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Should You Be Y2k Prepared?

This article first appeared in issue 22, and was written by Linda Waggener.

If you were the computer what would you do? It's mind boggling. Would you shut down and wait for instructions. Or would you assume it's 1900 all over again and keep working. Who knows?

There's much discussion in the world right now about how we will manage the transition from the end of 1900 into the beginning of 2000.

This article will focus on the business aspects, not on the spiritual. That's a whole other story - those "Are you prepared to meet your maker?" questions.

Our question here is, should you be Y2K prepared? And Richard Grant of CompuTech Resources in Campbellsville says, "Don't panic. But do get prepared." Some of the things he says be concerned about are computers, telephone systems, voice mail and paging systems, alarm systems, closed circuit camera systems, heating and cooling environmental controls, fax machines, elevators, etc.

The problem is that when the first computers came about forty or so years ago, dates were entered using only six digits, as in 10-23-58, not 10-23-1958. They were having a good time inventing technology and saving the extra two digits between 58 and 1958, made a world of difference in costs then. Nowadays with memory so cheap, it's not a question. However, that was how all our data was put into computers which run things today.

Now that we're nearing that last day, December 31, 1999, the question is this - when everyone goes home to celebrate the new year and drags back in to work on January 3, 2000 - what will our computers have done with all the nineties when their little automatic clocks rolled over in our absence?

In a presentation to the Chamber of Commerce, Grant told the business men and women, "To know what is a priority, remember that an application or system is mission-critical only if it is vital to the successful continuance of a core business activity."

Most larger businesses are in intensive training now to get their software in line so that the first time it becomes necessary to input the date 2000, things will continue smoothly. All the local bankers were present and assured the audience that they are working tirelessly to assure that everything goes right on with no interruption of service.

In a recent Wired Magazine story, however, a few of the country's top programmers are preparing for possible interruptions by buying land in the country and stockpiling necessities. Their concern is that while business and financial institutions are prepared and should do fine, all the preparation in the world can't begin to locate and correct the zillion little computer chips which will go crazy at roll-over hour and possibly interrupt the country's utility flow.

And they feat that can cause pandemonium.

The advice of these top level programmers also was, simply, "Don't panic, do prepare."

How? Well, for a start you might want to talk with Richard Grant about your systems plus these and other critical dates: April 9, 1999 because it is 9999 on the Julian Calendar. The 99th day of the year 1999. 9999 denotes the "end of input" in many computer programs.

September 9, 1999 because it is 9999 on the Georgian Calendar. 9999 denotes the "end of input" in many computer programs. December 31, 1999 because it's the last day in 1999 year.

January 1, 2000 because it's the beginning of the year 2000.

January 3, 2000 because it is the first business day in the year 2000.

January 10, 2000 because it is the first date to require a 7 digit date field. (1/10/2000).

This story was posted on 1998-11-15 12:01:01
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