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CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published Monday, April 19, 1999

No, Y2K won't melt your PC,
but better safe than sorry

Another Y2K column? I know you must be saying "enough already," but bear with me just one more time. 1/1/00 is a non-negotiable deadline that everyone must be aware of and prepare for. It's not simply a computer issue, it's a business concern that must be tackled with the same good judgment and reason that you employ in your day-to-day business and home-office activities.

While the survivalists and fanatics are attracting an inordinate amount of media attention, the majority of regular folk are approaching the millennium with good sense and guarded optimism. It's important, however, not to be too cavalier or subscribe to the Scarlett O'Hara School of Problem Solving.

A majority of today's software applications have known Y2K issues and due diligence is required on your part to ensure that your critical programs aren't going to hiccup when the clock rolls to 00. Even programs that are rated as "compliant with minor issues" require upgrades or patches to ensure full Y2K compliance.

The most elemental software component of your computer, the operating system, needs to be evaluated for Y2K compliance. Windows 95 is rated "compliant with minor issues" by Microsoft. The latest patch/upgrade for Windows 95 was released April 13 through the Microsoft web site at www.microsoft.com/technet/year2k/product/product.htm All versions of Microsoft's operating system in fact have known Y2K glitches, even Windows 98. Year 2000 updates are available for Windows 98 by clicking the Update Windows option from the Start Menu.

Realize that failing to make these needed upgrades isn't totally fatal.Your PC won't implode or emit noxious gases if you fail to make the available operating system improvements, but you can expect intermittent, inaccurate date calculations or quirky behavior when executing certain programs or operations. Be sure you know the latest version and service release number of your operating system when exploring upgrade options. Open the My Computer window and right-mouse click in an empty area of the window. Choose Properties from the object menu and you'll see a dialog box that reports your system information.

In addition to scrutinizing your operating system, it's vital to examine your application software as well. Quicken's latest incarnation, Quicken 99, for example, is Y2K compliant, provided that you've downloaded the maintenance release 4 from the Intuit web site. To see which release is installed on your system, press and hold CTRL+SHIFT while choosing About Quicken from the Help menu. Quicken for Windows versions 6, 5 and earlier are either noncompliant or simply aren't scheduled for testing.

Intuit, the parent company of the popular Quicken/Quickbooks bookkeeping packages maintains an extensive web site at www.intuit.com/support/y2k_standard.html which documents each product's ability to handle the rollover to year 2000. Quickbooks, 5.0 which is currently running on many business systems (including mine) is not compliant, according to the Intuit web site. In this version, date fields are reported incorrectly, pay stubs print the year 2000 as 100, audit trail dates are displayed incorrectly, and reporting dates are inaccurate. Quickbooks 6.0 is compliant, provided that you've installed maintenance release 3, which is available as a download. The latest version, Quickbooks 99, is reported to be fully compliant at this time.

Excel 97, the popular Microsoft spreadsheet application, has known Y2K anomalies that can be remedied by installing the Office 97 SR2 Patch from the MS web site. All Microsoft products can be researched at www.microsoft.com/technet/year2k/product/product.htm  Will it Work? www.willitwork.com is a terrific resource for Y2K research that indexes hundreds of companies and their products. A little homework now will save many headaches that could last long after New Year's Day.

Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns.

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