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An NHNE Y2K Special Report

The Millennium Time Bomb: Part Two
Thursday, July 2, 1998

 

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NHNE Special Report:
The Millennium Time Bomb
Thursday, July 2, 1998

PART TWO OF TWO

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Our work is made possible
by the kind and generous support
of people everywhere
who want to solve the fundamental mysteries of life
and help give birth
to a new, more spirit-filled and loving, world.

See the end of this report for more information.

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PART TWO:

MORE QUOTES, SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS & ARTICLES:
Military on Year 2000 Alert
An IRS Update
Why The Government's Machines Won't Make It
Apocalyptic Messengers & Messages
The Mob Takes Byte Out of Business
Misc. Facts & Figures
The Y2K Weatherman Report

IMPORTANT Y2K LINKS
CREDITS & GENERAL INFORMATION

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MILITARY ON YEAR 2000 ALERT
(Source: THE BOSTON GLOBE, by Fred Kaplan, 6/21/98, thanks to SwiftWing Researcher Sherri Amderson for tracking down this article.)

Sometime in 1993 -- memories are hazy and nothing was written down for the public -- the NORTH AMERICAN AIR DEFENSE COMMAND (NORAD) in Cheyenne Mountain, CO., conducted a test to see what would happen to all their computers -- the ones that warn of a nuclear attack -- on New Year's Day of the Year 2000.

As with nearly all computers, years were designated only by their last two digits -- "98" for 1998, "99" for 1999, and so on. A few engineers were starting to speculate: When 2000 comes along, the computers would read it as "00" and think it was 1900. What would happen?

What happened was, everything froze -- the screens that monitored the early-warning satellites and radars and other communications systems that would detect a flock of missiles or bombers coming our way. "It all locked up at the stroke of midnight," recalled Robert Martin, a top computer specialist.

Martin was not present at the simulation, but his life has been ruled by it ever since. At the MITRE CORP. in Bedford, one of the leading Pentagon contractors working to solve this problem, Martin is the "focal point" for "Y2K" -- the cognoscenti's abbreviation for "Year 2000."

The problem is hardly restricted to NORAD. The DEFENSE DEPARTMENT has about 25,000 computer systems -- 2,803 of them classified as "mission-critical systems," meaning that, without them, the military could no longer carry out a major mission. These include computers for "all kinds" of weapons, Martin said, "the full spectrum," from nuclear missiles to a sergeant's battlefield laptop, as well as the various satellites, sensors, radars, and communications networks that link them into a unified fighting machine. Asked what computers are NOT affected by the Year 2000 problem, Martin replied, "I can't think of many."

The Y2K problem is now a well-known bug -- the one demon in the bag of popular millennial nightmares that is based not on Nostradamus or other mythic apocrypha, but on hard science.

Every federal agency, bank, and major corporation has teams devoting thousands of manhours to solving the problem in the next 18 months, before the deadline inexorably strikes. But the military may be the hardest hit, because the consequences could affect not just paychecks and power grids, but war and peace.

PENTAGON officials are hopeful that they will fix at least all the critical systems in time, but they admit it will be a close call, at best.

"The Year 2000 problem is the electronic equivalent of El Nino," Deputy Defense Secretary John J. Hamre told the Senate Armed Services Committee two weeks ago. "This is going to have implications in the world ... that we can't even comprehend."

Other countries' militaries could be especially devastated. "We at least have a program to deal with the problem," noted Bruce Blair, a nuclear weapons specialist at the BROOKINGS INSTITUTION. Most countries "have nothing." According to the Pentagon, only four countries -- the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia -- are doing anything to prepare their military computers for 2000.

Hamre said the situation is so grim that the PENTAGON is developing a program to share data from US early-warning satellites with other countries, including Russia and China. Otherwise, come 2000, such nations may find themselves in the dark, uncertain whether an attack is coming or not -- which, in a crisis, could provoke great anxiety.

Blair, who has interviewed several Russian nuclear officers, said Russia faces particularly dire straits. Since its army has collapsed, it is relying far more on its nuclear weapons for security. And, because of shortages in manpower and money, its nuclear weapons are becoming increasingly vulnerable and its early-warning network more riddled with gaps.

"Y2K is just a piling-on of a whole nest of problems," Blair said. Top PENTAGON officials did not become fully aware of the problem until October 1995, during an interagency meeting called by the SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION. The agency had been performing its own simulations, which showed that Year 2000 glitches could cause millions of citizens to stop getting their retirement checks -- perhaps even expunge their names from the records -- because the computers, "thinking" it was 1900 instead of 2000, would conclude that all these beneficiaries were way too young to qualify for Social Security.

That meeting resulted in a directive, sent to every relevant office in the DEFENSE DEPARTMENT, to address Y2K as a top priority. By the end of next year, $1.9 billion will have been shifted from various weapons programs to prepare for 2000.

Of the 2,803 "mission-critical" computer systems, the PENTAGON reports that 812 -- 29 percent -- are fixed, and most of the rest are being renovated. However, Hamre testified, the program is four months behind schedule -- not a small matter, given that 2000 is 18 months away.

The problem, Mitre's Martin explained, is that some of the fixes are taking much longer than anyone could have estimated.

The solution, for most computers, is for programmers to go into the Software code and do one of two things. Either they change the symbol for years from two digits to four digits (for example, from "00" to "2000"). Or, they change the code so that the computer reads year-numbers greater than "50" to mean the 1900s -- and smaller than "50" to mean the 2000s.

One problem, however, is many of these computers are old and nobody who is still around knows what the code is. "That's a big problem," Martin said, "finding the code."

Even once that problem is solved, Hamre warned the Senate, "there is no guarantee all ... systems will be free of risk."

First, the commercial computer industry might not be able to supply the large quantity of hardware -- the communications hubs, routers, and servers -- needed to make the fixes.

Then, the fixes themselves need to be tested and de-bugged -- which, as anyone who has purchased a software program during its first weeks on the market knows, can take a while.

Finally, military computers interact with each other and with civilian computers -- and these interactions could unfold in unforeseeable ways. "There is a web of connectedness," Martin noted. If even one connection in this web has a Year 2000 problem, the whole system becomes "a house of cards." Furthermore, it is not entirely predictable just how any given house of cards might collapse.

When the CHRYSLER CORP. conducted a test of its Y2K solutions at an assembly plant last year, the time clocks malfunctioned, causing the security system to shut down, making it impossible for anyone to leave the building.

When the PHILLIPS PETROLEUM CO. ran a simulation onboard an oil vessel in the North Sea, a safety system designed to detect a deadly gas, hydrogen sulfide, shut down.

In some cases, real-life failures have taken place that only begin to hint at how far-flung the problems might be.

A preview of possible military disasters was the incident in the 1991 Gulf War, when a Scud missile blew up a barracks in Saudi Arabia, killing 28 National Guard troops inside...

John Pike, a weapons specialist at the FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS, explained: "Systems generally require time-synchronization in order to talk to each other. A lot of systems use time-synchronization as a way to establish data links." So, if one computer says it is 1900 and another says it is 2000, "they can't talk to each other."

"It's kind of ludicrous that Y2K should be a problem," Pike said. "I mean, two digits in a software program? Causing catastrophes of these magnitudes?"

Hamre put it another way in his Senate testimony: "If we built houses the way we build software, the first woodpecker to come along would destroy civilization."

The complete article can be found at:
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe/globehtml/172/Military_on_Year_2000_alert.htm

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AN IRS UPDATE
(Source: GOVERNMENT COMPUTER NEWS NETWORK, 6/15/98, by Peyman Pejman, thanks to Y2K WEATHERMAN REPORT #49, 6/30/98, for alerting us to this interview.)

John Yost's mission at the IRS is pretty straightforward: Keep thousands of systems nationwide from coming to a screeching halt because of date code problems. Yost, who previously oversaw applications development for the service, has been director of the IRS' Century Date Change Project since September 1996. Though he has a major job to do, he's upbeat that Jan. 1, 2000, will not be a doomsday for the IRS. The service has completed fixes on more than half its mission-critical systems. It expects to finish renovating the rest between next month and January. GCN staff writer Peyman Pejman interviewed Yost at his IRS office.

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GCN: How many systems have you inventoried at the IRS?

YOST: We have identified 137 legacy systems, 126 of which are mission-critical. As of right now, 60 are year 2000-compliant; the application software has been modified and reintroduced to production. The rest are scheduled either for conversion next month or by January...

GCN: Is there anything for which you don't have an inventory?

YOST: I don't think so. We have an inventory of all our application software, all of our automated data processing hardware, even an inventory of all of our personal property that might have embedded chips.

GCN: How do your mainframe programs figure in this effort?

YOST: It is not limited to mainframes. But the IRS has the bulk of its software on its mainframes. That is the largest piece of the problem, but we also have applications that run on midframe computers and on our PCs. The problem is not limited to any one set of platforms. Application software has to be converted on all of them. Altogether, we have about 250,000 commercial software packages that we own, anything from Microsoft Windows 95 on PCs to IBM Corp. operating systems on mainframes. Some of them are not year 2000-ready, and some of the year 2000-ready versions are not compatible with some of the hardware devices. That's why, in some cases, we have to retire some of the equipment, ranging from some of the very old mainframes to very old PCs.

GCN: How will you fix the problem of upgraded software not being compatible with hardware?

YOST: We have two classes of mainframes. The ones that run our data entry systems today are all being replaced because of that particular problem. None of the mainframes we use as our communications and security controllers for our integrated data retrieval system is year 2000-compliant and cannot be made compliant. So these two types of mainframes will be completely replaced.

GCN: Would dealing with date code problems be easier if the IRS were further along on its systems modernization?

YOST: We have had a modernization program for a long time, and we do have an ongoing modernization program with the mainframe consolidation, replacing computers at the service centers with those in computing centers in Martinsburg, W.Va., and Memphis, Tenn. The mainframes in those two centers will be year 2000-compliant and will replace older systems, some of which are not year 2000-compliant. I think we would have had a smaller year 2000 problem if we had done a great deal of modernization earlier. But even new systems have year 2000 problems. The year 2000 project has been going on for some time; I have been involved in it for at least 18 months. I think both the modernization and the year 2000 work complement each other. One does not replace the other.

GCN: How many people work full time on year 2000 projects?

YOST: We have about 1,000 people working on it full time. I would guess about 750 of those are full-time IRS employees, and the rest are contractors. Although it is a huge effort and we are concerned about losing staff, we have been able to put on the project as many staff as we needed to devote to the work.

GCN: The IRS is giving a 10 percent salary raise to 1,000 programmers. How many of them work on year 2000?

YOST: I would guess about half of them work on year 2000 as application programmers. Others work on the systems to make the changes for the 1999 filing season.

GCN: How concerned are you that your programmers might leave for private-sector jobs?

YOST: Our overall attrition rate for application programmers traditionally was in the 3 percent to 4 percent range. Over the last two years, it has averaged nearly 8 percent. It has gone up substantially and we are concerned. That's why IRS commissioner Charles Rossotti moved forward with the retention-allowance program. There is a defection risk across the board. The external environment was driving demand for application programmers higher and higher. We felt it was necessary for us to create the retention allowance to be in a situation to be able to compete. We do have a broad program for all our employees. We have increased the amount of training we are providing, and we are going to increase the promotion potential, opening up over 100 jobs at senior programming levels. We are going to have a substantially expanded training program both this year and next. We intend to fill vacancies we have at the lower and entry levels, and we are going to fully fund all the award programs to make sure people are recognized for their work.

GCN: How much is year 2000-related work costing the IRS?

YOST: In fiscal 1997, we spent about $170 million, including work on service center consolidation and general software conversion. We went before Congress several times and asked for money, but all that is included in the $170 million. In 1998, the budget, again including service center consolidation, is $376 million, and we are likely to spend all that. We may even spend more than that.

GCN: Do you have problems finding year 2000 money?

YOST: To date, on the year 2000-project, we have never had a funding problem. On several occasions we found that we needed to increase the amount and in each of those cases, those funds have been provided.

GCN: What is your overall strategy for dealing with the year 2000 problem?

YOST: I'd say we are first identifying all areas that have year 2000 impact, identifying who the organizations are within the IRS that have responsibility for each of those projects and ensuring that they understand they have the responsibility, securing their commitment to make the changes and tracking the changes made. We are establishing testing processes to ensure all those changes can be tested to make sure they are year 2000-compliant.

GCN: How much of the systems work is being done in Washington?

YOST: The entire ADP operation is outside Washington, but a fair percentage of software developers are here. The actual computer systems are spread out across the country in our service centers, computing centers and regional and district offices. The application software is modified in Washington and then applied to the field. It's a pervasive problem both here and out there in the field.

GCN: What are the chances the IRS won't meet its deadline?

YOST: The IRS is going to correct its year 2000 problem. We are now about halfway through with our major systems, not only in converting software but reintroducing it in production to run tax processing systems. All the rest is scheduled, and we have no reason to believe we cannot change all our application software. Our hardware and commercial software will be upgraded and be in place. Our telecommunications system will be upgraded and be in place.

A complete copy of this interview can be found at:
http://www.gcn.com/gcn/1998/June15/date_code_fixes_take_top_priorit.htm

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WHY THE GOVERNMENT'S MACHINES WON'T MAKE IT
(Source: TIME DAILY, by Declan McCullagh and Bruce Van Voorst, 6/15/98, thanks to Y2K WEATHERMAN REPORT #50, 7/1/98, for alerting us to this story)

There are two little black clocks in John Koskinen's office inside the White House complex. They display not the time of day but how much time is left until the Year 2000. Time is something Koskinen desperately needs more of. He's in charge of making sure the U.S. government's computers don't crash come Jan. 1, 2000.

Koskinen's task is not just daunting; it's impossible. The feds own roughly one-quarter of all the computers in the U.S. The PENTAGON alone has about 1.5 million machines -- and it keeps discovering more. At last count, at least 4,500 of the government's most vital systems still needed to be repaired. And the studied silence of President Clinton and Vice President Gore on the subject isn't making it any easier to raise the alarm. "This is not a technical problem," Koskinen says. Right. It's a people problem: getting top bureaucrats to listen to him.

So far it hasn't worked. Last week Representative Steve Horn, perhaps the most Y2K-savvy Congressman, gave Uncle Sam's software failing grades. "Under Koskinen," the California Republican growled in a voice that could give anyone what-if nightmares, "government performance has fallen from a D minus to an F." At current debugging rates, 13 of the 24 largest agencies won't have fixed their most crucial computers in time. Among them:

THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION. The FAA has plans to ground planes if its air-traffic system isn't repaired--and it may have to carry them out. The government's own accountants complained earlier this year that "at its present rate, the FAA will not make it." The DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, meanwhile, flunked Horn's report card for its laughably poor efforts to overhaul its 630 most critical systems, which the agency says will be complete, oh, by sometime in 2004. Still, FAA Y2K chief Ray Long insists that air traffic is a top priority, and "there's no doubt in my mind that we're going to meet our [Year 2000] deadlines."

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE. During Bill Curtis' 27-year career as a military computer programmer, he wrote more than a few lines of code that were century-insensitive. "I made decisions that we could only use two digits for the date," he confesses. Now, as the head of the DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE'S Y2K office, Curtis is in charge of fixing his own--and everyone else's--software screwups. It's a job nobody else wanted. Although the PENTAGON began Y2K planning in 1995, repairs of the most vital computer systems were only 9% complete this spring. The F-15 and the Navy's Tomahawk missile are two of 34 as yet undebugged weapons systems cited in a report scheduled to be released this week. When pressed, Curtis admits that even the military's most "mission critical" systems--perhaps 2,800 in all--won't be ready in time. Officials insist that America's nuclear arsenal is more or less fail-safe, which means that if the computer systems go haywire, the missiles won't launch. Whether the same is true of Russia's nukes is an open question.

INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE. The good news is that the IRS may not be able to process your tax returns. The bad news is that it won't be handing out any refunds either. Since last fall, says newly installed Commissioner Charles Rossotti, the agency has upped estimates of its Y2K costs repeatedly, from $250 million to $850 million to more than $1 billion. It fell behind its own deadline of having 66 of its 127 most vital systems fixed by January 1998, and still hasn't finished deciding which minicomputers, file servers and PCs need debugging. Even if the IRS gets fixed, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans benefits checks come from the TREASURY DEPARTMENT'S Financial Management Service, a little-known agency through which almost all the government's payments and collections flow. It's in poor shape. As of March, FMS hadn't finished even the preliminary step of deciding which systems needed to be repaired.

What nobody, not even Koskinen, knows is how bad the crash will be. So why doesn't he press the panic button during speeches and interviews? "Would we do better if I stood up tomorrow and said this is a national crisis?" he asks in reply. Probably not. But it might get the bureaucrats' attention.

http://www.pathfinder.com/time/magazine/1998/dom/980615/technology_why_the_gover.html

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APOCALYPTIC MESSENGERS & MESSAGES
By Steve Davis
(Exerpted from the "Doom and Gloom" section of the "Impact of the Year 2000 Problem" Website)

Now, while I believe that we have a very serious risk for impact from the year 2000 problem and that we may see some very serious impacts if we do not do enough to prepare for it, I do not predict "The-end-of-life-as-we-know-it". I want to counter some of the extremism that is out there. While, I have nothing against an individual's right to religious freedom -- I'd fight for it -- I need to shed light on the Y2K religious connection. My research on the relationship between "Doom and Gloom" and religion was fascinating. Ideas like Christian Economics, Postmillennialism, and Reconstructionism explain where these guys are coming from. These are the concepts that make some individuals happy to hope for the end of civilization as we know it. Both religious beliefs and profit motives are behind the hype and are the hiddenagenda of many doom andgloomers.

These people are not trying to help solve the problem, therefore they are part of the problem...

Some of the Doom and Gloom set are actually motivated by things that go way beyond Y2K. They're a combination of survivalists, radical Christians (including reconstructionists), and secessionists with an agenda that includes:

-- Returning to "God's plan" for government through total destruction of current institutions

-- Secession of States from the United States of America

-- Beginning a period of civil war

-- Creating panic to further their hopes for destruction and deliverance

One group, The Creator's Rights party says:

"Think about it: the formation of HOME DEFENSE FORCES perfectly symbolizes the actual meaning of the Y2K problem. Should the Y2K problem go unresolved, you in self-defense could actually be forced to fight off hoards of starving and thirsty people streaming out of dark and cold cities all across this nation."

Gary North's Y2K Links and Forums offers a good look into the world of Y2K doom and gloomers. His home page is titled "The Year 2000 Problem: The Year the Earth Stands Still."

Gary runs an extensive discussion list where folks talk about preparing for the downfall of civilization and a time in which bullets will be traded for food. "Head for the hills" they say and be able to provide for yourself since the end of the world in nigh. I found several of his articles reviewed on a site called Contra Mundum (against the world). Many members of these "movements" use the web to further their message...

While some of these people are simply concerned for their personal safety and on surviving the crisis, others are taking an approach that may lead to public panic. And they offer no help other than to "head for the hills." You can infer some things from the writings and discussions on the list. Decide for yourself after reading some of Gary North's words:

"I wrote a book on it in 1986 HONEST MONEY. I would like nothing better than to see the entire system replaced. I think that's what we will see -- in 33 months. Actually, it will probably begin to break up in 1999. I hope so. The sooner, the better."

"This will decentralize the social order. That is what I have wanted all of my adult life. In my view, Y2K is our deliverance."

"The Y2K crisis is systemic. It cannot possibly be fixed. I think it will wipe out every national government in the West. Not just modify them -- destroy them. I honestly think the Federal government will go under. I think the U.S.A. will break up the way the U.S.S.R. did. Call me a dreamer. Call me an optimist. That's what I think."

"I am also unaware of any Y2K programmer who says, 'Even if programmers don't get this fixed, there will not be big problems.' The debate is over two questions: 1. 'Can the programmers get this fixed in time?' and 2. 'How big will our problems be if they don't?' My answers 'no' and 'catastrophic.' You'll have to decide for yourself, either now or later."

"One last warning: the governments' strategy, all over the world, is: 1. talk this problem to death; 2. form committees; and 3. send out PR sheets that they will make it -- without evidence. But this problem cannot be talked to death or solved by committees. It cannot be avoided. There is an absolutely fixed deadline. Bureaucrats are not used to absolutely fixed deadlines. Neither are computer programmers."

http://www.erols.com/steve451/doom.htm

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Gary North:
http://www.garynorth.com

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THE MOB TAKES BYTE OUT OF BUSINESS
(Source: THE NEW YORK POST, by Beth Piskora, thanks to Robert Sniadach for alerting us to this article.)

The mob reportedly set up a consultancy to help companies fix computers plagued by the Year 2000 bug. The mob-hired programmers then rewrote software to redirect payments to mob-controlled accounts...

In a scam recently uncovered by FBI investigators, an organized-crime family set up what looked like a legitimate technology consulting firm as a way to funnel cash from corporate America to Mafia-controlled coffers. Investigators would not identify which crime family was at the center of the scam, but warned that it is just the tip of the iceberg. The mob reportedly set up a consultancy to help companies fix computers plagued by the so-called millennium bug, which threatens to cripple many computer systems when the year 2000 arrives. The consultancy came complete with a fancy Web site, toll-free phone number and other features that made it appear like a legitimate firm. The mob-hired computer programmers were busily rewriting financial software to redirect payments to mob-controlled accounts. The scam was disclosed at a conference on organized crime and business, sponsored by Kroll Associates, a world leader in business intelligence, investigations and risk mitigation.

Complete article:
http://www.nypostonline.com/news/2589.htm

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MISC. FACTS & FIGURES:

25 BILLION EMBEDDED SYSTEMS

By the year 2000, there will be an estimated 25 billion embedded systems, according to THE GARTNER GROUP, which advertises itself as the world's foremost authority on information technology. By GARTNER GROUP'S estimate, two-tenths of one percent of these 25 billion embedded systems will be noncompliant. Two-tenths of one percent of 25 billion is 50 million. Therefore, the problem, according to GARTNER GROUP, is to identify and replace those 50 million noncompliant embedded systems in the next 500 days. To solve this problem, someone would have to identify, replace, and test about 100,000 chips each day between now and December 31, 1999. Does the U.S. have enough technicians to identify, replace and test 100,000 chips each day? It seems unlikely.

These embedded systems tend to be embedded in the nation's core infrastructure -- in the water, sewage, and electrical utilities, in railroads and other transportation systems, in hospitals, in police and fire services, in the defense infrastructure, and in petrochemical (and other manufacturing) plants.

BYTE MAGAZINE, a technical computer journal, wrote recently, "One commonly cited problem is associated with gadgets that monitor periodic maintenance. When the clock strikes twelve on New Year's Eve, 2000, these devices might think it's been 99 years since their last maintenance, realize that's too long for safe operation, and shut down."

---RACHEL'S WEEKLY: "The Y2K Problem, Part 1", 6/25/98, by Peter Montague

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DISRUPTIONS COULD BEGIN JANUARY 1, 1999

BYTE MAGAZINE... calls Y2K "a crisis without precedent in human history." FORTUNE MAGAZINE calls it "the biggest screwup of the computer age" and says it may cost $1 trillion to fix. (The Vietnam War cost half that much, $500 billion.) The ELECTRIC POWER RESEARCH INSTITUTE (EPRI) -- a trade association for electric utility companies -- says the Y2K problem will begin to disrupt businesses, including electric utilities, a year before the new century begins: "Major disruptions in technical and business operations could begin as early as January 1, 1999. Nearly every industry will be affected," EPRI says.

If the disruptions don't begin January 1, 1999, they may begin July 1, 1999, when fiscal year 2000 begins for 46 out of the 50 states, or on October 1, 1999, when fiscal year 2000 begins for the federal government. But most of the problems will probably surface after midnight December 31, 1999.

Charles Rossetti, commissioner of the U.S. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS), told the WALL STREET JOURNAL April 22, 1998, that Y2K is a "very, very serious problem." "There's no point in sugarcoating the problem," he said. "If we don't fix the century-date problem, we will have a situation scarier than the average disaster movie you might see on a Sunday night. Twenty-one months from now, there could be 90 million taxpayers who won't get their refunds, and 95% of the revenue stream of the United States could be jeopardized." Mr. Rossetti went on to say he is confident that these problems will not occur because IRS computer experts will prevent them. Critics of IRS are not so sure.

---RACHEL'S WEEKLY: "The Y2K Problem, Part 2", 7/2/98, by Peter Montague

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FOUR REASONS:

Why is this seemingly-simple problem so difficult? MERRILL LYNCH, the financial management firm, says there are four reasons:

1. Pervasiveness: Computers that depend on dates are present in every kind of technology --manufacturing systems, medical equipment, elevators, telephone switches, satellites, and even automobiles.

2. Interdependence: Computers exchange information among themselves. "A single uncorrected system can easily spread corrupted data throughout an organization and even affect external institutions," Merrill Lynch says.

3. Inconsistency: Computer languages do not store and use dates in a consistent way. Dates are labeled, stored, and used in different ways from program to program and even within a single program. Therefore, identifying and correcting dates requires close inspection of the computer code line by line.

4. Size: Most large corporations and government agencies use thousands of programs containing millions of lines of computer code. Each line of code must be inspected manually and, if necessary, fixed.

---RACHEL'S WEEKLY: "The Y2K Problem, Part 2", 7/2/98, by Peter Montague

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LEVEL 7

While various government agencies all over the world, especially in the United States and England, are gathering computer experts, budgeting money, and developing strategies to deal with this problem, the world's most prominent experts are reporting that these efforts will not be enough to effectively cope with the problem. Bruce Webster, the organizer of the Washington D.C. Year 2000 Group, recently asked members of his organization, most of whom head bug-fixing initiatives in government agencies and private industry, to estimate the impact of the bug, on a scale from 0 to 10, with 0 being the least damaging consequences and 10 being the most serious. 84 percent of the 229 experts responding chose Level 3 or above, with level 5 being the most popular choice (mild recession, isolated supply/infrastructure problems, shortages in fuel, electrical power disruptions, runs on banks). More alarming though is Webster's personal observation that "the longer people work in this area, the more pessimistic they are." Significantly, Webster himself believes Level 7 is what we will really be facing when the new millennium arrives (political crises, regional supply/infrastructure problems and social disruptions).

---NHNE UPDATE, 5/7/98, based on an article that appeared in the May 4, 1998 issue of NEWSWEEK entitled, "Will the Bug Bite the Bull," by Steven Levy

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PREPARING FOR THE WORST:

We could be entirely wrong. However we believe it is sensible to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Individuals might take precautions to protect their families. They need water, food, shelter, and a cash reserve. They need paper records of bank accounts and insurance policies, in case computerized records are lost. But even more importantly, communities need to begin now to think about ways to mitigate these problems. All is not lost. Much trouble can be averted by focused efforts now. Awareness is the first issue. (A recent survey of 643 individuals found that 38% had never heard of the Y2K problem. Among the 400 (62%) who HAD heard of it, 80% said they believed it would be fixed before the year 2000 arrived. This contrasts with an earlier poll of technology and business executives charged with fixing Y2K problems: only 17% of them said they thought the problems would be fixed before the year 2000.). People need to be told.

Coordinated action is the second issue. People need the resources to fix their own computers.

Third, communities need to think creatively about ways to help those who are most vulnerable: people who rely on social security, veterans benefits, and private pensions, for example. What will happen if their funds are delayed? Local governments, churches, and civic groups, could begin now to bring communities together to find ways to avert serious problems that might occur. Approached properly, Y2K could become a catalyst for positive community growth and development in the best sense of those words.

---RACHEL'S WEEKLY: "The Y2K Problem, Part 2", 7/2/98, by Peter Montague

Rachel's Weekly:
http://www.monitor.net/rachel/

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THE Y2K WEATHERMAN REPORT
(Dennis Elenburg publishes THE Y2K WEATHERMAN REPORT, an online news, opinion, and suggestion report that tracks Y2K developments. Here's how Elenburg describes his publication in issue #49, 6/30/98:)

We call this the Y2k Weatherman Report because we cannot predict with certainty how calamatous the Y2K problem will be, nor can we predict with certainty exactly when the full effects will be felt, or when we will get past them. So what do you do?

You plan around the weather by being prepared. If the weather man on the local news predicts rain, you carry an umbrella or you expect to get wet. If the weather man forecasts a hurricane, you board up your windows and stock your pantry. Some people move inland, at least temporarily. If the weather man forecasts blizzard conditions, the wise person will stock up on food and get some extra wood for the fireplace.

Personally, I think the economic impact from Y2K will hit well in advance of the anticipated spike on 1/1/00, so you don't have a full 18 months to get ready. I suggest setting a date no later than 6/30/99 for completion of all your physical preparedness activities, and much earlier than this for Y2K financial planning. But most of all, get right with God. Seek His will and guidance and the rest will fall in place. It worked for me.

Y2K is like a severe, impending, global storm. Wouldn't common sense compel a rational person to prepare?

To subscribe to The Y2K Weatherman
send email to:
y2k-news-request@y2kwatch.com
leave the subject field blank and write:
"subscribe" (without the quotes)
in the message field

The Y2K Watch:
http://y2kwatch.com/
(Home of Elenburg's Y2K WEATHERMAN REPORT)

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IMPORTANT Y2K WEBSITES:

The Year 2000 Information Center/Millennium Bug:
http://www.year2000.com/

Current Y2K Press Clippings:
http://www.year2000.com/articles/NFarticles.html

The Cassandra Project:
http://millennia-bcs.com/CASFRAME.HTM

CPSR Y2k Working Group Homepage:
http://www.cpsr.org/program/y2k/

CPSR Y2k Working Group Rumor Central:
http://www.cpsr.org/program/y2k/rumors/categories.html

Impact of the Year 2000 Problem:
http://www.erols.com/steve451/impact.htm

Dr. Ed Yardeni's Y2K Information:
http://www.yardeni.com/cyber.html

Dr. Ed Yardeni's Y2K Mailing List:
http://www.yardeni.com/y2krequest.html

Mother of All Year 2000 (Y2K) Link Centers:
http://pw2.netcom.com/~helliott/00.htm

Ed Yourdon:
http://www.yourdon.com/index.htm

Electric Utilities & Year 2000:
http://www.euy2k.com

Westergaard Year 2000:
http://y2ktimebomb.com/
(Home of Westergaard Year 2000 Daily Email Alert)

Y2K for Women:
http://www.y2kwomen.com
(Practical Tips for Caregivers)

Other 2000 Year Sites:
http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/SSG/yk04408e.html
(Many links to international websites)

Steve's Favorite Year 2000 Links:
http://www.erols.com/steve451/links.htm

Microsoft Y2K Home Page:
http://www.microsoft.com/ithome/topics/year2k/default.htm
(Macintosh computers will be fine until the year 29940)

NSTL's Year 2000 Compliance Testing Program:
http://www.nstl.com/html/ymark_2000.html
(Software to test the Y2K compliance of PC's)

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Copyright 1998 by NewHeavenNewEarth

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