Yk A Ticking Time Bomb Essay Research Paper Tick Tick Tick The Year draws closer with every passing second Many have nothing to fear Why should they It sounds ridiculous being afraid of a year what could possibly go wrong The truth is A Ticking Time Bomb Essay Research PaperTick Tick Tick The Year draws closer with every passing second.

Tick, Tick, Tick. The Year 2000 draws closer with every passing second. Many have nothing to fear. Why should they? It sounds ridiculous, being afraid of a year, what could possibly go wrong? The truth is, that many things can happen, not from the year itself, but from a simple programming shortcut to save what was once invaluable memory. People say that they do not need computers to live. But then again, many do not realize how much we depend on computers in our lives today. When one goes to the ATM to get money for food, he or she is using computers. When someone starts up their car, they are using computers. When one calls another on the telephone, they are using computers. People use computers more then they think, and when the computers turn back against them, no one really knows what may happen. When the Year 2000 comes, many of these machines will look at the new year as the year 1900. Why? Because back when programmers were setting up the dating system for the original computers, they chose to just use the last two digits of the year to save space; and back then, every byte counted. Called the Y2K problem, this computer glitch could cause some major headaches. The truth is, time is running out, it will take an enormous amount of work to fix, and if we do not fix Y2K in time, everyone s lives will be affected. The Y2K problem isn t just a minor inconvenience. It s a ticking time bomb.

Is there really enough time to fix this potential disaster? Nobody really knows the answer to this question. It is possible that 50% of all the companies that will need to make changes will not be ready in time. (Famighetti, 12) The year 2000 is only about a year away, and a year is not a very long time for a problem this diverse and complex. Problems resulting from the Y2K bug have already started. Forty-four percent of the companies in the United States have already experienced a year 2000 failure. (Stanglin, 45) In 1992, 104 year old Mary Bandar of Winona, Minnesota was invited to join kindergarten classes when her name came up in a search form for people born in the year 1988. (Jager, 14) The computer system running this search was affected by the bug, and thought this lady was four years old. The computer system was never programmed to know the difference between the year 1988 and 1888; it just looked at the date as 88. A similar problem happened to C.G Bloget, who s auto-insurance premium tripled when he was reclassified after his 101st birthday as a high-risk youthful driver. (Jager, 14) These are just two examples of some minor obstacles; the real worry is the major problems, and the government has its share of problems when it comes to Y2K. A recent survey of 44 major airlines revealed that only 67 percent expect their systems to be fully Y2K compliant by Oct. 1, 1999. (Stanglin, 46) That is not a large percentage when you are considering an industry as big as the airplane industry; they transport millions of people everyday. Another industry slow to recognize the problem is the health care industry. (Dash, 24) This one industry can not be forsaken. People can not just forget about the health industry, people s lives are at stake. One more example is the Global Command Control system of the Pentagon. For being one of the most high-tech places around, one would imagine no problems here. Yet in the summer of 1997, the system failed a year 2000 readiness test. (Stanglin, 47) Even with all these problems, the government may not be the worst off. According to Howard Gleckman from Business Week magazine, small businesses could face the worst woes. (Gleckman, 120) All it takes is one lawsuit to put a small company out of business. Time is running out, and we only have a year to fix Y2K. Is that enough time? This thought races across many people s minds. Will we be ready? Only time will tell.

Solving Y2K is a very difficult, expensive, and time-consuming task. No one has yet devised a silver bullet to attack the problem, a nifty program that would search out and convert every date field in a computer s Operating System or software. (Broder) What this means is there are no computer programs made that can fix it all. There are no programs made that can automatically rewrite ever date area in the computer code of a computer s software to be year 2000 compliant. Computer code is what tells the computer program how to run. The worst part is, computer code is not just in one language, just like there are different spoken languages, there are different computer languages. This makes it very difficult to read, and hard to find the people to read it. It is like having a book that randomly jumps from English, to Spanish, to Japanese, and then German. It would be very difficult to read, and you would need many people to accomplish the task. In a computer to fix the problem you must examine every line of code in every computer, locate the instructions regarding dates, and rewrite them to accept 2000 as a year designation. (Stanglin, 46) This seems hard, but it gets worse. Cost is a major issue in fixing Y2K. Nobody is sure how much it will cost, but most think it will cost around $600 billion. (Famighetti, 12) Then there is the problem of all the money spent on litigation. Some estimates say that for every dollar spent on fixing the problem, 2-3 dollars will be spent on litigation. (DeJesus, 55) That is over 1 trillion dollars spent just over lawsuits. So will the common folk have to pay a lot of money for some programmer to fix their PC? Not likely, PC s, personal computers, are not as affected. It is mainly only a problem with the mainframes, huge super-computers that are only found in large companies. (Chinni, 58) The same thing with Apple s computers; they are okay until the year 29,940. (DeJesus, 62) The IRS is also in big trouble; there is a lot of checking they must do. To prepare for Y2K, the IRS must clean up: 60 million lines of computer code, 88,000 separate application programs, 80 mainframes, 1,000 midsize computers, 130,000 PC s, and 60,000 pieces of telecom equipment. All this comes with a large price tag, 1 billion dollars. (Gleckman, 119) The IRS has a large amount of computers at work for them, and it will require an extensive amount of time and money to fix them. Computer specialists say that the IRS must be ready by the year 1999, which is hard to do with the computers they are using. (Gleckman, 119) Howard Gleckman calls it a spaghetti bowl of systems. Still, the IRS thinks they can do it. They say there will be glitches come 2000, but there will not be chaos. (Gleckman, 120) Fixing a problem this big seems impossible, but it must be done. It s not even as satisfying as fixing a roof. We get absolutely nothing out of it. We get to stay in business, that s all.

So what will happen when the clock rolls over on New Year s Eve, 1999? Most folks responsible for fixing the nations electronic infrastructure actually think we are going to make it with only minor disruptions of vital services. (O Malley, 64) What does this mean? Society probably will not have any huge disasters, but there will be problems; experts are sure of that. In the worst-case scenario, there could be plane crashes, cash machines could jam up, huge corporations could go bankrupt, convicted felons could escape from jail, the list goes on and on. (Sweeney, 29) Most likely, this would not happen, but it is not to say it could not. Dante Chinni says, Planes would keep moving but screens monitoring them if not upgraded might lock. (Chinni, 54) One scary example is the IV monitors, which display the date and time could stop pumping life saving fluid if it does not recognize 00 as a valid entry. (O Malley, 62) ATM machines also will not work without fixes, which means a person may end up being low in cash for a while. (Chinni, 56) In fact, in one test, a security computer inside of a nuclear power plant failed by opening vital areas that normally are locked. (Mandel, 94) Another interesting fact was that A lot of elevators could be dropping to the bottom of buildings heading to the basement for inspections they believe are overdue. Bad news if you live in a multilevel apartment building. So what should one do about it? First and foremost, a person should not enter the 1999 holiday without first obtaining hard-copy evidence of all of their assets. Second, they should watch out for large bills coming to their house. (Chinni, 57) One could be in for a surprise when they find a 100-year phone charge on their telephone bill. Innumerable things could happen after the switch to the year 2000. This is one bug whose effects may only be known when it bites. (Mandel, 94)

The dawn of a new century brings numerous challenges to the computer world. Tackling the unceasing Year 2000 problem is a attenuated, tedious process of looking through millions of lines of code searching for two-digit date fields, and fixing them so they are compliant with the new year. The problem all started years ago, when computers had a tiny fraction of the memory and disk space they do today. In an effort to conserve that precious space, programmers limited date fields to six digits: YYMMDD. (Broder) This digital relic from the days when every byte of computer storage was precious, was supposed to have been long gone by now, but the practice became standard. Now when the year 2000 comes, problems can develop from this ancient programming shortcut. How does it work? Suppose a person makes a bank deposit at the end of 1999, and then make a transfer in the year 2000. The bank would regard the 00 two-digit field in the year column as the year1900, and would treat it as if it was made before the deposit. (Jager, 15) Hence, the Y2K problem. Virtually all the mainframe computers that keep the world humming are riddled with software that refuses to recognize that when the year 1999 runs out, the year 2000 follows. (Chinni, 52) This newly discovered computer bug would be arduous to stop. Time is limited to one year and counting, Y2K will take a great deal of hard work and tax dollars to fix, and if it is not fixed in time many uncertainties will result. It is hard to predict what will happen, experts are still puzzled over how to resolve the dilemma. Fixing Y2K is like learning to swim in order to escape a sinking ship. We can, if we all choose, solve it before it happens, although we probably won t. (DeJesus, 62)


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