What did go wrong: A global roundup of Y2K

The few glitches attributed to Y2K during the date rollover and afterward were just that - glitches: printer failures, dates with five digits, decimal problems. Most caused little more than temporary inconvenience.

The Federal Aviation Administration fielded 11 reports of system problems, compared with 25 reports on a regular day. They included the following:

A "notice to airmen" function, which advises pilots of conditions such as runway lights being out, malfunctioned when the system in the Caribbean developed a problem with its date time code. It failed to recognise dates ending in "00" and deleted those files, said Ray Long, the FAA's Y2K guru.

Shortly after midnight Greenwich Mean Time, a printer outage was reported at the Oceanic Systems Centre. The printouts - with data such as flight status or headings for intercontinental flights - are given to air-traffic controllers. During the brief outage, according to Long, controllers reverted to the old manual system: pencil and paper. And rebooting solved the problem.

Problems elsewhere

On Wall Street, the Securities Industry Association's Y2K command centre reported that one exchange discovered a few incorrect stock price values (such as a stock priced at $US3500 per share instead of $35), according to a spokeswoman for the organisation.

A Web site operated by the US Naval Observatory, the nation's official timekeeper, marked the date as January 1, 19100, early on New Year's Day. According to Navy spokesman John Fleming, the year 2000 software glitch occurred because of an error in a JavaScript written with an older version of the programming language that wasn't Y2K-ready. The problem didn't affect the Naval Observatory master clock in Washington, the nation's official timekeeper since 1845.

In South Korea, one problem hit the heating system of an apartment complex and forced residents to shiver their way into 2000. The thermostats failed at midnight and were off-line until 7pm Saturday, when engineers switched the system to manual control, according to Korean media reports monitored in Tokyo.

Elsewhere in Korea, local media said two hospitals in Kyonggi province reported failures of a computer-controlled bone marrow measurer and a patient registration system. The latter failure caused a newborn to be registered with a 1900 birth date.

In Japan, NTT Mobile Communications Network , the country's largest cellular operator, reported that some phone models were deleting messages received on January 1 rather than older messages. The company advised users to clear their message memories of old messages.

Meanwhile, the public shouldn't expect companies to admit any Y2K errors that aren't visible to the outside world, cautioned a director at the SANS Institute, an information technology research organisation in Bethesda, Md. For example, said Alan Paller, the public probably wouldn't find out that one company's human resources system locked up. With everyone carrying the impression that things went so well, no company will want to look like it was the only one that fell down, he said.

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More about FAAFederal Aviation AdministrationGreenwich Mean TimeNTT AustraliaNTT Mobile Communications NetworkSANS InstituteSecurities Industry AssociationTechnology ResearchThe SANS InstituteWall Street

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