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1998-05-28 22:10:13


No Century Date Standard (Capers Jones)



There is no computer date standard. Capers Jones says we need one that is much longer, one agreed to internationally, one that will last for centuries.

Fat chance.

This article makes it clear: there is no way to be sure of compliance before 2000 because there is no agreement on how to set up the date system.

* * * * * * * * *

Unfortunately, the current international standards for dates are not adequate; there are no proven methods for finding indirect dates; much of the work of making these massive updates remains manual and labor-intensive. Further, testing of software has never been 100% effective, and testing for date and numeric fields has seldom been more than 95% efficient and often worse. . . .

The lack of effective metrics for data base size means that studies of the economics of data and of information are almost non existant. Important topics such as the cost of fixing the year 2000 problem in data base environments are almost null.

Due to the lack of data metrics, there is currently no solid basis for estimating the oncoming costs associated with year 2000 data base repairs, Euro-currency data base modifications, and the longer-range costs that will occur when telephone numbers need expansion, or when social security numbers need expansion. . . .

The main feature of the authorís proposed date format is that it is aimed at storing dates in computers in an era where unlimited optical storage is the rule. Therefore it is unwise to continue to develop date formats whose utility is compromised by an unconscious need to conserve storage space. Let us design a computerized date format that can last indefinitely, support scientific as well as business dates and time, and support all of the older date format variants. As the situation now stands, there are no current or proposed date standards by ISO or anyone else that are fully adequate even for business if it is transacted by computers, to say nothing of scientific purposes. . . .

Make no mistake about it:, computer and software dates and numeric data are far more important than printed dates. It would be enormously valuable if a truly effective date standard could be developed. Right now none of the current date standard formats are going to accomplish anything but cause more long-range problems for software and computer vendors, and a continuing need for tricky and error-prone date calculations. . . .


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