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Sept. 9, 1999 represents first in Y2K problems

If the world hasn't ended when you read this article, then the first hurdle of Y2K has been passed and the lesser-known cousin of Y2K, the September 9, 1999 Problem, has been bypassed.

The Y2K problem stems from the fact that in a memory-precious era of computing, only the last two digits of a year are encoded. But like an odometer on a car, as 2000 approaches, the representation "00" can be interpreted as both 2000 and 1900, causing some programming headaches.

The September 9, 1999 problem is related to this in that computer programmers often used the representation 9/9/99 as an end of file command or even a disk erase call to a computer system.

Information Technology and Communications has looked at the issue here at the University.

"It has been addressed in our Year 2000 Project," said Robert "Chip" German, ITC Policy and Planning director.

"We didn't find any problems," said Don Reynard, director of Application Services, which is leading the Year 2000 Project at the University.

Reynard said the 9/9/99 problem was just one of many other potential computing pitfalls that involved dates such as the upcoming leap year.

According to Reynard, the University is prepared for 2000.

The University has tested its systems thoroughly and is ready for the next millennium, Reynard said.

The Department of Education maintains an honor roll for recognizing post-secondary schools that agreed to be tested for Y2K compliance.

"It's a positive signal that U.Va. has agreed to be part of" the testing program, said Dave Dexter, deputy director of the Department of Education's Year 2000 Project.

Dexter said to qualify for the honor roll, schools were checked in the financial system ranging from their direct loan origination system to their central processing system.

Even though the University may be fully Y2K compliant, there always is the potential for external problems, such as water, electricity and the national financial system.

Bank of America, formerly NationsBank, has declared itself ready for the year 2000.

"We are not expecting any problems," Bank of America Spokesperson Julie Davis said.

Davis said that because of the tight watch on the financial system in America, close to 100 percent of all banks have tested and examined the Y2K problem in their own systems, including the 9/9/99 problem.

Wachovia Media Relations Manager Sharon Hodge said Wachovia banks should not have to worry about the 9/9/99 problem.

"All our coding involves representing [September 9, 1999] as 09/09/99 and not 9/9/99," Hodge said.

But predicting disaster in the coming months is difficult to do.

"We'll just have to sit back see," Baxter said.

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