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The A3C Connection, July/August/September 1998 The A3C Connection
July/Aug/Sept 1998 Contents What's New at the ACCC ACCC Free Public Labs The Case of the 100-Year-Old Babies The Year 2000, UIC, and You Microcomputer Software and Hardware
What Does Y2K Compliant Mean? The ACCC Y2K Plan The Right Format for Dates ACCC Free Seminars, Fall '98 About the A3C Connection  

Y2K and Micro Software and Hardware

 
The ACCC Beat Everyone 
 
     
 
     
Introducing the Y2K Problem
  Depending on how you look at it, it took 2000, 1000, or maybe 40 years to get ourselves into this particular mess, so it's going to take a bit of time, and more space than is available in one newsletter to explain what to do about it. So this is the first of a series of articles giving specific information on what you need to do to prepare your computer systems and data for the Year 2000. This series will continue in upcoming editions of the A3C Connection, and will be available through the UIC Year 2000 Web page at http://www.uic.edu/year2000/

When it comes to computer hardware and software, what you need to worry about is:

  • the hardware and operating systems on your personal computers, UNIX workstations, and personal or departmental LANs;
  • the commercial software on your personal computers, UNIX workstations, and personal or departmental LANs;
  • your personal, research, and administrative data sets, on all systems;
  • the programs and macros that you've written, on all systems, including the ACCC's workstations and mainframe.
This article discusses the current situation for personal computers: hardware, operating systems, and commercial software packages. We'll leave how to test your systems and what you need to do to fix your programs and data for a future issue of the A3C Connection. (Though some information on these topics is already available on the UIC Year 2000 Web site.) Researchers and administrators are likely to find the latter — their data and handwritten programs — are their biggest year 2000 problem.

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Is it obsolete for you?
  Before you worry about testing or fixing anything, take some time to identify the machines and software that are old, obsolete, or otherwise need to be replaced.

Replacement is a valid solution to the Year 2000 Problem:

(1) If you're sure that you can and will replace your obsolete systems in the next year or so, before you have to enter any dates from 2000 or higher, and

(2)  If you verify that everything you buy is year 2000 ready (including knowing that 2000 is a leap year) before you buy it.

Of course, even if you replace your entire machine and all its software, you're not off the hook with respect to how everything works together on your system or with respect to your data and hand-built programs and macros.

UICVM CMS is being retired before 2000, so it's obsolete by definition. For more information, see A Time of Opportunity, a Time to Move On (from CMS) in the April/May/June issue of the ADN Connection and the Omega Group at the VMOmega home page.

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Is it broken? What does the manufacturer have to say about it?
  How can you tell whether what you have or what you buy is Y2K compliant? Manufacturer's Web sites are a good place to start.

Apple Macintosh Hardware and Operating Systems:

Mac hardware and the MacOS and Rhapsody operating systems are fine.

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IBM/Intel/Windows personal computers hardware:

PC hardware is mostly OK. Many older machines have a minor hardware problem with their BIOS that prevents the year part of the system date from automatically changing from 1999 to 2000; it's called the “Tick-over Problem”. And some have a potentially more important problem with keeping proper time after 2000.

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IBM/Intel/Windows operating systems:

As for PC operating systems -- most are, as Microsoft puts it -- "compliant with minor issues."

Microsoft says that Windows 98 is Y2K compliant, Windows NT 5.0 and service pack 4 of Windows NT 4.0 will be Y2K compliant, and other newer MS operating systems are "compliant with minor issues."

(Note that the Y2K compliant versions of the MS operating systems include a software work around for the most common type of Y2K BIOS problem. It's not a permanent solution — it will break again in 2010, but there's not much chance that you'll still have any machine in 2010 that you have now. Then again, it's thinking like that that got us into this year 2000 mess in the first place.)

IBM's OS/2 Warp version 3 and higher and PC DOS 7 and higher are "Year 2000 Ready," mostly after the application of a free update.

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Commercial Software Packages

The year 2000 question for commercial software packages for personal computers -- both Windows and Macs -- is a different story. In fact, each and every one of them is their own story. Most of the major software manufacturers are well into testing and upgrading their software packages, and they have Y2K Web sites to prove it. For links to them, visit the UIC Year 2000 Web site.
In general, you can expect that the newest versions of the major packages -- those released in the second half of 1998 or in 1999 -- will be year 2000 compliant. Older software will probably need to be upgraded. Older software that no longer has a vendor to support it is probably obsolete by definition; you'll have to replace it.

Here's what some of the major software companies have to say about their products.

Microsoft:
The US English version of most of the Microsoft software packages are compliant or need minor changes. (Only Access 2.0, Word for MS-DOS v. 5.0, and a few other old packages are officially noncompliant.)
Corel:
Recent versions of Corel software, including the WordPerfect Office suite, are all OK, except for Paradox 7.0. Paradox 7 will treat the year 00 as 1900, but it will correctly handle any date entered with a four-digit year. Paradox 8.0 is OK.
SAS and SPSS:
Newer versions of both SPSS and SAS (all platforms, not just personal computers) are OK, but if you routinely use the same data in both SPSS and SAS, you need to consider their different windowing schemes. (See The Year 2000 Pledge on page 4.)
Novell:
Some Novell products are Year 2000 ready and some are not; many have upgrades, some required, some optional. Of the NetWare clients for Windows 95, version 2.2 and above are Y2K ready; version 2.12 is not. NetWare Server version 4.11 (a.k.a. IntraNetWare) is Y2K ready and has optional upgrades; Novell has not tested Version 4.1. The good news is that Novell now has a free Upgrade Wizard that "simplifies and automates NetWare upgrades."
Network Services Kit and Server Services Software:
We're not a "major software company", but this software is our responsibility; check the UIC Year 2000 Web site for more information.
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How Not To Test
  Perhaps you're tempted just to set the date on your PC to 12:59 pm, December 31, 1999, and see what happens. Or run some software, enter some data dated 2000+, and see how it handles it.

This is a very bad idea.

Or at least it's a very bad idea to do it without knowing what you're doing.

How should you do it? We'll discuss that in the next issue of the A3C Connection. In the meantime, many larger companies have Web pages outlining reasonable strategies.


 
     
Personal and Departmental LANs and UNIX Workstations
  We'll do what we can to help you with your Y2K problems with departmental and personal LANs and UNIX workstations. As the keepers of the ACCC public UNIX servers and of the UIC campuswide computer network, we have (or will have) experience with the year 2000 questions for LANs and for UNIX workstations running AIX, Solaris, and HP-UX. Visit the UIC Year 2000 Web site for more information.

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Remember -- what the vendors say might not apply to you.
  It's doubtful that what any manufacturer has to say about any product today is their final word about it. And even if it were, it isn't for you -- you also have to consider how everything you have works together on your system.

For example, Microsoft says that Access will treat 01/01/25 as being in the year 1925. However, if you have MS Internet Explorer 3.0 or if you're running Access under MS Windows NT 4.0, Access might treat it as being in 2025. Access uses a Windows system library to convert dates, which is a good thing. The bad thing is that there are different versions of this library that have different windowing rules. For more information, see the articles on Access in the MS Y2K product guide. Dumb? Yes. But, to paraphrase an old saying, dumb happens.

Mac people beware: Before the Mac people among us get too smug, please read computer expert and self-proclaimed Mac bigot Peter de Jager's article "Walking on Thin Ice" from Datamation: http://www.datamation.com/PlugIn/issues/1997/april/04col60.html

What all this means is that you should probably test everything yourself, even things that the vendor says is year 2000 compliant. We'll have more on how to do that in upcoming issues of the A3C Connection.

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The A3C Connection, July/Aug/Sept 1998 Previous:  The Year 2000, UIC, and You Next:  What Does Y2K Compliant Mean?


2000-11-13  connect@uic.edu
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