by Judy Whitehouse
Countdown to Y2K: Will your computer survive?
If you've been waiting for the last minute, this is it. You still have a few hours to find out if your home computers and other electronics will survive Y2K.
We can make the century change easier for our computer records if we perform system and software tests before Jan. 1, 2000.
One easy way to check your Bios (Basic Input Output System) and RTC (Real Time Clock) is to boot your system and watch for the name brand of your BIOS as the system loads. The date the system was manufactured will appear in the lower left-hand corner of that screen display. With that information, you can go to that company's Web site and follow directions to perform its Y2K
BIOS and RTC tests. Another easy way to check your system is to go to www.onmark.com and download its free BIOS Test and Fix, and test your operating system and software.
For Windows, go to http://computingcentral.msn.com/guide/year2000/msy2k/learning more/analyzer.asp. There, you can use the Microsoft Product Analyzer to perform an automatic check of your operating system and your Microsoft brand Windows applications. For Windows programs from other manufacturers, download a free demo of Assess from www.onmark.com.
With Microsoft Product Analyzer and Assess you can open a report and print out the results.
With the product analyzer's results, you then go to the Microsoft site to perform recommended updates. Assess will provide automatic links for four programs in the demo version. The full program can be downloaded and paid for online.
I discovered that even though I don't use the browser Internet Explorer, I needed the IE updates because they updated many of the Windows products I use and that share files with IE.
I also found that in the long run, I could save time and trouble by re-booting the operating system every time that prompt appeared on the screen. It helps the operating system keep track of the shared and non-shared files, so that those files stand less chance of becoming corrupted.
For Apple operating systems, go to http://www.apple.com/support/. This site did not have a link to Y2K issues, and, since the operating system was designed with four-digit years, it may have no Y2K vulnerability.
Possible Y2K problems associated with other household electronics vary, but you can find out if some are Y2K-ready on the Internet.
When I checked the year 2000 compliance of one VCR company, all of its models were compliant except four models couldn't record on Feb. 29, 2000, using the VCR Plus feature. Those VCRs could record on that day if the dates and times were set with the regular function buttons.
At one video camcorder site, all models seemed to be compliant for dates. At another, five models would display incorrect dates, but would perform other functions normally.
Appliances and automobiles
It was difficult or impossible to find out which appliances and automobiles are Y2K-ready on the Web. We consumers will have to take a non-functioning automobile or refrigerator to an authorized service center for repair or upgrade to a newer model.
Overall, however, we should cruise into the new year without much more than a bump in the road. It shows that, as the century ends, people are still capable of rallying around a cause for the greater good.