Date: Tue, 23 Jun 1998 14:20:45 -0400
From: Bob Rankin 
Subject: TOURBUS - 23 June 1998 - Best of Tourbus: Y2K
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           TODAY'S TOURBUS TOPIC: Best of Tourbus #1 - Y2K

Hi All.  Today, we kick off the 1998 Best of Tourbus series, and on
this momentous occasion I've decided to revisit the Year 2000 (Y2K)
issue.  Back in September 1997 I wrote about this topic, but it has
grown in relevance and importance.  So I've touched up the original
article and added some new links and information.

But as always, be sure to thank today's Tourbus sponsors.  Pop in at (see above) and our brand-new sponsor Tropi-Ties.

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Does Your Computer Have The Millennium Bug?

Even if you have a brand new PC, there's a good possibility it may
not work correctly come January 1, 2000.  And even if you don't own
a PC, you could be in for some major trouble the morning after that
turn-of-the-century party.  (Phooey on the purists who insist - right
or wrong - that the new millennium begins on 1/1/2001.)

In a nutshell, the Millennium Bug refers to computers that are unable
to cope with the year 2000.  It's estimated that over 90% of
computers in use today are susceptible to this problem, which arises
from the fact that many computers and software programs use only two
digits to represent the year.

Programmers chose this course of action to save precious memory and
disk space in the early days of computing, but unfortunately this
shortcut is still used in some software today.  People use notation
like 12/31/99 all the time, but what's a computer going to think when
the date suddenly becomes 01/01/00?  Some computers will think it's
the year 1900, others will reset to 1980 or some other random date.


It is reported that 93% of computers built before 1997, and 43% of those
built in or after 1997 will have a Year 2000 problem.  But since computer
and software vendors are scrambling to prepare for the year 2000, the
problem will likely be minimal for the average home PC user who purchases
hardware or software in the near future.

But many corporations and government officials are sweating bullets.
In addition to facing huge bills to address the problem (it'll cost
Uncle Sam about $20 billion) they have to worry about the impact on a
societal level.

A report by UK-based Corporation 2000 forecasts the new millennium
will throw New York City into chaos, severely disrupting power
supplies, schools, hospitals, transport and the finance sector.  The
study predicts that on January 1, 2000, electrical supply will be
only 50% available for 10 days.  Wall Street will be closed for eight
days, hospital service will be emergency-only for a full month, and
serious problems will cripple telephone, transportation and postal

Pundits are making statements ranging from "no big deal" to "doom and
gloom", but whatever the case, the problem is not limited to New York
City or even the USA.  It would be wise to check with your bank, school,
and any other institution you deal with to see if they are Year 2000
compliant.  If you get a blank stare or an evasive answer, take your
business elsewhere.


If you think you'll still be using your current computer in December
1999, you'd better do a little checking to see if it'll survive
the Year 2000 (or Y2K) changeover.  In addition to faulty software,
it's likely that your computer's BIOS or CMOS (hardware that controls
the function of your computer and interfaces with the operating
system) has the Millennium Bug too.  I ran a diagnostic on my trusty
'486 and found to my surprise that it's going to have a major Y2K

The best way to test your computer's hardware for potential Year 2000
problems is to get a free diagnostic tool such as TEST2000.  You can
download this program via the Web at

Also check out this site for other Y2K testing & patch resources

or have a look at the online Year 2000 Information Center where
you'll find a wealth of information, articles, and other helpful
tools.  It's at

If you can't get your hands on a diagnostic tool, here's a test you
can try from the DOS prompt to test your hardware for possible Y2K

  - Set the system clock to 11:59 pm on December 31, 1999.  The
  commands DATE 12-31-99 and TIME 11:59p will do the trick.

  - Turn the computer off, wait two minutes, and turn it back on.

  - Issue the DATE command from a DOS prompt.

If your computer reports the year as 2000, that's good.  But if the
year is 1900, 1980, or something other than 2000, you've got the bug.
Even though some systems can cross the century bridge and maintain
the correct year, they may have trouble dealing with a date of 2000
or greater.  Here's another test to check for that problem.

  - Set your computer's date to 01-01-2000, turn the computer off, wait
  a minute, and turn it back on.

Most PC's will show the wrong date after this test, even if they
passed the first test.  If your computer fails either test, think
about getting a motherboard upgrade.  For less than $300 you can move
up to a Pentium class machine and leave your troubles behind.  But
make sure the vendor certifies your new motherboard is "Year 2000
Safe" or you'll have a hotrod that can fail the Y2K tests even faster
than the old machine.


Macintosh users, you don't have to worry about hardware-related Year
2000 problems, but software may still be an issue for Mac and PC users.

Most commercially available software, as well as the Windows 95/98 and
Mac operating systems, are year 2000 compliant.  But you may have an
older spreadsheet or database program which keeps track of years with
a two-digit field.  If so, you'll have to upgrade or replace the

You can test your software by setting the system clock to some date
in the year 2000, and then try to exercise as many features as
possible.  Pay special attention to any programs that do date
calculations or comparisons, such as spreadsheets.  If your
amortizations come out wrong, your software may have a problem.  If
you have a database with date fields, run a battery of reports and
look for unusual or negative values in the listings.

In addition to giving all your software a Year 2000 checkup, visit
the Web sites of software vendors to find compliancy information.
Most companies will be releasing upgrades in the next year to fix
Year 2000 problems, so be sure to upgrade before doomsday.


Visit these sites for additional info on the Year 2000 issue: - Gary North - The Cassandra Project - Understand Y2K in 5 Steps - The Y2K Watch

See you next time, and don't forget to vote for your favorite Tourbus
issues.  Visit the archives (see below) to cast your votes.  --Bob

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