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ATPM 4.06
June 1998



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On a Clear Day, You Can See the Hollywood Sign

by Mike Shields,

Y2K, what is it, who does it, why and how much, and where are they, and here we are, Y2K...I don't know. Well, actually I do. And, M&M ads not withstanding, here's why you don't have to worry.

You've got a Mac.

You listened when I advised you to 'Get a Mac.' I'm still pushing for Apple to change their marketing campaign. Of course, this will probably never happen, but it's nice to dream. I still haven't gotten an appointment with Chiat-Day, either. And, last month, my pleas were not heeded, and I still need other work.

But I digress. Y2K is industry slang for the year 2000, or, the millennium bug problem. To review, as I'm sure you're all well aware, the millennium bug problem may occur to our fine PC and mainframe afflicted friends that are using outdated code to store dates. When at midnight Dec. 31, 1999 the year rolls over, your outdated computer will think it's January 1st, 1900.


Why, you ask, do we find out about this now, a mere 19 months and five days before the fact, as I write this?

Well, actually, the computing community has known about this since about '95 or so, when a few select banks were calculating interest on long term loans, and getting numbers that just didn't make sense.

For a modest history lesson on Y2K, and so that I'm not accused of padding by my editor, check out <>.

An industry springs up. Companies form, consultants are hired. Freelancers have something else to lance for free. And I have yet another column subject to rant and rave about, not to be confused with Rants & Raves, the Wired magazine letter column. And, if you were to check out the Jargon Watch of the June issue, you'd find my name there. And it is me, to be sure, and not the guy in Canada that registered Or any of the five other Mike Shields that I know about. Like I always say, not too many people know that I'm famous. And I feel a tangent coming on, so brace yourselves. It could happen at any moment, if it hasn't already.

Last month, I received an e-mail from a source close to the situation at Motorola. Now, he's asked to remain nameless, so I have to claim my first amendment right here, but suffice it to say, part of the AIM triumvirate is defecting to the Dark Side, not to be confused with Darkside, the screen saver we use here at Ray-O-Hac. [Named for the dark side of the moon, rather than the dark side of the force. --MT] They're adopting Windows NT as the standard platform. These are the same folks who helped design the PowerPC chip.

And some of us probably read a week or two ago that NT 4.0 isn't Y2K compliant. That's the first thing a consultant will tell you, in order for you to hire him. The conversation could go something like this:

You: Yeah, I got a piece o' software here. I need you to check it out.

Consultant: It's not Y2K compliant. I can fix it for you, as soon as you write me a big fat check.

You: Would you like that messengered or FedExed?

Some of you PC afflicted IT managers have probably already had these conversations, and already sent your checks out two-day priority. Others waited patiently while Microsoft came up
with patch to NT 4 or bought the company that actually wrote it, I forget which.

Until that happened, Microsoft was foolish enough to believe that you would buy NT 4.0 this year, then immediately upgrade to NT 5.0 when it comes out next year. Mr. Bill's theory is: why sell an OS once, when you can sell it over and over again? What he seems to forget is that some people are still running Windoze[TM] 3.11 and are quite happy with it. Which may or may not be compliant. Only your software vendor knows for sure.

Why am I, your once and former MacMan, so non-chalant about this? Simple. The Mac has been Y2K compliant since before it became a buzzword. The following e-mail received from the MacHacers' list I spoke of last month can explain it better than I:

Mac OS and the Year 2000 (based on the Year 2000: No big deal? by Brian Bechtel) by Sriram Subramanian Mac OS Product Marketing Manager International System Software Extn - 44928 A Macintosh computer contains a battery-operated clock chip that maintains the current date-time information. This date-time information is expressed as the number of seconds elapsed since midnight, January 1, 1904.

All Mac OS operating system date and time utilities have correctly handled the year 2000 since the introduction of the Macintosh. The original date and time utilities (introduced with the original Macintosh 128K in 1984) used a long word to store seconds, starting at January 1, 1904. This allowed for dates until 6:28:15 a.m. on February 6, 2040.

The current date and time utilities use a 64 bit signed value, which covers dates from 30081 B.C. to 29940 A.D. For further reference, see the reference volume, Inside Macintosh: Operating System Utilities.

So, to review, the Mac has always been and shall always be, Y2K compliant. We don't really have to worry about this problem for another 28,000 years or so. Of course, if I don't get the job I interviewed for last week, where they want me to upgrade a database and accounting system that isn't compliant, I'll probably still have my trusty Quadra 605.

Of course, I've got one up on the people over at the Mars candy company. I know that the new millennium doesn't really start 'til January 1st, 2001.

72 and sunny in El Segundo.

e Ya next month.

Disclaimer: Mike will accept praise, flames, and job leads at: <>.
Blue AppleHe wants to stay in the LA area and would prefer some sort of Mac job in the
entertainment industry.

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