Special Report Y2K!!! A special report on the year 2000 bug, and itís implications.



When modern computers came into being in the early 60ís, and 70ís no one expected them to last more than 10 years, the same applied to the programs that were run on them. These machines were big, and the programs like COBOL, Fortran, and others like them were also very large in size. So in order to make the systems more efficient programmers, and system managers cut corners, one of the corners that were cut was how the date was represented. Instead of four digits designers of systems, and software used two. Note, the programs we run today still use two digits to represent the date, on systems that still do the same, unless your running a pentium machine with a new processor, and clock. So what's the problem?? Good question, once your at 00 you start over. The system subtracts from the date or ads to the date as needed. And, since it canít read a negative number the system wonít function, or will give invalid information. Remember the last two digits are used, so someone who was born 1963 is represented as 63, subtract 63 from 99, and you get 36, your files will remain intact. do the same calculation from 00, you get -63, and since the system canít read that number, well you donít exist. Same goes if your going forward, and that presents some nasty problems for everyone. By the way what we call a bug, is not really a bug at all, itís more or less a technical flaw in the system, and software that we currently use.


In the worst case scenario complete shut down of systems world wide, that is very unlikely since most governmental organizations, banks, corporations, the military, and just about everyone on the planet is working to solve the problem. However there may be some problems, banking machines may not work, there may be some brown outs, or black outs, and there is the possibility that files may be lost, and systems destroyed. Anything that is run by computers is at risk, if it has a time sensitive program, and a clock, it will be more than likely to fail. And, most systems are built with internal clocks, and programs run on them in most cases do refer to the date. There are very few exceptions to the rule.


Obviously the solution is to fix the systems, and software, but that creates a very big problem. Systems that are large have numerous programs that programmers, and operators know nothing about since they never see or use them. Companies have replaced staff who donít know about the older programs, and systems, and the software on mainframes is written with hundreds of coded lines that refer to the date, each has to be modified. Patching is one solution, but on a mainframe that may have been done so many times that no one would know where to look to fix the problem. In some cases the source codes on systems have been lost or deleted off the system. But, the big issue is the logistics, a company may have hundreds of PCs in various locations. Then there are worldwide standards, computers have to talk to one another, so date formatting has to be universal, if not the problem will still be unsolved. Time is of the essence, it takes a year to fix the big mainframes, minutes to fix your home computer. The best solution is to test your computer hardware, and software, to upgrade your system, and to make sure that any new programs, and systems are compliant with the date change. For the mainframe that is a little more difficult to do, but it has to be done. This may involve acquiring a new mainframe, or hiring staff to work on making the necessary code changes to programs, and subsystems so that they are compliant.


Do take the time to learn about the Y2K problem, and how it could affect you. Visit web sites, read up on the subject, and watch the news, and other media sources for information on the Y2K problem. Do a test on your system, and itís programs, make sure that your system, and software are ready for the date change. If not upgrade your system. Donít take all your money out of the bank, save for a month or two just in case. Making a run on the bank could cause economic problems, lets not start another depression. Donít panic, the worst thing we can do is lose our heads. A common sense approach to the problem is what will save us a lot of undue hardship. Donít go running to the hills or get involved with the serialist crowd. If you really think about it the safest place to be as the year ends is at home. Do, if you think it is necessary learn survival techniques from a legitimate organization which takes a common sense approach to survival techniques. Joining a militia group is not recommended, since in most cases these groups are antigovernment, racist, and have been know to perform illegal acts. Do stock up on the basics, candles, flash lights, batteries food, and water, and medical supplies, portable two way radio, a compass, and map. Y2K or no Y2K, itís always a good idea to be ready for an emergency. Do keep records, bills, identification, and any data that is important. That is always recommend regardless of the current situation we face. Let others know where youíll be, again this should be done Y2K or not.


Knowledge is the key, follow the links below, and learn more about the Y2K bug, and what you can do to prepare yourself for the new century. There are many other resources on the net, in libraries, and via other media sources. I hope that you have found this special report informative, if you have any questions regarding this or other information on this web site mail to CLIFF JAMES or DIGITAL IMAGES

C. James.