Flashbacks of the Great Y2K Scare


The Great Y2K Scare

The great Y2K scare was spread by scaremongers who thought that the world’s computer systems would cease to function on December 31, 1999.  The Y2K problem, aka, “the Millennium bug,” “the Y2K bug,” or simply “The Year 2000 problem” was both a  digital (computer-related) and non-digital documentation and storage issue.  The quick and easy fix was to convert all stored year data from a 2-digit format to a 4-digit format. So in 1997, the British Standard Institute (BSI) issued a standard known as “DISC PD2000-1” that replaced the practice of a 2-digit year format with a 4-digit year format that would not be affected by the passing of time or the turn of the centuries.  Companies and organizations worldwide checked, fixed, and upgraded their computer systems and the clocks rolled over into the new millennium without a hitch to any stored data or programs–well maybe not all of them…

According to today’s Associated Press article that follows, it seems as though the Pennsylvania and the Department of Defense’s Selective Service System paid to mail out 14,250 draft notices at the end of last month (June 2014) to men who were born between 1893 and 1897–the youngest of who, if alive today, would be 117 years young!

Amazingly enough, at least one of those notices was received by a relative of the addressee who had died at age 98 in 1992.  The only thought that quite honestly comes to my mind now–it was originally a problem dealing with the millennial.  And the irony–I bet if we checked, we would find the computer programmer who merged the data with only the 2-digit year format  to the addresses probably is a member of what is known as  the “millennial generation,” born between 1980 and 2000–a very confident multi-tasker who probably stepped out for a walk while the data merged! ( I mean this tongue-in-cheek because I realize that it is coming from a baby-boomer who’s group insisted on being heard by the world.)

Selective Service sends 14K draft notices to families of men born in 1800s

The letters warned the men, likely all dead, that they risked jail if they did not respond to the notice. The bizarre notices was a glitch that began with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The government organization has apologized for the mistake.

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Thursday, July 10, 2014, 6:29 PM
In this photo taken on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, Harold Weaver sits behind his wife, Martha, in their Nickleville, Pa, home. Martha holds a letter from the Selective Service for her late father, Fred Minnick, requiring him to register for the nation's military draft. The letter arrived too late for Minnick, who was born in 1894 and died on April 20, 1992.JERRY SOWDEN/APIn this photo taken on Tuesday, July 8, 2014, Harold Weaver sits behind his wife, Martha, in their Nickleville, Pa, home. Martha holds a letter from the Selective Service for her late father, Fred Minnick, requiring him to register for the nation’s military draft. The letter arrived too late for Minnick, who was born in 1894 and died on April 20, 1992.

No, the United States isn’t trying to build a military force of centenarians.

It just seems that way after the Selective Service System mistakenly sent notices to more than 14,000 Pennsylvania men born between 1893 and 1897, ordering them to register for the nation’s military draft and warning that failure to do so is “punishable by a fine and imprisonment.”

The agency realized the error when it began receiving calls from bewildered relatives last week.

Chuck Huey, 73, of Kingston, said he got a notice addressed to his late grandfather Bert Huey, a World War I veteran who was born in 1894 and died in 1995 at age 100.

“I said, ‘Geez, what the hell is this about?’ It said he was subject to heavy fines and imprisonment if he didn’t sign up for the draft board,” he said. “We were just totally dumbfounded.”

Huey said he tried calling the Selective Service but couldn’t get a live person on the line. That frustrated him even more because he wanted to make sure the agency knew there had been a mistake.

“You just never know. You don’t want to mess around with the federal government,” he said.

The glitch, it turns out, originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation during a transfer of nearly 400,000 records to the Selective Service. A clerk working with the state’s database failed to select the century, producing records for males born between 1993 and 1997 — and for those born a century earlier, PennDOT spokeswoman Jan McKnight said Thursday.

“We made a mistake, a quite serious selection error,” McNight said.

The Selective Service didn’t initially catch it because the state used a two-digit code to indicate year of birth, spokesman Pat Schuback said. The federal agency identified 27,218 records of men born in the 1800s, began mailing notices to them on June 30, and began receiving calls from family members on July 3. By that time, it had sent 14,250 notices in error.

“It’s never happened before,” Schuback said.

The men are almost certainly all dead, given that the youngest would be turning 117 this year. Families of those men who received the notices can simply ignore them, he said. Their files will be deactivated and they shouldn’t receive additional communications from the Selective Service. The agency also posted a notice and an apology on its website Thursday.

The state Transportation Department, meanwhile, said it had taken steps to ensure its mistake won’t be repeated.

“We’re really sorry,” McNight said. “We apologize.”

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