The Internet speeds the flow of
information. Sometimes, it hastens the spread of rumors and
untruths. Maybe you have received an e-mail message warning that the
Microsoft Windows operating system running on your computer will
fail on January 1, 2000 unless you take certain action. The
pessimistic e-mail message predicts that Windows® 95, Windows 98,
and Windows NT® operating systems will crash when the clock ticks
past midnight on December 31, 1999.
The computer industry, government, and
corporations have been addressing the so-called "millennium bug"
or Y2K issue for many months, and even years, and the publicity
surrounding it has generated some concerns. So, like the
best rumors, this one plays into people's fears.
Economize on software code
In the relative dark ages of computing,
say about 20 years ago, when computers held much less memory
than today's machines, programmers had to economize on lines of
software code. They did so by shortening the code used to represent
years. Thus, "78" represented 1978. Under this system, with the change
to a new century next year, computers could misinterpret the year
2000 for 1900, since both would be denoted by "00." This could throw
off calculations and files dependent on dates.
My computer is only six months old so what's
that got to do with me, you might ask? A reasonable answer
is "not much." The greatest areas of concern surrounding the
year 2000 are large computer systems that may operate on
old software or embedded microprocessors that are not equipped to handle the
Don't believe the
The rumor circulating on the Internet, suggesting
users have to reset "regional settings" inside the Windows Control
Panel is just plain wrong.
Regional settings allow you to customize your computer based
on where you live in the world or the type of language you speak.
For example, you can set your computer so that it displays
English spoken in South Africa or Ireland. You can also configure
your computer to observe the custom of writing dates used in other
parts of the world--day/month/year instead of month/day/year--and select
your preference for displaying time (such as the 24 hour clock).
Windows 98 is automatically configured to interpret two digit
dates as falling between 1930 and 2029. For example, if you used 02
to represent 2002, Windows 98 will process those two digits as
representing the intended century and not 1902. If you wish, you can
reset the span of years that your computer uses to process two digit
numbers but Microsoft does not recommend it.
Rumors about Year 2000 issues will probably increase as December 31 draws nearer. Get
your information from reliable sources, like the Microsoft Year 2000 Readiness Disclosure
and Resource Center Web site, so you can relax and enjoy
the turn of the century.
Gordon Black's home computer is fully Y2K ready, but
he's laying in extra food, just in case.
Year 2000 Resources
For additional background on
issues related to the millennium, take a look at a previous
Using Windows article.
Unquestionably, Y2K is a
complex issue. You can help put your mind at rest by using
the guide for home computer
users or visit the
Microsoft Year 2000 Readiness
Disclosure and Resource Center Web site.
If all the talk of 2000 gloom
is wearing you down, enjoy a little mirth at our earlier article on