.. 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.
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.
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