Reminder: 01/01/00 Not the Only Date of Doom

This is the season for dates that confound systems of all types. Along with the New Year rollover, there are several other date milestones IT managers need to prepare for. They include: October 01, 1999; February 29, 2000; October 10, 2000; and December 31, 2000.

The October 01, 1999 date may raise early warning signs of problems to come with systems that are not truly Y2K compliant, says Frank J. Cuccias, chief engineer for Intellisource (Vienna, Va.).

Two key dates that have already passed--August 21, 1999 and September 9, 1999--also caused some trepidation among Y2K watchers. However, the August 21 rollover of internal clocks in the Global Positioning System satellites resulted in few calamities, other than some outdated GPS receivers in Japanese cars going on the fritz. (For more on the GPS rollover, see Glenn Ericson's Y2K Countdown column in the Sept. 30 issue).

Another date (also past) that had system analysts cringing was September 09, 1999-or 9999 when truncated. Some analysts feared that since this date value can also mean "end of data," "null set" or even "file purge" in older code, there could have been some type of pre-Y2K effect. However, these fears may have been unfounded, says Jon Huntress, associate producer with the Year 2000 Information Center (Toronto). "One reason is that 99/99/99 is not a valid date," he explains. Plus, Y2K toolkits have been effective at addressing the "999999" problem as well.

The following additional dates may bring about system glitches, according to Cuccias:
  • October 01, 1999: On this date, the year 2000 fiscal year begins for the U. S. Federal Government as well as for other organizations and vendors that do business with the government.
  • December 31, 1999: The notorious change to 00 begins here; in addition, this is the largest date that some older mainframe-based systems can store.January 01, 2000: Original Y2K date, which may result in system anomalies and possible shutdowns.
  • February 29, 2000: This is the first leap year date in the new millennium system malfunctions and possible shutdowns.
  • October 10, 2000: This will be the first time the date field uses its maximum length (10/10/2000).
  • December 31, 2000: Some systems may not recognize the 366th day of the year due to leap year.