Elonka's Y2K Tips


As one of the first members of my extended family to become "internet-literate", and since I work in an industry (internet computer games) which gives me a little more access to tech info than most, I wanted to write this up as some general advice for everyone, friends and family alike.  For my extended family:  If you'd like more help on anything in particular, check one of the links below, or contact me directly.
Okay, how to make sure your computer is Y2K-ready:

First, if you're using a Macintosh (and I know that many members of my family are), you're probably safe. Mostly it's the PC users who need to worry!  To my knowledge, the Macintosh operating system is and always has been completely Y2K-compliant, as are most of the application programs that run on Macintoshes.  For more info on Macs and Y2K though, I recommend checking out the information at Apple's website: http://www.apple.com/about/year2000/

For all you PC/Windows users though, you need to make one of the following choices for your own computer:
  • Don't worry about Y2K, just continue with things as normal.  I don't recommend this, but hey, it's your computer. :)
  • If you've got a relatively recent version of Internet Explorer, try this site:  http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com.  It'll automatically check your system and make suggestions on which security updates or Y2K patches that you need to update your version of Windows.  There are several known (but minor) Y2K problems with Windows 95, and this site will help you get the patch to fix them.
  • Or, read up on as much Y2K information as you can to determine the best options for your own computer. When I look for info, I check places like:

Some of these sites also have links to many other Y2K sites around the web, and information on how to get some free utilities that can do some basic checks on your computer.

  • Or, buy and run a Y2K-checker program. These will not only make sure that your hardware and operating system are ready, but some will also check your data files (like Excel spreadsheets and databases) to make sure that there aren't any macros or other embedded items that could go belly-up in January.
    There are many checker programs out there, but two in particular that I've heard recommendations on are:
  • Or, at the very least, I recommend that you do a basic check on your own computer:
    • First, make a complete backup of the important files on your computer. Put the backup disks in a safe place.
    • Change the date on your computer to January 1, 2000. Reboot it.
    • Run your various programs. Pay particular attention to spreadsheet programs like Microsoft Excel, calendar/address books, and financial software like Quicken or MS Money.
    • If you have data files with macro programs that may use dates, like spreadsheets that calculate mortgages, try 'em out.
    • Assuming everything worked okay, you're done. Restore the date and reboot. But keep your backup disks handy

For more information, I recommend surfing the web at one of the above informational URLs. I also recommend doing it early -- Don't wait until the last week of December, because millions of other people will probably also wait until the last minute and those websites will probably get bogged down!

And if you're wondering, what do I think will happen on Y2K?  

Well, I don't think that it'll be the collapse of Western Civilization as we know it <grin>.  I do think there will be various isolated problems all over the world.  Some places may lose electricity for awhile, others may have suspect water supplies for awhile.  Some large computer databases may crash for awhile, so it'll be a good idea to keep paper records of your bank statements and other important data.  Some ATMs may stop working, along with the automatic credit card readers that most stores use, so I recommend keeping a supply of cash on hand as well.

As for supplies, my recommendation is to pretend that you know that there's going to be a massive snowstorm in your area that's going to knock out services for a few weeks, and stock up accordingly.  Okay okay, for those of you that live in Arizona, that may be tough, but try, okay?  Pretend that you have to shut the door to your home or apartment, and you're going to be in there for a few weeks, without electricity, and won't be able to leave to buy anything new (you can assume you'll have access to water, but don't assume it's going to be clean water).  Think, "What'll I run out of first?"  And then go out and buy it now.  Food's the easy one, but also think about medication refills, or if you have an elderly relative on oxygen, get some extra oxygen tanks, stuff like that.  Sure, this may be a little overboard, but I go by the motto of, "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst."  Most of the stuff you get is going to be stuff that you use up eventually anyway, right?  And, even if some of this stuff is available in January, there may be some shortages here and there, which may mean lines in other places.  Do you really *want* to stand in line for 45 minutes at Wal-Mart in order to buy some extra toilet paper?  What's that? You already did that during Christmas shopping season?  Well, okay, good point.  ;)

But again, keep a supply of cash on-hand.  If the credit card networks go down (or get very very slow), it could be confusing for awhile.  Some stores may still have the old "imprint" machines around to take your credit card number and give you back a carbon (remember those?), but others may be stuck.  And if they don't take checks, and you don't have cash, *you* may be stuck.  So I recommend having sufficient cash on hand to cover a month's worth of expenses.

Plan for the worst, but hope for the best.  :).  And with that, you all have my best wishes to stay safe, and healthy, and have a great holiday season!

Elonka  :)





Page last updated: December 14, 1999

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