This is an archived article. For the latest news, go to the Advance Homepage.
For more archives, go to the Advance Archive/Search Page

Conference addresses Year 2000 challenge

Maintaining the priority of the Year 2000 computer fix - making sure computers and software function when the millennium rolls by in just over 28 months - is a big job, according to George Fox, former director of the state's Office of Information Technology.

Fox, who just retired from the OIT - which has been renamed the Department of Information Technology (Do-IT) - was one of the speakers Aug. 13 at the Year 2000 Higher Education Conference held at UConn. It was sponsored by the UConn Computer Center and Yale Information Technology Services.

Convincing executives and managers that the millennium fix is important was "the most difficult step," Fox said. The potential problems are caused by what appears to be a simple matter: many computers, processors and software recognize the year by two digits. That's fine if you are in the same century, but come the millennium, those computers and programs will think the year is 1900, not 2000. Hence the effort worldwide to make them recognize four-digit years.

UConn conference speakers echoed Fox's comments about the need to keep the project a top priority. Programmers have been working to fix an estimated 9,700 programs and 15,000 data files to adjust to Year 2000 requirements. Malcolm Toedt, executive director of the Computer Center, said requests for changes are still coming in from departments.

There are benefits to the project, said Elaine David, UConn's Year 2000 project coordinator, citing the opportunity to discard old programs, datasets and jobs, the reinforcement of standards, and upgrading of products to current versions.

The conference drew about 75 attendees, including representatives from Yale, Wesleyan, Trinity, the University of Hartford, Eastern Connecticut State University, the Connecticut State University system, and the Department of Higher Education. A follow-up conference will be held at Yale University next spring.

Mark J. Roy