Dwight Watt Internet Article #3

#2 Y2K (Year 2000) The good news or solutions - Part II 8/3/1998

Y2K (Year 2000) The good news or solutions - Part II

This is a continuation of article #2.

Now for the good news. Basically all software and hardware developed from 1997 forward has been designed to handle the year 2000. For most home computer users, the Year 2000 problem will not affect their home computer.

If you have older computers or software, you may have a problem. The first and most important thing to consider is does the year 2000 affect your software (programs). If your software does not use years anywhere in it, then you have no problem. If it does use years, ask yourself are there any calculations based on these years. If the answer is yes and the years are entered as two digits, you have a problem.

The Year 2000 problem does not affect anything that you do not put two digit dates in. Appliances such as clocks, coffee makers, etc. will not be affected, as we do not put the year in them. However some older VCRs may be affected for purposes of automatic recording if you enter two-digit year, not a four-digit year. However for manual recording and using as a playback unit, the VCR would not be affected.

To check your computer or software to see if it is Year 2000 compliant can be relatively simple. However a warning first. If you use appointment software doing the following could wipe out your appointment schedule. I would strongly recommend everyone making a backup of the hard drive before trying the following. Change the date and time in your computer to 12/31/1999 at 11:58 PM. Then let the computer run for about five minutes and turn it off. Then turn the computer back on and check the date and time and try your software doing some calculations if your software does calculations. If the date and time are correct and the software runs fine, you should be ok. You may find if the computer is an older model that you get a year that is not 00 or 2000. It may come up with 1980 or 1984. As long as your software runs fine (does correct calculations) you can still use it. If your software does wrong calculations, you will either need to get the software corrected or get new software. You can use this same method to check your VCR. I checked my VCR and it is 2000 compliant.

You must turn it off for the RTC (real time clock) to set to new century. However, most programs use the operating sytem time. If the only problem is the RTC does not go to 2000 without turning off and on, then you have the best available. Obviously we can easily turn our PCs off and back on after 1/1/2000.

There are numerous consultants out there who will fix Year 2000 problems. They charge a wide range of fees and have a variety of experiences, so check both before hiring. Make sure and test anything the consultants do. There are three basic ways to correct the problem. First is to get new software. Second is to change everything to four digit dates. This can be a major undertaking in time and expense. The third way is to change the calculations so that years less than 49 (Excel 97 uses 29 on two digit dates) are considered in the 21st century and years greater than 49 are considered in the 20th century. However the third solution means that we solved the Year 2000 problem, but created a Year 2050 (2030 in Excel 97) problem. Of course solutions one and two create a Year 10000 problem.

However I would do a few things as January 1, 2000 approaches for practical reasons. I would keep my bank staements and canceled checks for all of 1999 (course you ought to anyway for tax puposes), hold on to pay stubs in case a problem on what you were paid, get enough cash out of bank on Jan 30 to last the next week, and fill up your cars with gas on the 29th and top off if necessary on the 31st. Also it would not hurt to be prepared like for a hurricane and have some bottled water and candles on hand and if you are using heating oil or LP gas to make sure to have enough to last thru mid January.

Any programs written in C will also have a problem concerning dates in the year 2038. The problem is the program keeps the date in seconds from 1970 and the amount of space is too small for the number of seconds between 2038 and 1970. However the interesting thing is that software companies are now saying that this is no problem as newer versions of their product will be in use then, and no one will still be using the current products. The following quote is on the Eudora (a leading e-mail program) home page on the Internet: "Before we reach year 2038, however, we anticipate that there will be new versions of Eudora Pro and Eudora Light software that will resolve this issue. Given that there are upgrades and new versions of Eudora products released every year or so, we expect the current installed base of Eudora software users to be using year 2038 compliant software long before we reach year 2038." Déjà vu.


This is a little article I am doing across the Internet. I plan to write several times a week on a variety of subjects. It may be religious at times, political at times, and at other times just my reactions on something happening out there. It will often be like an op-ed article. If I do what I intend, you will at times want to shout I agree, other times you will want to say Dwight has really lost it now, but most importantly I want to challenge you to think. Feel free to forward this to others. If you don't want to get this e-mail let me know. Feel free to use what you read from me, but I request you give me credit and send a tear sheet if it is printed. Thanks.

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