Emory Report

January 20, 1998

 Volume 50, No. 17

Technology Source:

The Year 2000 problem is
still here: Are you ready?

Jan. 1, 2000, seems like a date far into the future. In fact, it's not so far away. Visit <http://www.emory.edu/ITD/YEAR2000/> and you'll see a clock counting the number of days, hours and minutes left until 2000. As of Jan. 20, there are 710 days. Remember the countdown to the Atlanta Olympics? That seemed far away too. But the Olympics have since come and gone-and so will the year 2000.

So what's the problem? After all, there must be plenty of other people working on computer glitches associated with the year 2000. Maybe. But that won't help you with your desktop application. Picture this: you return to work on Jan. 3, 2000, and you begin to work on a spreadsheet that tracks student applications. Imagine that you have a formula set up to calculate a student's age based on today's date, 1/3/2000. Now imagine that your spreadsheet cannot handle the current date, 1/3/2000, and instead installs a date like 1/1/1980-your calculation is now meaningless.

Personal computers have two areas of concern: hardware and software. The hardware may not be capable of handling the new century without some fixes, and some software applications may require fixes or upgrades or may not work at all. Let's take the same example of calculating a student's age. Some software programs use two-digit years-that is, the year notation does not include the century, like 82 for 1982 or 97 for 1997. If the student was born in 1982 and you subtract 82 from 00-the student's age is -82!

What can you do at Emory? Local Computer Support is actively involved in addressing problems that may occur at the desktop. The Year 2000 (Y2K) Desktop Systems Team and Local Support are researching companies and products to find out what will, and will not work on Jan. 1, 2000.

Interested in helping this effort? List all the software programs you use, and give this list to your Local Computing Support person or directly to me, Robbie Barker, Y2K desktop systems team leader, at <rbarber@emory.edu> or call 727-0755. This inventory is your assurance the programs you use will be included in the study. It is the most important step in the process.

By April 1998, the Y2K Desktop Systems Team will provide a package of information for Local Support to help Emory faculty and staff. A pamphlet will also be available with more information about the Year 2000 problem.

Look for the announcement in April and visit the Y2K web site often. Seconds are ticking away toward the turn of the century

Robbie Barber is a business analyst in Information Technology Division Administrative Services.

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