The Millenium Bug
This is my effort to provide some useful information concerning the Year 2000 problem -- the Millenium Bug -- as it relates to personal computers and networks. There seems to be a lot of discussion about the effects of the problem, but very little of what to do about it. To that end, I will try to pass along some practical advice.
If you have come across some information that you found particularly helpful, please email the reference to me at: email@example.com.
Many of my clients are concerned about an action plan to meet the challenge.
IBM has a java based tutorial on the subject.
On a simple level, some hardware and software does not properly roll-over to the proper date on January 1, 2000. Some that manage to roll-over properly do not maintain the proper date when rebooted. The problem is can originate in
It is helpful to consider the fact of 2000 also being a leap year -- also a known date related problem. Just to make matters worse, many systems that schedule a year in advance will have problems starting January 1, 1999. Another known problem is September 9, 1999 (9/9/99) -- a commonly used expiration date. There are many others, but the point is that date dependencies are pervasive throughout many industries.
My main focus will be file servers and workstation PCs. Windows NT 4.0 servers should manage themselves without any changes, but Netware 3.12 systems will require at a minimum, software patches for both servers and clients. Here is a link specific to 3.12 Y2K patch 2. In most cases it would probably be advantageous to purchase the Netware 3.2 Enhancement Pack for $349. It includes all the patches and improvements to 3.12 for both the server and workstations. Novell claims that these updates are fully Year 2000 compliant. Obviously, attention will need to be given to the server hardware as well.
Windows 98/95, Windows 3.1x, and DOS workstation PCs will be fine if the hardware is capable, but may need assistance to set the century bit in the PCs permanent memory. .
Even though not the focus of this work, be aware that this issue affects nearly everything that uses or maintains dates, hardware and software. It affects from mainframes to PCs, to embedded micro-controllers. Your VISA or MasterCard... what, hadn't you thought about that yet? Have you ever seen a credit card with 00 on it? VISA International banned them in 1996 until they could get a handle on the problem.
On a simple level, you can check the PC hardware by changing the date on your PC to 11:59pm 12/31/99 and watching what happens. Try the same thing, but this time turn off the PC and leave it off for several minutes. In either case, turn if off/on again and check. Some PCs revert back after a power off.
From a systems point of view, there are some tools to assist with the gathering of compliance statistics. One product that comes very well reviewed is Check 2000 from Greenwich Mean Time. It tests the BIOS for compatibility and can also inventory your PCs and applications to alert you to the general type of date related problems. This application is available in single PC, five PC, and enterprise licensing levels.
There are also some useful tools at www.rightime.com that include some basic year 2000 testing. Among these is a FREE utility called Test2000. There are some additional utilities to view the contents of the RTC and CMOS, these are quite interesting.
Patches, upgrades and replacements. Sounds simple, huh? The hard part is identifying the problem in detail. The basic steps are:
Some PCs may require a one-time "boost" into the 21st Century, there is a century bit in CMOS non-volatile RAM that once set, will stay set. Since most network PCs synchronize their clocks with the server on boot up, that would happen automatically. Stand-alone PCs would need this step performed manually. Gateway 2000 has an article describing the procedure for their systems, the steps are identical for other vendors
To quote InfoWorld, "You may find that 100-percent compliance is an unreasonable goal. You have to cover what you can, starting with the most important issues first."
Don't let that lull you into complacency either. Even though you may not be able to attend to the smallest detail, you should still try. Obviously, some of you have a more daunting task than others.
The definition of Year 2000 compliance varies depending on who you ask. In plain language, to be considered compliant, a system must
The NSTL uses a stricter definition of Year 2000 readiness for x86-based PCs, including compatibility with the Motorola MC146818 real-time clock (RTC):
The following vendors and organizations have some useful links on the subject. In many cases, the best information to be found will come from web sites. If you have come across some information that you found helpful, please email me the reference to firstname.lastname@example.org.