The bugs that time forgot ...; So you thought you had until January 1, 2000AD? Well, it seems that short-sighted programing wasn't limited to our PCs.
You're out of time. The Millennium Bug that time forgot hits at a second past midnight on August 21, 1999.
That's when the world's Global Positioning Systems forget what day it is - and possibly where they are.
Just as the Millennium Bug was a short-sighted bit of programing which won't let a PC count past 1999, the GPS was equally blinkered.
The Global Positioning System consists of 24 satellites orbiting the earth.
At any time, four are available, from anywhere on the surface of the Earth, to provide, with suitable recievers, the possibility of letting someone on Earth pinpoint their geographical location to within metres.
The military use them. Giant automated supertankers use them. Aircraft, big and small, use them. Climbers and some cars use them and, for them all to work properly, they need an accurate time reference.
But, on August 21, they all click back to their incept date, because someone decided that roughly 20 years was a good time cycle. So, 1024 weeks later, every GPS reciever will think it's January 6, 1980.
And no-one can guarantee that those not fixed - and there are more than a few - will not give out false locations.
THAT news should have even more people scrambling for online's most-wanted - the Amish.
Yes, them from the Harrison Ford film, Witness. Bearded. Luddite. And that's only the women.
However, they have survived the entire 20th century without electricity, TVs or cars - so they are now the people to turn to if you want to survive the 21st. And, strangely for a people not allowed to use computers or electricity, they have several slick sales websites.
FIVE months to go and you can really taste that US hysteria - there are programers who are sleepless in Seattle and run a "deathpool" on the number of Americans who will die as a result of Y2K - around 18 million is a conservative estimate.
But everything's okay. Inspired by 20 years of research into computers and psychokinesis at Princeton, Uri Geller's Millennium Bug Buster goes on sale soon - a furry thing you use to invoke psychic energy to beat the bug.
So that's it sorted,then.
THE perfect place for the Net's Private Frasers, though, has to be the website helping programers deal with the stress of the Millennium Bug.
Yes, computer staff, it seems, are being driven neurotic by the responsibility of saving the world, or losing their jobs if their Year 2000 project fails.
ONE reason they could be going ga-ga is that GPS meltdown isn't the only forgotten bug.
Get round that one and you have September 9, 1999. Not only is there a nasty virus expected on that date, but 9/9/99 has a mystical significance to programers - they used nines to mean shutdown, a holdover from the days of punchcards which was never sorted. Get a lot of nines together and some computers will go on holiday.
AFTER that, you can relax, of course. Pick up the pieces of the Y2K crash, bury the dead, pick through the wreckage, write the memoirs and then forget all about it. Wrong. A month later we have February 29, 2000 - is it a Leap Year or not? Years divisible by four and 400 are, according to the "rules" for these things. The last makes 2000 a Leap Year - but a lot of computers won't realise this. Enter Millennium Bug 2.
FIXING that should end it all though, surely. Er, no. September 8, 2001 sees UNIX, a venerable system used by many offices worldwide, reach countdown meltdown. It counts time from midnight, January 1, 1970 - and, when it clicks over to 999,999,999 it may go bananas.
NO more, I hear you shout. Go away and take your (expletive deleted) bugs with you. Well, I will - but only until January 19, 2038, when UNIX finally can't count any further.
http://www.openvms.digital.com/openvms/announcements/year-2000/2038b.htmlco.uk/ ru 2k.htmlWhoops, apocalypseWELL, we're okay if you believe the official soothing balm from the likes of www.bug2000.gov.uk - but is everyone else? Here's a few official quotes to let you know how bugged the rest of the world is.
"We will be a test case of what happens when you don't solve the problems." - Russian software engineer responsible for Y2K solutions.
"This is an American problem. Our software engineers don't make mistakes." - German software engineer responsible for Y2K solutions.
"So we have a few power outages - that's a daily occurence here." - Pakistan software engineer responsible for Y2K solutions.
"It's not that Y2K is solved - it's just that all our highly-trained IT people earned more money elsewhere, so they haven't been here to create the problem in the first place." - Indian software engineer responsible for Y2K solutions.
"To be honest, Y to K bemuses me, but I have finished converting all the ys to ks for all the months on the company calendars." - Reputed email sent from Zimbabwe's Y2K project manager.
TECHLIFE Q&AQ WHEN I used Explorer 4 as my browser I could turn off the graphics. Now I have Netscape and can't seem to do it. - M. Thompson, Glasgow.
AUNDER Edit/Preferences there is a facility which is tagged as "automatically load images". Clear it and check it and you will no longer load graphics.
QI HAVE an animation of a firework which was sent to me by e-mail. It is very nice, but I don't want it. I have tried to delete the file, but am presumably doing something wrong - and the animation gets sent with every new e-mail. - J. Dodds, Rutherglen.
AI BET it came marked "Happy99.exe. "Sadly, you have picked up a virus of the type known as a "worm". The only way to get rid of it is to use a good virus killer.
Q WHY can't I download Hotmail messages to my Outlook Express? I use Tools/ Send And Recieve All, but it starts loading and just seems to keep on going without actually achieving anything - and then has the cheek to tell me there's been "no activity". - S. Johnson, Edinburgh.
A THE combination of Outlook Express and Hotmail hates proxy servers such as Freeserve - try disabling it. To get an existing Hotmail account with Outlook, go to Tools/Accounts. Click the Add button and select Mail from it. Then enter your name and Hotmail address and, when you are asked for a server type, select HTTP rather than POP3 or IMAP.
TECHLIFE TIPS Webpage serversGETTING WEBPAGES ONLINE: Now that you have struggled through the vagaries of getting online, seen some of the website efforts and decided you can do better. The first thing you have to do is choose a server, someone to host your webpage. Usually, this is done by getting webspace, measured in megabytes. Chances are your ISP already does it, but here are some alternatives.
GEOCITIES: Recently taken over by Yahoo! it offers 11Mb and is one of the most popular choices for those who want to create their own webpages. Once registered, you can use their GeoBuilder program - which means no laborious HTML. Sadly, you will be stuck with a compulsory and annoying ad.
FORTUNECITY: Offers 20Mb of free webspace and a page construction system which also bodyswerves HTML, though you'll need a modern browser.
XOOM!: Their Easy Page Builder and extensive tutorials make creating a webpage simple - and they offer unlimited space to do it in.(www.xoom.com)Jawa dreams
For more information, contact Lego on 0845 606 2043Sounds too good ... Get that surround sound effect through headphones with the MDR DS500, for pounds 400.
For more information, contact Sony on 0990 111999Street smart ... Slam in a CD and you could be getting directions to your destination instead of Queen's Greatest Hits - theTravelPilot RNS 149 does both for pounds 1100
For more information, contact Blaupunkt on 01895 834466Light relief ... The Sapphire Lifetime Light has a blue sapphire crystal that extends light in a 180-degree radius visible a mile away - in a key ring.
For more information, contact Sherwoods on 0121 236 7211
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Aug 14, 1999|
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