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Reload this page Year 2000

Here are my notes about making sure that legacy software is usable in the 21st century. Let us know what you find helpful here.

Topics: on this page Definitions  on this page News  on this page Incidents So Far  on this page Bad Dates  on this page Possible Impacts  on this page Issues  on this page Theme Song  on this page Methods  on this page Who Can Help?  on this page Mainframe  on this page PCs  on this page Status 

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Top of page Definitions: Search "Year 2000"

Top of page Newsgroups: (requires News Reader software)

Top of page Discussion Forums: Top of page News on Year 2000:

Top of page Commentators and In-Depth Analysis:

What is it? The Warnings Top of page Incidents So Far: Top of page Bad Dates:

What is your computer's "time horizon to failure" in forecasting or processing future dates?

  • Century Rollover.
    Lufthansa announced they plan on grounding their flights for a 24 hour period on December 31, 1999 - 1/1/2000. Apparently they are not concerned as much with the electronics on their aircraft as they are with the various national air traffic control systems and the tremendous risk of legal exposure.

    "More than half of the technology executives polled recently by CIO magazine, for instance, say they will avoid flying commercially on Jan. 1, 2000." -- article in US News 6/8/98 "Year 2000 Time Bomb: Prevailing myths deter managers from debugging computers"

  • Fiscal Year Rollover.
    The government of New York state is the first in the union to make a Fiscal Year (FY) transition from FY99 to FY00 on April 1, 1999. On July 1, 1999 forty-six of the fifty state governments reach the FY00 threshold. The U.S. federal government will make its transition on October 1, 1999.

  • Century Leap Year
    Some programs may fail to recognize that year 2000 is a leap year, and so skip February 29, 2000 and go straight to March 1, 2000.
Top of page So What? Possible Impacts:

“If it ain't broken, it's obsolete.”

  Top of page Y2K Theme Song: Two Digits for a Date

(to the tune of “Gilligan's Island,” more or less) —Author Unknown

    Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale
    Of the doom that is our fate.
    That started when programmers used
    Two digits for a date.
    Two digits for a date.

    Main memory was smaller then;
    Hard disks were smaller, too.
    "Four digits are extravagant,
    So let's get by with two.
    So let's get by with two."
    "This works through 1999,"
    The programmers did say.
    "Unless we rewrite before that
    It all will go away.
    It all will go away."

    But Management had not a clue:
    "It works fine now, you bet!
    A rewrite is a straight expense;
    We won't do it just yet.
    We won't do it just yet."

    Now when 2000 rolls around
    It all goes straight to @#%&,
    For zero's less than ninety-nine,
    As anyone can tell.
    As anyone can tell.

    The mail won't bring your pension check
    It won't be sent to you
    When you're no longer sixty-eight,
    But minus thirty-two.
    But minus thirty-two.

    The problems we're about to face
    Are frightening, for sure.
    And reading every line of code's
    The only certain cure.
    The only certain cure.

    [key change, big finish]

    There's not much time,
    There's too much code.
    (And COBOL-coders, few)
    When the century is finished with,
    We may be finished, too.
    We may be finished, too.

    Eight thousand years from now I hope
    That things weren't left too late,
    And people aren't then lamenting
    Four digits for a date.
    Four digits for a date.
Top of page What Should Be Done?
Legal/Regulatory Issues:

"Y2K is not so much a programming problem as a people management problem."

Top of page What Can Be Done? Methodologies:
The U.S. G.A.O.'s excellent in-depth description of their Best Practices A resource I highly recommend! breaks the Year 2000 job into phases:
  1. Awareness
  2. Inventory of Assets:
  3. Assessment of Scope and Technical Solutions (Triage of what is "Mission Critical", what is most likely to fail, and where and how much work is needed).
  4. Y2K Remediation, Testing, and Certification.
  5. Implementation - moving repaired or replaced system into a controlled "production" environment
  6. "Clean Management" and maintenance to prevent future contamination.

"the most important determinant of success will be how well each organization is able to prioritize the software that should be fixed firxt, so that any programs that are not fixed int time will have the smallest possible likelihood of causing serious damage or disruption." —Keith Jones, in Year 2000 Software Crisis: Solutions for IBM Legacy Systems, p. xxii

Do everything you can as soon as you can.

With so little time left, do a pilot to remediate the systems you already know you'll need to fix while you assess and scope out the rest of the systems!

Don't be paralyzed with analysis.

Top of page List of Tools:

"As a result of their Year 2000 project efforts, organizations and individuals will have better quality software; better software standards, procedures, and tools; and better skills to use in future software development." —Keith Jones, in Year 2000 Software Crisis: Solutions for IBM Legacy Systems, p. xxiii

Top of page Tools for Mainframes: Top of page Tools for Personal Computers: Top of page Tools for Embedded Systems:
(microchips) Elevators, Call Boxes, Fax Machines, VCR's Top of page Testing Tools And just in case ...
Top of page Who Can Help? Top of page How Are We Doing? Status:

"This is probably the only project in the history of data processing that has an end date that cannot be moved."

  • Vendors/Suppliers:
  • Government:
  • States of the Union:
  • National Association of U.S. Counties
  • International:
  • Public Utilities:
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