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Beyond Your Desktop The Year 2000 Watch

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July/August 1998 - Volume 77, Number 4

By Kelly Throckmorton
ALTA® Director of Information Systems and Technology

Owners and managers of title operations all over the country are tackling the Year 2000 issue. Some have enlisted the assistance of professional consultants, while others have chosen to battle the bug themselves. Some, unfortunately, have chosen to ignore the problem altogether and take what may be the biggest business risk of their careers.

Many responsible companies have performed a software inventory and subsequent audit by contacting application manufacturers to obtain an upgrade or a Year 2000 certification or guarantee. Perhaps you have done this, too. Have you also contacted your hardware manufacturers to be sure your computers, modems, scanners and printers are compliant? What about your telephone system and security system? Are the elevators, temperature controls and fire safety systems in your building also compliant? If the Year 2000 isn’t on your mind, it should be.

What could go wrong? Imagine it is January 3, 2000, the first Monday morning of the new millennium. For starters, you might arrive at your office, swipe your security card at the garage entrance or the front door - - and be ignored. Once you gain access to your building, try the elevator . . . good luck! After you struggle up the stairs, your phone and voice-mail system may have failed. Your computer password might be invalid due to programs that require periodic password changes and store password information in databases with 2-digit date fields. The validation program will look at that number, believe you haven’t identified a new password since 1900 - - and lock you out of your computer system.

There are some standard steps if you decide to tackle the Year 2000 on your own. The first is an Assessment of Human Resources and Awareness. Are your staff members aware of the Year 2000 issue and how it might affect their lives personally and professionally? Do they understand the issue and its importance? Who in your company fully comprehends the potential problem and has the organizational skills to lead and manage an in-house Year 2000 audit? You may need to bring in a consultant at this point to help with education and organization or to actually proceed with an audit, because:

The next step is a complete Inventory of Software & Data Resources any of which may be affected by the rollover to a new millennium, coordinated with an Inventory of Hardware Resources. A hardware resources inventory should extend beyond your computer system to include telephones, postal equipment, fax machines, and copiers. Inventory documents will include information such as: product name, model identifier, version number, serial number, purchase date, manufacturer contact information, and distributor contact information.

A Facilities Inventory is important for the safety and comfort of customers, staff members and business assets. A review of your physical workplace should extend to each and every aspect of your office and building environment. Your list may include building security, garage security, office/suite security, heating, cooling, elevators, escalators, fire alarms, sprinkler systems, kitchen appliances, break room machines, electric lines, and phone lines. Some companies run a Year 2000 Contest among employees and reward the staff member listing the largest number of software programs, hardware components, and facility items that might possibly be affected by the Year 2000 bug.

The company’s Year 2000 Strategic Plan is your map for getting it all done in time. But how much time do you have? You may think you have until 11:59:59 on January 31, 1999, but will a problem crop up when the new federal government fiscal year begins next fall? Some experts believe that February 28/March 1, 1999, is the first crucial date because systems must be adjusted to allow for February 29, 2000, the first Leap Year in a new century year in 400 years. Don’t even ask what those folks who follow the solar Julian Calendar think!

Your Year 2000 Strategic Plan probably will begin with completing inventories, contacting hardware and software distributors and manufacturers. Coordination of updates, upgrades, and data conversions, and testing will surely be scheduled as necessary. Meeting with your building staff may also be a key priority - - especially if you own the building and have tenants depending on you! Coordinating manufacturers, consultants, and deadlines with your Year 2000 manager or team is time-consuming and cumbersome, but the work will pay off once it is clear that your business is ready for the new millennium.

Year 2000 Guarantees and Testing are tricky to provide and sometimes difficult to obtain. A consultant may be most useful during this phase, but manufacturer updates, upgrades, and data conversions can handle the problem and provide the guarantees you require.

As you can see, there’s more to the Year 2000 than meets the eye. It is unlikely that any single vendor or resource can provide you with all the answers you need. After contacting the entities responsible for your software, hardware, communications, and facility components, you may still be left wondering how you’ll fare on New Year’s Day 2000. If a professional consultant isn’t in your future, these resources may lead you in the right direction:

Non-Fiction Works

Bourne, Kelly C.: Year 2000 Solutions for Dummies (For Dummies)

Chapman, Robert B.: Practical Methods for Your Year 2000 Problem : The Lowest Cost Solution

Cleenewerch, Lawrence, and Jacobs, Pamela D.: Meltdown 2000: 25 Things Your Must Know to Protect Yourself and Your Computer

De Jager, Peter, and Bergeon, Richard: Managing '00 : Surviving the Year 2000 Computing Crisis

Feiler, Jesse: Finding and Fixing Your Year 2000 Problem : A Guide for Small Businesses and Organizations

Hayes, Ian S. and Ulrich, William M.: The Year 2000 Software Crisis : The Continuing Challenge

Hyatt, Michael S.: The Millennium Bug : How to Survive the Coming Chaos

Jones, Capers: The Year 2000 Software Problem : Quantifying the Costs and Assessing the Consequences

Lefkon, Dick (Editor): Year 2000 : Best Practices for Y2K Millennium Computing

McDermott, Patrick: Solving the Year 2000 Crisis

Murray, Jerome T. and Marilyn: The Year 2000 Computing Crisis : A Millennium Date Conversion Plan

Ragland, Bryce: The Year 2000 Problem Solver : A Five-Step Disaster Prevention Plan

Yourdon, Edward and Jennifer: Time Bomb 2000 : What the Year 2000 Computer Crisis Means to You!

Zetlin, Minda: The Computer Time Bomb : How to Keep the Century Date Change from Killing Your Organization


Jason Kelly’s Y2K  It's Already Too Late, the only novel we could find about the Year 2000, is great summer reading for thriller fans. Viewers of the X-Files will also enjoy this one.

World Wide Web
The Federal Reserve Board’s Year 2000 page 
Starting point for Year 2000 information, sponsored by JBA International
A Year 2000 on-line newspaper
Legal and management information on the Year 2000
 News magazine and information source for the Year 2000
 The Everything 2000 page includes broad-appeal news and information on the year 2000
For news, vendors, and links to other Year 2000 sites
The National Bulletin Board for the Year 2000
Sponsored by Sun Microsystems
Sponsored by 2000AD, Inc., publisher of Tick, Tick, Tick . . . The Newsletter for Millennium Management
Sponsored by Westergaard. Year 2000 analysis and list serve.
Sponsored by IBM
Sponsored by Digital Equipment Corporation

For Fun and a Few Laughs 
Amusing Unforeseen Consequences of the "Millennium Bug"
The Year 2000 Fun Page
Dr. North takes the historian’s perspective on the Year 2000 and the likely impact on our society - - not for the faint-hearted.
The Millennium Meltdown Clock helps you determine exactly how much time you have left to resolve your system’s Year 2000 issues.


Try to take the Year 2000 seriously, but not too seriously. Making sure you and your business are in good shape to succeed and serve your customers professionally is always a concern, but the Year 2000 makes it crucial. Whatever you do, make certain you can enjoy New Year’s Eve 1999!

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