Mac Y2K Problems

1999 – Articles circulated in the past few days – see Cnet and Yahoo+ stories – note that Mac users shouldn’t be too smug about the Year 2000 (Y2K) problem. The Mac is not immune.

The problem isn’t Macintosh hardware (even the first Mac can handle dates until A.D. 2040) or the Mac OS (which works correctly through AD 2019).* And it isn’t a problem with most software programs, which use Apple’s date routines and can ride into the next millennium with ease.

The problem is, as Pedagoguery Software notes (and hopes to use to convince Mac owners to buy Pedagoguery’s Y2K testing software), is that some programs use their own date routines.

Even that needn’t be a problem, as long as the date routines are compatible either with the Mac way of tracking dates or use four-digit years.

But that’s the problem. Some programmers didn’t realize the century was going to end, so they wrote code that uses two-digit years. That is, the number 87 in the year field is seen as equivalent to 1987. And many times, it’s also recorded in data files as a two-digit number, not a four-digit one.

The article in Yahoo, distributed by PRNewswire, makes one significant error in discussing the problem, stating that “internally generated dates” are dates generated within programs rather than read on disk. The fact is, when Apple refers to internally generated dates, they are talking about dates generated by the computer and operating system.

The problem is that some programs truncate the internally generated date or use their own date recording schemes, which Apple cannot guarantee as Y2K compliant.

There are Mac programs with Y2K issues. If you think some of your software might have a Y2K bug, Pedagoguery’s Year 2000 Software Audit shareware program can test it for you. (Pedagoguery reserves the right to raise the US$38 price – presumably as the Year 2000 approaches.)

* Power Macs are designed to handle dates through A.D. 29,940. Let’s hope that by 2019 Apple has an OS capable of working with dates that far in the future.
+ Article no longer available online.

Keywords: #y2k

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