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volume 4 number 4 april 1999 TipSheet

Welcome to the April issue of MicroMetric's TipSheet.

This monthly newsletter is targeted at addressing the needs of our customers.

This month we'll start a multi-part series of tips on the Y2K Problem.

Tip 250   THE Y2K PROBLEM Category:   Y2K

The PC year 2000 problem is a result of the ambiguous use of two-digit year dates to represent four-digit year dates in PC programs, applications, and utilities.

For example, the date "08/15/97" tends to imply the year 1997 to most people. However, "08/15/05" might as easily mean 2005, if it were a retirement date, or 1905, if it were a birthday.

The use of this year abbreviation requires any program processing a date with a two-digit year to infer the actual four-digit year value, and make appropriate assumptions. With the approaching rollover from the 20th to the 21st century, a simple assumption of 1900-based dates is no longer valid.

Date arithmetic in spreadsheets, databases, and other date-sensitive applications may be incorrectly handled. As well, PC hardware can malfunction when dealing with dates in the year 2000 and beyond.

Each application, and version of an application, may have year 2000 date support issues. It is important to know what year 2000 problems may be present in your version of the applications, and what you may be able to do to resolve these problems.

Tip 251   THE HARDWARE Category:   Y2K

The PC's Real Time Clock (RTC) and BIOS form a date management system that provides low-level support underneath the operating system, supplying date information used by applications and the file system. The PC's BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is typically in a Read-Only or Flash memory chip on the motherboard. It provides low-level support of the PC hardware.

There are a variety of programs to test the Real Time Clock/BIOS for Y2K compliance. A good freeware test program can be found at

The Real-Time Clock hardware of a typical PC does not automatically manage the century digits of the year, and will not automatically roll over from December 31, 1999, to January 1, 2000. This rollover is managed by the PC BIOS and the operating system.

Certain BIOSs do not correctly manage the rollover of the century and may even set the century to 19 rather than 20, causing some date sensitive applications to operate incorrectly.

Tip 252   THE APPLICATIONS Category:   Y2K

Many computer application programs are date dependant. The older the program, the less likely the chance it's Y2K compliant. There's no easy way to test applications for compliance, as you can test the hardware. Unless you use a Y2K utility program to compare your application programs with a list of known compliant and non-compliant programs, the best bet is to go to each of your applications software publisher's web sites, and look for Y2K compliance information.

Tip 253   THE DATABASES Category:   Y2K

Most database programs have two areas of Y2K compliance concerns: does the program have the capability to do date calculations with four digit years, and are the program setting such that dates are being stored using four digit years. Like applications, unless you use a Y2K utility program to compare your database programs with a list of known compliant and non-compliant programs, the best bet is to go to each of your database software publisher's web sites, and look for Y2K compliance information.

Tip 254   SO WHAT PROGRAMS DO I HAVE? Category:   Y2K

One major problem we have run into, checking for Y2K compliance, is finding out what programs are on each system. To accomplish this, we wrote a batch file and utility program, that - along with two other utilities, searches a selected group of logical hard drives on a computer, records each .exe and .com program name, along with its path, then sorts these program names and paths into alphabetic order. The resultant list can be easily printed, and is useful also for seeing the locations of multiple copies of programs.


The utilities detailed in Tip 254, along with the RTC/BIOS check program mentioned in Tip 251, have been packaged up and can be downloaded from our web site at

Copyright 1999, MicroMetric, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Permission to copy in total, with this statement and copyright, is hereby granted.

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