Re: TW role in Y2K issues

Subject: Re: TW role in Y2K issues
From: Steve Fouts <stefou -at- ESKIMO -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 12 May 1997 09:37:48 -0700

Why is it that when I try to be brief, as I believe this media
warrants, I end up defending myself from folks who pick nits
with items that I purposefully glossed over as unimportant?

Maynard Hogg <maynard -at- gol -dot- com> wrote:

>At [Wed, 7 May 1997 14:10:58 -0700]
>Steve Fouts <stefou -at- ESKIMO -dot- COM> spouted forth:
>> Most IBM compatible PCs are incapable of handling the change.
>> So any PC software that uses the system clock to tell it what
>> day it is could be in a world of hurt. Interestingly, Mac OS
>> was designed in 1984 to correctly handle dates until the middle
>> of the next century.
>Typical nonsense from a rabid Mac lover! (For the record, I have an
>ancient Mac IIvi.)

Typical reaction. Discounting what I have to say without discussing
the issues. I am not a rabid Mac lover. I am sitting here before a
Compaq Deskpro running Windows '95.

However, the Macintosh was designed so that the hardware date and
time is stored as the number of seconds since January 01, 1904, so
it correctly handles dates until its 32-bit counter rolls over
some time in the middle of the 21st century.

>(a) The DOS real-time clock (hardware) date functions (Int 1Ah, funcs 04h
>and 05h) use four BCD fields: century, year, month, and day.

[Accurate, but irrelevant facts deleted]

>There's nothing wrong with the operating systems or (despite the
>woefully ignorant scaremongering in the press) hardware. It's lazy
>programmers that are at fault.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! A vast majority of the PCs available on the
market today still have CMOS that has a two digit year
representation. The problem is "fixed" by ROM BIOS at boot time.
Many PC programs ignore the BIOS supplied date and pick up the
CMOS RTC date. Whether this is laziness or some other vice is
irrelevant. I was simply responding to the man that posted that
it was a mainframe problem, not relevant in his PC world. I
was pointing out that it is a problem in the PC world. I did
not intend to get into the technical details, which I consider
extra-topical to this group.

People that really want to know about the issue can do a web
search and come up with enough reading to keep themselves
immersed until the millennium.

>> Beyond that, I get to do a few updates as the programs switch from YY
>> to YYYY, and the rest of the headache is very firmly in IS. Just where
>> are we going to find space in a packed data array to store the
>> century? Sure glad it's not my job.
>Here Steve falls into the same trap that caused the problem in the first
>place: Just because the full century number requires four digits/characters
>in its *ASCII* representation (1997=31393937H), who says that you have
>to store it that way inside the computer?

Wrong again. I didn't fall into any traps. I only document the outward
appearences of the inner changes. Most of the time, that consists of
changing fields that only accept two digits to fields that accept four.
I didn't say a single blessed word about internal representation. I
don't care if they store it internally as binary coded roman numerals.
Doesn't affect me in a professional way. It doesn't affect the user

I am not sticking my head in the sand and I am not, as Maynard seems
to want to portray me, reactionary or tragically under-informed.

_______________ _____
/ ___ __/__\ \ / / _\ Steve Fouts stefou -at- eskimo -dot- com
/___ \| | ___\ | / __\ "To think of all the adorable things there are
/ / \ | \ / \ to eat in the world, and then to go through
/_______/__|_______\_/________\ life munching sawdust and being proud of
it." --Saki

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