NFL championship of the century


As January 1, 2000, looms in the not so distant future, some folks may be prompted to question if the Y2K issue is just hype.

“Y2K is not all hype,” said Michael W. Kearney, Ph.D., information technology technical director for the University. “However, the presence of hype is not always the same as the absence of risk. The analogy I like to think of is between WWF matches and NFL championships. If you strip away the hype from a WWF match, nothing remains. But there’s a game -- with risk -- to be played beneath the hype of an NFL championship. Y2K is like one of those championships.”

So, as for any NFL championship game, the team of ‘99 must prepare for Y2K.

And it may be a good idea to stockpile some chips and salsa.

Stockpile food

“General emergency preparedness dictates that one should keep food on hand in case of emergency. Although it’s not necessary to have immense quantities of extra food, if you don’t have at least some spare food stored away, you should,” Kearney said.

Kearney was quick to point out that we most likely won’t have an emergency on our hands, however. “We can only speak in terms of probabilities when considering what may happen. There’s a low probability nothing will happen, and a low probability that disaster will strike. What we’ll most likely see are effects somewhere between those two extremes.”

Payroll passed test

In light of this probability of some intermediate effects from Y2K, the University has tested mission critical systems and repaired them when necessary. Extraordinary problems are not foreseen with registration, payroll or other computer-regulated entities. PennCard technology, such as that which allows entrance to buildings and remembers how many meals are left on students’ meal plans, has also been through testing for compliance.

Personal computers

But what about testing personal computers for compliance?

“There are simple procedures one can take to test hardware for Y2K compliance,” Kearney said. “Faculty and staff can talk to designated computing support people in their particular departments, and students can contact ITAs [information technology advisors] in their dorms for assistance.”

And after all this preparation for one day, some folks would hope the concern would end there.

It won’t.

Leap year woes

The year 2000 is a leap year, so computers that can’t calculate leap years properly pose potential problems. A day could be lost on February 29, 2000, and systems could think that December 31, 2000, the 366th day of the year, is really January 1. Indeed, the year 2000 seems to offer no reprieve from potentially problematic dates.

Better keep the chips and salsa coming.

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Originally published on October 14, 1999