Message from the President

Playing Long:
Former coach Willie Miller is managing a return to prominence for Furman's golf course

Cherrydale:
Moving 175 tons four miles

Y2K:
Staff, faculty group tackles the
"Millennium bug"

Survey Says:
Student morale at all time high

Pro-Am:
Golf Tourney set for April 19

Wrestling:
Furman to host state wrestling tournament

Mall Management:
New program to improve health, beauty of Main and Milford malls

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Faculty/Staff news:
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Y2K task force formed

Most Furman systems should be OK
January 1, 2000

It’s Monday, January 3 — the first work day of the new millennium.

The first thing you notice is that your office is cold. Very cold. Then your computer doesn’t power up. You pick up the phone to call the Help Desk and Betty Fowler at Facilities Services to get some answers. But there’s no dial tone.

You walk outside and see a growing group of harried students, staff and faculty gathered outside the administration building. Then President Shi, disheveled and unshaven, appears. He stands on the raised stump of a chain-sawed oak tree and makes the following pronouncement:

“Due to Saturday’s catastrophic missile strike, the impending nuclear winter and other matters beyond the university’s control, Furman will temporarily close. For years I have preached the virtues of a simple life. Now that we have no electricity and society has collapsed, we all have the opportunity to lead one.”

In recent months, it seems, everyone has weighed in with an opinion on the effects of Y2K, the millennium bug. Opinions, some of them ripe with paranoia, vary; some people fear nuclear annihilation, others expect only minor annoyances.

“I even read a report that suggested that all the pacemakers would shut down,” chuckles Richard Nelson, director of Computing and Information Services, who does not have a pacemaker.

The only thing for certain is that no one is certain what will happen.

The problem dates back to the 1950s, when early computer programmers identified years with only the last two digits. As the year 2000 approaches, these computers and programs will read the year as 00, or 1900. The most common and damaging problem occurs when software has been written to store and/or manipulate dates using only two digits for the year. Calculations built upon these dates will not execute properly because they will not see dates in the 21st century as being larger numbers than those in the 20th century.

Nelson says all computers installed at Furman during the last three years should be “Y2K compliant,” or immune to the problem. However, this does not mean that software running on these systems is compliant. Computing and Information Services staff are confident that all of the major university administrative systems will function properly, as will electronic mail, web, and file and print services.

To ensure that no computers or applications are overlooked, a Y2K task force composed of 20 employees representing a variety of departments is taking an inventory of all systems that might be affected by the Y2K problem.

“I think that once we have studied the inventory we will find that there will be very few systems that are at risk,” says Nelson.

In addition to computer hardware and software, machines impacted by Y2K might be microwaves, fax machines, telephone answering machines and voice mail systems. But the operations of some of those machines may not be date sensitive, making them a “low risk,” says Nelson. For example, a microwave with a built-in calendar that is not Y2K compliant will continue to heat food, but may lack some of its advanced features.

After determining which systems are non-compliant, the university will prioritize upgrades, repairing or replacing first those that are “mission-critical.” Furman is reviewing all vendors and assessing the risks associated with Y2K failure by any of them. Furman is also working to obtain Y2K compliance reports from those vendors.