2000 Problem Essay

3125 words - 13 pages

Fiction, Fantasy, and Fact:'The Mad Scramble for the Elusive Silver Bullet . . . and the Clock Ticks Away.'The year 2000 is practically around the corner, promising a new era of greatness andwonder . . . as long as you don't own a computer or work with one. The year 2000 is bringing aPandora's Box of gifts to the computer world, and the latch is slowly coming undone.The year 2000 bug is not really a 'bug' or 'virus,' but is more a computer industrymistake. Many of the PC's, mainframes, and software out there are not designed orprogrammed to compute a future year ending in double zeros. This is going to be a costly 'fix'for the industry to absorb. In fact, Mike Elgan who is the editor of Windows Magazine, says ' . .. the problem could cost businesses a total of $600 billion to remedy.' (p. 1)The fallacy that mainframes were the only machines to be affected was short lived as industryrealized that 60 to 80 million home and small business users doing math or accounting etc. onWindows 3.1 or older software, are just as susceptible to this 'bug.' Can this be repaired intime? For some, it is already too late. A system that is devised to cut an annual federal deficit to0 by the year 2002 is already in 'hot water.' Data will become erroneous as the numbers 'justdon't add up' anymore. Some PC owners can upgrade their computer's BIOS (or completeoperating system) and upgrade the OS (operating system) to Windows 95, this will set them upfor another 99 years. Older software however, may very well have to be replaced or at the veryleast, upgraded.The year 2000 has become a two-fold problem. One is the inability of the computer toadapt to the MM/DD/YY issue, while the second problem is the reluctance to which we seem tobe willing to address the impact it will have. Most IS (information system) people are eitherunconcerned or unprepared.Let me give you a 'short take' on the problem we all are facing. To save storage space-and perhaps reduce the amount of keystrokes necessary in order to enter the year to date-mostIS groups have allocated two digits to represent the year. For example, '1996' is stored as '96'in data files and '2000' will be stored as '00.' These two-digit dates will be on millions of filesused as input for millions of applications. This two digit date affects data manipulation,primarily subtractions and comparisons. (Jager, p. 1) For instance, I was born in 1957. If I askthe computer to calculate how old I am today, it subtracts 57 from 96 and announces that I'm 39.So far so good. In the year 2000 however, the computer will subtract 57 from 00 and say that Iam -57 years old. This error will affect any calculation that produces or uses time spans, such asan interest calculation. Banker's beware!!!Bringing the problem closer to the home-front, let's examine how the CAPS system isgoing to be affected. As CAPS is a multifaceted system, I will focus on one area in particular,ISIS. ISIS (Integrated Student Information System) has the ability to admit...

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