19 June 1998

Test for 2000 compatibility

A SIMPLE test will determine whether farm computer hardware will crash or continue to function normally come New Years Day, 2000.

Despite plenty of publicity, the millennium bug remains a mystery to most. At a recent Farmplan meeting, no one in the audience knew if their computer systems were Year 2000 compliant.

The potential problem lies with the PCs internal clock, which remembers the date when the computer is turned off. But only the last two digits of a year are stored.

The century code (the first two digits) is added in a variety of ways. Some systems will update it automatically, others will need to be manually changed, while the rest wont work.

To check, users should go to the DOS prompt. Windows 95 users will find it in Programs (select from Start menu), Windows 3.11 users will find the icon in the main group. On DOS-based computers, the prompt will be visible on booting up.

At the C:\WINDOWS prompt (C:\ for DOS users), type cd:\ and wait for the C:\> prompt. Then type Date and at enter new date, type 31-12-99. Type time and enter 23:59:30.

Exit DOS, close windows and reboot. Follow the first few steps, to typing Date. If the date says 01/01/2000, all is well. Reset correct date and time before rebooting.

If another date comes up, the PC is non-compliant. It may be able to be altered, says the firms David Davies. Farmplan will assess it free, though cost of carriage is £24.

The millennium bug can also affect software. Users should contact their suppliers to find out which programs may be affected. &#42