October 22, 1999Reissued December 1, 1999 Because of the importance of Y2K this is the first time in fourteen years of newsletters that there has been a reissue. Y2K As we approach the millennium, a high tech “bug”, lurking in much of the electronic equipment that controls our lives, is poised to cause a disaster of epic proportions. This “millennium bug”, also known by the terms “the year 2000 problem” and “Y2K”, is a computer glitch that has the potential to generate a three to six hundred billion dollar financial loss worldwide. What is the Millennium Bug? The Y2K problem was created decades ago when computer programmers attempted to conserve on expensive hard disk memory by shortening the traditional four space date field to a two space date field by omitting the first two digits of the year. For example, the year 1999 would be identified as simply 99 in the numerous lines of software code. In the days of mainframe computers, memory was expensive and conserving two digits in millions of data fields resulted in significant savings in data processing expenses. What Will Happen After 12/31/99? Nobody knows! New York City has established a beachhead in New Zealand to get a several hour preview of what might happen, but nobody knows what will happen or exactly when. What might happen is anything! Your computer may not work. The lights and power may go off! Airplanes may fall out of the sky (some airlines have grounded all their planes on December 31 and January 1). Insurance Caution Most insurance policies will not provide coverage for Y2K related losses. While many professional liability policies are providing coverage for liability of professionals arising out of Y2K related losses, virtually all other policies exclude these losses. For example, there is no coverage if you suffer a loss of income due to a Y2K related interruption of your business (i.e. if your computers do not work and as a result you lose income, you will not be covered for the loss of income or the cost to fix the problem). It is up to all businesses to be proactive in preventing problems that could arise because of a systems failure. Among the many things to review for Y2K vulnerability are: • manufacturing/equipment systems • payroll records • accounting records • products made by you • finance records • services delivered by you • administrative records • facility/grounds systems and equipment • pension records • manufacturing parts/systems/services supplied by others • security systems • human resource records • warehouse systems • office/communication equipment • all hardware • customer sales and service systems • all software Also work with your customers and suppliers to make sure they are Y2K compliant and that their systems will interact properly with yours. These include, but are not limited to: • banks and financial institutions • parts/system, services suppliers • government offices • transportation/delivery suppliers • utility companies • maint enance/services suppliers • outside providers of human resources/payroll services • customers reliant on systems interaction with your company How About Your Computers? Norton 2000 may be the most comprehensive of the PC testers you can buy off the shelf. It will run from a CD-ROM and in addition to testing the BIOS, it will examine your entire hard drive and compile a list of applications with known problems. It will also check your Excel files and will fix spreadsheet cells that use a two-digit date and that could cause a problem in your calculations. Windows machines bought in the last year should be OK. No problem for Mac users unless you own a 512K Mac. Apple was smart enough to write software properly 15 years ago. My Suggestion Now that Hurricane Floyd has come and gone, we have a good role model; treat Y2K as you would a hurricane. Prepare for the fact the power and transportation and other systems might go out for a couple of days. Think about the following: Candles Flashlights Batteries Conserving heat (it’s cold in January) Radios (for news reports) Disposable plates and utensils Alternative heat sources Garbage bags (to prevent insects) Food-canned, frozen Cash (ATM machines may not work) Water- Full tank of gas (gas pumps may not • for bathing & washing operate) • for cooking • for drinking If you are going out New Year’s Eve can you get home without streetlights and stoplights? Will the police be able to respond to your call? Will your burglar alarm go off? How will you get to work on January 1, 2 or 3? Good Luck To all of us!