For the week of January 13, 1999   thru January 19, 1999  

Sun Valley city repels Y2K computer bug


By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer

The city of Sun Valley is following through on its plans to make safe technological passage into the new millennium.

In early December the city announced that officials had developed a plan to assess the extent to which its computer systems will be affected by the "millennium bug" on New Year’s Eve 2000, and will attempt to fix systems that are susceptible.

The millennium bug, also called the Y2K bug, is a computer glitch that could strike older computers and software when the date changes to the year 2000. Affected computers may crash or spew out incorrect information.

Officials also announced that Sun Valley must make sure the city and businesses within the city are not affected by computer breakdowns of suppliers of goods and services.

Each Y2K computer glitch could set off a chain of reactions that could cause an interruption in city operations, Sun Valley city administrator Robert Van Nort said.

On Jan. 8, the city of Sun Valley distributed a letter to its providers stating: "Your company provides specific services and/or products to the city. So that we may continue to use your services or products as part of our mission in the 21st century, we need information on the impact that the year 2000 will have on your company’s services."

The letter continues to ask that recipients give any pertinent information regarding the impact of the year 2000 date change, such as: company testing for Y2K compatibility, products or services that display or receive dates in two-digit year formats and contingency plans that have been formulated should problems arise.

Van Nort said more than 100 letters were sent to locations nationwide. It’s not something that’s being taken lightly, he said.

Miles Browne, manager of the Information Technology Resource Management Council project team in Boise, has been heading up state-level efforts to address the Y2K problem.

He explained that older computers had limited, less expensive memories that employed two-digit dates to save on costly computer memory. When the century turns, the two-digit date-bearing computer will try to subtract from zero, creating a negative, impossible date, he said.

Brown also said that integrated computer chips, those found in many electronic devices, could pose a problem.

 

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