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1998-05-06 12:47:44


Millennium Problems Lurk in Macintosh Software



Jim Lord reports on the widespread assumption that because Macintosh hardware and operating system are compliant, the user has no worries.

The problem is that sofware, especially spreadsheets, does not always make use of the date in Macintosh's operating system.

This is on Westergaard's site (May 4).

* * * * * * * * *

You see, as users, we don't always get our dates from the operating system. Sometimes, we insert dates ourselves rather that asking the operating system to do it for us. In fact, most of the time, it is not the current date we need at all but some other date in the past or in the future.

It gets even worse. If these user-determined dates are formatted incorrectly, i.e. they use two digits for the year instead of four, spreadsheets and databases (or any other end-user application) will probably misbehave when attempting to deal with the year "00."

The real Year 2000 danger in personal computers is not found in the hardware or the operating system although they obviously need to operate correctly. (And if you use a PC, you should test it to be certain this is happening). The peril is in the application software and in the data files as well as in the users who fail to recognize the danger in something so simple as using two digit years.

The computer manufacturers, (both PC and Macintosh) as well as the purveyors of application software are not doing a proper job of educating their customers to these dangers.

It's like giving hand grenades to children.

To keep your applications from blowing up, always use four digit dates and become an expert on how dates are formatted and used in personal computers. Visit the Microsoft Y2K Web site and read the fine print in the section on COMPLIANT software. It will show you just how complex this date issue is and how careful you must be when using dates.


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