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Up to Address Year 2000 Problem
Have you wondered whether to believe all the talk about computers' Year 2000 problems? Are you concerned about how to make your equipment and software Year 2000 compliant? Well worry no more -- a special software package that can tell whether your computers and machines are ready for the millennium is coming soon to your desktop.
Last month, the Center for Information Technology acquired evaluation software for NIH-wide use, then trained IC technical staff in its use. Beginning in September, IC technicians will visit you to help determine if your desktop is compliant.
The primary assessment tool is ClickNet Y2K, an application that can read critical Y2K BIOS chip and Real Time Clock (RTC) functions. Through a one-time test that can be completed in about 3 minutes, ClickNet also inventories software titles residing on the machine, and compares these with a list of over 13,000 (and growing) commercial applications and their compliance status. ClickNet can then generate management reports so that ICs can decide whether to purchase new compliant software versions, install software patches, or take other action to resolve noncompliance hardware problems.
Computers with Y2K-compliant BIOS and RTC functions will receive a "Y2K Compliant" sticker. If the computer fails its testing, a noncompliant sticker goes on the machine until remediation is complete. CIT has distributed a separate BIOS remediation software product, TF2000, as part of this effort.
The "Y2K glitch" stems from a memory-saving shortcut used by early computer programmers. Systems were designed to process only the last two digits of a year, a convention that continues up to the present day. As a result, when automated systems roll over into the next century, they may incorrectly interpret "00" not as the year 2000 but 1900, causing them to perform miscalculations or in some cases to shut down entirely.
The Year 2000 problem is not limited to personal or mainframe computers. Equipment controlled by embedded microchips is also affected. Examples include biomedical laboratory equipment, telecommunications equipment, and automated facility systems. Future articles will deal with these different aspects of the NIH Y2K program, including a focus on how researchers can check on the compliance of their biomedical equipment.
More information about NIH efforts to address Y2K can be found at the CIT Web site: http://wwwoirm.nih.gov/y2000/. In addition, you can contact your IC representative directly. The following individuals serve on NIH's Year 2000 Work Group and are available to answer your questions.