.. function of an accounting system is to provide a list of all invoices which have been outstanding longer than a month for the purposes of the debt collection office. Brand new orders may be given an invoice date of 2/2/00. In this case, the accounting system would flag up these brand new invoices because they have been outstanding for over 100 years (Blair Interview)! This scenario is mild compared to some possibilities. Suppose a finance company lends money to Mrs.
Jones. The loan was created on February 2, 1996 and is set to run for a period of 5 years. The finance company’s system, therefore, calculates that the expiration date is February 2, 2001 and sets a flag to stop taking payments from her account after that date. The following day, the system calculates that the expiration date of 02/02/01 has passed and therefore decides not to take any money from Mrs. Jones’ account (Kendall, 67). There are countless possible disaster scenarios just waiting to happen to systems when the century changes, and in some cases, these problems will start to happen before the change of the century. The bottom line is, if your system calculates, processes or stores any type of date related data, it is definitely at risk from the Year 2000 issue (Blair Interview). Everything in our world, from phone companies to the grocery store, is computerized (The History and the Hype).
If Y2K takes effect, problems accessing food, money, and getting in touch with family and friends will occur. Fixing the worldwide problem requires an estimated $600 Billion (US) and analyzing millions of code (Y2K: So Many Bugs.. So Little Time). This spares only a few systems from Y2K. Estimation suggests that there are 500 billion lines of application code worldwide, of which some 85 percent needing corrected (The Millennium 2000 Bug Total Y2K Repair Kit).
Various reports stated that by the turn of the millennium, as much as 50 percent of all businesses which failed to address the Year 2000 challenge will break down (Y2K: So Many Bugs.. So Little Time). Managers become heavy-hearted thinking about their future as December 31, 1999 rolls in (Kendall 67). Knowing that there is going to be a disaster does not help much especially when there are few resources to handle the problem. Fearing the effects of the crisis, companies worldwide need an additional 200,000 COBOL programmers (The History and the Hype).
Because the cause of the problem stems back some twenty or thirty years, the programming languages most affected by the Year 2000 problem are older languages such as COBOL. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that COBOL accounts for most of the worlds business applications (Blair Interview). Because the Year 2000 problem is so easily identifiable with COBOL and because there are new languages, many people are under the impression that any system written using the new programming languages is completely Year 2000 ready (Gates 72). In reality, nothing could be further from the truth (The History and the Hype). Visual Basic includes various date handling functions and procedures which are totally unaware of the Year 2000. In fact, because of the implication that these functions will work into the Year 2000, and because of over confidence in the language, applications built using Visual Basic are probably more likely to cause problems than many other languages (Gates 72).
Microsoft has taken steps to correct these problems by introducing fixes to these date functions in each of the major new releases. Visual Basic 5.0 introduces an industry accepted technique known as windowing. This technique makes assumptions about the intended century of a two-digit year. However, the window is a fixed window that only interprets dates up until 2030, which flaws the solution. For instance, given the date 01/01/32, Visual Basic will assume that the intended year is 1932 (Gates 72-73).
The role that dates play in a business is critical to whether or not the problem will exist. Going to the problem of electrical companies, date-coding plays only a minor part in the production of electricity, but it plays a major part in the metering of electricity usage (Y2K: So Many Bugs.. So Little Time). The Senate concluded that local power blackouts will be likely, but national power breakdown is not. If they do happen it will only be for about a week, but in major metropolitan areas they shouldnt be more than 48 hours. (The Millennium 2000 Bug Total Y2K Repair Kit).
The government is working laboriously to get prepared for the new millennium, but are they ready? One of the lagging branches is Social Security which keeps track of everyone in the country (Y2K: So Many Bugs.. So Little Time). Next is the military, nuclear reactors, and air transport systems. The Department of Defense reported that only 72 percent of its mission-critical systems are ready (The Millennium 2000 Bug Total Y2K Repair Kit). Also, what about the nations linked up to us? Being so far behind, they jeopardize the rest of us. Another lagging industry is hospitals and health care.
Health care is one of the worst-prepared for Y2K and carries a significant potential for harm. For patient treatment, insurance claims, and pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution, the industry relies on computers (The History and the Hype). Fearful organizations are not the only ones suffering the millennium bug. Anyone, even a personal computer user, can be. Surfing the net would prove that the Y2K’s awareness level is growing with more sites dedicated to this problem (Blair Interview). Pessimists say that we will fall into global recession and have another depression as in the 30s era.
Stock markets might fall because of companies that are not exactly ready for Y2K. ATMs and banks may not be able to transact money because of this. Grocery stores relying on computers to deliver goods, take inventory, and even scan pricing will go down. There will be riots, looting, and world wide power outages. Home appliances will go crazy and telephones will be unusable. Planes and trains will collide into each other, gas pumps wont work, or the cars computer will malfunction so we cant go anywhere.
They think that it is the end for civilization as we know it. Could they be right? Could we be going back to the Stone Age (The Millennium 2000 Bug Total Y2K Repair Kit)? There is no magic solution, silver bullet or quick fix to the Year 2000 problem (Johnson Interview). Yes, it’s true that we can put a man on the moon, or speak to people on the other side of the planet. If we want, we can even blow the world up a thousand times over. However, we can’t fix the Year 2000 problem with one swoop of a magic wand (Blair Interview). Because of the complexity and number of different business applications, platforms, languages, technologies, programming styles and business scenarios, it is impossible to come up with a one-time, fix all solution. Instead, the problem needs to be addressed by each company individually (The History and the Hype). Unfortunately, the only way of being 100% certain that a given application will function as expected into and beyond the next century is to physically address every single line of code and thoroughly test each function in the given application. Regardless of the size and complexity of an application, it only takes one single line of programming code to bring a system to its knees (The History and the Hype)! Ignoring the Year 2000 computer crisisone of the most serious and potentially devastating events this world has ever encountered was of no use.
Postponing it was out of the question. It set a date for us. A considerable number of people believed the end of the world was near, implicating that we would be back to stones and sticks. Be prepared for the worst and hope for the best is one way to describe the Year 2000 crisis. Even though we didnt know what exactly would happen when the double zeros struck, Y2K will definitely be a milestone in history.
Works Cited Blair, Gary. Interview. 16 Mar. 2000. Gates, William H.
Business @ The Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System. New York, NY: Time Warner, 1999. The History and the Hype. 5 Oct. 1996: n.pag.
On-line. Internet. 10 March 2000. Available WWW: http://www.time.com/ Johnson, Warren. Phone interview.
14 Feb. 2000. Kendall, Julie E., and Kenneth E. Kendall. Systems Analysis and Design. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1999.
Marcus, David L. E-Mail Nation. U. S. News & World Report 22 Mar.
1999: 54-62. The Millennium 2000 Bug Total Y2K Repair Kit. 12 Sept. 1996: n.pag. On-line.
Internet. 8 February 2000. Available WWW: http://www.firstgalexy.com/2000cure/fix.htm Y2K: So Many Bugs So Little Time 14 Dec. 1998: n.pag. On-line. Internet.
10 February 2000. Available WWW: http://www.scientificamerican.com/ Computers and Internet.