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Special Event

Millennium 2000: Y2K Makes Minor Appearances

Aired January 1, 2000 - 5:13 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Billions of dollars were spent to ensure that vital computer operations survived the millennium bug, and so far they appear to have worked. A few glitches have been reported. Forecasting maps at the French weather service and the Web site for the U.S. Naval Observatory were among the systems that initially displayed New Year's Day's date as January 1st, 19100. Otherwise, though, it's been pretty quiet for those who are keeping an eye out for major problems.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve is standing by at the National Y2K Emergency Center in Washington with the latest there -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Joie, as you said, the problems thus far have been small and easily fixed. One spokesman for the National Retail Federation could have been talking for almost every industry when she said we are happy to report we have nothing to report. There are no major infrastructure problems domestically over or overseas.

A few minor glitches, let me tell you about some of those. The Pentagon said it had problems processing information from one of its reconnaissance satellites for a while, but a backup system has now been put in place.

Seven nuclear power plants reported Y2K-related problems. Those were with monitoring and access systems. They didn't affect safety or the generation of electricity. Most of those now have been fixed.

The FAA reported some problems with two systems. One was a system which alerts pilots to weather data. They have an alternate way of distributing that information. The other was something that alerts pilots to wind shears. This occurred at six airports. They say that it was quickly corrected when they rebooted the system.

Amtrak in Philadelphia briefly had a problem routing passengers to the correct trains. Once again, that was corrected and quickly.

And the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had one office where they had recently installed a new security system specifically to avoid Y2K problems, and it didn't work. Guards have been posted there to make sure everything stays safe while the system is replaced.

But all in all, the outlook looks good so far. However, many cautions about Monday, when business re-opens, and later in the week, when cumulative problems in various computer systems may become more apparent -- Joie.

CHEN: Jeanne, is there a set out time on when they will stop watching at the National Y2K Center?

MESERVE: They're going to be monitoring here for quite a while. They're talking about scaling back operations, stopping round-the- clock operations probably on Wednesday, but they'll be keeping an eye on things very carefully here through Leap Year, at least.

Sort of an interesting problem here. The usual formula has been, you know, the years divisible by four, it's a leap year. That isn't true on the centuries unless the century is divisible by 400. This one is. They're having to re-check a lot of computer systems to see if that bug is worked out or not They'll be watching carefully through that date until they find out -- Joie.

CHEN: I'll bet they'll be counting, as well. Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much for reporting to us from the Y2K Center in Washington.

Among the very few glitches reported anywhere was one concerning a Pentagon spy satellite.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. JOHN HAMRE, DEPUTY DEFENSE SECRETARY: But we did have one significant problem, one that I had wished we hadn't had but we did. One of our intelligence systems, a satellite-based intelligence system, experienced some Y2K failures last night shortly after the rollover of Greenwich Mean Time. And for a period of several hours, we were not able to process information from that system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHEN: Officials say they were able to rely on a backup system and everything worked out just fine.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Some banks were open New Year's Day, just to show customers there's nothing to worry about. The head of the federal agency that insures U.S. bank accounts also wanted to make that point today.

The FDIC chairwoman made a public withdrawal of $20 from an ATM machine in Washington without any problems. She says the FDIC and other federal banking agencies have received no reports of major problems with the transition to the new year.

There were concerns that the changeover to the new year could cause some problems at the phone company, but no major glitches were report there either. In fact, in New York City, all of those pictures transmitted from Times Square got there with the help of the local phone company.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa talked with the man who watched over the high-tech operation in New York.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's just a mild-mannered phone technician, but if not for Leonard Tediski (ph) his patrolling the halls of his telephone command center just blocks from Times Square, the whole world might not have seen the party.

These computers that Leonard babysits control all the communications lines out of midtown Manhattan.

LEONARD TEDISKI: All of this equipment is monitored through computers.

HINOJISA: Which handled all of the phone calls through Bell Atlantic last night -- and there were many.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After midnight, beginning at about 12:05 or 12:10, we began to see an increase in the volumes on the network.

HINOJOSA: And when they did, it was Leonard the phone man who made sure they all got connected without a hitch.

TEDISKI: In case there was an emergency, we'd be here to take care of it.

HONOJOSA: But for this 24-hour technician, the big story of the day: that almost nothing went wrong.

TEDISKI: Absolutely nothing. Calendar went over to all zeros, all the computers had the right dates on them.

HINOJOSA (on camera): So if there would have been a problem, would we have seen -- you would have seen a lot of red lights blinking here?

TESIDKI: If there were a problem, this would probably be solid red, this entire wall.

HINOJOSA (voice-over): Leonard may have been spared just because people showed old-fashioned patience. In fact, Leonard says his only interruption was a phone call home to his girlfriend.

TEDESKI: I feel tired, but, you know, it's a good kind of tired. It was a fun and interesting thing to be a part of. It's a once-in-a- lifetime experience, I guess. And it was actually quite dull, all things considered.

HINOJOSA: A good kind of dull from phone central.

Maria Hinojosa, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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