DOS Screens : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Since it is impossible to predict with certainty what is going to happen (requesting EVIDENCE for the future is idiotic), let's make educated guesses, based on facts. Whenever I see a terminal in business use, I try to sneak a peak of the screen. I see lots of DOS screens! These machines run DOS based programs that are bound to fail. Lots of PS/2's also, which IBM has officially orphaned from remediation support. That is understandable, because what's in them BESIDES DOS is probably as ancient as the DOS version that they were shipped with. I don't have to speculate much about the fate of those systems. The speculation is about the future of the BUSINESSES that use them. You sneak a peak also, and you will see what I am seeing, and then we can make educated guesses about the impact. WFK.

-- WFK (, November 02, 1999



How can you tell a DOS screen versus a custom application??

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, November 02, 1999.

This is so painfully true. I see tons of DOS based computers, even my sister has one, a Leading Edge model D. I see so many of these XT's, 286 and 386 and so on all running DOS 3.x to Dos 5.x. I dont know what its going to take to get these people to upgrade, I sincerely believe they will not until their machines fail and they come running to people like me begging to help them figure out what they have to do.

People will have to get new hardware and new software and then learn the operating systems basic functions and then learn the new programs that replace their old ones. If they have data they have to hope their is a way to export it from their old programs, massage it to conform to correct date formats and then import it into the new systems. The week of the rollover we WILL see millions of people staring at non-functional machines and they wont have any way to use them unless they roll their clocks back and hope it wont affect their work.

-- hamster (, November 02, 1999.

If you go to Microsoft's website they state that they are only checking MSDOS ver 5.0 and up. I looked at ver 6.2. There are basically three problems:

1) MSBACKUP won't recognize any dates later than 12/31/1999 correctly. If you use MSBACKUP, find another way to do it - fast.

2) The DIR command will not display the century but will sort it correctly.

3) The DATE command will not recognize a 2 digit year correctly after 12/31/1999. Nor will it recognize a 2 digit year earlier than 1980. However, in both cases, it will recognize the century correctly if you enter it with 4 digits.

So the more recent versions of MSDOS are not TOO bad. They can be worked around without much problem

-- Tim Jacob (, November 02, 1999.

I have posted info before about my bro-in-law's participation in the failing remediation of a chemical processing plant (subsidiary of F500 company claiming 100% compiance). In a conversation this past weekend he told me that the plant uses a lot of 286's running DOS 3.X (especially in quality assurance). He also stated that he and others in the IT department have now put orange stickers, reading "not compliant" on most of their equipment. The same subsidiary has another plant about 50 miles away from this one, also a hazardous chemical processor, that he states has done *no* Y2k work (not even assessment). At this point, both plants intend to shut down 12/31/1999 until 1/3/2000, whereupon they intend to fix on failure.

-- (, November 02, 1999.

To K. Stevens: You cannot. A DOS screen (80 characters/line, no graphics)reveals what's UNDERNEATH the "custom program" that you see (e.g., a handknitted Fox Pro application program riding on PCDOS6, good night...) I am only making the point because there is still, 2 months before the deadline) the opinion that Y2k is a matter of attitude! These screens are so nicely visible to us casual or frequent customers of businesses that will have a heck of a problem when they use their PC the first days of January. WFK

-- WFK (, November 02, 1999.

It should be clear that DOS itself isn't the problem. The DOS "date" command isn't really part of the OS itself, it's a utility. There is a DOS call a program can make to get the date, but that call uses a 4- digit year, which DOS handles correctly. Similarly, programs don't use the "dir" command directly. I've never heard of *anyone* who relies on MSBACKUP, it's terrible!

None of this means that any DOS application may be compliant or not. This depends entirely on the application itself (and in some cases, what you use the application for and how it's used). But you cannot simply assume that if it's a DOS app, it's not compliant, and "bound to fail".

DOS business applications tend to use dates. It would be informative to enter dates in the next century and see what happens. Errors (if any) must be judged on a case-by-case, field-by-field basis. I'm sure there are DOS apps that will fall over dead.

-- Flint (, November 02, 1999.

And, more likely, the DOS-based/older PC's themselves that may fail.

More to the point, if an application is that old - and I agree, I see many huindreds of them, them it is a very strong indicator that the program itself (which thus includes its data behind the screen....) is NOT remediated.

So the data may become corrupted, if the PC itself runs, and the "transferred to" data that the program exchanges files with is more likely to become corrupted: payrolls, accounting, taxes, medical/medicare records.....inventory, vacation records - you name it.

A good point though - is that many of these same smaller businesses do a lot of their stuff purely manually - so the person (we hope) can correct and "re-enter" good data. Sears (National Tire and Battery) stillhas old screens though - and they AREN'T small nor can they run things manually.....

Notice that the newer screens - which are an indication of the program (and thus the company) being remediated - are almost all Win95 or NT-based screens. People don't seem to want to invest the effort in updating old dBase III/IV screens though.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, November 02, 1999.

DOS ITSELF (flint...). PC DOS up to unfixed version 7.0 (I don't know about MSDOS.) Scenario: battery dead and replaced, insert Systems Dislette, feed date: accepts TWO digits only. Feed 00. DOS reply: INVALID DATE, try again. You cannot get beyond that point without the PCDOS 7 fix ("Fix is windowed".) Forget your applications. "None of that means if DOS is compliant or not?" You got to be kidding! WFK

-- WFK (, November 02, 1999.

Hi Robert,

The old dBase stuff had a SET CENTURY ON command that would return 4 digit years. I'm hardly an xBase expert, having "played" with dBase III many years ago, and Foxpro a few years later. But it seems to me that if the CENTURY option has always been used in a system, there should be few problems with xBase applications. That if, plus if the BIOS works, and if the version of DOS works, and if in fact the older versions of xBase really do what they're supposed to come 2000...

It's the thousands of other non-xBase systems that bother me.

See ya! Tick... Tock... <:00=

-- Sysman (, November 03, 1999.


I hope you can help me out here a bit. By your description, I assumed you were booting PC-DOS from a blank, formatted system disk? In that case, there is no AUTOEXEC.BAT file, so by default DOS prompts for the time and date. This is a carryover from the PC and XT days, since those models had no battery, and you needed to reset time and date every boot.

(Geek Joke: What do you get when you cross Lee Iacocca with Dracula? AUTOEXEC.BAT)

Anyway, I tried this with several versions of MS-DOS and two versions of DR DOS (I couldn't find a copy of PC-DOS). The date utility displays the current date, using four digits for the year. Then it prompts you for a new date, and the format of the *prompt* is (mm-dd- yy). And it's true that if you follow this format, you can't enter 00 as the year. But all versions I could find allowed you to enter a 4- digit year, and 2000 worked just fine on all of them.

If this isn't what you meant, can you be more specific? If the DOS date command won't accept a 4-digit year millions of people will be astounded. Even PC-DOS users.

-- Flint (, November 03, 1999.

But I've had several older PC's (DOS 6.2/Win3.x) that took the 2000+ dates, a couple that even "Crossed over" at midnight okay, but failed to reboot (or booted with a 1980 date) if re-started after the datewas reset to post-2000.

Seems to vary with operating system/BIOS etc. Ah well, many surprises in store for all.


BTW, did/does the dBase III/IV automatically store dates in 4 digit format if the default date format field is defined? This is with respect to the actual information in the .dbf, not the format displayed in the data entry field. (Don't have have an older database on this NT box, so can't easily check.)

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (, November 03, 1999.

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