Last Chance For A Year 2000 Checkup

The end of the world is at hand! 

Well, OK, maybe not. But by now we should all be aware of the potential problems with computer systems when January 1 rolls around. The crux of the problem is that we have all adapted to using two digits to indicate a year, and now we have to un-learn that behavior. While humans can easily adapt to a new way of thinking (unless your checks are preprinted), it is a bit more difficult for computers.

Many computer programs use a date offset to record dates, such as the number of days since January 1, 1980. These programs will not have a problem next year, since it is just one more day. However, software does need to know what to do if you enter a two digit year. After all, what century do you want to use?

For that reason, many software companies have released updates or patches to their software. These patches usually either fix date input or display problems. You should check with the manufacturers of your software to see if any fixes have been released. Due to the intense worldwide testing, many bugs are still being discovered. For example, our clients are usually surprised to find that Microsoft has recently released new updates for Windows 98, Windows NT, and Office 97. We heartily recommend checking manufacturers' web sites, and applying any updates offered.

Many people plan to turn their PCs off over the New Year's weekend, hoping to avoid problems. However, if you normally leave your PC on, you may not know the battery in your PC has died, which may cause it to lose system settings. Turn your PCs off overnight ahead of time to test for this problem in a controlled situation.

November 1999

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