photo: Peter Krošlák.
Nobody could have been unaware of the immense attention paid by professional experts, media and government institutions to 'The Millenium Bug,' a phenomenon linked to our passage into the year 2000. For the first time in history, the entire world was given an absolute and fixed deadline for adjusting information systems so they could operate in the year 2000.
As we saw, preparations for the event varied from the casual to the frantic. Home computer users showed a cheerful disrespect for the impending 'catastrophe', while governments sponsored intensive campaigns and computer-age clairvoyants predicted disaster scenarios in which we would only survive New Year's Eve in bunkers.
In reality, most companies and institutions were well prepared for the event, and the occasional failures caused by faulty computers resulting from the Millenium Bug have not caused a domino effect leading to collapsing economies. The several known failures included a Pentagon computer that broke down for a couple of hours and a box office that charged exorbitant fees for videotapes rented since 1900.
In Slovakia, the millenium celebrations passed with scarcely a problem. There were no blackouts, and most systems worked normally. I personally helped several friends who used their personal computers principally for cash and accrual accounting. One of them called me towards the end of the year in a panic, because he had received a floppy disk with diagnostics that showed his computer was not Y2K ready. He was afraid of big hardware costs. I did a basic test and found that his computer was able to pass into the new year without difficulties.
As far as big companies were concerned, after January 3 it was clear that most of our customers had had no problems with their Y2K transitions. Most of the problem-causing devices had been safely moved to non-critical positions.
The next test for Y2K preparedness will come this February 29, because 2000 is a leap-year (which 1900 was not). We will also encounter several problems with the operation of computer date functions connected with overflows of internal operation system counters and chips.
How did you make it through Y2K? Write and let us know.
Peter Krošlák is responsible for Hardware Solutions at PosAm Bratislava. His column appears monthly. Send comments or questions to email@example.com