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Will PC programs work in 1999?

By Kim Norvell,

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 23 - March 5, 1998

AIS public-relations specialist

For personal and distributed non-centralized system users, now is the time to begin taking inventory of all their computer components, including hardware, operating systems, and software programs for Year-2000 compliance. While the central problem with Year-2000 non-compliance involves computer components that do not recognize dates past the year 1999, personal and distributed non-centralized system users may experience problems as early as this year.
Often, programmers have coded date fields with values of "98" or "99" to indicate special commands such as the end of a file or the deletion of a record. Even though a date may not be applicable to a record, some programs require a number to be entered in the date field. Typically, the date has been 1/1/99 or 9/9/99. Consequently, both of these situations have caused date-processing programs such as database and spreadsheet applications to be vulnerable to errors well before Jan. 1, 2000.
Experts agree that the first step toward Year-2000 compliance is performing an inventory and assessment of all computer components. Next, the user needs to decide if non-compliant components will be renovated, upgraded, replaced, or simply retired. While these steps take time, testing new programs and applications that replaced non-compliant components will take the most time. Experts recommend that new applications be in place by Sept. 30, 1998, to conduct testing for reports that are produced daily, weekly, monthly, bi-annually or annually.
Beginning in early March, Administrative Information Systems will provide a step-by-step assessment guide for all personal and distributed non-centralized system users to assess their own computer components. The site, located at www.ais.vt.edu/ais/Y2K, contains general information, relative articles, and important links to sites explaining Year-2000 issues and problems. While most of Virginia Tech's personal and distributed non-centralized system users have newer computer components, experts agree that all components, both new and old, must be considered Year-2000 vulnerable until proven otherwise.