Readying Statistical Software for Y2K
By Gregory Roa
Have you grown too attached to your statistical software? Your old program may suit you better than a pair of faded jeans, but you might need to switch to a system that's ready for Y2K. The Center for Information Technology's Statistical Support Staff (SSS) strongly encourages statistical software users to check applications and archived data for year 2000 compliance. To protect their systems, users should follow the manufacturer's documentation and upgrade to Y2K-compliant versions currently licensed by the SSS. CIT is prepared to help call the SSS at GO CIT (4-6248), or search for product compliance status on the NIH Information Technology Clearinghouse, http://irm.cit.nih.gov/y2000/.
Avoid Technical Glitches, Human Error
Some users, out of convenience or other factors, prefer their older software, but if it's not compliant for the year 2000 transition, that could result in incorrect data processing. And many manufacturers, rather than providing "patches" or other remedies for older versions, are simply requiring users to obtain the current production releases. In some cases this means that SSS licenses will expire in 1999 and will not be renewed. SSS posts notices about all such changes, but it's wise in any case to upgrade immediately to the current Y2K-ready versions.
Other Y2K problems can result from failing to follow a product's documentation. For example, some conditionally compliant applications specify that the user must input all years as four digits, otherwise two-digit dates are assumed to be in the 1900s.
Data should be made Y2K compliant as well. All archived data that are not already saved as system files should be converted to ensure Y2K compliance.
Get Help Now
How can you tell if your system is OK for Y2K? NIH's Year 2000 IT Clearinghouse lets you search through a compliance database for many commercial off-the-shelf products, including statistical software. Links are provided to detailed information on the SSS site and the manufacturers' own Web pages. Some software vendors encourage cyber visitors to register for regular email updates.
The SSS can also take your questions at GO CIT or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org By assessing systems now, users can avoid costly back-ordered delays for upgrades, and more importantly, protect their systems and data from the millennium bug altogether.
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