no mistake: Year 2000 problems threaten every business using computer automation.
Therefore it is essential that every business using a computer (and who isnt?)
create a plan for dealing with the Y2K problem. In this article we will attempt to list
some guidelines for creating such a plan. We will focus our strategy with respect to your
business and its use of Nicholas Data Services software. However, you should be able
to adapt this plan to many other aspects of your business that are affected by the Year
Step 1. Assess the Scope of the Problem
Assessing how and by how much you will affected by the Year 2000 problem is probably
the most difficult and most important part of attacking this dilemma. Our normal tendency
is to skip this step and jump right into fixing equipment and replacing software.
However without a careful examination of your companys computing resources and its
Y2K compliance you could easily be lured into a false sense of security and even worse you
could be in for some big surprises on the New Year of 2000. Be sure to make a
serious effort to assess every aspect of your company.
The first step in the assessment process is to make an inventory of every piece of
computer equipment, every piece of network hardware, all commercial software packages, all
custom software packages and all telecommunications systems in your company. Write down
everything in a list. Dont exclude anything at first. Write down the make and model
of your telephone system, your PCs, your Modems and fax machines, the operating
system that runs your network, the software that you use within your business and include
those little software packages you use to file recipes. Write down everything.
With those lists in hand, you can start to prioritize each element and begin to
organize the whole project. If your business doesnt have an up-to-date hardware and
software inventory, it really needs to have one. Begin work there at once. Take these
lists and divide them into categories. We suggest; computer hardware, computer software
and telecommunications equipment. You might be able to come up with more. Then attempt to
list the elements in each category in order of importance. For example, your main Routeman
computer or server is certainly more important that your second printer and so forth.
Step 2. Gather Information
From inventorying, move to gather information about each item listed on your inventory.
Begin this by contacting every hardware maker and software supplier that has provided
products for your business. Ask them for an up-to-date written statement of the Y2K
compliance for every piece of equipment or software that you own. This letter will serve
as our statement for Nicholas Data Services software. If you do not get a satisfactory
statement the best you can hope for is that the supplier shows a willingness to give the
best available information and will try to work with you to solve your Y2K problems. In
addition to contacting them directly, many vendors have web sites that list compliance
information. If you use Microsoft Word, or Wordperfect or Lotus spreadsheets for example,
you can easily access the version level specifications for Y2K compliant products.
Furthermore there are many Y2K specific websites that provide a great deal of valuable
information for evaluating software and testing hardware. Later in this newsletter, we
will provide website addresses which you can use to download software programs that test
the year 2000 compliancy of you PCs.
Whatever information you receive back from you vendors, dont trust the
information as gospel. It is not that these vendors would try to misinform you but that
they cant know every detail about how you use these products, what other
non-compliant products they interface with or how well your staff is trained to use these
products. In the end it is essential that you do your own compliance testing, in your
computing environment, in addition to seeking vendors compliance statements.
In the next section we will take you through testing your system with the focus on
Routeman configurations. After that testing, youll move to correcting your Y2K
problems by upgrading existing software to newer releases or replacing older non-compliant
Step 3. Testing & Upgrading Your Systems
We will examine a plan for testing your systems from the view of our average Routeman
user. Your testing strategy may differ slightly due because of software or hardware
configurations that are unique to your situation.
In testing a Routeman System for Year 2000 compliance we must examine the system on at
least three levels (there may be more depending on the type and nature of other programs
and devices on your system). These levels are; a) the Computer Hardware/BIOS level, b) the
Operating System software level and c) the Application software level. Lets look at
each of these levels as they relate to Year 2000 compliance on a Routeman system.
Easiest to Test . . . Cheapest to Fix
The part of your computer
hardware that is sensitive to year 2000 problems is actually software. This software
called BIOS is permanently stored on a ROM (read only memory) chip on the motherboard of
the PC. The BIOS (which stands for Basic Input Output System) is the first program run by
the computer as it boots up. The system BIOS on your PC is a program that controls all the
processes of starting your machine, including setting the date and time. Many software
packages access this date and time during calculations and processing. So, if your BIOS is
not Y2K-Ready, neither is much of your software.
Word around computer circles is that most personal computer constructed after 1996 is
Y2K compliant, however there are reports of PCs manufactured as recently as 1997 have Y2K
non-compliant BIOSs. In some cases, PC BIOSs can be flashed (reprogrammed) to solve the
problem. In others, new BIOS chips are available and can be installed by trained
The only way to be sure about your hardware is to test it. We recommend that you
solicit help from a qualified technician to test each of your computers. There are also
many test programs that are commercially available or better yet free on the Internet. One
very useful test program that we at Nicholas Data Services have used to test our PCs is
called "YMark2000". You can download this program from the NTSL Online website
Instructions to download and use this program are readily available on the site. It is
very easy to use and it tests Y2K compliance and Leap Year compliance through Year 2008.
For more information on this test program contact our support team via the NDS Support
While testing the 20 or so PCs in our facilities we found that almost all PCs
manufactured after 1996 would work after the year 2000. Our newest computers moved
smoothly across the midnight of the January 1st, Year 2000. Most of our older machines
1995-1997 did not make the change automatically but were able to function properly after
changing the date manually with the BIOS setup screen. If youre running a machine
that was manufactured before 1995 you probably should investigate purchasing new hardware.
The performance and pricing of computer today make these new machines outstanding values.
In any case, dont assume your computer is ready for 2000, Test, Test, Test !!!
Operating System Software
Heres where it gets tricky...Read this
section very carefully!!.
Operating system software is next
level of your system that must be tested and proved compliant. This level is of great
importance to our users in that it can be the most costly to upgrade. The operating system
is the software that takes over when the BIOS has completed its work. The operating system
is the software that controls whether you have a single-user system or a multi-user
network. There are operating systems of many types. We can divide operating systems into
two types, single-user and multi-user operating systems.
Single User Systems - DOS/Windows
Bill Gates to the rescue....
The single-user operating systems
for which Routeman has been released since the mid 1980s include DOS, Windows 3.0,
3.1, Windows 95 and Windows 98. All of these products have been developed and
marketed by Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft is solely responsible for upgrading these
products and declaring them Year 2000 compliant. You can identify the Year 2000 compliance
of any Microsoft software package by visiting the Microsoft Year 2000 Resource Center
website at "http://www.microsoft.com/technet/year2k/".
Nicholas Data Services, Inc. customers that use the DOS operating system to run
Routeman must be aware of several very important issues. First they must determine which
version of DOS they are using by getting to a C:> prompt and type "command".
The system will respond with the version number. As of this writing Microsoft has posted
information that DOS versions less than 5.0a are not year 2000 compliant. DOS versions
5.0a through the last release 6.22 are compliant with minor issues. These minor issues
however may not be a minor issue to your operation. They include the fact that the
Microsoft Backup software does not properly recognize dates greater than 1999. If you
are using DOS to run Routeman, Nicholas Data Services recommends that you upgrade your
single-user system to a fully compliant version of Microsoft Windows 98.
Nicholas customers that run Routeman under Microsoft Windows may be running under one
of several versions, Windows 3.0, Windows 3.1, Windows 95 or Windows 98. As of
this writing Microsoft has posted information that Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 are
Year 2000 compliant with minor issues. Windows 98 is listed as fully compliant. No
mention is made of Windows 3.0.
Nicholas recommends that all Windows users upgrade to the fully compliant version of
Windows 98 prior to the end of next year. In most cases when you upgrade to
Windows 98 you will upgrading your PC hardware. If that is the case we recommend
that you purchase a computer with at least a Pentium 233Mhz processor, 32MB of RAM memory
(64 MB is better) and at least 1 Gigabyte of hard disk space.
Multi User Systems
Big bucks ... bigger concerns.
Users that have purchased
Routeman to run on mult-user systems are using the Novell LAN (Local Area Network)
operating system or either SCO (Santa Cruz Operation) Xenix or Unix operating systems.
Novell networks can be identified by the configuration of individual PC workstations on
each users desktop connected to a central server. Each of the workstations on a
Novell network is a fully functioning PC and may be running Windows software or other
Xenix and Unix networks in contrast can be distinguished by the use of "dumb"
character based terminals as workstations, which are connected to the central server.
These terminals always return to % or # prompt when exiting Routeman. In most of the Unix
/ Xenix configurations distributed by Nicholas Data Services, Wyse terminals were
installed as workstations. In some instances PCs have also been used as workstations on a
Unix / Xenix network. In these instances, the program "Hitansi" is used to
connect the PC to the server.
Still good to go...
Year 2000 considerations for the
Novell operating system have been posted by Novell, Inc. on their website. You can view
the Y2K status of various Novell products at the following URL:
Any Routeman user utilizing a Novell operating system must bring the software up to a
version that is listed by the company as Year 2000 compliant. To determine the version of
Novell you utilize exit your Nicholas Data Services application software and get to a
system prompt. In most cases this prompt will be similar to "F:\PUBLIC\". At the
prompt type in NVER and press enter. This should return your Novell Netware release level.
Release levels can be as low as v.2.12 in older systems all the way up to current versions
of the Novell product which is Netware 5.0.
In summary, the Year 2000 compliant versions of Novell are versions 3.2, 4.11 and 5.
Therefore if you have a version of Novell lower than 3.2 such as versions 2.12, 2.15, 2.2
or 3.11, these version will have to upgraded to version 3.2. If you are using a version
higher than 3.2 but lower than 4.11, such as versions 4.0 or 4.10, you will have to
upgrade to 4.11. In any case if you wish to bring your Novell up to the latest standard
you can upgrade to Novells Netware 5. To upgrade, contact a local Novell authorized
dealer and ask for an upgrade quote. In some cases, customers using older versions of
Novell may be required to upgrade or add new computer hardware. Unfortunately this will
part of the price for the Year 2000 bug.
Critical concerns for Xenix Users.
By far the most dramatic effect
felt by Nicholas Data Services software users will by those companies that utilize the
Xenix operating system. In its day Xenix was a very cost effective way to build a network
especially in the day of high cost PC hardware. Unfortunately SCO (Santa Cruz Operation)
the maker of Xenix has abandoned this operating system in recent years. The end result
is that Nicholas Data customers that are presently using the Xenix operating system, will
have to migrate to another operating system before the year 2000.
Xenix users essentially have two choices to move to a Novell LAN operating system or to
the SCO Unix operating system. (In answer to every technicians next question,
Nicholas Data Services software will not currently work on a Windows NT operating system
network or a peer-to-peer network, such as Windows for Work Groups or Lantastic.) The
choice between Novell and Unix will depend on the customers willingness and ability to
place full PC workstations on each employees desk.
Fortunately with the commodity conditions in the PC hardware market these days this
decision is a far easier proposition to swallow than just a few years ago.
If you wish to utilize programs for PCs such as Windows, Microsoft Word, Microsoft
Excel, Lotus or Quicken for Business, then your choice should be a Novell network. NDS
will charge $1,495.00 for converting your Xenix data files to a Novell format and for the
Nicholas Data application programs that will run on a Novell network.
To have a Novell network installed we recommend that you contact several dealers in
your area that are Novell authorized and have them provide you with quotes for a network.
The networking business is very competitive and you should be able to coax a good price
from a dealer by allowing them to compete for your business. Although Nicholas Data
Services is no longer in the hardware sales business we will be happy to provide
consultation to our customers that are on support. In your search for a network
specialist please be wary of technicians that insist on installing only Windows NT or
Windows for Workgroups. These techs claim that Novell is a antiquated operating system. In
reality these techs are usually under trained and will not provide the long term support
that you require. If you wish to continue to have your employees work on "dumb"
character-based terminals, such as Wyse terminals, then the Unix operating system may be
your best alternative.
Still a major player...
If you are running a Unix network
or are considering it, you may find SCO products Year 2000 compliance information on their
website at http://www.sco.com/year2000/. SCO has posted that it will release a Y2K
Supplement for the Year 2000 problem in the first half of 1999. This supplement will
released for versions 5.0.2 and 5.0.5. If you are running a version below these release
levels you should be making preparations to upgrade your system. To check the version of
Unix you are currently running, type the command "uname -X" (case sensitive)
from a % or # prompt and press <Enter>.
In most cases we recommend that Xenix system users upgrade to a Novell network. If you
are considering installing a Unix network please call our support line for a more
individualized consultation on upgrade issues. In any case, if you are using Xenix or
if you believe that you have special circumstances in your operation (such as a
multi-location configuration), contact the NDS "Hotline" for an individual
Heres where Nicholas Data comes in...
The highest level of your system
that must be tested and proved compliant is the application software. Application software
is the software packages that you directly interact with every day. Your Routeman software
is in this category along with other programs you may use such as your word processing
programs, spreadsheets, databases, etc...
The proper way to prepare for the Year 2000 in
this category is to sit at your computer and make list of all programs that you use. Then
take the list and prioritize the programs in order of importance to your business. Once
this is done, work down the list and check with the maker of each program for year 2000
compliance information. Make sure you check on every program that is vital to your
operation. In most cases the software maker will have a website describing the steps to
take to insure that your software is Y2K compliant. If you cannot insure that a piece of
softwarewill be Y2K compliant, you must make contingency plans to upgrade or replace the
Route Management Software
This newsletter signifies the
official release of the Year 2000 version of Routeman. For more information on this
product see the article "Introducing Route Y2K". To
insure that you receive your copy of Routeman Y2K promptly, fill out the Y2K Software
Request Form on the back of this newsletter and return it to Nicholas Data Services as
soon as possible.
NDS Accounting, & Last Word
NDS Add-on modules
All customers that have purchased
NDS add-on software such as NDS Accounting programs (Accounts Payable, General Ledger,
Payroll), or Last Word, and indicate that they are actively using this software on the Y2K
Software Request Form, will receive a NDS Accounting Y2K update disk. This disk will
provide the software necessary to make Year 2000 corrections for these packages. To insure
that you receive this software promptly, fill out the Y2K Software Request Form on the
back of this newsletter and return it to Nicholas Data Services as soon as possible.
Please check the appropriate box on this request form, for every software module that you
are now actively using in your business operation .
Nicholas will discontinue support for this
Please take notice that Nicholas Data
Services, Inc. will not support the NDS Vehicle Maintenance package after December 31,
1999. The company will also discontinue the marketing of this product immediately.
Nicholas Data Services has no plans for making the current NDS Vehicle Maintenance module
Year 2000 compliant.
Moneybuilder users will be
pleased to know that Year 2000 corrections for the construction software packaged have
been released. This software has been tested and certified on live customer systems. To
insure that you receive the Moneybuilder Year 2000 upgrade software promptly, fill out the
Y2K Software Request Form on the back of this newsletter and return it to Nicholas Data
Services as soon as possible. Be sure to check the Moneybuilder Construction Software box
on this request form.
Report Writer . . . Not Year 2000 Compliant
We have discovered very serious
issues concerning the Year 2000 capability of the OnQ Report Writer. Complicating
these issues is the fact that we purchase the OnQ product on behalf of our customers, from
Application Development Systems, the maker of Workstation Basic. We are diligently working
to make OnQ a compliant product or to find a suitable replacement. While we are not
certain as to the exact timing, we are confident that we will offer an excellent report
writer to compliment our software modules. Information regarding the upgrade or
replacement of OnQ will be issued to users of OnQ as soon as possible. To insure
that you receive OnQ Year 2000 upgrade information as soon as it is available, check the
OnQ box on the Y2K Software Request Form on the back of this newsletter and return it to
Nicholas Data Services as soon as possible.
We hope that this information will be helpful to you as you prepare for the Year 2000.
However we know that every business is different, each with its own unique way of doing
business. That is why we have always offered the very best in individualized support for
over 15 years. With uncertain times ahead, we would like to stress how important it will
be to have someone to turn to in the event of a data processing crisis. Most of you have
spoken with our engineers many times and know that we have a well trained and experienced
staff. Please consider letting Nicholas Data Services provide you with support during this
period. For more information on NDS support see the related article "Support for a New Millennium".
Back to Y2K Information Index