Procrastinator's Guide To Y2K Preparedness

Testing Your Tools

New And Improved? Are You Sure?

The SBA warns that even a brand-new computer may not be fully Y2K-compliant. Fortunately, it's easy to find out-just visit its manufacturer's Web site. Many reveal the Y2K-readiness of each model and serial number and offer free downloadable patches to fix any problems. Links to major hardware and software manufacturers' Y2K-compliance pages are at www.sba.gov/y2k. Click on "Major Corporations Get Ready."

Get instant gratification at zdnet.com/vlabs/y2K/testy2K.html. This site not only tells you whether your computer will read "00" as 2000, it also checks to see if it will recognize that 2000 is a special-case leap year.

Some experts predict that Y2K may cause electrical brownouts and blackouts. So consider getting an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). I use a TrippLite model BC Personal 300, available for $82 at www.egghead.com.

Check out the Y2K-readiness of any equipment that might have embedded date-sensitive microchips. For example, if your business accepts credit cards, make sure your credit-card reader is Y2K-compliant by visiting its manufacturer's Web site.

Blind Date

The Y2K bug affects software in which dates are calculated: most commonly, spreadsheets and databases. Again, check the manufacturer's Web site and download any needed fixes. Of course, if your software was custom-made for you, contact the programmer. Be sure to examine both program files and data files.

Don't forget about your operating system. Visit the manufacturer's site (e.g. microsoft.com/Y2K for Windows, www.apple.com/about/year2000 for Macs) to ensure Y2K-readiness.

Hint: Especially with old or custom software, it's often cheaper to buy new software than to fix the old.

When you enter new dates into software, be sure to use a four-digit year. For example, "2000" rather than the two-digit "00." Also, when acquiring new software or exchanging data files with someone, be sure the files are Y2K-compliant.

An easy way to check out your hardware's and software's Y2K-compliance is to spend $49 on Norton 2000. It has an advantage over manual approaches because it checks hardware, software and data files you might not suspect were affected by Y2K. Norton 2000 may, however, not fully check products purchased from small vendors.

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