Need a book? Engineering books recommendations...

Return to index: [Subject] [Thread] [Date] [Author]

RE: Year 2000 computer problem!

[Subject Prev][Subject Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next]
Art Bell is best known for his shows related to Extraterrestrial life and
the government concealment of Area 51. Although entertaining and often
thought provoking, I have never placed much credence in Art Bells "urgency"
in black helicopters and government coverups related to ET's.
As far as his concern for Y2K, it appears as though he as jumped on the same
bandwagon as Chuck Harder (For the People). Harder is known in many markets
are were Perot supporters during the last election.

The Y2K problem is real, but the solutions are available. For those how live
in the Los Angeles area, there is a computer show on Sunday mornings - Jeff
Levy on Computers. He interviewed an engineer who came up with a simple
solution to the Y2K problem that did not require changing all of the data
files that exist and the programs that read the data.
For those who are unfamilar with the problem I'll try and state it briefly.
 Early mainframe systems used in the fifties by federal and local
governments represented the year as a two digit number. There was no
forethought about how the data would be interpreted once the next millenium
came about. I am not sure about the reason for this, but I believe that most
programers thought that the problem would not need to be addressed for a
hundred years past the first records.
As data grew, the government placed all their records in database formate
including social security payments, pensions, insurance and employee
records.
Very simply, once the year 2000 rolls about, the computer won't be able to
associate the two digit 00 as 2000 but will default back to 1900. Therefore,
payments that are to be made by the federal and local governments will not
be processed. This means that some of us would be expected to wait an
additional 50 years of so past our day of eligibility for Social Security.
Now extend the same problem to Global business that control the distribution
of basic supplies like food and medical. The crisis expects that the
distribution to warehousing and retail centers will come to a standstill
until the businesses spend the money necessary to correct the problem. To
make matters worse, inasmuch as the government is involved in this problem,
emergency rations and supplies will not be controled nor will there be
adequate distribution to cover the needs of the population.

The idea is that there is a number of ways to solve the problem. The obvious
is to go back in and modify the code for the recognition of the last digits
to four places. The next step is to manually modify the data and change the
year to a four digit number.

A simpler solution is a mathmatical one that was created by an engineer. The
solution tricks the program to recognize the last two digits by adding an
arbitrary number to the data and then subtracting another constant. I'm
sorry but I forgot how the solution worked but after hearing the engineer on
Jeff Levy's show, it was so simple. The hardest part of the problem was
making small modifications to the program code to interpret the existing
data without spending billions on modifications described above.

Although our businesses are mostly exempt from this problem since the small
PC based programs have already become Y2K compliant, all of us will be
affected if we put money in the bank or credit unition, pay mortgages and
insurances, rely upon insurance benifits, social secuity, annuities,
interest paid on investments and much more. You might read the information
at so of the sites listed below, but I found that for a most up to date
status, you should click on the link to: http://www.y2k-status.org/

There is a ton of information on the Internet related to Y2K including free
programing examples that will help companies fix the problem in a fast and
inexpensive manner. One such you may wish to look at is located at
http://www.ensoftsys.com/CONVERTER2000.html. If you wish to learn how the US
Army is dealing with the problem you might try:
http://www.army.mil/army-y2k/Home.htm. To understand how the problem affects
investment and personal finances as well as home computers you might visit:
http://www.pathfinder.com/money/y2k/index.html. The website Y2K Watch is
intended to further educate the public and report on the problem as we
approach the year 2000 - this one will even put you on an email list so that
you get the action first hand: http://y2kwatch.com/ . To learn about it's
Global impact you might check out:
http://www.sightings.com/ufo/y2kdatapage.html.

Want to know how some major companies are dealing with the problem, visit:
http://www.itpolicy.gsa.gov/mks/yr2000/y2khome.htm

Listed below are some companies how are helping industry solve the problem:
http://www.alydaar.com/rpg.html
http://www.y2kblue.com/

The problem is real, but I don't feel that it is reasonable to suspect that
those industries and agencies most affected are simply ignoring the
situation. If you are interested, take the time to search out the
information links I have provided. These are by no means the only links, but
should get you off to an evening of browsing to learn whether we are really
doomed or not.

One last suggestion - Uncovering these links is not great feat. I use a
freeware program called Copernic 98 to find information. It accesses fifteen
or twenty of the top search engineers and you simply enter a search string
(in this case Y2K). Copernic will then list all of the finds and you can
simply double click on any of them to visit the web page associated with the
find. Copernic integrates in either Internet Explorer or Netscape or can be
run with it's own built-in browser. I highly recommend the program for it's
simplicity to beginners or advanced users. The best part is that it is
entirely free - nada - no charge and available from :
http://www.copernic.com/free98.html. You can purchase a more feature laden
version but I have found the free version to be more than sufficient for 99%
of my search needs.

Dennis S. Wish PE