Year 2000 Problem

Year 2000 Problem Summary: It was astonishing to find how unprepared the government is for this potentially devastating problem facing the American people. The government has had nearly three years of knowledge about this problem but hasnt even been able to get up to the government standards that they set back in 1996. The government is really lagging behind and could essentially destroy the American economy if they keep up the performance they are currently demonstrating. The government appears to have let the American people down. The government is now starting to realize what a dramatic effect this could have on the entire world including the US. The most powerful country may be brought to its knees because of some little flaw in writing codes for computers in the last fifty years.

This microscopic line of code could inevitably destroy the entire worlds economy and also possibly cause a malfunction of the worlds nuclear arsenal. This could cause them to fire at will or even just detonate in their silos. Furthermore it is very critical to observe the governments efforts in trying to bring this enormous problem to be fixed by falsifying Y2K compliance on many of its computers. Included are two graphs and a chart. The chart is the schedule the government was intending to stick to. It is called an immovable deadline and fixed schedule.

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One of the graphs demonstrates the proposed cost of fixing the Year 2000 bug. It is broken down into estimates of the total cost per year. The final graph is the grades the 24 major agencies received on their preparation for becoming Y2K compliant. With all of this information one can really understand how greatly the government underestimated the entire problem. They underestimated costs, and time it would take to upgrade and implement the programs. This truly demonstrates how poorly the government is being run and what kind of people we all have elected into office.

To begin, here is a little information about what all of the hype is about. Arie van Deursen, of The Economist, describes what the major problem with the Y2K bug is. “The Year/2000 problem is about two-digit dates. But there is more to it. The year 2000 is a leap year; some programs know this. They check whether a year is divisible by four, and conclude that 2000 is a leap year.

Or, theyre more rigorous and aware of the exception: a year divisible by 100 as well is not a leap year unless its also divisible by 400. So neither 1900 nor 2100 are leap years but 2000 is. Many programs, however, incorrectly treat the year 2000 as a non-leap year. This may stem from the use of two-digit dates (i.e., “00” is treated as 1900 rather than 2000). Usually, the programmer had the wrong algorithm in mind. A common error is assuming centuries are never leap years.

Here, the programmer forgets the “exception to the exception.” The other common error is, believing the year 2000 cannot be a leap year. This may be a result of believing leap years cannot be divisible by 1,000 (rather than 100). The leap year problem is serious. Consider the $1 million in damages caused by the failure of control computers in a New Zealand aluminum smelter. The computers could not deal with the 366th day of 1996.

Similar and larger crashes are likely in 2000.”(3) Duersen also talks about problems after the Year 2000 hits. “Luckily, there may be a ray of hope. For most of the systems, we have 31 + 28 = 59 extra days to solve the leap year problem; that is, assuming we have time available in those first eight weeks of the year 2000.”(3) Also included is a progress chart issued by the government to chart advancement in updating and upgrading services and hardware. This chart also contains some progress figures. They claim that only fifty percent of the twenty-four agencies have completed their assessments by August 1997.

They also claim that seventy percent of the total estimated cost comes from those agencies that arent finished assessing their systems. This program was implemented on June 9, 1997. This completely demonstrates the lack of respect the government had for this problem. As reported in The Year 2000 Journal, the author talks about the lack of interest on the part of the government. “As 2000 approaches, it will increasingly preoccupy policy makers and the public too.

Because the millennium-bug problem is so trivial, senior managers have found it hard to take seriously, and politicians have found it even harder. Only two heads of government have given speeches on the subject: Britains Tony Blair (with a sure instinct for a gap in the world market for leadership), and, more recently, Bill Clinton. The Group of Eight top industrial countries and the European heads of government both stitched a few lines on the millennium bug into communiqués earlier this year. But for most politicians, the issue is barely on the radar.”(2) There also are some estimates that I will include that came from the government. The government estimated in 1995 that to get all of the government computers to be Y2K compliant it would cost $20 billion.

In 1996 the number doubled to more than $40 billion. However in 1997, now that the government understands all of the things that must be accomplished, the estimate ballooned to a number between $1.3 to $1.6 trillion! This is just one more example of the mass underestimation of the problem on the entire governments part. There were a few problems I ran into while doing this research. First was the lack of articles in print other than those on the Internet. This is good and bad. This is good in the idea that it is all very current information.

It is also bad because it is hard to tell how reliable these on-line journals really are. What I heard on the news and read in the newspapers also backed up most of the information I found. The Second problem I ran into was the constant lack of concrete information of the amount of money spent on the problem so far. I got some rough estimates of the cost to fix the problem but not the real specific amounts of money spent up to date. The third problem was the amount of difficulty in searching the web for current and relevant information.

I cant imagine the hours I spent tracking dead-ends and useless information. The final problem I ran into was the huge amount of information about many different ideas and agencies. This was good but made it very difficult to key in on one certain agency. My method of data collection was very limited. I was stuck using only the Internet and other on-line journals. This was very efficient because they were free and I could access them any time of the day.

I also was required to subscribe to several mailing lists and e-mail newsletters. I used the Houston Business Journal, The Economist, The Year 2000 Journal, The Scotsman, and also Australian Financial Review. These are all available for free on the Internet, and also are updated either weekly, bi-weekly, and some are even updated daily. These are some of the results that I have come across while conducting my research. According to Vince Sampson, also from The Economist, “A heavy toll is already being paid. The IRS has set aside $800 million specifically for the Year 2000 problem.

States are doing the same. Texas has set aside $110 million; California has budgeted $50 million. At least at the legislative level, governments seem to know they must deal with this impending catastrophe.”(5) He continues “What will be the effect of this accountability? Certainly, there may be civil liability for negligence resulting in injury or monetary loss. Apart from this is the notion of an implied contract with the citizens. The idea is that public-sector entities owe …

Year 2000 Problem

.. wareness must focus on these problems. The Hardware Dilemma If the computer hardware cannot handle dates past 31/12/99 then no software solution can fix it. Some applications request the system date directly from the hardware and cannot be trapped by the operating system, which obviates a software resolution. For instance, the PC hardware problem can be explained as follows.

The standard PC computer system maintains two system dates: one is in the CMOS Real Time Clock chip, a hardware component normally located on the machines motherboard that stores time, date and system information such as drive types; and the other one is in the operating system software, these two dates are represented differently, influencing one another. When the computer boots, it normally initialises its current date by reading the date in the CMOS Real Time Clock and converting it to days since January 1, 1980. The PC maintains its date as long as the system is running; the CMOS Real Time Clock hardware maintains its date whether the system is running or not, but it does not maintain the century. So, the standard flaw lurks in the CMOS Real Time Clock date when Year 2000 is reached as it reads an out-of-range date. Moreover, a few specific Basic Input/Output Systems cause behaviour other than the standard flaw.

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Importantly, the Award v4.50 series BIOS will not allow any date after 1999 and can not be corrected by any software. Dates are integrated in computer hardware, from mainframe, mid-range machines, all the way down to network infrastructure. Date fields are used in some of the most basic computer functions such as calculating and sorting and will affect a large majority of systems. If year fields are expanded to 4 digits, this will automatically give rise to the need for additional storage space. In due course, the original reasons for the introduction of 6 digit dates will resurface. Any computer application that accepts or displays dates on the screen or produces a report with date fields will need to be redesigned.

On-line transaction databases will need to be converted and the new expanded database will need to be kept in sync with the old active database during the conversion process. In some cases there will be insufficient space available to accept or display additional data, forcing a major revision. If paper forms are used for input, these will also need to be redesigned. Screen, report and form redesign appear to be a minor issue in the context of the Millennium Bug, but the design of screen and reports are important from a usability perspective, and the redesign process cannot be automated. Any changes to the way dates are handled in an organisation will need to be coupled with staff training to ensure that all staff are aware of any new standards.

Other Dilemma Implied However, to ensure that the corrected work runs free of errors after January 1, 2000 midnight, testing of the changed code must be performed. There is no way around this. As testing is around 50% of all programming tasks, the actual programming tasks are just one small cog in the wheel used to resolve the Millennium Bug. With the rigidly fixed deadline, and the ever decreasing amount of time, this will require a large investment in resources, to ensure a smooth run from the development to production phases. Less seriously discussed in the Year 2000 issue by the public, as the Year 2000 deadline approaches and the time remaining for corrective work shrinks, companies may choose, or be forced into, outsourcing the resolution of their Millennium Bug to a Year 2000 service provider. The ‘service provider’ would have to load a copy of the software onto its computer system to perform the bug fixes, and this raises the issue of software licensing.

Many licences contain restrictions barring licensees from providing a copy of the software to any third party without the consent of the licenser, and this could present problems in the event of a dispute between vendor and client. Conclusion The year 2000 challenge is inescapable and omnipresent, affecting every businesses and individuals, regardless of age or platform. As discussed, there are many aspects of the Millennium Bug problem that are not immediately obvious, ranging from legal issues such as copyright and licensing, to issues of available resources and existing bugs. Carrying out a solution in any business involves careful planning in order to be successful. The four steps awareness, planning, implementation, and testing are crucial for a company to run successfully beyond the year 2000. Unlike most other IT projects there is a definite, fixed and immovable deadline for implementation.

If there is not enough time to complete the programming and testing, or if unexpected delays occur, the deadline remains fixed and cannot be moved. Only if companies start corrective action soon enough and devote sufficient resources to the effort can minimise the effect of this universal nightmare. Table A Example of the Year 2000 Problem With Current Date Format (mm/dd/yy) Current Date Birth Date Calculated Age 06/19/99 06/19/59 40 06/19/00 06/19/59 – 59, 59, or Error Corrected to 8-Digit Date Format (mm/dd/yy) Current Date Birth Date Calculated Age 06/19/2000 16/19/1959 41 N.B. this requires that two dates be changed (both current date and birth date) Figure B Some Sources of Year 2000 Problem Computer Central Processing Unit8 Hardware Clock8 BIOS (Basic Input/ Output System)8 Network server Other Hardware8 Modem8 Added Printed Circuit Card8 Telephone Answering Machine8 Video Equipment Software8 Operating System8 Packaged Software8 In-house Code, Databases, Spreadsheets, etc. Embedded Chips8 Process Control Systems8 Fax Machines8 Video Cassette Recorder8 Heating, Ventilation and Air conditioning Control8 Internal Combustion Engine8 Automatic Camera8 Security System8 Fire Detection System8 Medical Equipment8 Time-keeping and Attendance Systems8 Bar-code Reader System Bibliography Jerome T. Murray & Marilyn J.

Murray. The Year 2000 Computing Crisis. US: Mc-Graw Hill Companies (1996). 0 Lowenstein R. The Year 2000 and the CEOs Big Secret. The Wall Street Journal (July 1996).

Online References 0 Apple Computer, Inc. The Mac OS and the Year 2000: Approaching the New Millennium (1997). 0 Dave Brandt. Welcome to the DOI Year 2000 Page (1997). 0 Don Sand. Year2000 — The Clock Continues to Tick (1997). sTick.htm 0 Gary North. The Year 2000 Crisis (1998). 0 J.Bace. Offshore Resources for Year 2000 Project (1996). hc00060661.html 0 Mark Mayes. What is the Year 2000 Problem and How Does It Affect VB? (1998) 0 National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Tick-tock, tick tock(1997). tm 0 Patrick Janidlo. The Survival Guide for the Year 2000 (1997). 0 Standish Group International, Inc. Year2000 — A date Odyssey (1997). 0 The Tenagra Corporation.

Y2K Press Clippings (1998). 0 2K-Times. Year 2000 and the Computer (1997). 0 Michael Gerner. Year 2000 – Making Applications Date Intelligent (1997).


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