Embedded System/chip Draft Report to UK Governmentgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Year 2000 Problem and Water : One Thread
Natural Time Progression Report 12th December 1998. An Analysis of the Y2K Non date retention BIOS problem and recommendations on the Millennium Century Date Change Campaign with in UK
(Updates the Natural Time Report 30 June 1998)
Report on BIOS Date Non Retention Millennium Rollover from 31st December 1999 to 1st January 2000 and Natural Time Progression.
Note: This document can be copied and circulated and orally related as long as full acknowledgment is made to the originators, Visionaries IT Research. This document is posted at http://visit.internet2000-Plc.com for public viewing.
The Brief. *One of the main problems concerning not only PC Computer Systems but also Embedded Systems is the date retention problem. Visionaries IT have carried out tests on a varied range of computer systems that are prone to the date retention problem and have the following facts to report.
Visionaries IT have considered present thoughts and theories concerning PC Servers and time-date related Embedded systems and those systems that are tasked for specific purposes such as public safety or banking transaction and trading. After thorough research and benchmark testing, Visionaries IT have found that there is no real requirement to apply any software fix or upgrade.
The Reason: The simple fact is that the date retention problem only lasts for 24 hours.
Whilst on line (permanently switched on) prior to midnight 1st January 2000, a computer system or embedded system troubled by the retention problem will register the correct system date and time but when switched off will not retain the date. The systems relate only to the system time processed and stored in RAM memory. Whilst online, natural time progression leads to natural date progression and the normal system functions will not be interrupted in any way throughout the 24 hour Real Time Clock non date retention period.
In most cases at midnight on 1st January 2000, the daily rollover to the following day 2nd January 2000, will eradicate the problem in an instant. If the system is taken off line, i.e.: switched off, the date will be saved and registered in the correct manner.
(Prior to running any benchmark test, ensure that important data is backed up)
The Millennium Ready Benchmark. . This benchmark test can be run on any 8086, 386, 486 or Pentium with a non date retention problem:
Set the Date to the last day of the 20th Century and the time to the last second.
At the DOS prompt type:
"Date 31/12/1999" (Set the Date) - Press the Enter Key
" Time 23:59:59" (Set the Time) - Press the Enter Key
Then leave the Computer System running for 24 Hours plus 1 Minute
Then close the system down (Windows 95, 98) and finally switch off.
Wait for a couple of minutes then switch the system on again. Once booted, view the system date.
At the DOS prompt type:
"Date" - Press the Enter Key
The date should read 2nd January 2000. If so, this proves that Natural Time Progression (NTP) will solve the problem.
What have we learnt:
That System Time does naturally progress and the system date progresses at each 24-Hour interval.
That Personal Computer systems which are up and running prior to the non retention period, will have no problem concerning loss of data or transactions whilst on line.
That if there is a time correction, there would be a non date retention problem thereafter.
On the process of debate open to experts on the electronic highway, we have found that there are too many experts and professionals within all professional bodies including the IT industry who have a lack of knowledge on the real problems they are offering services for. The IT specialists listed on the DTI Action 2000 web site would seem to have forgotten the Basic Computer Science studied within the first year at university or college concerning the BUS operations, BIOS software procedures, CMOS memory allocation and the Real Time Clock operations. Many wrongly suggest that the non-BIOS date retention problem is hardware related. The Y2K Software and OS problems have been confused with the BIOS software problem. We recommend that a test is taken by technicians prior to being recommended or seen as being recommended by the CSSA, Action 2000, DTI or its Agencies or any such organisation.
That there is a need for some form of ombudsman to police the IT Industries efforts on eradicating the Millennium Century Date Change problem. The present system and administration is not really seen to be a responsible and professional way to handle a problem that could affect United Kingdom trade, export, imports and day to day business transaction.
Any problems that affect Trade and Industry, will cause a recession and high Y2K expenses will lead to many companies down sizing and a rise in unemployment. At the present, non-administrated systems are producing a set of future problems due to unregulated software tools, metrologies, and lack of real skills that will certainly cause more problems than any Millennium bug. Many of these extra problems will have already been introduced to PC systems causing future timebomb's that will certainly be the cause for concern.
That our earlier advice related to government and the Parliamentary Select Science Committee was not fully implemented. Standards were not set and our proposed Millennium Act was not treated seriously to protect consumers and to give more control to the authorities and the methods used to ensure that the IT companies carried out a more responsible approach to provide solutions. It is thought that greater concern should be taken by government to ensure that the governments' responsibility to the well being of the British public is upheld. It is obvious that more control is required, plus the implementation of the earlier suggested Millennium Certification, before any further step forward is taken.
That there is a need for a sensible well policed Internet Y2K Forum, where valid Y2K information can be exchanged. That research centres can test suggestions, benchmarks, and theories so that unbiased correct reporting can be produced. "Hands across the water". Equally, Personal Computer and Embedded System BIOS ROM's that do not fit the standard pattern can be posted for reference (after being tested by independent research analysts). The Internet should be used fullest extent as a useful and helpful IT tool. This will aid the Millennium Century Date Change crisis so that myths and theories can be squashed as these could be the cause of more problems than solutions, adding unnecessary high Y2K budget expenses.
Therefore, what secondary safeguards are there left to consider?
That system networks linked to a timeserver would be instantly rid of the non-date retention problem. That systems linked to an Internet time update service will be instantly rid of the non-date retention problem. That systems using an in-house timeserver would be instantly rid of the non-date retention problem.
Information about timeservers can be found at http://Visit.Internet2000-Plc.com
If these safeguards are imposed, then timeservers could be set up at the Greenwich Millennium Dome with visual log displays to show the public how such a simple safeguard has been used to safeguard against world recession etc. (good PR)?
This report is still open to debate and will always remain so until Year 2001.
Notes: Of course, those that prefer to use the Windows Control Panel Time and Date settings can still do so, do not forget to close Windows 95 or 98 down before switching off the PC System.
Computerised Equipment (containing Embedded Systems) can also be tested in a similar manner by using the appropriate key entries (Read the Operations Manuals). Summary: There is no real need to purchase BIOS ROM fix software applications, as the normal date progression will eradicate the problem completely. However, safeguards should be used to give peace of mind.
We have found no proof that any PC system purchased after 1990 will show the system date as being recorded as a 2-digit year after the 31st December 1999. However, we wish to be informed of the brand, model number, the BIOS ROM, make, and serial numbers of such beasts if they do really exist. It seems to be a software application problem only.
Workstations and servers that have the retention problem and are switched off at night will need only the date entered on the first day of operation.
They will be fully functional; it is only that the date will initially read 4th January 1980. In any case, most workstations will be relating to the servers network date when directed and connected to the Network giving plenty of time for the individual dates to be adjusted (these factors should be analysed by system managers).
This natural safeguard will in fact be relevant to any system using BIOS technology, including Embedded Systems. Whatever the customisation, it is believed that 99% of BIOS ROM's purchased after 1983 will react safely after the 24-hour Millennium NTP period passes by.
*Photocopiers, Fax Machines, and VCR's react exactly the same as PC Systems and can be tested in the same manner. Unfortunately, Visionaries IT do not have the resources to confirm that all Embedded System strictly obey the rule, so we can only state logical theory that this should be so. Those that we have benchmarked would seem to fulfil the logical pattern.
These factors however, should be taken into account:
That many Embedded Systems are only used as counters and do not relate to the time or date, once the computerised equipment is turned off the date resets to the BIOS ROM floor of 4th January 1980. They are not backed up by battery.
Many Embedded systems relate to Sunday to Monday, and the time only. Once the computerised equipment is turned off the date resets to the BIOS ROM floor of 4th January 1980. E.g. VCRs, Alarm Systems and Lawn Sprinklers etc. They are not backed up by battery.
Many Embedded Systems relate only to the time, once the computerised equipment is turned off, the date resets to the BIOS ROM floor of 4th January 1980. E.g. Cookers, Microwaves etc. They are not backed up by battery.
*Those that do use the Time and Date functions, normally function the same as PC Systems, and the testing procedure should be based on the same principles.
*We suggest that UK Government Departments arrange for an establishment to independently check out the Millennium-ready System Benchmark on computerised equipment containing Embedded Equipment, as we only relate to those that are purely built around the Intel type /DOS BIOS ROM. It would be a good idea to set up a sensible related Internet Forum specifically for Analysts and Engineers to swap test results and actual Embedded System Facts.
Lifts, Fax Machines, and other equipment such as VCR's will function well without any foreseeable problems. There may be problems, that is of course a power cut or failure, which could require direct attention within the Millennium NTP period. It is suggested that companies may find the best protection would be to ensure computer systems managers are on duty or call out during the Millennium NTP period. This could also be a precaution, to ensure that business and security systems can be checked or taken off line if data errors occur, to prevent any further corruption or costly mistakes.
This report is not a statement that computerised equipment should not be tested, but that upgrading and renewal should always take lower priority to ensure that budgets are kept low and the consumer is aware of all options.
Our findings are a clear statement that the mild BIOS ROM software fault will not be the cause to civil unrest, national disaster, planes falling from the sky, atomic disaster or any other silly problem. As Computers and software can be tested very simply within a 21st Century environment it is thought that 21st Century Operation facts can be obtained very easily if more responsible control is placed by government. At present we have an army of unqualified fortune hunters bringing utter confusion to the Y2K problem, that will lead the road to utter confusion and expensive mistakes. We have but one chance at getting it right, with just enough time to set responsible and effective safeguards in place.
Notes: All benchmark tests are carried out three times, to be sure that the test results are correct. Visionaries IT are not making any statement that Computerised equipment should not be tested, only that great consideration should be made that upgrading or renewal should be the last option and not the first. We are actually stating that establishments and experts should take great care to manually benchmark test equipment before making bold statements that could backfire into a legal risk.
The problem with Information Technology is that the Consultants and Specialists behave like academics and make even the simple technologies seem like an Einstein equation. When their reasoning is attacked, they use the wizardry of the trade, more Einstein equations to protect their livelihoods. This is becoming very expensive to the Consumer and the Taxpayer. A question for the experts and manufacturers that know the truth of the issue.
Prior to any test being carried out it may be best to backup all PC system data as a few applications have a way of retrieving the delete old file option from the date. They do normally prompt yes or no, but human error could result in a minor calamity. Several readers of the first draft brought this to our attention. We thank them for their sensible input and fair criticism. We value criticism from any outside source, from free thinking analysts and solution providers.
We feel that many of the good safeguards related within the proposed Rt. Hon David Atkinson MP. Millennium Act show that David's and our original fears are now showing to be a reality that the consumers and stock holders require their rights to be protected. Many of the points researched by Visionaries IT require reviewing by government, the Bill has not been observed for its importance to the well being of Trade and Industry.
(c) Visionaries IT 1998 for free distribution.
Analysis of BIOS Software Hexadecimal (Machine Code) source code:
Most BIOS ROM's manufactured between 1983 and 1995 contain two software date loops. The first is a 20th Century loop that finishes at Midnight 31/12/99. The second 21st Century loop begins at midnight 01/01/2000. This 24-hour period causes an error to occur. On an error, the BIOS date reverts to the floor of 04/01/80, the very beginning of the 20th century loop. OEM manufacturers are oblivious to the problem as the accepted date and time BIOS program code has been copied, used and thought to be a set standard. Any amendment to the software has been an additive to the original code with no amendments to standard format.
For background material on Basic Computer Science concerning BIOS ROM, CMOS, Real Time Clock, and the BUS please visit http://internet2000-plc.com http://internet2000-plc.com Year 2000 section. We have links to Universities and the prominent Doctors and Professor's study notes used by 1st Year Computer Science Graduates.
Unfortunately many publications and policies on the Millennium Century date problem need to be reviewed and amended, anything less will lead to high risks of legal address by many consumers. Y2K Policies should not be built on non-researched theories.
We now wish to make a witness statement to the Parliamentary Select Science and Technology Committee as it is thought that the recommendations made within its April 1998 recommendations to the House of Commons, need to be reviewed due to the evidence provided by this report. We also feel that many of Taskforce 2000's views should be taken into consideration, mainly the time factor scenario. Author: Robin Johnson-Perkins Research Analyst for Internet2000 UK Ltd. (Visionaries IT Research).
-- Bob Johnson-Perkins (Bob@Internet2000-Plc.com), December 24, 1998