A personal Y2K tale of three computers

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FWIW, I just spent a few interesting hours with our computers re Y2K.

I have 3 computers at home, one Pentium II with an ASUS motherboard bought in January of this year, a Pentium 200 with an ECS motherboard bought in Nov 1996 and another Pentium 200 with the same motherboard bought in Jan 1997. All are running Windows 98 Second Edition and have all Microsoft and application software Y2K software patches that I could find installed.

I had earlier run a free Y2K clock test program from Righttime (Test2000) on my PII and the motherboard bought in Jan 1997. Both passed and I assumed the other motherboard was ok (Yeah, I know, dumb). Figured today I better test the other computer and it failed.

So off I go and get the free Y2K test and fix software that Gary North and Y2KNewswire arranged.

Free Y2K Software

I used it to test the oldest motherboard. It's much more comprehensive 7 step clock program found the RTC (Real Time Clock) test failed, the BIOS test failed, but the DOS test passed and then it applied a fix (it does it with a TSR program called by autoexec.bat ... not as good as the add-on hardware cards available, but what the heck it's free right now). I have to sign up for free mail service to get the activation code, but I don't need to use the web-based mail if I don't want to, so OK so far.

I then retest the middle motherboard which passed earlier ... It also failed the RTC test but passed both the BIOS test and the DOS test. So I again install the fix and open a second mail account in my wife's name to activate it.

I then retest my Pentium II motherboard which is ok and doesn't need a fix. (I did have to manually remove a shortcut from startup which somehow wasn't deleted when the fix wasn't installed, but that was easy enough to figure out).

I consider myself very computer literate, having owned a computer retail business for 10 years, before retiring about 3 years ago. IMHO, for me to discover two Y2K problems on our three computers at this late stage does not bode well for the majority of people and/or businesses having a smooth Y2K rollover.

Consider me suitably humbled in the land of the snowbirds. :-))

-- John (jh@NotReal.ca), December 18, 1999


Be wary of some of the "test" programs. I saw one last year which was shareware. It did some of the most bizarre date aquisition techniques I ever saw, something like 7 to 10 different "methods". Every computer failed on some of the weirdos. We took one of the machines that "Failed" and ran every possible program on it and none of the programs showed a bad date. My conclusion is that if you are looking for flaws you will eventually find them, whether or not they will ever affect you. I feel that some of the "date" tests, that is the more bizarre, unheard of techniques are not used by any program and are put into the test to increase the likelyhood of "failure" and therefore you end up buying the "shareware" program (to get the fixer part which is not free) which has suddenly become "must have ware" because of the failure.

Just one mans opinion who has done ALOT of Y2k tests and upgrades.

BTW - RTC "on at rollover failures" are very common even for newer motherboards and virtually all are fixed by a reboot or by simply not having the box running at the moment of rollover.

-- hamster (hamster@mycage.com), December 18, 1999.

Hamster, thanks for your comments and the several valid points which you raised. The free Y2K software that Y2KNewswire arranged does both test and fix, so cost is not a factor.

Whether the TSR Y2K fix software introduces any compatiblility problems remains to be seen. The older machines are used by my wife and son to access the net and play games, so any resulting problems will not be exactly earth-shaking. < vbg >

-- John (jh@NotReal.ca), December 18, 1999.

BTW - RTC "on at rollover failures" are very common even for newer motherboards and virtually all are fixed by a reboot or by simply not having the box running at the moment of rollover.

Usually true, but not always. One of my computer was a 3-year-old Pentium 166 with a Tyan motherboard. The RTC did fail testing, and was not fixed by rebooting. Had to do a flash BIOS upgrade, and reset a jumper on the MB.

-- (RUOK@yesiam.com), December 18, 1999.

I had a bad Y2K test experience too. Several months ago I went out and purchased the Norton 2000 program and ran it on my two laptops.

Except for finding a few sample database files that contained two digit dates, and resetting the system date to four digits instead of two, it said everything was OK.

Then, about a month ago, I read a post on this forum that was talking about the Microsoft product analyzer. When I found out about it, I downloaded the software and ran their test. The report said that I had 14 different Microsoft applications, 11 of which needed "prerequisites". Long story short, the patches for Office 97 didn't work on the machine I tried it on, so they had to send me a complete new CD that I'm supposed to install. The problem is, I either have to completely remove and reinstall Office 97, or, I can install over the existing version, but I have to figure out exactly what programs and features I installed and reinstall the same way or they said it won't work (and maybe crash my machine?).

Anyway, the point is that I have all kinds of Y2K related problems with my machines, and I don't think I'll be able to get them straightened out with patches.

Lately, I've been thinking that it may be a wise decision for some businesses to fix on failure. At this point, that's pretty much where I'm at. I'm just going to have to wait till next year, then buy all new software and just set it up from scratch.

-- Clyde (clydeblalock@hotmail.com), December 18, 1999.

And in the meantime, while you're "refixing" computers just so you can continue in business, despite taking moire precautions and doing more ahead o ftime than most......you're NOT earning "new" money....

See why I figure it's very likely to have a recession simply from international problems (including, but not limited to oil) and from lost productivity here as fixes are atttempted, and attempted, and attempted again....

BUY INTEL AND MICROSOFT STOCK - millions of old machines are going to be needing replacement in very short time.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Marietta, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), December 19, 1999.

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