT&T also indicate there should be little trouble
with other long-distance carriers such as MCI, WORLDCOM and SPRINT.
The NETWORK RELIABILITY AND INTEROPERABILITY COUNCIL, a body concerned
with telecom industry readiness for the Year 2000 problem, has said
the risk of problems is low in the U.S., but much higher in some other
parts of the world. (JG)
THE FIFTH ELEMENT
(Source: Robert Salladay, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, 4/29/1999)
A special hearing of the CALIFORNIA STATE LEGISLATURE was held recently
to examine why gas prices in the state rose 45 percent during March
and April, one of the sharpest price spikes on record. During the legislative
hearing, Tom Glaviano, an oil industry analyst for the CALIFORNIA ENERGY
COMMISSION, said that five factors caused the increased prices, including
a Feb. 23 flash fire at the TOSCO Avon refinery in Martinez that killed
four workers, another fire a month later at the Richmond CHEVRON plant,
production delays at an EXXON refinery, and a week-long breakdown at
a Southern California ARCO refinery in March (Y2K Report 21). Glaviano
said he couldn't reveal the other factor because of confidentiality
agreements with the oil companies. The secrecy policy is in place because
some fear that making the information public might cause a further panic
in the gasoline market. The secrecy adds additional "fuel" to speculation
that the recent skyrocketing of gasoline prices may also be related
DOE: FILL YOUR OIL TANK BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR
(Source: Tom Doggett, BOSTON GLOBE/REUTERS, 04/23/1999)
Homeowners should take the precaution of filling their home heating
oil tanks for the upcoming winter before New Year's Day 2000, just in
case computer problems disrupt petroleum supplies, according to Robert
Kripowicz, Deputy Assistant for Fossil Energy at the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.
Kripowicz told a Senate committee that his department was cautiously
optimistic that there will not be disruptions in the nation's oil supplies
because of the so-called millennium bug, but he said households and
businesses ought to have a backup fuel plan just in case. "Similarly,
power generators and large industrial consumers may want to purchase
some additional [petroleum] inventory well in advance of the
year-end as a contingency or hedge against prices," Kripowicz added.
Testifying at the same Senate hearing, Rear Admiral George Naccara of
the U.S. COAST GUARD, cautioned the public NOT to hoard petroleum products
or fill tanks a day or two before New Year's Day, because that could
disrupt energy supplies. The Coast Guard is assessing the computer readiness
of 50 key international ports. (JG)
WHITEHOUSE: GOVERNMENT-WIDE Y2K TESTING DAY UNNECESSARY
(Source: Orlando de Bruce, FCW, 4/21/1999)
The White House does not support a bill that would require federal agencies
to set aside one day to conduct government-wide testing of key computer
systems to assess their Year 2000-compliance. The bill, introduced by
Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.), would designate July 1 as a "National
Y2K Test Day," in which federal agencies would be required to conduct
end-to-end testing of their mission-critical computer systems. Such
a step is unnecessary, said John Koskinen, Chairman of the PRESIDENT'S
COUNCIL ON YEAR 2000 CONVERSION, because the Clinton administration
already requires agencies to test their systems fully. Asking agencies
to carry out the tests in one day only creates undue burdens and "is
a waste of time," Koskinen added. (JG)
FLORIDA TO AUDIT 1,400 FLORIDA AGENCIES IN 45 DAYS
(Richard Burnett, THE ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/23/1999)
The Florida State Government has unveiled a wide-ranging, multimillion-dollar
plan to audit all state government agencies to gauge their progress
in dealing with the millennium bug. A team of Y2K inspectors will query
every government function -- 1,400 agencies in all -- within the next
45 days, said Scott McPherson, Coordinator of Florida's Y2K task force,
known as "Team Florida 2000." "By the end of May, we expect to know
the status of every local government agency [because] that's
what the people expect us to do." The task force also plans to offer
technical assistance and possibly financial help -- the task force has
$9 million remaining in its budget through June, and $26 million has
been requested for the state's next fiscal year. "This is a major effort
to gather information, offer our resources...to make sure citizens know
what is going on and feel protected," said task force Chairman Tom McGurk.
Other initiatives in the plan include: a statewide publicity campaign;
efforts to help target business opportunities resulting from Y2K; and
a Y2K hotline and website. (JG)
"VENDOR WILL NOT TEST" APPROACH GAINING MOMENTUM
(Source: Y2K WIRE, 4/15/1999)
"Vendor Will Not Test" is gaining momentum as the approach of choice
among software and hardware manufacturers pressured to bring current
and older products into the fold of Y2K compliance by year-end, according
to INFOLIANT, publisher of the "Year 2000 Network Advisor," an online
database of Year 2000 readiness and remediation information. According
to Executive Vice President, Kevin Weaver, "The level of status changes
still occurring among leading manufacturers is...a barometer of just
how great the challenge is that the industry faces and how much work
remains to be done, even among those companies with the greatest resources....[Any]
sense of security at this point is premature." (JG)
KENYA REFUSING NON-COMPLIANT COMPUTERS
(Source: Washington Okumu, THE NATION (Nairobi), 4/20/1999)
Computer importers in Kenya may be pushed out of business following
a decision by the government authorities that all computers entering
the country must now be Year 2000 compliant. According to the rule,
which was implemented in March, any imported computers and related accessories
must be accompanied by certificates of Y2K compliance from the manufacturer.
Vendors of used computers have taken issue with the belated and uncoordinated
way the rule is being implemented. They also contend that the rule will
lead to the grounding of the second-hand computers already sold, as
they are unlikely to have a reliable supply of spare parts. According
to Denis Corne, Managing Director of BRIDGEPORT, a Kenyan importer of
secondhand computer equipment, manufacturers may refuse to provide certificates
of Y2K compliance for older equipment because "it is impossible for
anyone to give a 100 percent guarantee on this matter." "In any case
the manufacturers only have a stake in the sale of their latest models,"
added another director, Marshall Basham. "We may have to enter the Year
2000 manually," he lamented. The Director of Kenya's NATIONAL YEAR 2000
CO-ORDINATION CENTER, Michael Karanja, says the government's move was
an effort to check the glut of cheap non-compliant computers in the
market. "The rule ensures that there are no short-cuts and that total
compliance is assured." He accused the secondhand computer vendors of
"dumping" non-compliant computers in Kenya that had been rejected elsewhere.
MICROSOFT SALES SLOWING DOWN AS CUSTOMERS SEEK Y2K FIXES
(Source: REUTERS/WIRED NEWS, 4/20/1999)
The world's largest software company has announced earnings of $1.92
billion in its fiscal third quarter powered by strong sales of its core
"Windows" operating systems and "Office" application, compared with
$1.34 billion a year earlier. However, while admitting the company had
"a solid performance across all product lines" in the quarter, MICROSOFT
CFO Greg Maffei urged caution, in part because of an expected slowdown
in corporate spending in order to fix Year 2000 date-related issues.
"We're beginning to see something of a drop in terms of a slowdown in
projects." Sales of the company's high-priced Windows NT Server software
in particular were being affected by a Y2K-related spending "lockdown"
by companies. "Office 2000," the next generation of its word processing
and spreadsheet package, is due in stores June 10, and by the end of
the year, the company is expected to release its long-delayed "Windows
2000" operating system, a massively-complex family of products for running
everything from powerful desktop machines to giant networks. (JG)
Y2K GLITCH WATCH:
Y2K PROBLEMS WITH WINDOWS 95 & 98
(Source: Cliff Saran, COMPUTER WEEKLY NEWS, 4/29/1999)
A reported date-handling flaw in Windows 98 has raised a question mark
over the benefits of MICROSOFT applications being linked closely to
operating system software. On its Year 2000 Website, Microsoft admitted
that the functions used in the operating system for interpreting two-digit
years did not work as documented. In Windows 98, Microsoft added a function,
available through the Windows Control Panel, that allowed administrators
to force the operating system to interpret a two-digit date XX as 19XX
or 20XX depending on whether XX was larger or smaller than a threshold
set by the administrator. But last week, Microsoft said the threshold
level was fixed at 30 and could not be altered by changing the Windows
Control Panel configuration.
In related news, EDS's U.S. Chief Information Officer Gary Rudin has
resigned following disclosure of a memo justifying why his firm should
embark on a massive Windows 98 roll-out. The memo stated that EDS had
moved to Windows 98 because Microsoft had allegedly indicated it could
not guarantee Windows 95 would be millennium-compliant. Microsoft has
denied the claim. (JG)
NORTHWEST AIRLINES: EVERY MAJOR APPLICATION WOULD HAVE FAILED
(Source: John Gallagher, DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/27/1999)
Executives at NORTHWEST AIRLINES didn't want to believe Y2K would cause
any major problems, but when they analyzed the impact of the computer
bug on their systems, they found that:
- Baggage systems would stop delivering luggage.
- X-ray machines would stop checking bags for bombs.
- Time clocks would stop punching employees in and out.
- De-icing trucks would stop spraying planes.
- The nation's fourth-largest airline would be grounded.
Northwest first started to deal with Y2K in 1991, when it stopped writing
code that contained the bug. In 1996, the airline began replacing equipment
and rewriting software codes. Experts pored over 34 million lines of
computer code. They tested 14,000 pieces of equipment at 130 sites in
the U.S. They junked systems that worked just fine except that they
couldn't handle the switch to 2000. Initial estimates for fixing the
Y2K bug were $25 million, but that cost has risen to at least $45 million.
Ironically, only a tiny portion of Northwest's Y2K bugs lurked in the
aircraft themselves. Of the $45 million the airline is spending to fix
Y2K, less than 5 percent has been spent on its more than 400 airliners.
Northwest says planes enjoy a sort of natural immunity to the bug --
engines and other flight systems have computer chips that do not contain
date codes, so planes will fly regardless of the year.
If there's a big worry still facing Northwest, it's that so much that
affects its operations lies outside the airline's control. About 20
percent of the firms that sold Northwest equipment over the years have
yet to give the airline a clear answer on the reliability of their products.
Some are no longer in business. Sometimes, cultural differences get
in the way. AIRBUS, the European aircraft manufacturer that supplies
some of Northwest's planes provided little technical data on Y2K to
Northwest. Dufek quotes an Airbus official as telling him, "We told
you the airplane was okay. What more do you need to know?"
But all the effort has been worth it, says Robert Dufek, Northwest's
point man for the problem since 1991. "There is no question that every
major application we have would have failed," Dufek explained. " Thousands
and thousands of bugs had to be weeded out." The airline now expects
to operate with little or no disruption on Dec. 31. (JG)
SUNFELLOW IN SPANISH
"We are a non-profit group trying to create awareness among Spanish-speaking
readers to Y2K issues and preparation. We found David Sunfellow's article,
'Where the Rubber Meets the Road' (Y2K Special Report, Jan. 3, 1999),
inspirational and would like to translate it into Spanish to include
it in the May 15-31 issue (#7) of our electronic bulletin, 'Reto 2000'
<http://www.reto2000.net>. Both Ed Yardeni and Ed Yourdon have
already given us permission to use their material, and your article
will have the credits and a link to your site."
--- Marcela Calero, "Reto 2000"
THE NEED FOR AN OCCASIONAL REMINDER
"It seems we are in a time period where many of us are a bit dulled
to the tasks at hand. The general public isn't ignited on the Y2K issue,
distractions seem to take priority over 'work' such as preparation,
and no one really wants to consider what needs to be done or worse yet
what hasn't even been started.
So, we need to occasionally remind ourselves of:
1. The great job we have already done.
2. The meaning of what we are doing.
3. The need we have to support each other.
4. The quality of those who truly care.
5. The importance of our friendships.
A lot of words that simply say: thanks for what you're doing."
--- Ron Cornish, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE SECOND QUARTERLY SUMMARY
By James Gregory
The PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL ON YEAR 2000 CONVERSION issued its second quarterly
assessment in April. The upbeat 49-page report informs us that Y2K awareness
is now quite widespread, coordinators have been designated, plans are
being developed or are underway, fewer problems have been found than
anticipated, progress is being made, and systems will be tested and
implemented by July 1, or October 1, or after January 1, depending on
which industrial or governmental sector is being discussed. In summary,
the Y2K challenge has been largely solved already, or will be soon.
The report admits, however, that there are a number of exceptions to
this cheery picture:
- Despite the best efforts of many in government and industry, it is
clear there is still much work to be done and questions unanswered:
How many systems will experience difficulties? How severe will those
difficulties be? What disruptions will they create? There is particular
concern about the Y2K readiness of healthcare providers.
- Organizations that are not paying appropriate attention to the problem
or adopting a "wait and see" strategy are putting themselves -- and
those who depend on them -- at great risk. This position is most prevalent
among small businesses and local governments.
- Concerns exist with the 1,300 small and medium-sized telephone companies
where there is limited information about the status of their Y2K efforts.
- There is concern about those power companies that are not participating
in industry assessments and for whom data is not available.
- The pharmaceutical sector is concerned about the readiness of international
suppliers; particularly troublesome is the area of generic pharmaceuticals,
where 90 percent of supplies originate overseas.
- There are significant concerns about the readiness of some airports,
international aviation partners, and international ports and shipping.
- It appears that a number of countries will experience Y2K failure
in key infrastructures. In particular, Middle Eastern countries that
produce much of the world's oil have been slow to act on the problem.
Y2K analyst Victor Porlier dryly observes that we are expected to remain
sanguine in the face of these dichotomies. "What we have here is another
triumph of slogan over substance....American political discourse --
and let's be very clear, Y2K is now a political issue -- rewards simplicity
over complexity, victory over governing, the positive over the negative,
and image over reality."
Porlier goes on to say:
"This quarterly report is essentially a summary of unverified self-appraisals
of progress in mission-critical systems issued by corporate CEOs and
government agency directors....Their statements are the results of surveys
only partially responded to....Is it a reasonable speculation that those
furthest along are most likely to respond to such surveys?"
"Nothing is said about the on-going debate concerning embedded systems,...only
the assertion that the embedded system problem is turning out to be
less than anticipated."
"We are given the reported percentage of systems remediated, tested,
and implemented. No indication that there has been any slippage in reaching
milestones, as there admittedly has been."
"And so it goes -- the upbeat projections trump the reality and continue
to set the tone of public discourse and reporting. The only dissenting
voices seem to be...those programmers actually struggling with Y2K remediation
efforts. As the owner of a large wood stove store in Albany was reported
to have said last week, 'We have a lot of computer programmers coming
in to look and purchase wood-burning stoves.' Ask yourself, 'What do
they know that the rest of us don't?'"
Y2KNEWSWIRE Editor, Mike Adams, took it upon himself to translate the
Report into plain English. He analyzed the text and searched out not
only what was being stated, but also what was not being stated. Y2KNewswire
took great pains to point out that Adam's translation was not "our version"
of the report, since, in their opinion, there were many things contained
in the quarterly report that they thought were inaccurate or understated.
In order to have their say, they created a separate (and quite remarkable)
document consisting of three columns: the original report, the translation,
and Y2KNewsire's comments. Here is a sampling of excerpts from the report
and Y2KNewswire's corresponding edited comments:
"Overall, the report actually seems to outline a new position for the
Council, and while it still speaks mildly of potential Y2K problems,
it simultaneously acknowledges the reality of several major problems
as well as international dependencies. But in some areas, the report
falls flat. The statement, for example, that grocery stores stock weeks
of food simply runs counter to the first-hand knowledge of the way grocery
stores operate. And the outright declaration that today's farming is
all done manually certainly seems bizarre. Perhaps the authors of the
report have not recently visited the high-tech, high-output and high-automation
farms now keeping the city populations fed."
The Report Says: GENERAL MOTORS and several other automakers report
that most of the computers in their cars and trucks do not have date-related
functionality and, therefore, pose no Year 2000-related problems. Those
few systems that have date-related functionality have been found to
be Year 2000 ready.
Y2KNewswire Comments: This misses the big issue: the compliance of the
auto industry. With tens of thousands of suppliers, what happens if
GM can't get all the parts and services necessary to assemble cars?
This critical point was not mentioned anywhere in the report.
The Report Says: Industry surveys reveal that it is highly unlikely
that there will be national disruptions in electric power service on
January 1, 2000. More than two-thirds of critical systems within the
industry are now Y2K ready before the industry-wide target date of June
30, 1999, and with continued progress and properly coordinated contingency
planning, the Nation's electric power supply and delivery systems will
be able to operate reliably into the Year 2000.
Y2KNewswire Comments: This is an unjustified claim. In fact, two-thirds
are self-reporting they are ready. Virtually none of these claims have
been independently verified.
The Report Says: Financial institutions -- from banks to securities
firms -- have been making excellent progress in preparing systems for
the Year 2000 and it is not expected that industry systems will experience
widespread or prolonged Y2K related problems.
Y2KNewswire Comments: If banks are so far ahead, and they're still not
finished, how will the other industries manage to finish on time?
The Report Says: The Council will convene industry meetings this spring
for food supply, pharmaceuticals, hospital supply, and mass transit.
There is a need for additional information in all of these areas, with
the exception of mass transit, about the supply chain's ability to respond
to potential increases in demand at the end of 1999.
Y2KNewswire Comments: The Council is basically implying that people
might engage in last-minute food buying. We've never heard them acknowledge
that possibility before.
The Report Says: The Council will launch an initiative this summer to
increase Y2K information sharing at the local level....The goal of the
initiative is to have local government officials and service providers
hold "community conversations" with constituents and customers to explain
the range of their organization's Y2K activities and the outlook for
continuity of local services during the Y2K transition.
Y2KNewswire Comments: For the Council's report to now advocate some
form of "local preparedness planning" almost seems contradictory. Where
is the call for preparedness planning at the individual level?
(Sources: Victor Porlier, WESTERGAARD YEAR 2000, 4/28/1999; Y2KNEWSWIRE,
Report in plain English (translated by Y2KNewswire):
Y2KNewswire Translation with comments: http://www.y2knewswire.com/translation.htm
The original Year 2000 Council document: http://www.y2k.gov/new/FINAL3.htm
RUSSIA: IT'S CHEAPER TO EVACUATE PEOPLE
(Source: Margaret Coker, CBS MARKETWATCH, 4/23/1999)
Despite Russia's assurances that its infrastructure -- from the MINISTRY
OF ATOMIC ENERGY to the pipeline network transporting 30 percent of
Europe's natural gas needs -- will be Y2K compliant, forces as varied
as the CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY to multinationals like SMITHKLINE
BEECHAM are concerned that the troubled nation isn't ready to face the
millennium bug at all. Information technology consultant GARTNERGROUP
predicts that up to 80 percent of Russia's phone, electricity, and transportation
systems could fail at the start of the year, threatening humanitarian,
environmental and economic disaster not only for Russia, but Europe
and the U.S.
Adding to the concern is the fact that those controlling primary parts
of the economy "from the government itself down to national power grid
operator UNIFIED ENERGY SYSTEMS (UES) and the natural gas monopoly GAZPROM"
offer a complete lack of information about how they are handling the
Y2K issue. The Russian government says it is doing everything it can
to stave off catastrophe, but has never publicly defined the scope of
the problem for any one agency or government-controlled company.
Sanjay Razdan, general manager of HONEYWELL EUROPE, says his company
has sold to the Soviet government microchips now known to be Y2K vulnerable.
He has no way of tracking what enterprise, company or missile system
the chips ended up in, and he's not sure a master list exists on the
Russian side either. "The situation could be critical," he said.
Russia's financial situation is another weak link in the claim of preparedness.
A $3 billion price tag has been placed on the job to fix Russia's Y2K
vulnerabilities. Considering that the entire 1999 federal budget equals
some $21 billion, and that the government owes tens of billions of dollars
to unpaid government workers as well as to international creditors,
appropriating money from the federal budget is hardly realistic.
Says UES Deputy Head Engineer Vladimir Ornov, "Even if someone says
a breakdown in his computer will cause an atomic energy station to explode,
we still won't be given money from the government to fix our systems.
It's cheaper to...evacuate people." (JG)
HOW BAD, HOW LONG, HOW LIKELY?
(Source: Peter de Jager, YEAR 2000 WEBSITE, 4/14/1999)
The discussion surrounding Y2K preparedness lies not in any argument
about how many cans of soup per person per day, but in answering the
- How many days we should prepare for, if any?
- What depth of self reliance is called for, if any?
- What threats to safety, if any, will Y2K disruptions impose on us?
All of which, according to Y2K analyst Peter de Jager, boils down to
how bad, how long, and how likely are Y2K disruptions? Once these most
basic of questions are answered to our individual satisfaction, then
we can make reasonable plans for coping with what we believe might occur.
Here is a summary of de Jager's latest read on the situation:
How bad: "I don't buy the notion of Y2K disruptions lasting six months
to ten years. I can imagine no reasonable scenario where such lengthy
disruptions are feasible. Are they possible? Sure! In the same way it's
possible for you to get four flat tires at the same time."
How long: "If you [can] cope with a two- to three-week disruption
of services equivalent to what happened in Montreal during the 
ice storm, then you have a sufficient level of preparation to cope with
anything Y2K might throw at you in the proactive countries, such as
Canada, the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand, the Nordic countries,
Israel, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, and even South America to a certain
degree. In other parts of the world where less preparation has been
done, I'd increase it to four to five weeks."
How likely: "I am not stating that Y2K is going to create two- to three-week
disruptions in the U.S. or Canada. I'm stating, very clearly and precisely,
that level of preparation is sufficient...to handle what Y2K might throw
at you." (JG)
DEATH BY A THOUSAND CUTS
By David Sunfellow
One of the most pervasive and potentially harmful misunderstandings
surrounding Y2K is the idea that most Y2K disruptions will occur when
the clock rolls over from December 31, 1999 to January 1, 2000. According
to Lou Marcoccio, an analyst at GARTNERGROUP, only 8 to 10 percent of
year 2000-related breakdowns will occur during the end of December and
the beginning of January. Instead, Marcoccio predicts the main fireworks
will begin in July as some companies enter their new fiscal year and
face date issues that haven't been fixed or were fixed incorrectly.
By October, Marcoccio expects the number of failures to increase as
systems that forecast the first quarter begin experiencing errors and
an additional one-third of companies enter their fiscal year.
Most Y2K failures, in other words, are not going to happen when the
new millennium arrives, or be clustered around one particular date.
Rather, they are a series of trigger dates, the most important of which
will begin in July and continue three quarters of the way through the
Having Y2K-related failures stretch out for such a long period of time
could cause at least two serious problems:
- Computer systems and supply-chains, already strained by Y2K snafus,
could buckle under the steady stream of new glitches.
- People who have prepared for the current status-quo three-day winter
storm scenario, could find themselves ill-equipped to deal with a series
of storms that last much longer than expected.
As Ian Hugo, assistant director of Britain's Taskforce 2000 says, the
current focus on January 1, 2000 is simplistic and unrealistic. "Let's
say a bunch of small glitches take place at the stroke of midnight.
On their own, each problem can be taken care of within a few days or
weeks at most. But in an interconnected global economy all these little
problems could coalesce into a much more serious issue that could ripple
well into the new year." Says Hugo, "The bigger threat than an apocalyptic
meltdown is death by a thousand cuts."
(Sources: Kathleen Ohlson, ONLINE NEWS, 03/22/99, E. L. Core, "More
on Two Y2K Red Herrings," 4/29/1999)
VCR FIX OR FICTION?
(Source: Mitch Ratcliffe, ZDY2K, 4/16/1999)
For the last few months, this item, attributed to Paul E. Collins a
test engineer at AI&T Commercial Satellite Center, has been swirling
around the Internet:
"Come the Year 2000, you will not be able to use the programmed recording
feature on your VCR. However, there is not a need to purchase another
VCR to replace your current VCR -- all you need to do is set the VCR
year to '1972.' The days will be the same. Please pass this on because,
more than likely, the manufacturer will not. They will want you to buy
a new one that is Y2K compliant."
Here are some edited comments on the matter from Mitch Ratcliffe, Editorial
Director of ZIFF-DAVIS' ZDY2K Website and President of INTERNET/MEDIA
"Typically, a VCR is programmed to recognize only a limited range of
dates, usually 15 years. A SONY VCR purchased in 1996, for example,
will likely recognize dates in the years 1993 through 2008. So, if you
are concerned that the Y2K problem will derail your VCR's ability to
record preset programs, and would like to turn the system clock back
to 1972, which has a daily calendar identical to 2000, you'll need to
change your plans."
"[But] is there really a big problem with VCRs to begin with?
According to the manufacturers, no. SHARP, for instance, says its VCRs
do not use a calendar feature. PHILIPS, which produces MAGNAVOX consumer
electronics as well as products under its own brand name, says in a
badly-translated Year 2000 compliance statement: 'We have investigated
all the products that we have launched into the market as from 1991
onwards. This learned us that we can proudly assure you that all our,
roughly 50,000, different products are Year 2000 with only a few exceptions.
That is to say that our products will follow the date from December
31 to January 1, but also incorporate 2000 as a leap year.' (How can
a company that publishes such a garbled compliance statement be lying?)"
"In general, VCRs have a 2008 or 2009 problem, not a Y2K problem. The
only gotcha is the potential for an error in the system hardware at
the beginning of 2000 that interferes with the programming of the internal
clock, but this is easily tested: Turn the clock on your VCR forward
to 2000 and see if it works. If after all this you find that you do
have a Y2K problem, which will be the case with perhaps three percent
of VCRs, the device will still record and playback programs, it just
won't allow you to use the preset recording features."
"Our advice if you have a Y2K problem: Raise a stink with the manufacturer
to get a new VCR at a discount. Post your complaints on websites all
over the Net until the manufacturer pays attention." (JG)
JUST IN CASE
(Source: Michael Brownlee, VISIBILITI, 4/27/1999)
Recently, a committed group of journalists and editors came together
to create a book that would provide a definitive, balanced, insightful
and up-to-date overview of the many facets of the Y2K crisis. They invited
leading Y2K analysts, grassroots activists, seasoned journalists and
well-known social thinkers to join them in writing essays, including
Sen. Bob Bennett, Ed Yourdon, Rick Cowles, Margaret Wheatley, Jim Lord,
Shaunti Feldhahn, Karen Anderson, Tom Atlee, Byron Belitsos, Gordon
Davidson, Corinne McLaughlin, and Danielle LaPorte. The result is "Just
In Case: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Y2K Crisis," 18 urgent
essays on the most pressing issue of our time.
David Sunfellow, Director of the SEDONA Y2K TASK FORCE and publisher
of the NHNE Y2K Report, writes: "'Just In Case' is one of the best,
most well-rounded, informative, inspiring, and practical guides to Y2K
there is. Those who read it will come away with a clear understanding
of what Y2K is, why it is so serious, and most important of all, how
to prepare for it in a way that engenders hope, rather than fear."
"Just In Case" can be a powerful new tool in the Y2K awareness/preparedness
movement. Share this book with the people you care about, and with people
who are in a position to make a difference. The editors are offering
"Just In Case" as a fundraising tool to support community Y2K efforts
with quantity discounts of up to 40 percent. (JG)
(Thanks to Gary North and Sheri Nakken)
Here's a sobering link that provides information on the Y2K status of
37 air travel-related companies. Along with containing reports from
individual companies, this site also provides a star rating system:
5 stars is the highest rating and 1 star the lowest. How are these 37
companies fairing? Here's the breakdown:
1 Star - 2
2 Stars - 17
3 Stars - 4
4 Stars - 6
5 Stars - 7
Not very encouraging. (DS)
2000amIsafe - Air Travel Related Companies:
100 ITEMS TO DISAPPEAR FIRST
(Source: Joseph Almond, Y2K NEWSWIRE Website)
According to Joseph Almond of Y2K NEWSWIRE (and amended by NHNE), here
are the top 100 items to disappear first when people start to realize
that the Y2K threat is real:
2. Water filters, purifiers (Shipping delays increasing.)
3. Portable toilets (Increasing in price every two months.)
4. Seasoned firewood (Wood takes 6 - 12 mos. to become dried)
5. Lamp oil, wicks, lamps (First choice: clear oil. If scarce, stockpile
6. Coleman fuel (Urgent! Impossible to stockpile too much.)
7. Weapons for defense (Optional)
8. Hand can openers & hand eggbeaters
9. Honey, syrups, white & brown sugars
10. Rice, beans, wheat
11. Vegetable oil (Without it, food sticks and burns.)
12. Charcoal & lighter fluid (Will become scarce suddenly.)
13. Water containers (Urgent! Any size.)
14. Feminine hygiene, haircare, skin products
15. Grain grinder (non-electric)
16. Vitamins (Critical, due to daily diet of canned food.)
17. Michael Hyatt's "Y2K Survival Guide" (Best single Y2K handbook for
sound advice and tips.)
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term
lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby supplies: diapers, formula, ointments, aspirin
20. Washboards, mop bucket with wringer (for laundry)
21. Cookstoves (propane, Coleman & kerosene)
22. Propane cylinders (Urgent! Definite shortages will occur by September,
23. Propane cylinder handle-holder (Urgent! Small canister use is dangerous
without this item.)
24. Mini-heater head (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
25. Thermal underwear (tops and bottoms)
26. Bowsaws, axes, hatchets, wedges
27. Aluminum foil (Great cooking & barter item.)
28. Gasoline containers (plastic or metal)
29. Garbage bags (Impossible to have too many.)
30. Toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels
31. Milk: powdered & condensed
32. Garden seeds (Non-hybrid, a must.)
33. Clothes pins, clothes line, clothes hangers (A must.)
34. Selection of glues and sealants
35. Canned tuna fish, sardines, salmon
36. Fire extinguishers
37. First-aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes) & solar battery charger
39. Garlic, spices, vinegar, baking supplies
40. Condiments: ketchup, mustard
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches ("Strike Anywhere" wooden matches will go first.)
43. Writing paper, pads, pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (Good for keeping items from freezing in wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights & lightsticks
47. Journals, diaries & scrapbooks
48. Plastic garbage cans (Great for storage, water, transporting, especially
if with wheels.)
49. Men's hygiene: razors, shaving cream, talc, aftershave shampoo
50. Cast iron cookware
51. Fishing rod and supplies
52. Mosquito coils, repellent sprays, creams
53. Duct tape
54. Tarps, stakes, twine, nails, rope, spikes
56. Laundry detergent
57. Backpacks & duffle bags
58. Garden tools & supplies
59. Your favorite food that you just can't do without (peanut butter,
60. Canned fruits, vegies, soups, stews, etc.
61. Bleach (plain, NOT scented: 4 to 6 percent sodium hypochlorite)
62. Canning supplies: jars, lids, wax
63. Sharpening tools: files, stones, steel, honing oil
64. Bicycles, tools, spare parts: tires, tubes, pumps, chains, etc.
65. Sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, mats
66. Carbon monoxide detector (battery powered)
67. Boardgames, cards, dice
68. Rat poison, mousetraps, ant traps & cockroach motels
69. Battery-powered and hand-cranked radios
70. Paper plates, cups, utensils
71. Baby wipes, oils, waterless & anti-bacterial soap
72. Rain gear, rubber boots, etc.
73. General hygiene: toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss,
74. Hand pumps & siphons (for water and for fuels)
75. Soy sauce, vinegar, bouillon, gravy, soup base
76. Reading glasses
77. Chocolate, cocoa, Tang, punch
78. High-quality kitchen knives
79. Woolen clothing, scarves, earmuffs, mittens
80. Boy Scout Handbook
82. Wide selection of hand tools (Buy the best quality.)
82. Graham crackers, saltines,
83. Snack food: popcorn, chips, nuts, pretzels, trail mix, jerky
84. Socks, underwear, T-shirts
85. Lumber and plywood (all types)
86. Wagons & carts
87. Cots & inflatable mattresses
88. Gloves: work, warming, gardening
89. Sewing supplies: needles, thread, buttons, thimbles, scissors, darning
90. Hair-cutting supplies
94. Wine, Liquor
95. Paraffin wax
96. Nails, nuts, bolts, screws, fasteners
97. Chewing gum, candies
98. A wide selection of reading material for children and adults
99. Hats & cotton neckerchiefs
100. Sprouting seeds and supplies (JG)
THE LIGHTER SIDE OF Y2K:
SEVEN FACES OF Y2K
(Source: Sally Strackbein, Y2KKITCHEN Website)
Here are the seven faces of Y2K, according to Sally Strackbein of Y2KKITCHEN:
1. The Puppy: There is no problem.
2. The Grasshopper: There is a problem. Someone else will fix it in
3. The Ostrich: There is a problem. It won't be fixed in time. Let's
pretend there is no problem.
4. The Porcupine: There is a problem. It won't be fixed in time. I'll
take care of number one.
5. The Sheep: There is a problem. It won't be fixed in time. The authorities
need to get the communities ready. Individuals cannot be trusted.
6. The Vulture: There is a problem. I'll take advantage of anyone and
anything I can.
7. The Dolphin: There is a problem. It won't be fixed in time. Individuals
need to prepare for their families while helping the greater community
prepare. The whole is greater than the sum of individuals.
"The dolphin," Strackbein explains, "lives in a community of other dolphins,
but is frequently willing to take risks to save human beings from sharks
or drowning....I want millions of minds thinking about solutions to
the inevitable Y2K disruptions. Amazing ideas will appear. Those who
prepare their families will feel comfortable and will have time to think
about preparing the community at large. They will consider aspects of
the situation that may escape the consciousness of common denominator
planners. Only those living with special situations can fully understand
their own needs." (JG)
THIS WEEK'S NEWS SOURCES:
The stories in this week's NHNE Y2K Report were drawn, in part, from
the following news sources:
SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS:
YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER:
GARY NORTH'S LINKS AND FORUMS:
Sheri Nakken (Y2K NETWORK):
Copyright 1999 by NewHeavenNewEarth
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