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Is Your PC Y2K Ready?
by Jocelyn Kasamoto

You bought a new PC and thought you were ready for the new millennium. Well, that may not necessarily be true...

Your PC will have a year 2000 (Y2K) problem if your computer hardware or software cannot properly process, display, or compute dates beyond the 20th century. Most computer hardware and software use only two digits to represent the year. For example, '99' implies '1999'. When year 2000 arrives, '00' will be interpreted as '1900', not '2000' unless the computer hardware and software have been designed or fixed to account for this. Some computer hardware and software also will not recognize February 29, 2000 (leap year) as a valid date and falsely report March 1, 2000 instead.

Although each vendor has its own definition of Y2K-compliance (for obvious legal reasons), in general a PC is considered Y2K-compliant if it can correctly process date and leap year information in the 21st century. Both computer hardware and software components need to be Y2K-compliant for the PC to be considered Y2K-compliant.

The fact that your computer is new does not necessarily mean that it is Y2K-compliant. Y2K-compliance does not depend on the type of processor (for example, Pentium II or III) but on the motherboard. Therefore, it is very important to check your PC hardware. There are many ways to do this, but ITS recommends the use of YMARK2000, a free utility available online. For links to this utility plus other Y2K information, visit www.hawaii.edu/y2k.

Y2K-compliance also depends on your operating system such as Windows 95/98/NT and application software such as Excel. Your hardware may be Y2K-compliant but your operating system and application software may require additional Y2K software updates or patches to make it Y2K-compliant. Users with Microsoft Office 97 need to have Service Pack 2 applied to be Y2K-compliant. Windows users also need to manually change Regional Settings in Control Panel to reflect a four-digit year format.

The best way to check your operating system and software is to monitor the vendor's Y2K Web pages periodically. When Windows 98 was first released in June 1998, it was believed to be Y2K compliant. However, now users need to apply Windows 98 Y2K updates since Y2K bugs were discovered. Note: Windows 98 second edition released in June 1999 contains all Y2K software updates needed to make it Y2K compliant.

If your computer fails the manual reboot test which tests whether the system date on your PC will hold when the power goes out, your computer will need to have its system date set every time the power goes out to your PC, not just once after January 1, 2000. Attach the ITS Y2K decal to your computer after running the YMARK2000 test. Y2K decals are a good "at a glance" reminder as to whether your computer hardware has been tested and needs any further attention after January 1, 2000. Y2K decals are available from the ITS Help Desk in Keller 105 and any ITS Computer Lab or by sending e-mail to y2k@hawaii.edu.

January 1, 2000 will be here soon! Start today by checking your PC hardware and software and taking any necessary action. Follow procedures detailed in the ITS document, "Y2K Compliance and UH" at www.hawaii.edu/y2k. Be Y2K ready!

Note to Macintosh users:

Apple Macintosh hardware and operating systems are Y2K compliant and do not require a patch or any external intervention to handle the dates beyond the year 2000. However, application software need to be checked. Commercial software companies have Web sites where you can check for Y2K compliance. Apple has Y2K information at www.apple.com/about/year2000. Other excellent resource sites are y2k.berkeley.edu:7040/computers/fixpcs/checklists/mac/macos/ and www.rit.edu/y2k/desktop.html.

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