Myth 1: The year 2000 affects only mainframes.
Make no mistakes. PCs have the Y2K problem as well. On many old PCs and even on some sold as recently as last year, the clockís time and date information is provided by a piece of hardware, called the BIOS, which assumes that the first two digits of the year are 19. The BIOS, in turn, provides this information, to some software applications. But most software products do not rely on the BIOS; they instead query the computerís operating system, which gets the date information from the BIOS but does not make the same assumption about the century. Itís hard to know which software pulls date information directly from the BIOS and not from the operating system, it is recommended that users check with their PC manufacturers to see if their BIOS is Y2K compliant. If it is not the case, then a software patch from the PC manufacturer must be installed to fix the problem.
The date problem will also affect many common
PC software applications; we cannot just fix the mainframe side and leave
the PC desktop side alone, we are still in big trouble. The Y2K problem
extends beyond the mainframes.
Myth 2: The Apple Macs are fine.
Not all Macs are Y2K compliant. It is true that Macintosh hardware knows how to handle year data well into the next century and that the newest versions of MAC OS is century-capable. The latest Apple Macintosh computers are designed so that they will not have date problems until the year 29940 Ė almost 300 centuries from now. But there are problems with earlier versions of MAC OS and MAC applications. Mac date-data exchanges are likewise problematic, primarily because of differences in how applications process and store dates. But users know these differences and understand what to do about them, they can have serious problems processing dates.
Myrh 3: Windows 95/98 are Y2K compliant.
Windows 98 defaults to two-digit years just like
Windows 95 and two-digit years can lead to problems. The "file manager"
utility and the "find file" tools do not support four-digits dates. A patch
is available from Microsoft to
fix this problem. Though most Windows date-processing problems are easily managed if you know what to do about them, otherwise users need to be trained on how to deal with them.
Myth 4: The problem will occur at midnight on 1/1/00
Actually, some of the problems started to occur
years ago. For instance, some merchants ran into credit cards that didnít
accept cards with an expiration date ending in 00. Some problems
will occur even earlier. September 9,
1999 is a date that many people worry about, because some programmers used the nasty "four 9s" such as 9/9/99 to indicate an Invalid date field. Others worry about the 99th day of 1999 (April 9, 1999).
Myth 5: The problems are well identified.
Although the basic Y2K problem is well understood,
the difficulty is finding all the places where dates show up. Two-digit
dates codes were used in all kinds of programs. Many of those were
written years ago, and no one
remembers all aspects of them. It is impossible for programmers to find every such logic in the next year and a half. Some problems will be minor, some will be more serious.
Myth 6: Y2K is a technical problem
Certainly there are technical problems that must be addressed, but the legal, public relations and political issues are just as important. On the legal front, some claim that software developers should be responsible for making sure every version of software ever sold is Y2K-compliant. Groups of users are starting to sue desktop software vendors for failing to provide Y2K compliance for free. Four law suits have been brought on behalf of users against two accounting software vendors: SBT Accounting Systems and Macola Inc. as well as against Symantec Corp., maker of Norton AntiVirus, and Intuit Inc., maker of Quicken financial software. The four vendors have been sued for breaching their warranties by requiring customers to pay for Y2K patches to their software products. In addition, Symantec was charged for failing to certify Norton AntiVirus products prior to version 4.0 as Y2K compliant and failing to remedy the defect at no charge. Politically, the biggest concern is with government computers. Politicians do not want to spend money on something that is invisibble as fixing lines of code.
Myth 7: This is system software problem
It is primarily a software application problem but both hardware and software are involved.
Myth 8: The world as we know will end on 1/1/00.
People think that everything electronic will stop
working forever that morning. Not necessarily. Large businesses are well
aware of the problem and are aggressively working to fix the problems,
most are planning to reinterpret the two-digit date to a rolling 100-year
window, which will work for now. But many smaller businesses are not all
that aggressive, believing that they arenít all that dependent on computer
systems. Letís hope they are right. Quality of life could take a nosedive
if those folks that run the local auto shop, dry cleaner, grocery store,
etc get bitten by the Y2K bug. Today, with less than 15 months before the
arrival of the year 2000, few companies and public agencies are in good
shape with their Y2K efforts. To get the year 2000 issue in front and center
among small businesses
that serve everyone, President Clinton has declared Oct. 19-23, 1998 to be National Y2K Action Week. Hundreds of educational events will be jointly carried out during the week by the Small Business Administration, the Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture through their local offices.
From a survey of 15,000 companies in 87 countries
for a July 98 report:
Eyes Wide Shut:
From a CIO magazine survey of 643 individuals
for a Year 2000 Consumer awareness in May 1998:
Yet CIOís April 1998 poll of technology and business
executives indicated that only 17% were confident the glitch would be fixed
by then. Federal agencies fall father behind on Y2K projects Fifteen government
agencies are behind schedule on their year critical 2000 projects and total
spending on fixes is expected to reach $5 billion
according to the Office of Management and Budget. Six agencies having the most serious trouble are: Department of Defense, Education, Energy, Transportation, Health and Human Services and the Agency for International Development. Among the agencies furthest behind is Health and Human Services, which did not complete an assessment of its 289 business-critical systems until May 98. Defense with its 1898 critical systems has brought only 29% into compliance. The DOT is also a laggard with only 38% of its 630 critical systems in compliance.
Air Transportation Survey Ė Most Disturbing:
In a statement prepared for Congress hearing on
Sep 28, 98, the Air Transport Association of America said its preliminary
survey of airports turned up most disturbingí: 35% of airports indicated
that they had no plan for dealing with the Y2K problem. At the beginning
of this year, the FAA lagged behind the government-wide schedule for Y2K
repairs, but the agency redoubled its efforts and appear on track to have
air traffic control systems fixed by the end of June 98. Some members of
Congress warned that airline travel could be disrupted
in January 2000, particularly overseas travel. The International Civil Aviation Organization was asked to raise Y2K
issues with its 145-member nations. The FAA, meanwhile, has set up teams to work with Canada, Mexico, Japan, Britain, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic to ensure the computer glitch does not compromise safety. More than half of all American travelers go to these six countries.
In the US, the Air Transport Association said,
an inventory of 81 airports found 20 on schedule to fix the Y2K computer
glitches, 9 are running one to three months behind schedule. Twenty-four
airports were more than three
months behind or will not finish Y2K repairs until after June 1999. The remainder 28 were without plans, the association said.
Banking and Hospital audits:
Audits by federal banking regulators released in June 98, found that Y2K projects at 695 banks need improvement, with the efforts at 43 of those institutions listed as unsatisfactory. A nationwide survey of hospitals by Chicago law firm Gordon & Glickson found that 30% havenít begun year 2000 projects.
SEC to enforce Year 2000 reporting:
The Securities and Exchange Commission told the
Senate banking subcommittee that while 70% of the 1,000 companies the agency
reviewed disclose Y2K project information in their annual reports, many
do not follow the
disclosure guidelines set by the SEC. The companies failed to disclose the costs of fixing the problem but also the potential consequences if the company does not fix the problem in time. Steven Hock, CEO of Triaxys Research testified that Triaxys examined 250 corporate financial filings with the SEC and found that 15% provided no
Y2K information, another 30% used such vague language as to leave investors unaware of the status of their projects or the risks involved. The SEC said that it is ready to take action against public companies that do
not comply with the guidelines for disclosing information on their Y2K costs and compliance.
Baltimore, MD. Sat, 17 Oct 1998