I.T. Times
Volume 6, No 2 Information Technology News of the University of California, Davis October 1997

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Year 2000 Update

Meet Nancy Thompson, a fictional Management Services Officer (MSO) in the Department of Foresight and Planning Ahead. To familiarize herself with the Year 2000 problem, Nancy has decided to research what is known about her own machine and the software she runs on it so she can plan ahead and implement a course of action for Year 2000 compliance.

Starting an Inventory of Assets

Nancy uses a Power Macintosh with Mac OS version 7.6. The list she made of her system's essential elements includes Microsoft Excel 5.0 and Word 6.0, Claris FileMaker Pro 3.0, and Adobe PageMaker 6.0. In her daily operations, Nancy accesses DaFIS, the Student Information System (Banner), and the Employee Database (EDB).

Conducting Research

After discussing the Year 2000 problem with her department's Technology Support Coordinator (TSC), Nancy learns that various Web sites have already been set up precisely to help her research the problem. The UC Davis Year 2000 Web site (http://y2k.ucdavis.edu), currently under construction, features articles, reference materials, and a searchable vendor compliance database with information about products commonly used on campus. Status reports on the central administrative systems indicate that DaFIS and EDB applications are compliant, and that the Banner SIS application is expected to be ready by the end of 1998.

With the click of a button, Nancy goes to the UC Office of the President Web site, where a page has been created to foster sharing of relevant Year 2000 information within the University and to reference other Year 2000 documents and sites. The UC Davis Y2K site also includes direct links to vendors' Web sites, where Nancy finds reports on the compliance status of various products she uses. There she reads compliance statements by

  • Apple: "The Mac OS and Apple Macintosh computers do not have problems with the Year 2000." A MacWeek article further states that "even the oldest Macs. . . handle the year 2000 with aplomb; the only known systemwide data issue is that current versions of Apple's Date and Time control panel don't accept dates beyond 2019. That issue is expected to be fixed in a forthcoming Mac OS upgrade."

  • Adobe: The current versions "should be unaffected by the change to the year 2000, and will accurately represent date information within the constraints of the operating systems."

  • Claris: Nancy looks up FileMaker Pro 3.0 and learns that it will "correctly display both manually entered and calculated dates through the year 3000." Earlier versions are more problematic.

  • Microsoft: Most of Microsoft's current products (including the Office 97 suite) are set up to convert two-digit date codes between "00" and "29" to post-2000 dates.

An Important Word of Caution

Although Nancy's Mac and operating system are said to be compliant, a number of problems could still arise. Nancy was quick to note the broad generalities and various qualifying statements vendors make about their products' readiness. The core issue lies in the format used by the operating system and applications to store dates, or how the data were entered into each of the applications in her system. For example, Nancy knows that birthdates of retired employees have already been entered into an Excel document. If she updates to a Year 2000 compliant version of Excel, it will interpret these dates, which fall between 1900 and 1929, to years between 2000 and 2029. By researching both her applications and the form in which her data has been entered, Nancy is able to head off problems before they occur. Before upgrading to the Y2K compliant Excel, Nancy will need to convert the years in this database from 2-digit to 4-digit fields.

By conducting this preliminary research, Nancy has started to follow the Year 2000 5-stage plan recommended by the Gartner Group. (An in-depth description of all the stages is available on the UCD Year 2000 Web site.) In future I.T. Times articles, we will join Nancy as she and her TSC address similar scenarios involving IBM PC compatibles, UNIX systems, and applications developed by local programmers.


All vendors' Web sites referenced in this article can be accessed from the UC Davis Year 2000 Web site at http://y2k.ucdavis.edu. Another good reference is the UC Office of the President Year 2000 page.