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The Year 2000 Bug

The Year 2000 Bug Do you have a home computer or a small business with a computer? You have undoubtedly read or heard information about the upcoming new century and are wondering if you need to do something to help your PC make the transition into the year 2000. This site is constructed to help you answer that question, and to help you sort fact from fiction. The way that your computer system will be affected by the year 2000 will depend not only on the equipment and software that you have, but on the way you use your PC and rely on it. If you only use your PC to play games, you probably won’t need to be concerned about year 2000 issues. On the other hand, if you use your PC for managing finances or to store important date-sensitive information, you may want to learn more to determine if your particular system is at riskand what you can do to minimize that risk.

Anti-virus software available for 90 day trial – free of charge To assist in helping small/medium businesses and consumers to deploy anti-virus software, Microsoft has teamed with leading anti-virus firms Central Command Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Data Fellows Corp., Network Associates Inc., Norman ASA, Panda Software, Sophos Inc., Symantec Corp. and Trend Micro Inc., to provide fully functional anti-virus trial software to small & medium businesses and consumers in preparation for the Year 2000. The anti-virus software can be downloaded free of charge from November 1 through December 31. Once downloaded, the anti-virus software will be functional for 90 days. Microsoft Policies on Software Distribution Beware of an E-mail Claiming to Contain an Upgrade from Microsoft! Malicious users try to camouflage harmful software in an effort to get others to run it. Several e-mails are claiming to contain upgrades of Microsoft software and some are claiming Windows 95 and Windows 98 will fail on Jan.

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1. However, Microsoft does not distribute software by e-mail and Windows 95 and 98 are compliant. If you receive such an e-mail, delete it or report to the sender’s Internet Service Provider If you are uncertain about your specific situation, you probably need more information! To help you get that information, we’ve designed an easy-to-follow tour for you to help you understand the issues and to help you make decisions that are right for you and your PC. We’ll take you through the first three sections of this site in the following order: 1. Introduction: We’ll start with an overview of the year 2000 issue.

2. Exploring your PC: Next, we’ll explain how the year 2000 issue affects each area of your PC system. 3. Taking Action: And finally, we’ll help you to make and carry out a readiness plan that is right for you. After you have completed the tour, you’ll want to visit the Learning More section of this site. It contains a glossary, a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ), a collection of handy year 2000 tips, lots of useful information and links to other sites.

Are you ready to get started? Just follow me! I’ll show you where to go! The year 2000 issue is a general term that really refers to three separate date-related computing issues, each of which can potentially produce misinterpretations or miscalculations. 1. The first issue is related to the way computer hardware and software traditionally stored date information. Historically, programmers specified a year using two digits (99) rather than four digits (1999). By assuming the first two digits of the year, precious memory and storage of a computer was saved.

This was an economical shortcut for programmers that made good sense twenty-five years ago, but stopped making sense as we approached a new century. Though programming practices have changed in recent years, some computer hardware and software may still have difficulty interpreting the year after the turn of the century. And if the computer system stores or works with an unintended date, any calculations or information based on that date could lead to incorrect results. Another contributing factor to this issue is the everyday practice of people to use only two digits to specify a year. Though each of us is accustomed to using two-digit shortcuts for the year, this practice forces the software to interpret the century that was intended.

An interpretation of the century is simply not as reliable as a clearly specified four-digit year! 2. The second issue is due to the fact that the year 2000 is a special-case leap year. This type of leap year occurs only once every 400 years and is an exception to the usual rule for determining leap years. Some computer hardware and software may not understand that the year 2000 includes the extra day of February 29, 2000. 3.

The third issue is due to an older programming practice of using dates to indicate special meanings or customized functions within software programs. (For example, in some programs, a special meaning was often assigned to the date 9/9/99.) It is generally older software programs found on legacy computer systems that have this problem. Programs created for personal computers are less likely to be affected by this type of year 2000 issue. The year 2000 issue, then, is really a collection of different types of date handling issues that can affect computer systems, including personal computers, when the new century arrives. Personal computer systems are not immune to year 2000 errors, and the risk is not necessarily eliminated by owning a brand new computer.

But being ready for the year 2000 will look different for different PCs and different situations. If you only use your computer to play games, send e-mail or browse the Web, the impact of date-handling issues may seem minor or even negligible. On the other hand, if you rely on financial or spreadsheet software, you may have every reason to be concerned about the consequences of the year 2000 to you or your business. The type of issue you face and the impact will vary, depending on the type of computer system you are using and how you are using it. We will see that year 2000 issues can surface in more than one part of your computer system.

So while one part of your system may be ready for the year 2000 (for example, the hardware of a brand new PC), another area may not be (for example, your software or personal files). The most important thing you can do is to increase your understanding of the year 2000 issue as it relates to your personal computer and the software programs you use. You’ll then be in a better position to consider your own system, determine which areas may be at risk, andbased on how you use your PCchoose the actions that make the most sense for you. Making sure your PC is ready for the year 2000 means considering each area of your PC systemall within the context of how you use and rely on your computer. There truly is no one-size-fits-all solution for year 2000 PC readiness. You may also want to adopt some best practices date-handling habits, such as consistently using four-digit years in your work. Two-digit year shortcuts are always susceptible to inaccurate interpretation, and this possibility can be eliminated by changing the way that you regularly specify dates.

Adopting recommended best practices will help to minimize your risk regarding date handlingboth now and in the future. While we can offer no solution to quickly remedy each and every potential year 2000 problem for your specific computer system, there is no reason for alarm. Many issues will be more annoying than serious. The more you become informed, the more prepared you will be to sort fact from fiction. Information and preparation are two wonderful antidotes to alarm and fear. John Glenn, two-time American space traveler, offered this advice about worry and the futureadvice that can be meaningfully applied to the year 2000 issue. ..The greatest antidote to worry, whether you’re getting ready for spaceflight or facing a problem of daily life, is preparation ..the more you try to envision what might happen and what your best response and options are, the more you are able to allay your fears about the future. Now let’s take a closer look at the three areas of your computer system that can be impacted by year 2000 issues. There is no single fix for making a PC system ready for the year 2000.

Why? Because year 2000 errors can originate in several different areas of your PC system, including its: * Hardware * Software * Personal (Data) Files Let’s take a brief tour of each of these three system areas and find out how they relate to the year 2000 challenge. When we’re finished, you’ll be better prepared to evaluate your own computing environment. Every personal computer relies on a battery-powered internal digital clock (Real Time Clock or RTC) to keep track of the time and date. But the RTC only keeps track of the last two digits of the year (for example, 1999), not the century. It is generally the BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) of the computer that oversees the century digits of the date (for example, 1999). Depending on your computer, the clock and BIOS mayor may notbe capable of knowing the correct date when the year 2000 arrives.

If your PC hardware does not know the correct date (sometimes called a rollover problem), that error will affect other aspects of your computer system. The hardware part of your PC is essentially the foundation upon which everything else is based. Your first priority, then, is to find out if your computer’s hardware is ready for the year 2000. If it is not, you will need to take action to make it ready. Software consists of a series of instructions for the computer. There are two main types of computer software: * The operating system, which controls the workings of the computer system. * And software programs (or applications), which perform a particular type of task.

Every computer has an operating system (OS) that forms its software foundation. Personal computer operating systems in use today may include Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT, Mac OS, UNIX and MS-DOS. Since the operating system is the foundation for your software, it should be the next level of priority for your attention. Software programs are the computer software tools that allow you to get specific types of work done. They are sometimes called applications. Different software programs perform different types of tasks, and some can be used simply for entertainment. Common types of software programs include word processing, e-mail, (Web) browsing, spreadsheet, financial management, presentations, publishing, and games.

Most PC computer programs are off-the-shelf products that have been manufactured commercially. They may have been preinstalled on your computer when you bought it, purchased in a box, or downloaded from the Internet. In terms of year 2000 readiness, you will want to consider the software programs that are critical to you, particularly if those programs use dates. You may also have software programs that were (custom) developed just for you or your business. These custom software programs may be susceptible to year 2000 issues, and they will also need consideration.

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