We've been talking about it for months- even years, and finally we're on the brink of the Year 2000. Today, Jon Gordon, MPR reporter and producer of Future Tense; and Mike O'Connor, retired Internet pioneer and volunteer Y2K advisor for St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, provide last minute Y2K tips and take questions. We also monitor what's happening when the clock strikes 12 around the world.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
(00:00:24) Good afternoon, and welcome back to our New Year's Eve edition of midday here in Minnesota Public Radio. I'm Gary eichten. Glad you could join us. Well so far so good. The sun is moving Westward around the world bringing with it the dawning of the new year and the New Millennium and so far there have been no reports of any Y2K related problems or terrorist activity for that matter. Now, we're going to be tracking the story of course right on through the day into the evening Catherine land for and I will be on the air starting at 9:00 tonight for special New Year's Eve broadcast will be can tune in for that. But this hour of midday we thought we would bring you up-to-date on Y2K. And of course if there's any news developments will have those. We're also going to give you a chance to get your last-minute Y2K questions answered get your comments in joining us here in the studio is Michael Connor who's been working as a Y2K advisor to St. Paul City. Officials. Mike was the founder of Go Fast dotnet. You've heard him on Minnesota Public Radio several times, especially the past year here on why 2K related programs joining us from San Francisco is a Minnesota public radio's technology reporter John Gordon, who course does our future tense programs and we do invite you to (00:01:34) join our conversation a great chance (00:01:36) to get some of your questions answered about Y2K. Our telephone number is six five one two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities. You can reach us toll-free at 1-800-321-8633 around midnight. You shouldn't be using the phones but it's okay to call now six five one two, two seven six thousand or 1-800 to for 22828 now during the past hour the head of the president's Council and Y2K conversion. John koskinen held a briefing room for reporters on the unfolding situation and he reports at the Y2K bug has not caused any problems in the first major cities to ring in the New Year as we move through developing areas of the world. We are Continue to have some concerns about how they will make that transition. You should also bear in mind that not all problems will be apparent immediately particularly in terms of basic infrastructure Industries, like telecommunications and Power in developing countries those problems May manifest themselves over the passage of two or three days in the gradual degradation of services rather than an Abrupt cessation of those Services. Also, it's important to bear in mind that many financial management and information processing systems will not be fully tested until the world opens for business on Monday January 3rd. Nonetheless. We are encouraged with the reports. We've received thus far and I'm delighted to have joined me here this morning and he will be with us for the briefings today under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering who will lead off this briefing with review of where we are and the information we have internationally. I will then follow with updated information we have domestically and then we will open the floor for questions. So without further ado, undersecretary (00:03:25) Pickering John thank you very much. Let me Begin by noting that we will be releasing information. We will not be releasing information on a specific country by country basis unless the circumstances especially warrant. However, we can report from the early information that we have received from our embassies and consulates and from the other sources which John mentioned that the initial reports thus far a positive and that operations are normal. This includes the first reports that we have received from Australia Fiji New Zealand and Japan and Korea and a number of the specific Island States for the US military our military facility and kwajalein atoll reports know Y2K date related failures. And as you know, CNN carried an interview with the commanders of the US military facilities on Guam and they reported that things were okay on the energy. Side the 8 a.m. Roll over for Eastern Australia occurred without incident us industry is continuing to monitor oil and natural gas production facilities oil refineries oil pipeline transport and Retail gasoline service stations in Eastern Russia, and in Australia positive passage reports continue to come in from oil facilities in New Zealand, the New Zealand Refinery country Company Limited the operator of the country's main oil refinery Marsden Point reports that it has made the transition to the year 2000 without incident in Russia. The small Billy be no nuclear reactor plant in the Russian Far East rolled over uneventfully according to conversation which undersecretary. I'm sorry Secretary of Energy bill Richardson had with the Russian Ministry of atomic energy. This is the first nuclear power plant after the International Date Line to roll over. We have also received a report from Vladivostok in Russia, which reports things are fine there the Russian reports also include the fact that the first two time zones on the Russian Central grid, if you can imagine it five time zones in from the Pacific the three time zones on the Pacific are not on the National Grid are also reporting that they're operating normally Japan and Korea have of course as I noted earlier reported that things are functioning well in their areas for financial questions that business is going to head as usual in New Zealand in the early hours of the first of January. There are no reported disruptions in infrastructure in the financial sector and all parts of that sector report normal conditions. There are no signs of stress as of the last days on of the business year on markets in the region no liquidity issues or abnormal bank or deposit. Events The Reserve Bank of New in New Zealand has told us that increased Market liquidity in the days before Y2K took place and it appears that this has been more than sufficient to assure a comfortable Market condition for the transition ATM and POS networks credit cards debit cards function normally. Well retail payment systems are operational and the real-time gross settlement systems in the various payment switches that took place will be tested over the next couple of days banks in exchanges will reopen in New Zealand on the 5th of January. The public reactions have been fine. No queues that Bank branches or ATMs this morning. There are looking ahead some countries which will be shutting down their port facilities. They have been reported in the past and that list hasn't changed we have in the Telecommunications area received no indications of any Y2K related in It's in the area that we're reporting about now internationally. There has been some condition can congestion due to some of the spikes and consumer traffic as a result of last-minute intensive use of communications facility something that we had talked about from this platform before and anticipated not from any technical glitches, obviously heavy use of these circuits. The Mother's Day affected has become known are going to tax the facilities and we have continued clearly to urge that people not try facilities to see whether they're working under these conditions, but spread out your phone calls for the rollover period those are a brief update of the international questions that we have been tracking here over the last couple of hours and now I'll turn the platform back to John to talk to you about the domestic situation. (00:08:25) Next time as noted in the briefings we've done the last two days. Obviously the United States has not yet gone into the year 2000 but we have been monitoring across the board any anomalies and also any existing problem so that we'll know what actually were the difficulties as we move into the year 2000 starting at midnight tonight on the East Coast. We are receiving regularly now updated reports from all 50 states from six territories, including Guam from all 10 FEMA regions from the 11 National infrastructure centers at National Reporting Center set up by critical infrastructure Industries across the domestic United States, which is noted earlier. Also including reports from any of their multinational companies about issues as the world turns into the New Millennium. We have an increasing amount of public interest in this issue. Obviously, we had about a quarter of a million hits on our website yesterday. We expect that number will go up significantly over the weekend. As noted we will continue to provide the public the summary information from these briefings. As soon as the briefing was concluded. We will also post on the website the full transcript of these briefings so that the public on a regular basis will have access to that information. The website is www.vitac.com quedate govt it also links you to other websites including the state department website, which has a very detailed analysis of a wide range of information as we go forward as we look at the transition here Guam obviously was the first u.s. Territory to roll into the year 2000 as undersecretary Pickering noted the reports from there are positive. And in fact, we also get reports from Guam in addition through the military through the normal Emergency Management and communication Network and they reported the FEMA this morning at a conference call. We had that not only are all the infrastructure systems operating in Guam but a plane landed in a baby was born So that business can continues as normal there. I should also note though that Guam in terms of benefit payments has been a territory that we have been monitoring and focusing on carefully and they have made a decision in the food stamp program to issue food stamp benefits manually on paper rather than with their electronic system, which was expected to be the result by the Department of Agriculture, which is had Guam on a high-risk list for food stamp payments for some time. So if you see information about that, it was expected and they are in fact for now I going to a manual process for food stamp benefits until they complete the necessary Remediation in that program in terms of energy all the Electric Power Systems in the United States and Canada continue to report that conditions are normal. There are scattered issues around as normally happened. And in fact New Zealand is a classic example where there was a small town that had a weather-related power outage that nothing to do with Y2K as we move in the United. It's true this problem. We will try to track for you and with you on on Y2K related outages so that it will be easy for you on the public to put any modest disruptions into the right context. We also of course to the extent that any Y2K issues are revealed will report those accordingly as we look in other areas domestically the financial system cheer continue to run effectively the Securities markets open this morning at 9:30 as scheduled the Securities and future markets are operating normally as you know it some time ago the markets announced that there would be an early closing today at 1 o'clock to give more time for the industry to close its books and begin to be prepared to test it systems over the weekend to make sure that they are glitch-free to the extent possible for the opening of the markets on Monday in transportation. I've been asked by the Coast Guard to clear up one confusing issue the grew out of Briefing when we talked about foreclosing is around the world. There are no courts closing scheduled in the United States the port's actually don't get close by anyone other than the Coast Guard in a couple cases Port workers or unions have given the weekend off to their employees. And so there may be some ports where there's less or very little traffic going through but there's been no decision made to close any of the ports in the United States domestically all all the transportation systems here continue to run effectively again, we encourage the public in terms of using public transit tonight for the Millennium celebrations that are going on around the country to consult your newspapers to determine when and for how long if at all public transit systems in your area will be shut down for a few minutes before and after midnight in many cities as a safety precaution to ensure that the trains are in the station's as we announced yesterday. There will be a slight interruption in service and we would encourage people just to be aware of that and Not be concerned about it with regard to Consumer Behavior. We continue to monitor this carefully there have been scattered anecdotal reports in the last 24 hours about increased purchasing by consumers particularly of water at this juncture. We have not been able to confirm any shortages. It is clear talking to a major Food suppliers and chains that whether its food water gasoline Pharmaceuticals. There are no shortages in the United States at this time. But again much like telephone usage is as we've been predicting for some time. There are a lot of inertial forces that are normal in human life so that people oftentimes wait until the last minute both to shop for their parties for the weekend and also to buy flashlights batteries or anything else. They think might be helpful particularly consistent with the advice that we've been giving for several months. So we think that fortunately people have behaved accordingly inappropriately and while there is an In purchasing in some areas of some of these Goods there are no indications that there will be shortages anywhere at least as a this hour. There are no shortages anywhere in the United States of any of the Commodities that people seem to be focused on at this time. That was John koskinen the head of the president's Council on Y2K conversion briefing reporters during the past hour. He was joined by under Secretary of State Thomas perk Pickering the state of Minnesota has set up an emergency Communication Center in downtown st. Paul to keep abreast of any possible Y2K problems that might crop up Governor Ventura did his weekly radio show from the center this morning during the broadcast IT director of Emergency Management. Kevin lure said that things are going just fine so far. (00:15:05) We're ready in the state. I think all of our internal systems, there's been a lot of people have done a tremendous amount of work and we're very confident in our systems in the state and and we're geared up and we're standing by in Emergency Management. One of our philosophy is we plan for the anticipated and prepare for the unexpected and that's kind of our way of life. - toss this is much like the 1997 flood where we had a non event that was going to occur, and we started to ramp up. The good news on Y2K is we won't be here for a hundred and twenty days afterwards like we were in the floods, but this is, you know, we have contingency plans. We have things that we use every day for alternate Communications. We expected to be a real fun time tonight and and quiet in the EOC here emergency Operation Center. We're not seeing anything on the horizon to alarm. Anybody people should carry out their plans and act responsibly again if you have questions on Y2K Now's the Time to call. Our hot lines are fully staffed and ready to take your calls and answer your questions as we get after midnight. We're kind of asking to say hey, I don't use the phone unless you need to if you're experiencing a problem. You think it's Y2K related call the hotline. If it's an emergency dial nine-one-one like you would normally do (00:16:09) that was the state director of Emergency Management Kevin lore on Governor Ventura has radio program this morning. The state Y2K hotline number is 6512971304 in. Twin Cities 6512971304 outside the Twin City area 1 800 600 700 50418 hundred six five seven 3504 in Greater Minnesota. We John koskinen was mentioning that there had been some reports of things happening that may have raised an eyebrow or two turned out not to be in any way shape or form related to Y2K. We had a couple of examples right here in Minnesota today already about a hundred people in Brooklyn Park and Richfield lost their power this morning, but that turned out to be because of mechanical problems and 50 folks in Leicester Prairie were the unfortunate victims of a power outage this morning that apparently was caused by a rogue squirrel. Well joining us now to talk some more about Y2K and to take your questions. If you've got some questions last minute questions about Y2K related issues. We invite you to give us a call here. Michael. Connor has joined us. Mike was the founder of go fast dotnet. He's been on our program here many times this past year. He's been working as an advisor to sleep. All City. Officials Mike. Thanks for joining us. Great to be back. John Gordon is on the line from San Francisco our technology reported as our future tense programs. Good afternoon. I guess it's morning for you yet John for another couple hours. Uh-huh. Everybody fired up in San Francisco for Y2K. I'm I don't know. I'm inside my Y2K bunker. I haven't been out for a couple of months. Hey John, if you get those roof mounted laser cannons that I've been trying to buy but of course, oh darn. I'm so jealous (00:18:09) gentlemen, it (00:18:11) should we draw a lot of comfort from the fact that apparently everything is is going just fine. Around the world. Is that is that good news for us or is that are each of these countries? Should they all be seen in isolation? I think I think the remarkable lack of incidents around the world. We should take a lot of comfort from because the the big deal right now chorus is the question of whether infrastructure for electric power utilities. All that sort of thing will hold and while the federal authorities in the state authorities have been reassuring people for a long time. You always wonder whether that's really going to happen and the fact that so far everything seems to be holding up really well is great news. I think that again the experts are sort of warning us that that if there are problems there are all not going to happen at once at the stroke of midnight and that we might not see Y2K problems until Monday or maybe a week or two or even a month down the road even with the things that are currently operating. Like the heating systems and and things like that, they could they could still go on the fritz. I think one of the things that's going to be interesting to watch is that there's a lot of stuff especially in the business world, you know, you think about inventory systems and payroll systems and so on those kind of you know, the koskinen was just talking about food stamps and things like that transactional systems like that will tend to fail over a while. Whereas the thing that everybody all the doomsayers were painting. The picture of was this sort of catastrophic instantaneous collapse right around the turn of the Millennium and sort of the Rippling effects of those cascading out causing people to be, you know, plunged Into Darkness and I'm glad that squirrel gave his all at their and Lester Prairie to give those folks a little thrill, but I think it's it's probably just great that the the infrastructures To be holding because I think as things fail over time. It's a lot easier to fix things if they're not all failing it simultaneously that's always been the big worry is that a lot of stuff would break at the same time. That doesn't seem to be happy John. It was my impression that a lot of other nations were far less prepared for Y2K than we are. So can we again looking at their the early experiences here over in Asia? Could we assume that if they're not having problems we sure aren't going to have any problems here. I think that's somewhat of a safe assumption. But you also have to keep in mind that there's many countries that may have been less prepared. But also may have been a little less dependent on computer systems than than here the United States, but certainly the fact that you know, highly industrialized nations and cities that have already seen the rollover haven't experienced any major problems. I think we can take comfort in that mmm. We're talking about Y2K on this New Year's Eve a great opportunity to get your Minute questions answered so far so good. If you're just joining us late number of well, it's 2,000 year 2000 and a lot of Nations already and so far there have been no real problems reported anywhere and it good news so far if you've got some questions though getting ready for tonight here in Minnesota. Give us a call six five. One two, two seven six thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two, four two two eight 286512276 thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight if there are going to be any problems here in Minnesota or in the United States in general what might they be what are the most likely things? We keep hearing that the planes will fly find the heat will stay on all of that are I mean if anything does happen what's going to happen? Well, I think it's safe to say that over the next couple of weeks. We'll start seeing stories about That breaks and you know, the fact that the lights stayed on around the world I think is great news. But clearly there's going to be things that little goof up. So there will be stories of companies that have trouble with fulfilling orders. I think the poster child for that right now is the Hershey Chocolate Company which put in a new system. I think over the summer for Y2K and that system has just totally bollocksed up their operations. Their stock is way down. They have been able to fulfill orders and we'll see stories like that. I'm sure unfold the The other kind of story that everybody is really curious about is this whole embedded system story where we were talking about systems in in things like petroleum plants that monitor the flow of the stuff through the plant and there was a lot of worry that those systems would sort of go on the fritz and that the chemical plants would fail and so on and so forth and that story seems to have been essentially a mistake, you know, people went and looked and found a lot less problems than they thought they were going to find but that'll be one to watch very closely because clearly if a chemical plant fails, I gets people pretty excited. Then there are think we're also likely to see problems that are only sort of related to Y2K such as hackers taking advantage of the moment to try to fool people into thinking that they have a Y2K problem. In fact, we just got word from London that apparently hackers. Breton broke into an official website and issued a false warning that train service in Britain had been cancelled due to millennium bug problems. So I mean you'll see little things like that. You also might see some computer viruses that are sort of tied to Y2K set to go off or or viruses which which may trick you into thinking that that you have a Y2K problem when you really don't well and also there's one or two already out that masquerade as Y2K fixes that have already been uncovered so there will be a lot of stuff like that. I bet if people do have problems say in this would I would imagine for most people would fall into the category of inconvenience as opposed to more problematic things, but if they fire up their computer and it doesn't work, is there an easy way to deal with that? Is there an easy fix? As a lifelong computer geek type guy. I think the answer is the Consultants answer. I think it depends, you know, there's certainly no single Silver Bullet fixed the Y2K thing, you know, it depends a lot on the computer you've got what's the trouble is but I think that that it's safe to say that almost all of the things that could happen to your home computer are pretty recoverable, you know, you might wind up having to fiddle with it a lot but eventually you'll get those pictures of Grandma and Grandpa back and you'll get those letters that you wrote back in the data for your checkbook is as long as you sort of approach it carefully and work with somebody, who knows what they're doing. Michael Connor is with us Y2K advisor for to the city of st. Paul founder of go fast dotnet. He's here in our studio and joining us via the wonders of Technology from San Francisco, Minnesota Public Radio technology reporter John Gordon who does Future tense programs were talking about the Y2K issue and great opportunity to get some questions answered. If you've got any left now again, as we say so far things are going well around the world as the little bug marches around no sign of the bug is matter of fact 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities 1-800 to for 22828 Roger your question. (00:26:08) Yes, really? It's a question and a comment one is that was Y2K preventable and in particular if we had the amount of money that we spent on fixing it. I think it must be billions of dollars. Now if we had used that in the first place, you know, ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure that disc all could have been avoided and that in particular some Executives did avoid it like for instance. The Mac computer does not have a problem. So other folks had been thinking about this and what I would really base it all on his fact that all of the the CEOs running the company We're all too short-sighted and the way to fix that would be to make their incentive based on five years out as opposed to the next quarter and I'd like to hear your response Mike in particular. By the way, Mike think you're doing yeoman's sure in terms of keeping the public informed like you should and I think you know who I am, but go ahead and answer. Okay. (00:27:07) Well, I think one of the interesting things about Y2K and will you know, we'll have lots of time to Explore this after everything's all done is sort of who's to blame. Could it have been avoided? How much did it cost? What was the social cost? I'm of the glass half-full School rather than the glass half empty and I think one of the things that we should take a moment today to reflect on is all the hard work that people have done and the great job that's been done. I mean, I think the the unfolding of this non-event is not by accident. I think it's because a lot of people worked awfully hard and aren't you know, they're an awful lot of people who are working today and tonight who need to be cheered for this and I think it's also going to be an interesting lesson in sort of the history of technology. I don't think there is a single person to point a finger at you know, I don't think it's short-sighted managers. I don't think it's stupid programmers. I think it's a great lesson, which is seemingly having a happy outcome in how we manage large-scale complex technology and how dependent we are on it in the society and I'm hoping that we can take a lot of lessons out of this. I was interested to listen to the fellow from the Eight talk about how the Emergency Management community and sort of wrap their arms around this and taking this as an opportunity to sort of strengthen the city's and this and the emergency response capability of cities and I really want to sort of second that I think one of the things that's really been neat about the effort here in St. Paul. Is that for hardly any money at all? You know, I was talking to the folks at st. Paul earlier about this and they say for like 1 percent of the total money that we spent on Y2K and st. Paul we've had a huge impact on neighborhoods being able to work with the district councils and and strengthen the emergency response of the city and so on and so forth. So there's I think a lot of good that came out of this and At the end of the day, I think that Y2K especially if it turns out to be the non-event that seems to be unfolding will have been sort of a great exercise for us to get get better as cities and communities. What's your reading John? Are there people here with black hats? What do you mean corporate executive means a short short sighted exact corporate Executives have we waste essentially wasted a lot of money here? I think if there are people with black hats it's those sort of end of the world survivalist types who raised Y2K fears to a to a fever pitch. I don't think they did anybody any good other black hats might be alarmist Consultants who made a great deal of money off Y2K and unjustified way. I think those might be the people that we should not be applauding. I agree with Mike that we ought to be applauding Information Technology departments all over the world who have indeed worked very hard and the interesting question is our most people going to think since nothing much is happening right now that it never was a big deal in the first place or Our technology workers all over the world going to get credit for for solving the problem and making sure we all had a pleasant weekend. I think it's probably the former. I think most people are going to come away from this thinking jeez. What was all the hype about and you know, the media will take a hit and and you know consultants and other folks who've been pushing the Y2K story are I think going to be taken a notch down in public opinion. Probably we do here that already we have heard it already even before today started to unfold that this and not just from Marginal people, let's put it that way but you know high-ranking officials in the like saying this was all nonsense. There was nothing to this. Nobody would have had to do anything would have all worked fine. Yeah. I think that's that's what I was sort of in my lame way trying to get at is part of the PostScript all this is going to be going back and trying to sift through how come people came away with that feeling because there clearly was stuff that was broken and you know 300 billion dollars worth of fix later. There's a lot of stuff that's been fixed. And and yet this technology stuff, we don't do a very good job of explaining it and we don't as a society really do a great job of integrating it into our daily lives and it's going to be interesting to sit around afterwards and sort of scratch our heads and say now, how could we do this better the next time because we've got other technology issues that are sort of equally tricky, you know privacy, for example, the whole security thing. We've talked a little bit about hackers that's clearly going to get to be a bigger issue over time and we've got to get better at handling that so that people do get good information without as John was saying being taken advantage of by by the black hats because I agree with John I think the people that that I have the least respect for in this whole conversation or sort of these self-appointed experts who sort of appeared all across the landscape over the last 18 months and and we're recommending I love those roof. Laser cannon. So John what you think I mean, I'm so jealous that you've got those and I don't but you know that whole sort of Super Hyper survivalist response. I think is something that we need to learn from and figure out a way to get past Michael. Connor is with us. John. Gordon has joined us. We're talking this our about Y2K opportunity to get your last questions and comments in here so far. So good all around the world as the year 2000 has arrived no reports really of any disruptions of any sort really and so far the Y2K bug has not bitten we will keep you posted through the day. If you'd like to join our conversation. Give us a call here at 6512276 thousand 6512276 thousand outside the Twin Cities one eight hundred two, four two two eight 286512276 thousand or one eight hundred two, four two two eight two eight David your question. (00:33:46) Yeah. I'm just wondering what the panelists are doing. To prepare if they've gotten money in cash and money and water and food like my mother I think that she's gone over the line and I'm and I've heard that there are a lot of other people who are doing that and I'm wondering and I've been telling her I don't think anything's going to happen. (00:34:10) But that was the that was the advice that people were being given, you know, get a little bit extra put away as you would for a for a for a winter storm. (00:34:20) But then the the banks were saying that the money is safer and in the bank and I know people who've taken out over $500 in cash. I'm just wondering if the panelists are doing anything like that John (00:34:36) I've got no cash in my pocket right now. That's usually the situation. I was thinking about public radio reporter that you oh, yeah spendin all on those roof mounted laser cannons. That's what you did. I was thinking and the neighbors get mad when I test those things, too. I was thinking about you know, just as a matter, of course going to the ATM today, but then I thought oh man, I'm not I'm not going to be one of those ones that looks like they're getting money offer a wide 2K. I don't want to be seen doing that. So I don't have any cash food. I imagine. I've got like 10 years worth of Campbell's Bean with bacon soup in the back of my cupboard somewhere, you know, a ramen noodles or whatever and I think most people have got plenty of food to get by probably so you didn't bother you didn't lay in an extra supplies. No now I didn't, you know, I've got some like Culligan bottled water around that I've had for a long time didn't have to buy any extra so I haven't really did anything done anything. I did a little test on my PC the other day to make sure that it wasn't going to have any problems and it's not according to the test. And now I haven't done anything special Mike. Well, I've been a good scout. You know, I got my I think I have about a week's worth of stuff, you know food and so on and so forth you feel foolish. No, I I like Your Coleman's analogy, you know up here in Minnesota. We have bad weather and we all carry sort of odd stuff in the trunks of our cars in case we get stuck in a snow drift or something like that and one of the themes that we've been working on in st. Paul lot is this notion of sort of taking care of your neighbors. And so that the fact that I've got the ability to take care of a few folks in any emergency doesn't you know, actually it's kind of a geek guy thing, you know, it's almost an excuse to go out and get a little bit of stuff and you know stuff is great. So, you know, I don't have years and years worth of stuff but I did go a little ways along there just because in case I still don't really know what's going to happen. I mean that's been our our Mantra and st. Paul has always been we don't know what's going to happen The Prudent thing to do is get people a little bit more ready and the getting ready is good for so I got ready and you know, I feel OK about that Pete your question. (00:36:49) Yeah. I just like to come Time Mr. O'Connor EI it seems you may be getting a little ahead of ourselves here. It's just about halfway through this event and it hasn't even crossed through Europe yet or in the New York or anything our country has much more technology than a lot of the other countries to this point at least in some instances and I just want to make sure that you kind of keep in mind that it's yet to come for us. (00:37:12) Oh, yeah. I think that when you think about Y2K you always have to sort of view it like you're a weatherman and it's impossible to predict exactly what's going to happen. But I think that the the early weather returns are certainly a lot more favorable than actually I was watching Australia more carefully and and Japan Japan was an interesting one because there was a period there where it Japan was widely acknowledged to be quite a ways behind the rest of the world in terms of their preparations for Y2K. And so I watched the TV news for the rollover. In Japan, especially and the fact that the Japan and Korea and some of those very technologically dependent come countries have come through this at least so far just fine. You know, I'm looking around here to touch wood, but you're absolutely right Pete. You can't you can't really put this one away until it's all over it's just great news that so far people don't seem to be experiencing a lot of trouble Holly your question. (00:38:20) Yeah. I appreciate what st. Paul has done. I've gotten a little stuff ready. But one thing I haven't even thought about was my personal computer. I haven't gotten any antivirus software. I mean, I have a you know a little bit of bottled water and some tuna fish, but should I be afraid to turn my computer on tomorrow? Should I get virus software before I do that John you should you should (00:38:41) always have anti-virus software because there's always viruses out there and there's there's not that many that I've seen that are specifically tied to Y2K. There are a few but There's plenty of viruses out there. So it's a good idea to have it you can get it now or later, but you should have it and keep it updated not you hacking is not I was going to say to you have to worry about this. Even if you just you know, send e-mails back and forth and or the is this only of concern to people who use their computer for real fancy stuff. No, I mean a lot of viruses now are showing up as email attachments or or just, you know, being realized just by opening an email even so I mean, even if you do email I think or shared disks with someone that you need to worry about viruses. And so I mean, yeah get your antivirus software. That's a good idea. It will protect you and keep it updated you can you can find a couple of places on the web to do little tests to see if your computer is going to handle the date rollover? Okay. I found some pretty good ones on the USA Today website. Another website called ZD Y2K Hot calm PCWorld a lot of the major technology news and just plain news sites will have little programs. You can download a test your computer and make sure it handles the day roll over so you can do that if you want, although if your computer is 6 years old or newer, you probably don't have much to worry about so, I mean, there's a few things you can do for your for your machine that the antivirus software is probably the most important. Okay. I think the other thing is if you don't have a chance to get that done today and you turn on your computer tomorrow. And it does something really weird, huh? Turn it right off the shutter down just shut it down and stand out in front of your door with with an open doughnut box and some coffee and snag yourself a geek. That's geek bait. Get yourself a neighborhood geek come in someone who knows what's going on and have them fairly carefully turn your computer back on if it does something strange because for for most of these things the fixes are relatively easy the main thing that you and I as home consumers are worried about is that we can get back to the information. We've got on that computer and if we have to do a bunch of high Jinks to put the program's back on while it's fine. We've got the CDs and stuff we can do that, but If your computer behaves oddly, it's probably a good idea to leave it alone until there's someone who really knows what they're doing to help you put it back together. Michael are (00:41:23) question. Yeah. I was wondering How likely is it that there's simply a news blackout on bad news from around the world in order to keep the American people calm just for the sake of National Security. (00:41:38) I'm going to jump in on this one just because I'm kind of an international type guy. I have spent a lot of time overseas and one one way or another and I've been Watching sort of the international scene through the net and there are a bunch of Grassroots sort of volunteer reporting sites on the internet where people just regular folks have volunteered to send an email saying, you know how it's going for and the Grassroots folks have no connections to government's corporations. They're just folks like like the rest of us and their reports completely agree with the government reports has been lots of hey, it's just fine. So I think there is no news blackout John not specifically related to the to today but leading up to today. Now you cover the these technology issues day after day after day after day have you found any consistent pattern of people blowing a lot of smoke on this story or have been officials been pretty candid about the dangers or lack of dangers? Y2K, I think they've been pretty straight. I haven't seen anyone blowing a lot of smoke there was one instance where I think it was the Navy or some branch of the military came out with a pretty bleak report about what could happen with Y2K. They had to caused a big fuss because it was sort of a worst-case scenario thing about what might happen at bases all over the country and there was talk of massive power outages and so on the the military had to step back and say we didn't really mean this this was only a worst case scenario. It was there's a lot of back pedaling going on and that led to some fairly big conspiracy theories about about a slip from the government that they actually let out the real information, but I don't think that turned out to be the case. I think it was just absolute worst-case scenario that was reported in the media as stuff that is likely to happen. That's the only case where I've seen where there was kind of a bit of a question about whether officials were we're playing it straight but John koskinen and and some of the folks in Congress Senators Bennett and Dodd who have a committee on Y2K. I mean, there's too many people watching and there's there's too many people involved in this for I think anybody to be blowing a lot of smoke and not getting caught Jeff your question. (00:44:13) Yes. Actually, I have a comment earlier on the cost of one caller brought up the cost of having done things right in the first place and informational Week Magazine has several months ago a guy analyzed that the cost of discourse storage back in the 60s and 70s was so high that he actually made a case taken into account the cost of money that it in fact would have cost more to have four digit years in the computers than to do it in two digits and then remediate now and then my second point is just an analogy to You know people see the nothing happens as a big waste of time and my metaphor there would be if you go on vacation, you take your car into the mechanic you goes all through it replaces the bad belts and hoses and then you go on the trip and everything's fine. You don't come back and say I didn't have any problems that was a waste of money. So I think if people look at it from a practical everyday point of view though see see the benefits (00:45:05) there. Thanks, Joe you bet. Yeah, I think the As I say I think after the fact we're going to have lots and lots of second-guessing there was sort of a magical moment in the mid 80s where the Pentagon in a standard setting exercise decided to leave the dates as two-digit dates rather than enforcing a standard to four-digit dates. And I think that one you could point to as a not too hot decision because by then, you know, we were well into the game the the cost of money argument about disk drives being really expensive back in the old days is one that I've seen to and it is it is amazing how long some of these systems have lasted? I mean when people built these systems back in the 60s, no one dreamed they'd still be here today and here they are Jeff your question. (00:46:02) Good afternoon. I'm wondering if this event turns out to be a non-event do you think and do your guess? I think that it will increase our acceptance and use of technology and computers or do you think that there are be a backlash against this just kind of from the i-told-you-so (00:46:26) crowd great question gets to the heart of what you were talking about. Mike James a future conversation about this. Yeah. I think that will have to wait, you know, that's another Consultants answer. I think it depends on the my guess would be that we all go through this event. It will be sort of characterization was a bump in the road and life will proceed as normal and will analyze it as a good lesson about technology, but I don't think that there will be a backlash unless the now ever increasingly unlikely outcome comes along that something really bad breaks. I think that's where the Backlash comes from when people depend on something and it lets them down and it doesn't look like that's going to happen. Now John you said that you thought once again the media would get get wrapped and probably some technology people too. Yeah, I think so. I think when people realize that the problems aren't as bad as they feared that they're going to blame the media and maybe places like the Gartner Group, which is really talked a lot about Y2K for years they'll if there is a backlash it'll be against those kinds of Institutions, but I don't think there will be much of a backlash against technology I mean and nor will the relatively uneventful Y2K mean that we will adopt and accept technology faster. I don't think you could go any faster than we are right now and in adopting computers and Technology, I've seen a you know, a few Luddite type some anti-technology folks. Zing Y2K as an argument that we are too dependent on technology and so on and I suspect that that Y2K will have sort of an impact and on anti-technology folks and there might be a few more who kind of go to that camp, but that's a relatively small number of people John quick question before we wrap up. (00:48:34) Hello. Yes, you're on the air. Okay, thank you. I just wondered if you're calm you're panelists could comment on the fact that given what we've learned in Y2K and given what we've learned about the immediate has and the general Public's difficulty in understanding real risk, whether or not there's going to be a move to do a better job of pulling the media and the public to be able to measure and understand what is real risk not just Technologic from computers, but things like environmental risks risks of a variety of sorts where it seems to me the media and people play on fears and really don't help understand. What is real problem. What is not (00:49:14) a I would assume John you're saying this was not a real problem. (00:49:17) Well, I think it was a real technological problem, but we understood it and we dealt with it as opposed to a problem that is out. There can't be dealt with and therefore one should not have adopt the technology or one should avoid your gentleman revert or To the Luddite, you know sort of like any version of Technology any advancement we might make as got some secret dark kernel of disaster hanging into it and that's here can be played on I just wonder if we think the media and where the general public can be educated to ignore those kinds of things and recognize them for the sort of science garbage. They are (00:49:56) well, I guess this gives me the springboard into one of my favorite rants, which is the difference between decisions under risk as opposed to decisions under uncertainty and I think one of the things that's interesting about Y2K is that this is really not a decision under risk where you can take all the outcomes and evaluate whether they're going to happen and then decide what to do. This is really one where we can't really know the outcome because it's just too complicated. There's too many interrelated things and that's a decision under uncertainty. And so what you need to do is I think what the city of st. Paul and the state and the governor and the national government did is you need to make really good policy. Visions way in advance and then stick with those decisions and that's why I'm so pleased with the way things have turned out, you know, it's turned out that our little Mantra of well, we don't know what's going to happen prudent thing to do is get ready. The getting ready is good for us, which we decided on about 18 months ago has turned out to be right in the middle of the Fairway, which I think is great comment, John. Well, I think give the public a lot of credit. I mean the media might have been trying to stir up a big story and and and sensationalize little bit but by and large, I don't think the American public ever really bought that this was going to be a major disaster. I mean there hasn't been hoarding there hasn't been Panic buying that we know of people have been reasonable and rational one about it. So, I mean, I don't think the public was ever fooled into into thinking that this was going to be the end of the world now, we're still 11 hours away from actual midnight here. Mm, Minnesota. Is it too soon to declare Victory? Can we throw up our hands and say hey let's party. Well, I think it's a little soon, you know, ever cautious right down to the wire, you know, what's going to happen blah blah, but boy the early returns sure look good. I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. I think John, I'll declare Victory and invite everyone into my bunker for a little party. I got a lot of ramen noodles to those roof mounted laser cannons. I'm so jealous. Thanks. Thanks guys for joining us this hour appreciate it good information as always are our guests this our Michael Connor Y2K advisor for the city of st. Paul and founder of Go Fast dotnet John Gordon has joined us from San Francisco. He is our technology reporter Minnesota Public Radio technology reporter does our future tense programs here on Minnesota Public Radio. Well, I hope we got some of your questions answered some of your concerns address will keep you posted of course through the day on continuing Y2K related developments a reminder now 9 o'clock tonight Catherine land for and I will be on the air with a special New Year's Eve broadcast. We'll have all the latest Y2K news, but lots lots more as well. Some music news commentaries will be opening the phone. Lines, hope you'll be able to join our conversation at least for a while. There is still that problem about phone overload around midnight. So we'll be cautious about that. Hope you can join us. So starting at nine o'clock tonight here on Minnesota Public Radio. If you can't join us have yourself a Happy New Year's Eve and a very happy New Year. Sarah Mayer is the producer of our midday program care a fig and shoe is our assistant producer. I'm Gary eichten again. Thanks for tuning into. Midday today. Does the new year make you feel old? Imagine being 106. I sometimes can't remember my best.