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February 2000


For the world at large--and for UCAR as well--the transition to the year 2000 turned out to be a welcome anticlimax. All UCAR sites were closed to staff and visitors from Friday night, 31 December, until Monday morning, 3 January, which helped lower the risk of security problems. The biggest sigh of relief may have come from Steve Dickson (UCAR President's Office), who oversaw the institution's Y2K preparations. His report to the UCAR Management Committee was happily terse: no real problems had emerged. "In the end, our decision to take a moderately low-key approach to the whole Y2K issue has proven to be the appropriate route," says Steve.

Steve Sadler, director of the newly constituted Safety and Site Services group, confirms the lack of millennial crises. "At first there were a couple of things that looked like they might be Y2K-related, but it turns out they were just the usual unlucky things that happen with gadgets," he says.

Staff were alerted on 30 December about an overnight outage involving the RAID device on which UCAR's top-level Web files and the institutional ftp site reside. Backup files were quickly mounted and no work was lost. The outage occurred while a Y2K-related upgrade was being performed, but SCD's Greg Woods notes that the outage preceded 1/1/00 by two days, so he concludes, "I would not classify this as a Y2K problem."

The biggest actual Y2K problems appeared to be with e-mail headers. The Elm mail program (popular among UNIX users) was issuing date headers with the year set to "100", and the SCD mass storage system's purge program was using the two-digit year "00", according to Greg. Both of these glitches resulted in recently received mail being sorted as old (and possibly not seen as a result). The bug was fixed within a day in SCD, reports Greg, although users elsewhere may have had some lingering problems.

Bob Henson

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
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