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Example research essay topic: Year 2000 Problem Millennium Bug - 2,087 words

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The year 2000 problem could have been completely prevented had some early people envisioned the degree to which the microprocessor would change our lives. Surely, no one would have thought that in the early days of ENIAC that everything from your alarm clock to your car would be computerized. Even the IT managers of the 80 's could not be blamed: The disk space savings from dropping the two digits of the date over 100 Million Records would represent almost 200 Megabytes! Space requirements aside, overhead on search times and disk loading / access are also added. Surely one could have designed a system whereby the program would be aware of the century, regardless of the data records used. Hindsight is always 20 / 20 however, and this was almost never the case.

Regardless where you address the problem from, the year 2000 problem is a huge, expensive and international one. In many cases it is a problem lined with doubt as to it's effects. This paper will analyze the various aspects to the year 2000 problem, classical and software solutions to the problem, and present the author's ideas on how a systematic approach to the "millennia virus" can prevent doomsday from becoming a reality for many information technology managers and their corporations. What, specifically, is this "millennia virus" to begin with? There has been much talk about it, and most people know it has something to do with the date formats and how the computer processes them. How it is affecting that processing is what the key to implementing a solution is.

There are several forms the "bug" will metamorphose into. For example: Field / Date Processing "Will all be affected by the problem? "OLD will seem YOUNG, a FEW moments will seem like an ENTIRE century, FUTURE events will have -- Duncan G. Cornwall; Global Software, Inc. The scope of this problem is immense. The awareness and information available on this problem is growing rapidly, as a observation of the rate at which the amount of information available on the Internet has been growing. An advanced search of "year AND 2000 AND problem" through the Altavista index yielded over 60, 000 pages!

Even this volume of information does not sufficiently judge the magnitude of the problem. Early IBM-PC machines and compatibles will be rendered useless for date applications without running software patches as the system clocks on the hardware level will not handle the four-letter date format. This problem is not only limited to personal computers and mainframes, however. Most electronic devices that make use of dates will have serious unpredictable problems.

The micro controllers that are in car ignition control systems, clocks, microwaves, and even nuclear weapons all suffer from the same problem. The unpredictable effects come from both the microprocessor used in the device and the compiler or linker used to generate the code. As any programmer knows, when software is given a input which it does not expect, anything can happen. Anything ranging from an error message to a serious program crash. The material effects of these could be anything from your BIOS preventing your computer from booting to your car not starting the morning after your Strange effects have already begun to occur with many programs on the PC platform not understanding the 2000 -year field, or when it is entered, defaulting to 00 or 1900. This is of particular concern with widespread versions of home database and spreadsheet software becoming obsolete unless patches are released to fix this behavior.

For many companies, however, the attitude has been to make a complete upgrade of the software necessary - hardly an ideal solution for the home user. "According to a variety of experts, it will take, on average, 6 months to do and impact analysis of the systems before beginning another three to six months worth of pilot projects. Then, production itself could easily take a couple of years, depending on the size of your business and the availability of resources. And those resources, whether in-house or outside services, will become increasingly scarce as time runs out: "We " re telling people to book their services by the second half of 1996 -- Bruce Hall, IT Expert, January 1996 Datamation Magazine Estimated man hour replacement costs for a large corporation Comments Lines of Code Estimated Man Hours Manufacturing System 1, 200, 000 2, 000 COTS Software Provider 8, 800, 000 116, 300 -- Source: "The Millennium Mess" by CACI Incorporated Several machines have already started to exhibit millennium bug. The Unisys 2000, ironically named, uses a signed integer to represent the 8 th bit of the year field, meaning that it failed on the first day of 1996.

Several credit card systems have problems that cause cards entered with a year of 00 to be designated as invalid. Some insurance companies cannot sell 5 -year annuities because their systems will not accept date Hardware system problems have not gotten a lot of attention in relation to the year 2000 problem, and their is little in the way of resources available to determine if any particular system will be venerable to the millennium problem at a hardware level. There is another aspect of the year 2000 problem as well: Convincing IT managers that they need to act in advance. There is a prevailing theory that a "magic bullet" will appear to resolve the problems. All indicators do not point in this direction. This problem is compounded by the lack of professional resources available to deal with and repair the problem.

Analysts estimate that resources should have been allocated in most mid to large-size companies by the end of 1996. This point has passed and still most companies have not acted. Part of this is that it is difficult to justify spending large amounts of money just to remain in business. IBM estimates that they will need to modify over 50 Million lines of code at an estimated cost of $ 20 Million dollars.

The end result of which is to make the software work the same on January 1 st, 2000 as it did on December 31 st, 1999. The media is not helping matters, either. While almost everyone has heard about the year 2000 problem, few people realize the potential for disaster. The attention that the problem has received is minor accounts of interesting "horror stories", mainly centered around inconveniences The problem itself is deceptively simple: To the layman, it's only the date. How much of an impact could the difference between 99 and 2000 be? There has been no news coverage of a successful business going under because of improper planning and preparation.

Those are the stories that scare managers into allocating the resources that are required to deal with the problem effectively. Unfortunately for most, those stories will The degree to which most large computer systems are networked and interdependent compounds all of these problems. Even extra-enterprise systems can cause losses for a company; If your widgets need titanium lug nuts and the logout supplier thinks that it's 1900, you won't be getting any lug nuts and will be unable to produce widgets. Banking systems are particularly sensitive to this kind of crash as there are hundreds and thousands of nodes in their networks; Consider how many Interact / Credit Card / Automated Teller systems are in place now! If the software (or firmware) in any one of these systems is not working properly it can cause problems anywhere in the network. These problems could range from money not being added and deducted from accounts properly, problems with interest and financial forecast situations, or even a complete crash of the network.

Compounding this - 2000 is a leap year. Some programs (Including Lotus and Lotus-Compatible worksheets) do not recognize Feb 29 th, 2000. (Datamation Magazine, Jan. The latter touches on an important aspect of the problem. There is no definitive answer to a manager's question of "what will happen to my program?" The all-encompassing answer is that it depends. Some operating systems will default back to their creation date (1990 for MS-Windows 3. 1; 1980 for MS-DOS machines). Some programs will do the same, or interpret the year as 2000.

Others still will work sporadically and output random data. Some will crash altogether. Some other applications are based around a client server model. The server may be able to be modified to cope with a larger year field, but the client programs, often off-the-shelf, cannot be modified and in many cases are no longer supported! The problem, then, is very subjective and ambiguous - there "For once in our lives, " says de Jager, "it doesn't matter the size of the project, how many resources, how much money you have - the deadline -- Peter de Jager, Year 2000 Consultant, quoted from Datamation magazine There are several issues as to software and the insurance and the potential liability for program failures of this magnitude. One of the questions that information technology managers are being asked about the year 2000 situation is "who's to blame?" .

While this is a new occupancy on the millennium bug field, and not much information was available, it is conceivable that external contractors who provided software may be faced with expensive lawsuits related to the inevitable failure of their The insurance industry has already looked at the issue and determined that companies will not be able to claim software failures (such as) the millennium bug under most plans unless specifically defined, as it was an intrinsic problem with the software and not something which would have been unexpected and unavoidable. Programmers who have "professional oversight or neglect" clauses in their consulting insurance plans may be able to claim this, if sued. Affected corporations will no doubt be looking into ways to assign financial liability to others, as a way to defer what can be enterprise-crippling expenditure. While not a solution in it's own right, assigning blame and negligence in this matter will be a part of a corporation's solution matrix, especially if their development contracts for their software are clear in this respect.

Other personnel which may be found liable for failure to act could face being fired or disciplined - something which is also just as sure to happen when upper management is forced to deal with a large failure or shutdown caused by a failure to act on the 2000 "Gartner Group, Inc. , an information technology research firm, has estimated that it will cost between $ 300 billion to $ 600 billion to correct the Year 2000 problem worldwide. " -- Legal Issues Surrounding the 2000 Bug, by Jeff Janet "The U. S. Department of Defense, for example, plans to solve the problem Possible Solutions to the 2000 Problem The Key Solution: ISO 8601 Standard Date Formats. The real solution for preventing this is to write software to standards. The wonderful thing about the computer industry, it is said, "If you like standards, there are a lot to choose from. " There is, however, such a format.

The International Standards Organization has a standard for the formatting of the date and time for electronic computing devices. The objective would be then to get the software compliant with this international standard. If this had have been done from the beginning, there would not be this dilemma. Indeed, the problem originates from programmers not writing software to accepted standards, or even being aware that they exist. Getting the software there, unfortunately, is the hard part. There is a need for this consistent adherence to the standard.

This provides a means whereby the interchange of date information can be facilitated between systems. Why is this important? Most computer systems are networked and sharing information between many different operating systems and programs through the use of common protocols, like TCP/IP (Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol). Thus many systems are sharing largely incompatible and / or incomplete (the source of the The solution for this is to provide the complete date information in the form outlined by ISO 8601.

The implementation of this is quite simple, and an OOP (Object Oriented Programming) approach is to define a date class and use a date object to represent chronological information. An example of this is the Java. util. date class provided in the Sun Microsystems JDK 1. 0 package. This allows for all relevant information to be dynamically shared between systems in a platform independent In many cases, especially in larger corporations, it's not the program that is the valued...


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Research essay sample on Year 2000 Problem Millennium Bug

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