Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Bug Government The Military

Today In Year-based Computer Errors: Draft Notices Sent To Men Born In the 1800s 205

Posted by timothy
from the pa-dmv-never-did-me-any-favors-either dept.
sandbagger (654585) writes with word of a Y2K-style bug showing up in Y2K14: "The glitch originated with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles during an automated data transfer of nearly 400,000 records. The records of males born between 1993 and 1997 were mixed with those of men born a century earlier. The federal agency didn't know it because the state uses a two-digit code to indicate birth year." I wonder where else two-digit years are causing problems; I still see lots of paper forms that haven't made the leap yet to four digits.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Today In Year-based Computer Errors: Draft Notices Sent To Men Born In the 1800s

Comments Filter:
  • by darkain (749283) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:09PM (#47425651) Homepage

    Get with the times! Switch to Y10K compliance already.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y... [wikipedia.org]

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:14PM (#47425683)

    It's clear that Pennsylvania was taking a cue from Heroes of Might and Magic 3 and attempting to build an unstoppable army of 14,000 skeletons. I wonder what the Pennsylvania governor's necromancy score is?

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:17PM (#47425715) Homepage

    I see the plot of a new Micheal Bay (or maybe J.J. Abrams) movie: The US military, unable to get qualified recruits to fight the new Zombie wars, takes a cue from the Zombie playbook and develops the technology to bring life old soldiers. After a bit of a difficult start, the program exceeds all expectations until the previously dead soldiers revolt at being put back in the grave and bring Washington to it's knees by filing for Social Security benefits.

    • I see the plot of a new Micheal Bay (or maybe J.J. Abrams) movie: The US military, unable to get qualified recruits to fight the new Zombie wars, takes a cue from the Zombie playbook and develops the technology to bring life old soldiers. After a bit of a difficult start, the program exceeds all expectations until the previously dead soldiers revolt at being put back in the grave and bring Washington to it's knees by filing for Social Security benefits.

      Hmm. Nice twist at the end, but too much plot, needs more explosions.

      • Sounds like it's right up M. Night's alley, though, save the fact it's actually a half-decent idea for a film.

      • and lens flare.
    • I see the plot of a new Micheal Bay (or maybe J.J. Abrams) movie: The US military, unable to get qualified recruits to fight the new Zombie wars, takes a cue from the Zombie playbook and develops the technology to bring life old soldiers. After a bit of a difficult start, the program exceeds all expectations until the previously dead soldiers revolt at being put back in the grave and bring Washington to it's knees by filing for Social Security benefits.

      Well, as long as they vote Democrat I'm cool with it.

    • The sequel involves stopping the revolt with cavalry lead by an undead George Patton.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:18PM (#47425735) Journal

    Seems to me this would be more accurately described as a Century-based computer error.

    At first I was amazed that we're still running into these things. But I shouldn't be surprised -- often problems like this aren't fixed until they cause some inconvenience for the people responsible for fixing them.

    • Dude, the military payroll runs on an antiquated system that uses millions of lines of COBOL that no one really knows what to do. It's a huge problem.. but no one wants to tackle it ;) Shit they can't even get a healthcare website setup correctly.
  • This affects what, 3 actual living persons?

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @02:21PM (#47425767)
    While the linked to article, a US TV station news site, does call it a "draft notice", I suppose I should explain to the non-US people here that this is not technically correct. There has been no draft in the US since the end of the Vietnam War. For roughly 40 years now, the US has had an all volunteer army. What Selective Service is required to do is to contact US citizen males on their 18th birthday and advise them that for the next 10 years they need to let Selective Service know their new address every time they move because in theory, in a national emergency Congress could pass a law reinstating the military draft and Selective Service is required to maintain accurate records of those who might theoretically be subject to such a draft. Whether such a draft would ever be done again is a great question, given how Congress currently seems incapable of passing anything non-controversial, let alone something as controversial as reinstating the draft. A crackpot Congressman or two has tried to get the draft reinstated and it's never had enough support to even get a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives. Whatever this is, technically speaking it's not a "draft notice".

    Not to digress, but for those who don't know, the draft was very controversial during the Vietnam War, with the rich and powerful were able to get their sons exceptions to the draft or get them plum assignments in the National Guard that wouldn't require them to actually go to Vietnam. Listen to Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son", which was written about the practice. There was so much animosity about the unfairness of the draft and the compulsion to fight in a war that nobody but a small number of politicians seemed to want that the US switched to a voluntary system, but one of the deals cut to move to this system was that Selective Service had to know where to get young men should the draft ever get reinstated. And yes, female US citizens are not subject to this at all.
    • I just ran across my Selective Service packet from the 80s. I had thought they discontinued it, but I guess I was incorrect.

      >And yes, female US citizens are not subject to this at all.
      Clearly sexism, but it doesn't really matter because they won't reinstate the draft. The government couldn't get away with insane crap like the Iraq invasion if anyone's kids could wind up there.
      • The Selective Service System had discontinued it during Nixon's administration but during Jimmy Carter's administration the President got the draft re-instated as a chest pounding measure to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

        Outlooks for economic prosperity and peace were positive for 1914 up until the day World War I broke out so until the Selective Service System is once again repealed (perhaps with a constitutional amendment as one of the replies suggests) I wouldn't put it past the government to activa

        • The Selective Service System had discontinued it during Nixon's administration but during Jimmy Carter's administration the President got the draft registration re-instated as a chest pounding measure to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

          There. FTFY. As I recall, I had to register with the Selective Service System when I turned 18. There was no draft. However, the law did have some teeth, as those who did not register were deemed ineligible for Federal college financial aid programs.

      • by jfengel (409917)

        I recall some talk during the lead-up to the Afghan war about the potential for a draft. It wasn't clear at the time just how big that particular conflict would get. It wasn't impossible to imagine it turning into World War-sized scenario against a lot of Islamic countries. The resulting conflicts were small compared to that, but we had to scale up the military substantially and if they'd grown any bigger we'd have had to have a draft.

        Now that women are allowed access to combat positions, it's going to be v

        • by plopez (54068)

          See my other post. 'Stop loss' orders were issued, which amounted to a draft.

          • by jfengel (409917)

            Yes, though not a general draft. Still a rather shocking thing to have happened, since it disguised the need for a general draft, that might have altered people's perceptions of the war.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      You forgot the carrot .. While registering for Selective service is not compulsory:

      Registration for Selective Service is also required for various federal programs and benefits, including student loans (such as FAFSA), job training, federal employment, and naturalization.

      Selective service [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xfade551 (2627499)
      Technically, the notice is called a "Failure to Register with the Selective Service Notice". I had one forwarded to me after I had already been in the Army 4 years (I enlisted a little before my 18th birthday), and was already serving in Afghanistan. I called the contact number, and the exchange went something like - Me: "Hi,this is Specialist [MyRealName], U.S. Army. I received one of your Failure to Register notices. I'm kinda in Afghanistan right now, what am I supposed to do with it?" Helpdesk person: "
      • by sconeu (64226)

        At least they didn't give you the "I don't care, you still have to register" bureaucratic BS.

    • During George W. Bush's first term, prior to the invasion of Iraq, Charles Rangel introduced a bill to reinstate the draft. While Rangel probably should have retired a few years ago I think this was a good move even if it amounted to nothing...


      The New York Democrat told reporters his goal is two-fold: to jolt Americans into realizing the import of a possible unilateral strike against Iraq, which he opposes, and "to make it clear that if there were a war, there would be more equitable representation of peop

    • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:07PM (#47426135)

      a war that nobody but a small number of politicians seemed to want

      This is revisionist nonsense. Vietnam was the most popular war in US history. At the time of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution [wikipedia.org], 90% of American's supported deeper involvement. No other war has ever had so much support. For instance, only 70% of Americans thought the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a good idea. Of course, support for any war declines as it drags on, especially if we appear to be losing. But it is a lot easier to get into a war than out, so it is only the support at the beginning that matters.

      The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution passed the Senate with 98 votes. The two senators that opposed it were both voted out of office at the next election. It is silly to say that this war was forced on the American people by the politicians, when the truth is that it was fear of the voters that pushed the politicians into supporting the war.

      • by sjames (1099)

        Not really. Yes, it was popular enough in '64, but after a few years of people's sons coming home in boxes the popularity had waned a good bit. Even moreso when people noticed none of those boxes were going to wealthy homes.

      • by mwehle (2491950) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @05:01PM (#47427025) Homepage

        Phrases like "revisionist nonsense" and "it is silly to say" should likely be used sparingly unless you have a very deep grasp of your subject matter.

        Conflating the Tonkin Gulf Resolution with America's war in Vietnam would be a mistake. In bringing Tonkin into an argument you may wish to acquaint yourself with records detailing the Johnson Administration's orchestration of the resolution. See Michael Beschloss's work for instance, or the Pentagon Papers, either portions of the full set or the single volume if your time is short. With Tonkin Johnson was reacting from fear of voters, but the documentary record shows clearly that the Administration wished to expand the war despite public sentiment, not because of it.

        In arguing that the war in Vietnam was popular you will likely want to look at some actual polling data, http://www.gallup.com/poll/119... [gallup.com] for instance. Anecdotal evidence such as Nixon's 1968 platform may also prove useful to you.

        • you will likely want to look at some actual polling data ...

          This polling data is after the war was already started, so it doesn't count. It is much harder to get out of a war than it is to avoid it in the first place. So it is only effective to oppose starting the war. In later years there were hundreds (eventually over a thousand) of Americans in North Vietnamese prison camps. Thousands more were missing in action. Tens of thousands were dead, and their deaths would be "in vain" if we pulled out (there are no "sunk costs" in politics). North Vietnam was compl

          • by Darinbob (1142669)

            Yes there was the feeling that pulling out would cause the deaths to be in vain, however it was pretty clear to many that there was no practical hope of "winning" and that it would just kill more people (of which the Americans were just a small fraction).

            The draft is really what got us out of it. People did not like that their children were dying because of a unlucky draw at the draft office, and yes there were a lot of rich kids unable to get out of service. Today it's different because most of those vol

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Only 70% supported invasion of Iraq? I'm amazed it is that high. I meet so few people who through (before or after) that it was a good idea.

        Vietnam started popular but it got very unpopular over time. Unlike Dubya's insistence that Americans should do things normally and forget that there was an ongoing war, in the Vietnam era there was an omnipresent reminder that there was a war and that it had been going to for a very long time and that people were dying with no discernable change in the militaryh pos

    • And the system has been more-or-less broken for a very long time. In the mid 1980's I got back from a SSBN patrol to find waiting for me in the mail a notice from Selective Service warning me that having failed to register I was ineligible for all manner of Federal programs. (I hadn't registered because I enlisted in the Navy shortly after my 17th birthday.) Of course being on active duty or a veterans trumps Selective Service registration for eligibility, and it took a letter from my command along with

      • by hawk (1151)

        My Uncle looked at his draft number, and enlisted (more control over assignment).

        He was right.

        My grandmother forwarded his induction notice to him in Viet Nam.

        He had the cook lay down, poured catchup over his head[1], and stood with his foot on the cook--and sent the picture back, from Viet Nam, to the draft board.

        hawk

        [1] Kind of silly to worry about color for a B&W picture . . .

    • by mwehle (2491950)
      Modern US draft registration stems from Jimmy Carter's 1980 response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Wikipedia has a reasonable synopsis. Those interested in reading about the draft may also be interested in using their favorite Internet search engine to query for terms like "draft resistance". There's a fair body of literature out there.
    • I think that you're missing the point of Selective Service Registration. They already know who you are, your age and where you live (they sent you the notice). In principle, you get to choose which service you would like to be drafted into, but in practice the major demand is for "cannon fodder" - so your choice would be irrlevant.

      Once you eliminate all the stated reasons, all that is left, and so the true purpose of the Selective Service registration, is to attempt to be a nucleus for protest. Those
    • by plopez (54068)

      It's not called a draft. It's called a 'stop loss' order. During the worst years of Iraq-Afghanistan people at the end of their original service requirements were not allowed to leave. It was mostly for critical specialties but a draft by any other name is still a draft.

  • ...these guys.

    How else are we going to beat the Kaiser?

  • That bug is so stupid it shows up 14 years late to the party. Geez.
  • Our programs use 4-digit years. We tell our customers that they must notify us by the year 9,995 if they want year-10,000 updates. And, if we are expected to go to a different galaxy, they must pay for travel.
  • by wcrowe (94389) on Thursday July 10, 2014 @03:02PM (#47426087)

    One scenario: some systems have tables that use a separate field for storing the century. Whoever wrote the query, sql statement, or whatever, left out the century, and there you have it. Probably not a Y2K problem, but more like a dumbass programmer problem.

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      One scenario: some systems have tables that use a separate field for storing the century.

      I'm guessing the Databases they were using back in the 1800's didn't have that capability.

    • One scenario: some systems have tables that use a separate field for storing the century.

      Why do you think they have that field? Why would someone design a database that is less efficient and encourages wrong queries?

      Most likely because someone previously fucked up and thought 2-digit years would be enough, by the time they realised they needed to fix that it was easier to add a new field than change the semantics of an existing one. Given that how accurate do you expect the data in the centuary field to be for old records?

      and in some databases they didn't even go as far as adding a century fie

      • by hawk (1151)

        >up and thought 2-digit years would be enough,

        When economists actually looked at the *data* for the "Y2K problem," they found that it would have cost, in discounted real dollars, three times as much to prevent the problem as it would have to avoid . . .

        doc hawk, economist

    • Close (if you read the article). It was a data-entry problem. When the old records were entered into the computer, the wrong century was selected. The article doesn't say when that happened, it could have been 30 years ago.
  • I have a daughter born in 1999. I suspect that in the years 2200+ that she will encounter problems (assuming a long life) with the 256bit operating systems of the next century when an int could easily encompass every millisecond since the big bang, yet they will still use two digit numbers. With most programmers being very young I don't think that many can think of a whole century as being something a computer must deal with.
    • I have a daughter born in 1999.

      A bit younger than my daughter, so your daughter has a higher chance than mine (and my kid's chances are non-zero) of living in three different centuries (20th, 21st, 22nd).

      I'm thinking that noone has ever done that (unless you count some Biblical codgers)....

      • My bad, I should have checked.

        Yes, there are people who were born in the 19th century and were still alive in the 21st. As of a year ago, there were 21 women born in the 19th century still alive.

        • by hawk (1151)

          Curiously, 17 of their husbands died in battle after being drafted past the age of 90 . . .

          hawk

    • Why assume 2200? In my experience, more things now rely on two digit years, not less. If a bad programmer today is coding something that never deals with historical records, only future dates, what is the incentive to be diligent about using four digit years? We've already established he's not very good, and if he even thought about, it, he probably assumes he won't be working 86 years from now when someone notices his bug.

  • Meh. Crap like that happens all the time, Y2K or no. Migrating 400k records stuff is bound to come up, particularly with old data, likely legacy systems, and probably shoddy migrations the 3 previous times this occurred. What is more concerning is the lack of QC or validation that led to the issue. Meaning likely those doing the migration no nothing of the DB contents, or are understaffed and underfunded to the point that no one has time to do it properly.

    I've seen 01/01/1900 time date mix ups which is like

  • Makes perfect sense - which would make for a more fearless army, a bunch of 18 year old boys, or a retirement home full of centenarians with Alzheimer's and/or stage 4 cancer?

    Human-wave attacks of volunteer centenarians against ISIS FTW.

    • Oh, but they don't move so fast anymore, but that's easy to fix. Since the computers think they are all teenagers, just issue them drivers permits and give them their 1970 Lincoln Continentals back. Airdrop them into Iraq and let them at it! CHARGE!!!!
  • When people die the county coroner complies death certificates and they are filed with the counties. So why is it that the dead are not taken off agency lists? My brother in law had his driver's license voided 16 months after he died. A police officer reported that his medical condition might make him an unsafe driver and it took Florida about twenty months to process it and deliver the notice. This reminds me of those lawyer ads that state that if you have died due to using a medical product you have

Money will say more in one moment than the most eloquent lover can in years.

Working...