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Year 2000 Compliance

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UK Government Press Release Announcing Training Courses
Year 2000 Compliance article by Craig Stevens
see also Bang Goes the Millenium

UK Government Press Release Announcing Training Courses


"£26m will be used to help small and medium-sized companies develop skills
to assess and fix their Year 2000 problem" Tony Blair 30 March 1998

Most people know that the Year 2000 date change may cause problems for computers and systems controlled by electronic chips, but not everyone knows the damage this Millennium Bug could do to their business and how to avoid it. It may cause electronically controlled equipment as well as computers to fail. Its impact is potentially dramatic. Businesses of all sizes must come to terms with this problem as soon as possible. Training of staff, and the assessment, fixing and testing of systems and equipment must begin now.

Large companies can deal with this unaided, but the smaller organisation may need support. That is why the Department for Education and Employment (DfEE) has made £26m available to help small and medium-sized employers in England to meet part of the costs of training their staff. Consortia of small businesses are also eligible. It is anticipated that 20,000 employees will receive training before the funding arrangement ends in February 1999.

Training your staff now will allow you to minimise the impact of the Millennium date as well as developing skills that will continue to benefit your business in the long term. You must act now. Any delay could put at risk your ability to handle the date change smoothly.

George Mudie, Minister for Lifelong Learning announced in mid-October that training under the BugBuster scheme is now fully funded, up to £300 per training day. There is now no barrier to eligible businesses*, from acquiring the training they need to prepare for the Year 2000.

In addition, the Department for Employment and Education has opened a Help Line, to assist organisations wishing to access information about the training in their area.

Phone: 08456091100!

(* Refer to organisational eligibility later in this document)

The training

Training will be through ITNTO accredited courses. Courses address:

* The assessment of the Millennium Bug within individual businesses and the management of the ensuing Year 2000 project.
* "Fixing" to ensure that systems are capable of dealing with the date change.

Course 1: Assess and Manage
Participants are trained in the initiation and management of a Year 2000 project. They are taught to understand and identify the potential impact of the Year 2000 challenge and to manage projects that help minimise that impact.

The courses cover:

* The nature and impact of the Year 2000 challenge.
* How your systems can be assessed in a structured way (The Action 2000 Seven Steps).
* Personal computers and application packages.
* Embedded systems - the problems that relate to microchips inside equipment and machinery.
* Legal and supply chain issues.
* Developing and communicating the project plan.

Course 2: PC Applications
These courses enhance employees' PC skills and help to ensure their organisation's PC systems and applications will cope with the Year 2000. The courses address:

* How every element of your PC (hardware, software and applications) willbe affected by the Year 2000.
* Producing a technical plan.
* Conversion techniques.
* Package replacement options and issues.
* Testing, including the use of testing tools.

Course 3: Embedded Systems
The Year 2000 will have an impact on electronic machines and systems that are controlled by microchip operated timing systems. These are known as embedded systems. Equipment that you take for granted such as machine tools, telephone systems, mailing machines and lifts rely on them. Participants on this course will be trained to deal with the embedded systems in their business by focusing on:

* The impact of the Millennium Bug on embedded systems.
* How to assess embedded systems and how to spot potential problem areas.
* When and how to carry out testing and the dangers of testing.
* Creating a conversion plan.
* Managing your suppliers.
* The possible limitations of any plan and how to develop effective contingency plans.
* The health and safety implications of embedded system problems.

Course 4: Programming
Programming languages, operating environments and databases will generate specific problems. If your organisation has programs that require alteration, these courses are relevant to you. They cover:

* How the Year 2000 can affect application programs.
* How to identify which elements of a program will be exposed to the Year 2000 problem.
* Programming techniques for solving problems.
* How to plan for these changes.
* The tools and techniques that enable tests to be carried out.

Course 5: Testing
Testing will be central to the successful management of Year 2000 problems. Courses cover:

* Why testing is so important, what you should be testing and when.
* The necessary techniques.
* The development of strategies and plans.
* Creating and managing a suitable test environment.

How the training works
A variety of accredited courses are available. They are designed to meet specific needs, so their duration and contents differ.

How do I find out where accredited courses are running?
Contact your local TEC/CCTE, the DfEE Help Line (0845 6091100) for details of accredited
courses, their location and price.

Is my organisation elegible?
* This arrangement applies to employers located in England. Arrangements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are being handled separately.
* Employers must have fewer than 250 employees.
* Only organisations in the private and voluntary sectors are eligible.
* The funding applies to the direct cost of the course and does not cover travel, accommodation or any incidental expenses.
* The funds will be paid by Training and Enterprise Councils (or Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise) on successful completion of the course.
* Certificates are provided by the training provider on successful completion of the course.
* Support is only available for courses accredited by the National Training Organisation for Information Technology (ITNTO).

The National Training Organisation for Information Technology has been selected by the Government to spearhead the development of world-class IT skills in the UK.

How to apply
Employers should contact their local TEC or CCTE to confirm:

* Eligibility.
* The chosen course has ITNTO Millennium training accreditation.
* Funding availability.

The courses can generally be booked direct with the training provider, but in some cases the TEC/CCTE will make the arrangements.

For further application enquiries contact your local TEC or CCTE. (See Yellow Pages for details).

For general Year 2000 enquiries:

Call your local Business Link on 0345 567 765 Call the Action 2000 ActionLine on 0845 601 2000

Go to the Action 2000 Website

The booklet containing this information and enquiries relating to accreditation should be directed to:

The National Training Organisation for Information Technology, 16 Berners Street, London W1P 3DD
Tel 0171 580 6677 Fax 0171 580 5577
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Year 2000 Compliance article by Craig Stevens

The article below is from Craig Stevens, of Sutton Designs/Netsavers Centre. I thought it would be interesting as I know many surfers have PCs (the smug grin on my face is cos I have a Mac! - no 2000 probs for me!!) I have left in some of the sales stuff as I reckoned anyone who was giving this much info for free deserved a little advertising, being a Mac user (satisfied grin) I haven't tried any of the products so cannot recommend them from personal experience.

You might also be interested in the article I have posted on this site 'Year 2000 Compliance - Bang Goes the Millennium!' which looks at a little heard aspect of the problem - the military. Apparently in the US there is quite a lot of discussion of this particular angle, but, as usual, we brits are the last to hear anything. You can reach the article from a link on my home page:

From: "NetsaversCenter" e-mail:
Subject:Netsavers Software Newsletter, Vol. 20: 08/22/98 [The Millennium Bug]

Date: 21 Aug 1998 19:07:07 -0700
The Millennium Bug (or Y2K issue) by Craig Stevens, EE

What is the Millennium Bug?
The Millennium Bug (or Y2K issue) is a general description of the problem caused by software, hardware, and firmware not being able to deal correctly with the change from the year 1999 to 2000. It is not confined to personal computers; it also affects central heating systems, cars with computerized engine management systems, home and business alarms, banking and transportation systems. In fact, the entire Y2K issue is beginning to resemble a matryoshka doll; more levels become apparent as each new level is revealed.

All software, either directly or indirectly, obtains its date from the hardware. If the hardware incorrectly reports the date, it is very difficult for the software to have the correct date. If the hardware problem is not rectified then any process involving dates will be unreliable.

The Y2K problem does NOT start at midnight on 31 Dec 1999 as many people might think. It starts much earlier. Your financial software will generally want to 'rollover' the financial year on or around July 1, 1999, and you will have to have all the bug problems (if any) sorted out by then. In real terms, you will have to have all of your systems verified and the changes implemented, before even that date; it has been suggested that 31 Dec 1998 is the real deadline!

How does Y2K affect PC Computers?
The Y2K issue will be a problem for any computer operating system, application, or other electronic device that uses a two-digit field for the year, as in 08/22/98. That two-digit date field, a seemingly innocuous programmer's shortcut, is a time bomb, one that will definitely go off unless it is defused.

The WRONG way to defuse the Y2K time bomb would be to take the tack that Harry the "do-it yourselfer" might take ... just crank the PC clock ahead to see what happens. Harry's "test" might not be able to be "untested", and some of his software licenses may become invalidated, or his system might lock up.

The Millennium Bug in PC computer hardware, is caused by an error of logic in the PC's Real Time Clock (RTC). This is a small chip inside your PC that ticks 18.3 times every second, and enables it to maintain the time and date. The chip takes its power from a battery when the PC is switched off, which enables it to keep the date and time even when your PC is not in use. The bug occurs when the RTC rolls over from 1999-2000; it may not roll over the century byte correctly, so 1999 becomes 1900 instead of 2000.

Millennium Compliant BIOS
If your PC is more than a couple of years old it is ALMOST CERTAINLY NON-compliant. When PC manufacturers first became aware of the Y2K problem, they started to deal with it by fixing the BIOS of the PC, so that it could detect the bug AFTER it happened, and then fix it. When a manufacturer put this patch into their BIOS, they called it a "Millennium Compliant BIOS", which encouraged users to buy their computer as opposed to someone else's.

There is nothing wrong with calling something a "Millennium Compliant BIOS", as long as YOU know, as the user, what that means. It means that the PC is "OK", AS LONG AS YOU TURN IT OFF in 1999 and TURN IT BACK ON in the year 2000! In other words, if you don't use it DURING the millennium rollover, unless you have powered it OFF in 1999 and ON in 2000, first.

An extended form of this patch has found its way into some BIOS programs, and this is the method ALMOST ALL Millennium Bug fix software packages use, that you could pay from $150 up to $5,000 a copy for! Using this "fix", as well as "fixing" the RTC at boot-up, the "fixed" BIOS will detect a call to BIOS by an application using the BIOS to retrieve the date, and it will see if the year 1900 is about to be passed back instead of the year 2000. This solution makes LARGE assumption that someone will issue a suitable BIOS call VERY soon after midnight 1999. If they don't, you will be running with a clock that says 1900 until they do.

Even if the system does roll-over in real time (ie when the system is turned off then on), there is no guarantee that when the power is turned off again, the century information will be retained. Conversely, some systems will not report the correct date in real time, but if the system is rebooted, the correct century is reported.

Most BIOS versions DO support the century byte in RTC memory, but some DO NOT automatically adjust the century byte when the date is read. It is assumed that some external program will issue the 'Set Date' function of the RTC BIOS service to update the century information.

Millennium Compliant RTC
The Millennium Bug is actually a fault in the RTC (Real Time Clock) chip, not the BIOS. Therefore, a Millennium Compliant RTC is simply a Real Time Clock that does not have the bug, that is, it correctly rolls over from 1999-2000 just as it would from 1998-1999. They DO EXIST but they are RARE. Y2K TEST will tell you if you happen to have one!

You could be wondering at this point, "Why don't all the PC manufacturers simply use compliant RTCs???". One reason "could be" that they cost more, and that there are only two suppliers of the RTC world wide. This was in spring of 1998, when the Millennium Bug was well known, and board manufacturers were using non-compliant RTC's BY CHOICE, preferring to fix the bug with a "BIOS fix" for cost reasons.

Y2K General Discussion
Operating Systems
Windows 95
Windows 95 will correct the year 2000 problem on systems that fail. But Windows 95 is based on DOS and DOS itself can have a problem. Therefore, the problem is most likely to affect DOS based applications that must run in dedicated DOS sessions.

Windows NT
Windows NT 4.0 will correct the year 2000 problem on systems that fail, but only within the NT operating system. If other operating systems are run on the same system (ie multiboot), the problem MAY STILL EXIST.

Unix uses drivers that bypass the BIOS, and deal with the RTC chip directly. For this reason, any RTC problem should be looked at VERY SERIOUSLY!

The BEST Y2K TEST Software can be had FREE! NOW!

The best Y2K TEST software is available, now, FREE, at the NetsaversCenter!

This Y2K TEST software runs 12 tests that will POSITIVELY determine whether your PC will fail when it is ON, and whether it will fail if it is OFF. When you KNOW that a PC will NOT FAIL IF it is switched off (and you leave it switched OFF during the 1999-2000 roll-over) then you won't have a problem with THAT PC!

The following is the TEST LOG on my home PC (Craig Stevens the writer of this article):


TEST ONE: Date rollover while system active..
RTC :- 01/01/1900 00:00:02 FAIL
BIOS :- 01/01/2000 00:00:02 Pass
System:- 01/01/2000 00:00:02 Pass
Real Time Clock (RTC) will fail rollover if PC ON
Also see test FOUR for same tests with PC off!

TEST TWO: Year 2000 Leap Year Test...
RTC :- 29/02/2000 00:00:02 Pass
BIOS :- 29/02/2000 00:00:02 Pass
System:- 29/02/2000 00:00:02 Pass

TEST THREE: Year 2001 NON-Leap Year Test...
RTC :- 01/03/2001 00:00:02 Pass
BIOS :- 01/03/2001 00:00:02 Pass
System:- 01/03/2001 00:00:02 Pass

TEST FOUR: Date Rollover during reboot...
RTC :- 01/01/2000 00:00:45 Pass
BIOS :- 01/01/2000 00:00:45 Pass
System:- 01/01/2000 00:00:43 Pass


Y2K Outlook - What to do now?
No 1.
See if you have a problem, and find out the specifics. Download the FREE Y2K TEST Software IMMEDIATELY! Many sites have ALREADY PULLED ALL FREE Y2K TEST SOFTWARE and are now selling it! Don't get caught in that MONEY TRAP!

No 2.
See if all of your application programs will work. This is not going to be simple, and you may want to have a look at our software pages for some considerations.

No 3.
Do it NOW!!!

Y2K Related Links at the NetsaversCenter

We have some links here, that you might find useful. Many internet sites are wrong about Y2K, confused about it, or talk about it as if it were the end of the world as we know it! Still others are using the opportunity to GOUGE USERS out of their hard earned money, while others talk about the BIOS clock, when they mean the RTC, and others focus only on mainframes. At the NetsaversCenter, you will get the straight facts. Period.

Notebook Surge Protection

The Sutton Designs SDI-Note1 Notebook Surge Suppressor will protect your Notebook Computer's AC power supply and Modem from dangerous electrical surges on either the AC line or the telephone line, at home, in your business, or away at college or the convention.

Surges can damage your Notebook Computer System's external power supply, if the AC wall outlet it is plugged into is not properly surge protected, and Surges that enter through the telephone connection can destroy your Notebook Computer's modem, and can even damage the motherboard, if they are allowed in.

The new Sutton Designs SDI-Note1 Notebook Surge Suppressor is now available for just $19 ($10 off) ONLY to Netsavers Newsletter subscribers:

Have you joined the NetsaversCenter yet? That's where you can find interesting, and normally "hard-to-find" information, on a variety of subjects.

Membership is free, but ONLY available to Netsavers Newsletter subscribers, like yourself, who have ALSO REGISTERED at the NetsaversCenter, to receive a password.

If you haven't done so already, you should, before the password protected sections are closed to the public!

Thank you!
Craig Stevens, EE, NetsaversCenter
Sutton Designs, Inc., Ithaca, New York, 14850
Netsavers and NetsaversCenter are registered trademarks owned by Sutton Designs Inc. © 1998 Sutton Designs Inc. All rights reserved.

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