My first Y2K bug experience?

My husband and I stopped to buy gas last night, and I handed the nice attendant my credit card because they have pay at the pump service. However, he brought the card back to me and said the card wouldn’t work and we’d have to go inside to the cashier. I was momentarily stunned, fearful that I’d missed a payment and my account was frozen, or, worse, I’d used up over $1,000 worth of credit without realizing it, or, worse still, someone else had used it up for me.

But the attendent said, “It’s probably the magnetic strip. You’re card expires in the year 2000, and it’s that bug thing. Take it inside and they’ll run it in there.” And we did and everything was ok.

So this was the first bit of trouble I’ve experienced, and I’m not 100% sure if it was Y2K (I’m getting sick of that abbreviation) related or some other glitch. Has anyone else experienced any Y2K related glitches, bugs, or boo-boos yet?

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

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Well, being a programmer, fixing potential Y2K problems has been one of my jobs in the last few years. It was all in non-publicly released software, so there’s no showing anyone the cleanup work I had to do.

One Y2K bug that might appear that someone may have missed: the Leap Day Bug. The compiler for one language I had to use refused to recognize 2/29/2000 as a valid date. (Someone didn’t study their Gregorian calendar rules.) If the PC date was set to that date, the getdate() function would return an empty value instead of a string in the format MM/DD/YYY. (YYY was the year minus 1900; dates in 2000 would be like 3/17/100.)

Don’t know how widespread use of this language is (probably not very), but this same type of error could’ve been used in countless other software packages.

I’d say, don’t do anything on Tuesday, February 29, 2000. Even more so than 1/1/2000.

I am also a progammer. In the first part of 1990 I was working form Amtrak. Employees get a rail pass. After 10 years they get an upgraded pass. The way we determined if an employee was eligible was add 10 years to the date of hire and if the result was less than today they got a ten-year pass. Every one hired in Jan 1990 got 10-year passes. They didn’t want to fix all the files(The date was part of the key). I just subtracted 10 from current date and compared this with the date of hire. I can only assume it is fixed by now. Or at least will be fixed soon.

Virtually yours,

J Matrix

I have (had–it expired last month) a debit card that simply would not read at a number of readers. Never at ATM’s, though–only at certain gas stations (and, always at those specific stations).

I have no idea why. They would swipe it, and it would “BEEP” at them (the “what the hell are YOU?” beep, not the “good” one). Certain places always had to punch in the number by hand when I used it there.

BTW, though, where I work, we had some bites from the Millennium Bug in January, where some programs were adding “1” to the year, coming up with “00” and giving bad results.

Not as well-known is the “Decennial Bug.”

Where I work, a large part of our Customer Information System (since replaced) was written in the mid-60’s, and most of the rest was written in the early '70’s.

When the year changed from 1989 to 1990, we had some programs giving bad information. We did some searching, and found that there was documentation that that same bug had occurred when the year changed form 1979 to 1980.

The programmer had just plugged it–not made a permanent change to fix it.

The problem: The system was designed (in the mid-'60’s) such that one of the dates in the files contained only a ONE-position year! They didn’t plan for a change in the decade, let alone the turn of the century.

And certain programs did react adversely to it.

Methinks your gas station attendant was either guessing at an answer or was mindlessly repeating something he had been told. Credit cards and readers had to deal with the Y2K problem before they could issue cards which expire in 2000. There were some minor problems with this issue when the first “00” cards went out, but they have been long since fixed.

The much more likely explanation is that offered by Mjollnir. I can think of one gas staion near my home where my debit card absolutely never works in the pay-at-the-pump reader, but always works on the reader inside. There is also a particular Wal-Mart where my card must be entered by hand. I’m not sure why it happens at those places (could be an issue with the sensitivity of the reader and a weaker mag stripe on my card), but it does. I’m guessing you had more of a DC2K (Don’t Care To Know) problem than a Y2K problem.

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik

I used to be a manager at a Pizza Hut, and they had some small y2k problems with their employeefiles. Whenever you entered a driver license or insurance policy expiration date ending in 00, the computer would bump it 32. Then the computer would give you notices that the employee was ineligible to drive. I got so used to changing everyone’s date to 99 that I never found out if they fixed it before I quit. But it was cool to see the y2k problem in RL, even if it the inconvience was small.


My last client had a system like that. (It had been written in Autocoder and there was speculation that it dated to the 1950s.) The system was part of their MRP. They had orders with three year life spans, so there was programming logic to artificially change the years 7, 8, and 9 to G, H, and I for the first three years of a decade to place the years in the proper sort sequence. The code to change the years was simply commented out (but not removed) through the rest of the decade, then reactivated whenever the sort sequence was in jeopardy.


This is not a bug, but I think it could pass for blackmail.

 I have a small business and periodically I have to purchase updates for my business software. Which, incidentally, was not cheap to begin with. Usually, the updates come about every 2-3 years. Well, I bought one in August last year ($295!) and now, to fix 2 little things pertaining to Y2K, I have to pay another $295 for another one.

 I don't think it should be that expensive since I just bought the last update a year ago. They should have taken care of these things at that time. Or, at least, not charge so much this time.

 I'm tempted to sit back and let nature take its course. I can always go back to paper and pencil, can't I? Yeah, right! So much for Y2K. I'm fed up to here with it.


BTW, everyone knows how the world’s entire electric grid is going to start failing time zone by time zone as the Year 2000 occurs–and if you don’t have your own electric generator, you’re screwed.

A nearby hardware/lawn equipment store a few miles out of town has on their billboard near me has a sign out proclaiming that they are well-stocked with “2YK” generators.

I actually had a real Y2K problem. Well, actually, a Y2K inconvenience.

Where I work, you enter your time off requests into a computer (rather than writing/telling your boss). I asked for 12/31/99 - 1/1/00 off, and I got a message saying that the end date must be greater than the beginning date.

Holidays at work got changed this year due to Y2K. Christmas and New Years each fall on a Saturday, and so the usual company policy here is to give the Friday before – Christmas Eve and New Years Eve – as a paid holiday. They sent around a schedule to that effect at the end of last year.

A few months later, sometime in March or so, they sent around a revised schedule, stating that instead of Friday, December 31 being the New Years holiday day off, Monday January 3 will be (except for the IT people, of course). They will have the IT and systems people running everything on that Monday while most of the company is off, just to check things. We don’t actually expect any problems; as an insurance company we dealt with most Y2K problems early, since we have been writing policies effective into 2000 and beyond for some time now.

The holiday change presents some inconvenience to New Year’s Eve plans, particularly for staking out one’s spot for the Rose Parade. Fortunately, knowing my boss, she’ll shut the office down early that day anyway.