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ReporterSEMINAR ON CHALLENGES OF Y2K
Dhahran K.S.A
Report by Eng. Iqbal A. Khan

A Seminar on Y2K problem and how to cope with it was organized jointly by
NED Engineers Forum (NEDFO) and Institute of Engineers Pakistan (IEP).
The seminar was held in the Gulf hall of Dhahran International Hotel on
12 November 1999. It was a very well attended seminar as more than 70
delegates were present including representative from Saudi Engineering
Committee from Riyadh.

NEDFO's Social Secretary Engr Saeed Ahmed Khan conducted the seminar very
skillfully. With the help of professionally made and computerized slides,
Mr. Khan maintained the interest of the audience till the end. Mr. Khan
explained the nature of Y2K challenge, identified areas of concernhighlighted prevention measures on various equipment and servicesincluding personal computers, electricity and water failure, travel by
airline, etc. Some interesting observations made by the speaker are as
follows:

AIR CONDITIONING/HEATING
Checks may be necessary with installations that use date-dependent remote
or surveillance systems.


BANKS
Like most financial institutions, banks saw the Y2K problem coming years
ago and have taken every possible measure to avoid damage to their
systems. Still it is advisable to keep latest statement and extra money on
hand.

CARS
Manufacturers rule out risk except in the case of vehicles with on-board
computers, in which case owners are urged to check their systems.

CASH DISPENSERS
Banks have made plans to top up their cash dispensers regularly over the
holiday weekend, but exceptionally high demand could cause some to go
short.

CREDIT CARDS
Card-reading devices in shops and restaurants may fail to function. Keep
cash in wallet

DOORS
Access systems using badges or swipe-cards could block doors in buildings
that rely on computers to centralize access.

ELECTRICITY
Most national grids are highly computerized and sporadic power cuts are
likely

FAX
Date systems may need to be changed manually. Check instructions manual.
Dysfunctions are possible.

HOME COMPUTERS
Most recent PCs are expected to cope easily with the Y2K problem, though
older systems are vulnerable, with problems ranging from loss of files to
complete breakdown. Macintosh computers use a different date-counting
system and should encounter no problem.

HOSPITAL EQUIPMENT
Technical infrastructure and medical equipment are vulnerable, though
medical authorities in most countries have taken preventive measures.

HOUSEHOLD EQUIPMENT
Machines using timing devices and even programmable equipment such as
cookers and washing machines is extremely unlikely to be affected by the
bug.

LIFTS
These are not generally date-dependent, but problems could arise with
lifts controlled by computer systems. Most dysfunctions are likely to be
caused by power shortages.

PACE-MAKERS
These are not date-dependent.

POCKET ORGANIZERS
Date indicators may have to be corrected manually.

TRAINS
Rail authorities in most countries have made extensive preparations
against Y2K failures. In some countries rail traffic will halt before
midnight on Dec.31 and resume a few minutes later.

TRAFFIC SIGNALS
Dysfunctions are possible. In many cases these will cause red lights to
switch to blinking amber lights.

VIDEO RECORDERS
Machines using two-figure year indicators could encounter problems.

WATER
Distribution and recycling circuits are often complex and problems could
arise, particularly in water-purification stations.



A Question Answer Session followed in which audience participated
enthusiastically. The attendees were treated with snacks and refreshments
at the end of the seminar.