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NHNE Y2K Report 7
Saturday, December 19, 1998


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NHNE Y2K Report 7
Saturday, December 19, 1998

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"Before the Titanic ever struck the iceberg, it had received a total of seven iceberg warnings from other ships. The last warning was not even delivered to the ship's captain, so he wouldn't be disturbed while entertaining passengers. So too, many executives and even CIOs have ignored the press, and consistent warnings of impending doom from industry pundits, experts, television, magazines, radio, video tapes, conferences, newspapers."

--- Warren S. Reid, "The Year 2000 Titan" (Quoted in more depth below)




Streisand Cancels Concert Due to Y2K Fears
Russia Agrees to Work with NATO on Y2K Bug
A Hill O' Beans
Bank Ordered to Fix Y2K Problem
Microsoft Sued Over Y2K Bug
City Rolls Back Clock as Y2k Solution


U.N. Planning Y2K "Swat Teams"
Martial Law Being Discussed in Canada
Environmental Group Demands Nuke Plant Shutdown
Alberta Fears Electrical Surge
Victoria Utilities 100 Percent Complete?
Invisible Y2K Testing
Troubles in New Zealand
Alternative Power Encouraged/Discouraged
To Hoard or Not to Hoard
Will Y2K Wreak Prison Havoc?
Help Confirm or Dispel the Rumors!
Lots of Work Still Left to Do
Titanic & the Y2K Iceberg
It's Ugly, But it Sometimes Works
Y2K Panic Expected in 1999
Life Beyond 2000


No Need to Worry About the Y2K Problem?
What Will You Do After the Bug Bites?




Singer Barbra Streisand has decided not to perform at New York's Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve 1999 -- partially because of her Y2K concerns. Streisand wants to do "as little traveling as possible" around the millennium change because "she has a lot of fear" about what the Year 2000 will do to computers. She is considering the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as an alternative venue for her millennium concert, because "the room is more familiar to her and it's closer to her home in Los Angeles." Apparently the Rolling Stones don't share Streisand's Y2K worries -- they are rumored to be taking the empty slot at the Garden on 12/31/99.(JG)

Link: http://www.detnews.com/1998/nation/9812/09/12090182.htm



Russia has agreed to cooperate with NATO in 1999 to deal with the millennium bug. Under the initiative of the U.S., which feared Russia might lose control of its nuclear arsenal as a result of millennium computer chaos, NATO had proposed to add the issue to an agenda of items to be tackled with Moscow next year. While Washington has already spent billions of dollars to limit the effects of the millennium bug, Russia lags far behind on the issue. (JG)

Link: http://www.russiatoday.com/rtoday/news/98120907.html


(Source: Hilary Hylton, BUSINESS WEEK, 12/3/98 via Y2KNEWSWIRE)

Lately, BOYCE FEED & GRAIN in Waxahachie, Texas has been fielding several calls a week from folks looking to buy grain to stock up their emergency food supplies. Owner Dennis Horak says the callers "are kind of freaking out. They think the world's gonna shut down, come 2000." Normally, he turns away such calls, but, for whatever reason, he agreed to sell 80,000 pounds of wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice to Jan B., a Dallas-area housewife who, together with 50 other families, believes millennium-related problems will trigger social chaos. Although it sounds like a lot of food, over a year, it only works out to about a pound per person per day. Idaho-based WALTON FEED INC. isn't so shy. They market their products via an informal Y2K media network which includes radio talk shows and websites; business is so heavy that an order placed now will not be shipped before July, 1999. One of their links is with the CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK (CBN) which advises viewers to first "seek God's wisdom," and then to take an inventory of the family pantry, since "it's impossible to know with certainty how long the crisis will last." (JG)

Link: http://www.businessweek.com/1998/50/b3608070.htm


(Source: Deborah Stokes, THE NATIONAL POST, 12/14/98)

The Geneva-based WORLD GOLD COUNCIL which monitors gold demand worldwide says that 772,000 ounces (24 metric tons) of gold coins were sold in North America in the third quarter of this year -- nearly three times the highest quarterly volume since 1990 when the council began tracking the data. One of the most popular coins is the Gold Maple Leaf, which comes in five sizes ranging from 1/20 of an ounce to a full ounce, which currently sells for $650 (US). The popularity of the Canadian coin is attributed to the fact that, at 24 karats or 99.99 percent, it offers the purest gold on the market. (JG)

Link: http:www.nationalpost.com



In a rare move by the FEDERAL RESERVE, the ZIA BANK OF TUCUMCARI in New Mexico has been issued a cease-and-desist order requiring them to appoint a senior manager to supervise its Year 2000 readiness and "devote a substantial amount of time" to fixing the problem. The bank has to submit a plan within 30 days to renovate and test its key computer systems. This is only the second time the Fed has formally brought a case against a bank to force it to update its computers. In November 1997, the Fed issued a cease and desist order against PUTNAM-GREENE FINANCIAL CORP. of Eatonton, Georgia, to ensure that the company took steps so its computers will operate effectively after Jan. 1, 2000. (JG)

Link: http://www.bostonherald.com/bostonherald/bhbusiness/y2knm12151998.htm



MICROSOFT CORP. is being sued by a software developer for making database tools that allegedly can't process dates properly beyond Dec. 31, 1999. Ruth H. Kaczmarek is seeking compensation and punitive damages in the suit, which is believed to be the first against Microsoft, claiming latent software defects related to the Y2K glitch. She claims that when two digits are entered for a year in the 21st Century while using "FoxPro" and "Visual FoxPro", the entry is stored and processed as a 20th-Century date. Kaczmarek is asking that Microsoft provide users with notice of the defect and a software patch to fix it. The day the suit, which is seeking class action status, was filed, Microsoft shares fell 2 1/16 points. (JG)

Link: http://www.bostonherald.com/bostonherald/bhbusiness/y2kms12111998.htm


(Source: Herb Marynell, EVANSVILLE COURIER (Indiana), 12/9/98 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

Evansville Indiana has come up with a cheap solution to cure its central traffic computer of the millennium bug. Come the Year 2000, it will be programmed to think it is 1972. "It's a cheap Y2K solution where having the right day and date on computer systems is more important than having the correct year," according to David Savage, Evansville traffic consultant. "The system doesn't keep track of year changes anyway." Substituting 1972 for 2000 is possible because the days and dates in both years are the same. The VANDERBURGH COUNTY LEVEE AUTHORITY also plans to do the same thing for its computerized pumping equipment. (JG)

Link: http://courier.evansville.net/cgi/view.cgi?/199812/09/+y2k_news.html+19981209




In a graphic demonstration of the degree of worldwide concern over Year 2000 issues, government representatives from 130 nations gathered in early December at the United Nations to hammer out plans to deal with the computer problem. The conference marked the first global convention of high government officials to grapple with the millennium bug, including many from developing countries lagging badly in remediation efforts.

Calling Y2K "the largest project in the 50-year history of the information-technology industry," U.N. Undersecretary-General Joseph E. Connor said, "There's no way to draw on past experience and predict what is going to fail and what consequences these failures will have. All we know for sure is the timing." "We are competing in a race against time," added conference host, Pakistani Ambassador Ahmad Kamal. "Despite all the efforts and committed work of individuals and institutions, we are far from the objective of ensuring Y2K compliance by the inflexible deadline of Dec. 31, 1999."

The group adopted a resolution for its members to increase efforts to resolve the Y2K problem and increase global cooperation. Acknowledging that some failures are inevitable, much of the time was spent discussing how nations could develop contingency plans. One suggestion was to set up "SWAT teams" that could move swiftly into the hardest hit areas, such as potential failures of regional power grids. "[Y2K will] not stop at the political border of a country," Kamal pointed out.

"The U.N. was forged to bring order to a world wracked by technological disaster -- Hiroshima and Nagasaki," said Jonathan Spalter, Associate Director of the U.S. INFORMATION AGENCY. "Now, it's trying to do it again." (JG)

Link: http://www.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB19981211S0007

Link: http://www.phillynews.com/inquirer/98/Dec/12/business/UN12.htm


(Source: David Pugliese, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN, 12/12/98 via GARY NORTH'S Y2K LINKS AND FORUMS)

The Canadian government should consider invoking martial law if the millennium bug causes widespread chaos, according to newly-obtained report by EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS CANADA. The Year 2000 contingency planning group calls for orders and regulations under the Emergencies Act to be ready by the end of March 1999. Martial law was last invoked by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau on Oct. 16, 1970, to deal with the French terrorist threat -- the first and only peacetime implementation of such sweeping powers in Canada.

Defense spokesman Maj. John Blakeley said the process now being put in place is simply part of prudent planning to deal with the millennium bug and does not automatically mean the Emergencies Act will be enacted. "Basically, this is saying, 'If it gets to that stage, is everything ready?'" Several months ago the Canadian Forces (CF) were told to prepare for the biggest peacetime deployment of troops ever, in case computer failures caused by the Year 2000 problem disrupted key services.

In the reports, military officials also raise concerns that their ability to help out relies heavily on Canada's electrical, transportation, food, water and sewage systems having their own Year 2000 problems under control: "Without aggressive action in these industrial and service sectors, the Canadian Forces may not be able to make a significant impact...as a force of last resort."

Military officials point out that 16,000 troops were needed to deal with the effects of the ice storm that hit Ontario and Quebec earlier this year. In comparison, the millennium bug, "has the potential of creating a demand orders of magnitude greater than this...well beyond the CF's capability to respond." The military plans to have about 32,000 of its personnel dedicated to "Operation Abacus," with thousands more available if needed. (JG)

Link: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/national/981212/2098082.html



The NUCLEAR INFORMATION AND RESOURCE SERVICE (NIRS) has petitioned the NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION (NRC) "that nuclear power plants be shut down if they cannot prove themselves free of Year 2000 computer bugs." The NIRS warned that if the nation's 104 commercial nuclear power plants were not properly tested and declared free of the Y2K threat, there could be "severe safety and environmental problems" caused by date-sensitive electronic systems failing when 2000 starts.

The first of three NIRS petitions requires the NRC to shut down by Dec. 1, 1999, any reactor that cannot prove, through full testing, that it is Y2K compliant. The second mandates that nuclear utilities install additional backup power units to ensure steady supply of electricity to all reactors, whether they are operational or in the process of being shut down. A third petition ensures that each utility engage in a full-scale emergency response exercise during 1999 for testing plant personnel.

The vast majority of embedded systems can't be "fooled" into thinking it's 2000, so actually proving the compliance of any nuclear power plant is all but impossible. Odds are that at least one plant is going to have a safety problem. In November, a government audit of the Seabrook, New Hampshire nuclear plant found that of 1,304 programs and embedded systems afflicted by the Y2K bug, 12 had "safety implications." For example, the systems that monitored reactor coolant levels and fuel handling would not have worked properly in the Year 2000.

According to Michael Mariotte of NIRS, a little-known fact of nuclear power is that atomic reactors need a steady source of electricity to cool their cores and irradiated fuel pools even after they are shut down. Without this cooling ability, reactors would melt down and fuel pools would boil dry, releasing their highly-radioactive inventories. To compensate, nuclear plants are required to have two back-up power sources. But the NRC says these diesel generators are only 95 percent reliable -- that means that if all 200 or so generators in the U.S. were required at one time, the odds are that 10 would fail.

To this, Y2K analyst Gary North comments: "At present, no [nuclear power] plant is compliant. As Y2K fears build, the NRC will be forced [to] shut down noncompliant plants....This will be on July 1, if the NRC follows its own guidelines."

The conundrum facing the NRC is that nuclear power plants provide approximately 40 percent of the electricity used by the Eastern U.S. and about 22 percent of the electricity used nationally. With every power plant in the U.S. operating at full capacity, the power grid can only produce about 20 percent more electricity than the U.S. typically uses. Shutting down all the nuclear reactors would overtax the national power grid resulting in brownouts and blackouts in some portions of the country. (JG, DS)

Link: http://www.nirs.org/y2k/NUCLEARPOWERANDY2K.htm

Link: http://www.infoseek.com/Content?arn=a1561rittz

Link: http://dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/wr/story.html?s=v/nm/19981210/wr/nukes_1.html

Link: http://www.wired.com/news/news/politics/story/16772.html


(Source: Jim Cunningham, CALGARY HERALD, 12/13/98 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

Too much power during the millennium rollover could be just as bad as not enough, say millennium bug experts in the Province of Alberta. According to Dave Noble, Chair of ALBERTA DISASTER SERVICES, all it would take would to overload the entire Pacific Northwest Power Grid would be for some major industrial users of electricity to shut down due to Y2K problems. The drop in demand for electricity could result in supply suddenly exceeding demand, triggering a blackout. While Noble says that such an outage is "unlikely," Linda Thomas of TRANSALTA, the province's biggest power generator, confirms that this is a very real risk for Alberta (and, by extension, the rest of North America). "It's like a power surge." The grid depends on roughly an equal match between power supply and demand.

Noble is "cautiously optimistic" about Alberta's Y2K preparations, but admits that getting through the date switch without a disaster depends on the power, water, natural gas and phone systems continuing to function normally. "There are no guarantees in this business, not for Y2K, not for anything," adds Greg Ptashny, the Year 2000 coordinator for ENMAX, Calgary's power distribution utility.

One possible solution is for the ALBERTA POWER POOL, which manages the electricity grid in the province, to quickly cut the province loose from the rest of the continental power grid in the event of a drop in demand elsewhere. Conversely, if a similar problem originated within Alberta, generators would have to be taken off line equally quickly to keep things in balance. (JG)

Link: http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/stories/981213/2100187.html



The VICTORIAN ELECTRICITY SUPPLY INDUSTRY (VESI) of Australia has announced that remediation and testing of the State of Victoria's 13 distribution, transmission and generating companies will be 100 percent complete by December 31, with the first half of 1999 to be spent confirming full Y2K compliancy and developing contingency plans. By contrast, the ELECTRICITY ASSOCIATION OF NEW SOUTH WALES (EANSW) has revealed that the State of New South Wales is still working on its Y2K risk analysis and assessment, and has only remediated and tested 54 percent of its power supply and distribution systems. The executive manager of the EANSW played down the progress difference, saying that NSW would catch up next year.

Y2K analyst Gary North is skeptical of VESI's claims: "If this turns out to be true...it will mean that in one state [Victoria] of the land down under, engineers and programmers have achieved what no one else has: fully-tested compliance. Let us hope the promise comes true. Let us also hope they will show the rest of the industry, worldwide, how they did it." (JG)

Link: http://www.afr.com.au/content/981204/inform/inform2.html



According to at least one reporter, the recent San Francisco blackout happened because PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC (PG&E) was testing Y2K repairs. While this report has yet to be verified, it's a reasonable theory to explain what happened, since it wouldn't be the first time. The FEDERAL AVIATION AUTHORITY has been testing Y2K repairs on the unwitting public for weeks now, causing several terrifying mishaps at airports around the U.S. In late November in England, the installation of "millennium-compliant" software by telecommunications supplier COLT left dozens of London investment banks and brokers suffering from a two-day network failure. The network provider had previously assured users that such a failure was unlikely because a breakdown to any part of the network would be over-ridden by emergency back-up procedures. And you've probably heard other similar reports: the 2000 rollover test in a prison that unlocked all its cell doors; the security system rollover test in an auto plant that locked its employees INSIDE the building.

According to Y2KNEWSWIRE, since most companies can't afford to purchase parallel testing platforms, they're forced to test their repairs LIVE. That means taking unproven code onto the live systems and crossing their fingers. NEWSWIRE warns: "Hold on to your hats for 1999. You're about to become a beta tester for the world's largest software repair experiment." (JG)

Link: http://www.computerweekly.co.uk/cwarchive/news/19981210/cwcontainer.asp?name=D12.html

Link: http://www.y2knewswire.com


(Source: Eric Frykberg, RADIO NZ, 12/8/98)

New Zealand Minister of Parliament Peter Dunne says the Government program to deal with the Year 2000 threat is on the point of collapse. "The Government Sector has been using private consultants [who] have been [advised by] insurance companies that they will be individually liable for any advice or decisions made....Most of them have...pulled out of the job."

Bill McDermott of NZI INSURANCE says his company is one of those unlikely to provide liability insurance. "Under normal circumstances when you're looking at...something in the order of major Y2K compliance, one would look to having a contract that would pay upon performance rather than...depending on insurance protection to cover you in case of some mishap."

Without such protection, few Y2K consultants are willing to give their work a guarantee. They say computer systems tend to be sourced from so many different providers that you can't be sure the Y2K bug won't bite on January 1, 2000 until after the fateful moment has arrived.

Ross Tanner, the Deputy Commissioner responsible for Year 2000 preparedness, denies Dunne's allegations but admits, "I'm not able to give you any assurances at this stage." His task is further complicated by a national shortage of computer specialists. (JG)

Link: http://www.year2000.co.nz/y2krnz01.htm



On October 7, 1998, MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL broke a story that Mari Nahn, a lawyer for ALLIANT (a public utility based in Madison, Wisconsin), had announced to a committee of the Wisconsin legislature that Alliant was "encouraging its customers to look into alternative energy sources, including home generators." The story naturally attracted attention on the World Wide Web. The indefatigable Gary North penned the headline: "Power Company's Lawyer Spills the Beans: Buy a Home Generator." CBN NEWS' Drew Parkhill advised, "This is [a] story to print out and pass on to those you know who don't believe Y2K is real."

The next day, Alliant spokesman David Giroux backpedaled, saying that the lawyer's remark "was not meant to reflect the advice we are giving our customers." This "clarification" also received considerable media speculation about what was being said behind closed doors at Alliance and the nature of early morning phone calls from the EDISON ELECTRIC INSTITUTE.

What makes the story truly bizarre, points out WESTERGAARD ONLINE SYSTEMS, is that Alliant is right to encourage its customers to investigate alternative energy sources, including back-up generators, since a major part of Year 2000-readiness is the development of contingency plans in case problems do occur. WESTERGAARD recommends that if you do choose to purchase a back-up generation system, be sure to verify that the unit is Year 2000-compliant and that the fuel source is reliable. (JG)

Link: http://y2ktimebomb.com/Industry/Utilities/lcore9847.htm


(Sources: Nicole Veash, THE OBSERVER (UK), 12/13/98; BBC RADIO 5 LIVE, 12/13/98, both via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

In the direst warning yet of a potential millennium meltdown, Britons were warned by Gwynneth Flower, head of the British government's millennium bug task force ACTION 2000, to stock up with two weeks' emergency food rations in anticipation of millennium bug-related shortages. Later, in a bizarre about face reminiscent of the ALLIANT ENERGY kerfuffle, Flower reversed her position, stating, "We don't want to see panic buying in the weeks leading up to next Christmas."

In her initial statement published in THE OBSERVER Dec.13, Flower had said, "We are talking about the sort of common sense provision that you would automatically do to ensure against any potential emergency. Tins, dried foods and grains will be very useful. Cans of soup, maybe half a dozen curries, tuna and packets of biscuits. Long-life milk would also be a good idea, although we wouldn't advise people to stockpile water." The comments caused severe embarrassment to the ruling Labor Party, which has repeatedly assured the public that food and power supplies will not be affected by computer problems at the turn of the millennium.

But later the same day, speaking to BBC RADIO 5 LIVE, Flower denied that she was encouraging people to stockpile goods, and accused The Observer of quoting her out of context. "[No] need to take any specific action. We don't want people hoarding....We know that we cannot eliminate the effects of the bug, but we do know that we can reduce it to acceptable levels. We anticipate the problems will be local and short term [and] that infrastructure will survive the millennium." (JG)

Link: http://reports.guardian.co.uk/articles/1998/12/13/38148.html

Link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/uk/newsid_234000/234077.stm


(Source: Lisa M. Bowman, ZDNET, 12/11/98 via SANGER'S REVIEW OF Y2K NEWS REPORTS)

In a recent test conducted by California's DEPARTMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY, only two thirds of the embedded systems in the CORCORAN STATE PRISON were found to be Y2K ready. The state chose to study Corcoran because it represents a microcosm of a small city, with housing, fire and hospital facilities. The maximum-security penitentiary also houses some of the most infamous criminals ever to pass through the state, including Charles Manson.

Some state officials have expressed concerns about embedded systems in prison doors, but DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS officials say the doors aren't date-sensitive. "Should there be any problem, they have the manual override," said Jan Williams, Communications Coordinator for the department's Y2K embedded systems projects. "They fail in the locked position. That's how they were designed."

On the national level, lawmakers recently awarded a failing grade in Year 2000 compliance to the DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, the department that oversees federal prisons. (JG)

Link: http://www.excite.com/computers_and_internet/tech_news/zdnet/?article=/news/


(Source: Y2KNEWSWIRE, 12/16/98)

Y2KNEWSWIRE is asking for help to confirm or dispel several Y2K-related rumors. They are looking for VERIFIABLE evidence, including public statements, news reports, and other printed materials. Here are some of the persistent rumors that just won't go away, but have yet to be verified:

Anti-hoarding Law: Some people are saying a law has already been passed in the U.S. making it illegal to possess more than 90 days of food. Fact or fiction?

San Francisco Power Outage: There have been plenty of rumors that it was Y2K-related, but no facts yet. Y2KNEWSWIRE even contacted the mayor on the issue, but all they got was, "No comment."

Military Meals: Some people are reporting the federal government has made it illegal to buy, possess or trade in government-issue MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).

Automobile Recalls: Rumors abound that some automobiles have been recalled due to Y2K-related issues, but not one has been confirmed.

If you have any evidence on these, or similar issues, Y2KNEWSWIRE asks that you email them at: "tips@y2knewswire.com". They guarantee anonymity. NHNE is also interested in any information you might have on these topics. You can email us at: "nhne@nhne.com." (JG, DS)

Link: http://www.y2ksupply.com


(Source: Ed Yardeni, Y2K REPORTER, 12/8/98)

Y2K analyst Ed Yardeni has examined Y2K corporate progress by studying budget data available in third quarter SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION filings. Based on his assumption that there is a direct correlation between the percentage of budget spent and progress in Y2K remediation, many companies have a great deal of work to do in a very short period of time.

Here are some of his findings:

- At the top of the spending-to-budget progress list is the financial sector (53 percent); followed by capital goods (46 percent); health care and consumer staples (42 percent), transportation and energy (40 percent), technology (37 percent), basic materials (36 percent), communications (35 percent), and utilities (31 percent).

- There are laggards in every major industry. Even in the leading financial sector, 36 percent have spent less than half of their Y2K budgets.

- Only eight companies claim that they are nearly finished, having spending-to-budget ratios of 80 percent or more.

- In the utility sector, only five of the 34 companies surveyed have spent more than 50 percent of their budgets; 10 have spent less than 20 percent. (JG)

Link: (http://www.yardeni.com/y2kreporter.html)



Warren S. Reid, author of "The Year 2000 Computer Crisis," has written an excellent and well-thought-out article about the similarities between Y2K and the ill-fated Titanic "so that you may better navigate similar icebergs on your own Year 2000 horizon -- and steer clear." Here are some edited excerpts from the article, which is worth reading in its entirety:

"Before the Titanic ever struck the iceberg, it had received a total of seven iceberg warnings from other ships. The last warning was not even delivered to the ship's captain, so he wouldn't be disturbed while entertaining passengers. So too, many executives and even CIOs have ignored the press, and consistent warnings of impending doom from industry pundits, experts, television, magazines, radio, video tapes, conferences, newspapers."

"No boat drills ever took place on the Titanic that would have allowed the passengers and crew to practice the procedures to follow in the event of a crash or need to evacuate. Likewise, virtually no company, as of today, has a fully-documented, tested, and communicated contingency plan that outlines the steps, procedures, logistics, systems, and people necessary to keep the company going in the event that mission-critical systems fail."

"The Titanic carried only 20 lifeboats. These lifeboats, even if fully loaded, couldn't hold 50 percent of the passengers. However, if [a] ship is 'unsinkable,' why worry? You worry because with so much at stake, it is critical to plan for the unexpected! Yet many companies today are afraid or unwilling to accept that the Year-2000 fix can, and in many cases will require huge resources in dollars, outsourcing, facilities, tools, management, planning, doubling up staff to implement concurrent contingency plans and remediation efforts. For instance, why are some more progressive banks and companies budgeting $250 - $500 million while other similarly-situated companies are budgeting only $20 - $40 million?"

"When the ship struck the iceberg, passengers gave no importance to the incident -- still believing the ship 'unsinkable.' This false belief proved even deadlier as time went on, because passengers refused to board the lifeboats. The belief in the ship's hype, and the disbelief that such a tragedy could happen to oneself personally, cost many lives. The later it gets the more some companies today believe that they missed the boat and become further paralyzed. Do what you can now! The key is to save as many of your company's assets, customers, suppliers, contracts, relationships, competitive advantage situations as possible, until the time the remediated or replacement systems become available."

"All of the lifeboats except one refused to return to help other passengers in the freezing water onto their lifeboats, for fear of capsizing their small vessels. The Year 2000 analogy again is that a company cannot just sail forward into the sunset on its own. It must share its Y2K plans, know-how, secrets, staff, resources with those partners that are not as far along or are unable to do it on their own. What good is surviving if your suppliers can no longer supply you, or your vendors are out of business?" (JG)

Link: http://www.year2000.com/archive/wreid1.html



Ask any football player about an "ugly" win and he will tell you that there are no adjectives in the record books, just wins and losses. The same holds true for Y2K where it is sometimes possible, by simply adjusting the clock that programs read, to postpone the drop-dead date. While not elegant, it is a perfectly valid solution.

This kind of fix is called "date setback." There are two types of date setback techniques, one requiring the manipulation of data, and the other involving the system clock itself. Year data can be set back by a multiple of 28 years, since the calendar repeats itself every 28 years. Thus "98" would appear to be "70" (or "42"). This approach is by far the riskiest as it requires changes to both code and data; alteration of existing date values; and manipulation of date values at input to subtract the setback, and at output to restore the amount of the setback. Setting the computer's system clock back, on the other hand, is an simpler alternative for a stand-alone device that has no inputs or outputs from other systems.

In Sweden, 50 percent of the power comes from nuclear power reactors. Anders Oesterberg, spokesman for the nuclear power plant "Oskarshamn" tells this story: "We turned the clock forward in our computer system and found the reactor broke down as soon as it was confronted with the figure 1999." Oskarshamn postponed the problem by turning back clocks to make its data system believe that 1999 was 1991, delaying bug problems by eight years. "That will leave us plenty of time to replace the old computer systems," he said. (JG)

Link: http://y2ktimebomb.com/Computech/Issues/hbela9848.htm


(Source: Neil Winton, REUTERS/FOX NEWS, 12/7/98 via Y2KNEWSWIRE)

1999 is likely to see rising panic as people everywhere scramble to prepare for failures and shortages triggered by the Year 2000, according to Ross Anderson of CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY's Computer Security Research Centre. "My own feeling is that around August or September, panic will start, with hoarding of food and bank notes. Then the whole thing becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy." The millennium bomb could trigger disasters around the world in everything from defense, transport and telecommunications to energy and financial services. The most vulnerable countries include Japan, France, Russia and Brazil, and the most vulnerable sectors are utilities, especially those involved in power generation.

Japan's lack of action is causing concern. The Japanese government admitted last month that important industries like finance, transport, energy, telecommunications and medicine were badly lagging in Year 2000 preparation.

In western Europe, France is most at risk, with computer failures most likely in the public sector and especially public utilities. Problems in France could quickly become a problem for neighbors such as Britain, which receives electric power from France. "There is still quite a question mark over whether France sees the scale of the problem," said Chris Webster, head of Year 2000 services at CAP GEMINI.

According to Patrick Ward, Year 2000 expert at JP MORGAN, eastern Europe's and Russia's utilities are a big concern, not the least because Russia provides 40 percent of Germany's power.

At the bottom of the list is Brazil, the world's eighth largest economy and a major producer of industrial components, commodities and grains. Brazil is unlikely to be able to confine problems within its borders, according to a recent report by Edward Yardeni, chief economist for DEUTSCHE MORGAN GRENFELL in New York.

Some system crashes may be triggered as early as January 1, 1999. This might be a blessing in disguise, since they will more than likely involve accounting, planning and budgeting systems rather than the critical operational systems which carry out day-to-day business. Says CAP GEMINI's Webster, "It will give us some experience in spotting the errors and knowing how to deal with them." (JG)

Link: http://www.foxnews.com/js_index.sml?content=/scitech/120798/panic.sml


(Source: Douglas Carmichael, 7/23/98 via GARY NORTH'S Y2K LINKS AND FORUMS)

Social theorist Douglas Carmichael has written a remarkable essay on the need for social preparation beyond the Year 2000. In the essay, he asks: "How can we get from here to there, when Y2K blocks the road?" The article is worth printing out in its entirety, and digesting over time. Here are a few edited excerpts:

"In a just-in-time, no-storage world where half the world's population of six billion are in cities, over-crowded, dependent on transportation and communications and the good will of those in the supporting infrastructure, a real catastrophe is possible. We could not rule out that social collapse would turn us into a Rwanda, a Bosnia, in a world-wide spasm of social reaction in grasping for power and control. In such a world, a loss of half the population is not out of the question. It's sufficient motive to mobilize us towards the prevailing of the Human Spirit and the Spirit of Community."

"If Y2K is a symptom, what is it a symptom of? We need to deepen our analysis if we can hope to get hold of the underlying causes of Y2K. There are several social aspects:

"Complexity and Collapse: We are spending an increasingly-large part of the Gross National Product on digitalization. Some of this is productive, and some is mere maintenance. History indicates that societies collapse when their infrastructure costs increase more rapidly then their productivity. This is happening at the same time that a rising population puts increasingly heavy demands on our infrastructures. Put too many decorations on a Christmas tree and finally it breaks.

"Inflation: As prices go up, wages tend to stay constant. The result, along with rising interest rates and rents, means a slow shift of wealth upwards until society breaks. This happened in the West in 1400, 1600, and 1800 (roughly), with major reshuffling of power and loss of population. We have been on [our most recent] steep rise since about 1870.

"Denial and Psychology: We are letting ourselves be transformed into machinery. The result is that digitalization is replacing nature. Population, biotech, pollution, food content, and daily complexity are out of control. Another part of denial is the culture of contempt towards workers. 'Our people are working on it' is not said with affection. Programmers are very distrustful of management. The managers know they are disliked, but haven't cared. The resulting implications for Y2K compliance are not good."

"We are in the middle of a very complex social process. My advice is: read history -- the French Revolution, the Thirty Year's War, the collapse of complex societies, the emergence of feudalism, the rise of industrialization, the making of the oil industry, the Meiji restoration, the Luddites, myths of creation and destruction -- every historical episode provides a map of some aspect of the current situation." (JG)

Link: http://www.tmn.com/y2k/y2kwho.htm



(Source: Anonymous, thanks to Dr. Marianna Fay Hartsong for sharing this with NHNE.)

[Just in case you think that the financial establishment has the wherewithal to gracefully and competently handle any Y2K disruptions, we pass along this horror story.]

In March 1992, a man living near Boston, Massachusetts received a bill for his as-yet-unused credit card stating that he owed "$0.00." He threw it away. In April, he received another and threw that one away too. The following month the credit card company sent him a very nasty note stating they were going to cancel his card if he didn't send them $0.00 by return of post. He called them. They said it was a computer error and told him they'd take care of it.

The following month our hero decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome credit card, figuring that if there were purchases on his account it would put an end to his ridiculous predicament. However, the first time he tried to use his card, he was informed it had been canceled. He called the credit card company who apologized for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of it. The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue. Assuming that, having spoken to the credit card company only the previous day, the latest bill was yet another mistake, he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the problem out. The next month he got a bill for $0.00 stating that he had 10 days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt.

Giving in, he thought he would play the company at their own game and mailed them a check for $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the credit card company nothing at all. A week later, the man's bank called him asking him what he was doing writing a check for $0.00. After his lengthy explanation, the bank replied that the $0.00 check had caused their check processing software to fail. The bank could not process ANY checks from ANY of their customers for the rest of that day.

The following month the man received a letter from the credit card company claiming that his check had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and, unless he sent a check by return of post, they would be taking steps to recover the debt. The man, who had been considering buying his wife a computer for her birthday, bought her a typewriter instead. (JG)


(Source: Michael Cohn, COMPUTERWORLD, 12/12/98 via YEAR 2000 INFORMATION CENTER)

Michael Cohn is a Year 2000 project manager who has been remediating and charting and partitioning and date-warping and testing "till the cows come home." But Cohn is worried, because there is question nagging at the back of his mind that won't go away -- a question that thousands of other Y2K project managers are also asking themselves: "What will become of me after 2000?"

"All is not lost," says Cohn. "When all is said and done, we will have jobs. But the hard truth is, many of us will have to look outside information technology." For those of you Y2K project managers wondering where to send your resumes, Cohn advises that your Year 2000 experience qualifies you for a slew of positions:

Waiter: Face it, it's just like being a Year 2000 project manager. Except, to get the full effect, you need about 40 tables, all with customers screaming that their stuffed potato skins are cold, while you spend most of your time in the kitchen desperately trying to convince the chef that: no, this is not a hoax, there really are people out there.

Lawyer: You know you're in trouble when there aren't enough lawyers. But after 2000, everybody will be suing everybody. They'll need prosecutors. They'll need defenders. They'll need those guys who get to hold out the Bible while witnesses swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but...

Blacksmith: Ideal job for the first quarter of the Year 2000, because there will probably be no gas, no traffic lights -- and cars won't start for some mysterious, unfixable reason.

Pro Wrestling Referee: Control two, four or occasionally several dozen combatants, all of whom may weigh more than you. Settle disputes, pound on the mat and get hit over the head with a metal folding chair (which actually happened to Cohn during one steering committee meeting).

Department Store Santa: The perfect post-millennium job for the struggling Year 2000 victim. Thousands of people sit on you. They tell you what they want. You laugh and smile but you know, deep down, that there's no chance in hell you are going to be able to give it to them.

Bartender: There's no shame in dispensing a good stiff drink. By January 2000, we're all going to need one! (JG)

Link: http://www2.idg.com.au/CWT1997.nsf/09e1552169f2a5dcca2564610027fd24/3f37dd


Copyright 1998 by NewHeavenNewEarth

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