Turn date back & Use Hexadecimal system alternatives

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I have not doubt that your in-depth is more profound than many of these so called programmers or technicians doing their normal jobs.

However, I have seen couple of scenario reflect an off the wall ideas.

1). An Fortune 500 Corp-. employee stated if things were become an unsolveable point, they(Company) would comply to an turn calendar manually back 10 years or so. Is this a very optimistic outlook, how would this effect their 'normal' activities internally as well externally??

2). I saw a Software Company came up w/ a solution supposedly in postposing the Y2K collopse was to extend the last two digits of the years by suing Hexadecimal system. I also thought of the same theing several months ago. In fact this Company was supposed to patent the idea to protect its copy right.

Is this another alternative ??

Your reply is appreciated !


-- jake fomng (tjfong@juno.com), July 09, 1998


In line with Jake's queries, I'd like to know if there would be anything to the idea to a governmental type agency (like the U.N., perhaps) seeing his scenarios as a time-buying alternative and issuing a worldwide proclamation to all nations. Maybe this is too easy and only layers the confusion, whereby computers won't know just which 1980 we are referring to.

Also, aren't there any types of advancements taking place that are newsworthy? I have heard Jake's ideas before, and I have heard the Rubrik's Cube inventor making some inroads, but does this problem come down to adhering to tried and true formulaic remediation, or is there any room for inventiveness?

-- Professor K (PROFESSORK@prodigy.com), July 09, 1998.

Some of the problems with any "silver bullet" or creative invention solutions are:

1. You need the source code (which is often missing) -to give clues that data is actually date data. And even then, any software solution will miss a certain percent of uses. 2. The changed software still has to be tested, which is the biggest part of the job (50-70%). 3. Existing files and databases will probably have to be converted to the new format, a non-trivial task.

IMHO, converting the data to hexadecimal would just be another algorithm to be implemented and tested, and still would only be an interim solution, just as full of new bugs as any other approach. It would also require a new set of conversions between the machine representation and the human (printed or displayed) representation of dates, adding to the complexity.

I can see it now on the Titanic, some engineers sitting around talking about how if they took apart the wooden deck chairs and started building lifeboats (wow, if only we had thought to bring some boat building tools and caulking compound along!)... <<<<<<<<<<<<>>>

-- Dan Hunt (dhunt@hostscorp.com), July 10, 1998.

Turning the clock back will work in some very limited situations. The number of years usually suggested is 28, not 10. The day of the week falls on the same date every 28 years. The problem with this approach is that you have to modify all dates which are supplied to the program from an outside source, or pulled from an existing database. How do you ensure that your data entry clerks will subtract 28 years from every date they type?

Nonetheless, it can and will work here and there. It's simply another one of the numerous techniques people will employ to meet whatever their particular Y2k situation is.

Another technique is the use of hexadecimal numbers or some other scheme for encoding more date information into 6 digit fields. There are many variations on this - IBM suggests the use of binary coded decimal numbers. These techniques prove usefull when a company has lots of archived data, is unable to go to 4 digits, and can't effectively use "windowing". You still have to find every place in the software where you deal with dates and make complicated changes in order to handle the encoding scheme. And you still have to test all of those changes.

Speaking specifically to the Fortune 500 Corp employee. Those kinds of comments scare the shit outa me. I hope that was a peon speaking and not a manager in a responsible position. There is no way a large company could use date subtraction effectively. They have too many data sources and too little control. That type of solution could only work in the SME (small & medium enterprise) environment - and even then, it would have to be used very carefully.

-- Ed Perrault (EdPerrault@Compuserve.com), July 12, 1998.

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