One last chance for Y2K bug to strike : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

One last chance for Y2K bug to strike


Today, leap day, is the last important date linked to Y2K-related computer problems. But while the Federal Government and corporations were on alert overnight, no-one is breaking sweat.

Technology firms, financial institutions and telecommunications companies were among those rostering extra staff to watch the clocks tick over to February 29, but the consensus is that Australia has thwarted the Y2K bug.

"The leap year issue is a non-event, according to the industry, and everyone's focusing on the bigger issues of the GST and getting on with business," said senior analyst with technology researchers IDC, Mr Bernard Esner.

The Y2K bug, which caused some computer systems to read the year 2000 as 1900, has so far been successfully confined to non-critical systems, according to Senator Ian Campbell, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Information Technology.

"There have been lots of glitches since New Year's Eve, but nothing that could be described as more than a minor irritation," Senator Campbell said.

"But there is a risk that some companies' systems have survived since January 1 by misreading the year as 1900, which was not a leap year and won't have this extra day."

The leap year problem is caused by a centuries-old decision designed to keep the calendar in sync with the seasons.

The calendar introduced in 1582 added a 29th day to February in years evenly divisible by 4, except when the year is divisible by 100. However, if that year is divisible by 400, such as 2000, it will still have the leap day.

This archaic system may confuse several financial software packages and spreadsheet programs, which may not detect that this is the first leap year starting a century since 1600.

"Not all software is designed to work with 366 days in a year, but there's a simple way around it," explained the Commonwealth's Bank's Y2K program director, Mr Ken Pritchard.

"You can just treat the leap day as a non-business day, and do your processing on March 1.

"We're certainly not expecting any significant problems with our systems or for our clients," he said.

Telstra was equally untroubled yesterday, although the company was preparing to run a cut-down version of its Y2K monitoring centre overnight.

"We have 15 people doing the overnight shift and actively monitoring any difficulties, but we tested extensively for Y2K problems and we're not expecting anything of significance," said the director of its Year 2000 program, Ms Negba Weiss-Dolev.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 29, 2000

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