Information Unlimited: All The Facts You Need To Avoid Heartache - N0 19: THE MILLENNIUM BUG

Will it affect you?

What does it mean?

Most equipment and software contain microprocessors which rely on dates to function correctly. The millennium bug is the term used to describe the potential difficulties that computer and electronic equipment will have in handling the date change on 1 January 2000. The problem originated in the Sixties and Seventies when computer programmers, to save memory space, adopted the practice of referring to years by their last two digits rather than by all four: "98", rather than "1998".

As a consequence, some computers will not be able to tell the difference between the year 2000 and the year 1900, because both figures have 00 as their last two digits. This could mean that some computers and electronic equipment will produce meaningless information or fail at the millennium. Most new products contain chips that do recognise 2000.

What may be affected?

Time is ticking away inside personal computers, mainframes and electronic systems all over the world and, as most areas of modern life are affected by IT, no one knows how great the impact will be, which is why the Government is trying to get everyone to take preventative action.

Electronic equipment such as telephones, fax machines, photocopiers, fire alarms, security systems, medical equipment, air conditioning, heating systems, drainage, water, sewerage and lifts can all contain microprocessors which may be affected by the date change.

Organisations which depend on services such as water, gas and electricity may be affected by failures in their supply chain even if their own internal systems are 2000-compliant.

What you can do

Most problems will occur around the millennium date change. The Government has set up a scheme called Action 2000 to prepare businesses and consumers for the millennium. Call them for further advice on measures to be taken on 0845 6012000. Contact your employer, bank, insurer, GP and anyone else who holds computer records of your affairs and ask them how they will be tackling the problem.

Keep your financial papers in order for 1999.

Keep a record (dates and amounts) of wage payments, direct debits, mortgage repayments and policy renewal dates which you will be able to refer back to if you have a problem in 2000.

If you have a credit card with "00" expiry date, keep all your transaction slips from now on and check them regularly against your statements.

Call your gas and electricity suppliers and ask them what measures they are taking. Keep your utility bills so that you have proof of meter readings, in case there are problems with billing in 2000.

Does insurance cover it?

Policies are designed to cover the unforeseen and the unpredictable - the millennium is foreseeable and predictable, though some of the consequences are not. Speak to your insurance company if you are concerned and check if they have any exclusions, as these may start to appear in 1999. For general advice, call the Association for British Insurers on 0171-600 3333.

Household insurance: it is unlikely that your policy will cover individual items which malfunction. It will be seen as the manufacturer's responsibility to insure that their products are millennium-compliant. However, if your heating broke down and your pipes froze and burst, they would probably meet the cost of repair, because burst pipes could not have been predicted, but it is best to phone them and check.

Travel insurance should be checked closer to 2000 to cover against delays, lost luggage or cancellations.

The "home check!" pack from Action 2000 gives instructions on how to check the internal clock on certain products in your home such as VCRs. By setting the clock to roll from 1999 to 2000 you can see if it recognises the date change.

The Action 2000 website www.bug2000.co.uk. lists the top 100 software packages for personal computers and tells you how they might be affected. If you discover that any products are not year 2000-compatible, get in touch with your retailer.

Further information

The Consumers Association would be interested to know if you have experienced any problems with products or services as a result of the millennium bug. Call 0645 830232 if you have had a problem with a product, or 0645 830234 if you have had a problem with a service.

Compiled by the authors of `Women Unlimited: The Directory for Life' published by Penguin, pounds 9.99

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent