If you own a computer, you have probably heard the horror stories about computer failures when the year 2000 arrives. This problem, known as the Y2K Bug, affects every type of computer, and the software that runs on those computers. In the early days of computers, each time you started your system you were asked for the date and the time. Then someone thought up the idea of having a clock chip in your computer to keep track of the date and time for you. They powered the chip with a small battery so it would keep running even when your computer is turned off. The problem occurs because this small clock is not programmed to roll over to the year 2000, but will instead roll over to the year 1900 on Dec. 31, 1999.
To handle this hardware problem, many manufacturers have put fixes into the "bios" (the basic operating system for your computer). If you've purchased your computer within the last two years, chances are it won't have a problem making the transition to the year 2000. For most other computers manufactured in the past four or five years, you need only to turn your computer off on Dec. 31, 1999, and turn it back on Jan. 1, 2000. The system bios will fix the problem for you.
You can find out for sure if your computer will have a problem by running a simple program which you can download from the Internet for free. To get this program go to www.y2keasyfix.com. There are complete instructions on running the test and downloading the small file (2000.exe) which will test your computer for you. (Important: This program tests only your computer's hardware. As the website says, "Even though your hardware is compliant, you (may) have operating system issues with MS-DOS and Windows. Your software applications that are date sensitive will need... upgrades from the manufacturer.") I did this test personally on several computers, from 486s to Pentiums, and found it easy to use. The results were also valid. There are some programs out there that purport to test for the Y2K bug which are not giving valid results. That is, they report your system is in need of a fix, which the company providing the test sells, when in reality all that is needed is to shut off your computer Dec. 31 and turn it back on Jan 1.
For most of you, the Y2K shouldn't pose any problem as far as your computer is concerned. If you own a truck which is computer controlled, you will want to check with your dealer to be sure the truck's computer is also Y2K compliant. These computers also use internal clocks and a failure of this clock could leave you stranded. It will only take a quick call to the service department to be sure the computer in your truck is not going to have a problem.
Before talking about this month's sites, I'd like to take a minute to thank all of you who have submitted sites for this column. We are especially interested in sites from OOIDA members, so keep the suggestions coming. Also be sure to check your address carefully, I often get links that don't work, so be sure the address you send is correct. Until next month, be safe.
The 2000.exe program from y2keasyfix will tell you
Whether the clock in your computer is compatible for the year 2000 transition
Whether the clock will make an automatic transition to the year 2000
Whether the clock can be set manually to the year 2000
The test instructions also advise you to do a boot. In this test you will manually reset the date and then reboot the computer. You can then check the date to be sure your computer retains the new date. If your computer fails this test, you should have the clock replaced.
Sites on the Web
http://zap.to/zesta - Zesta, as you'll find out when you visit the site is a 1961 GMC cabover which has been recently retired and is currently being restored. This is a good family site by a trucker's wife with a little bit of everything.
Along with zap.to, these new v3URLs offer a number of easy to remember names, such as, welcome.to, fly.to, etc. If you'd like to simplify your web address for others, just enter http://come.to/ in your web browser and sign up. The service is free. Their only requirement is that you put a link back to them on your page.
http://www.geocities.com/heartland/flats/9476 is the home page for Deborah & Terry Layman. Terry is an OOIDA member and the site was started by Deborah to fill in the hours when Terry was out on the road.
http://www.angelfire.com/biz2/crosstrucking is the home page for Cross Trucking. This is a fun site, with ever-changing themes as the seasons change. On my last visit, Easter was in the air complete with "Here Comes Peter Cottontail." This is definitely worth a look.
Have a site you'd like to share with others? Send your site address to firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you still have questions or need further help with this issue you can e-mail me for a personal response to your questions or concerns. We are also happy to answer any other computer-related questions you may have and welcome your comments and suggestions on this column. Send questions to email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org .