Editorial missed the mark on Year 2000 challenges

Programmer points out some real challenges with new millennium

Re: End of days put on hold (Our View, Dec, 21)

As one of the many programmers who worked to avert the Y2K problem it is disappointing to read another inaccurate description of the problem and a skepticism that it even existed.

It was not because of “computers’ supposed inability to read a year with two zeros at the end” but that in the year 2000 the two-digit year format would result in invalid dates or cause mathematical calculations to fail.

And because “nary a blip was seen on the landscape” the writer implies that the whole problem was a myth comparable to a 5,100-year-old prediction based on Mayan mythology.

Yes, some people overreacted 12 years ago, but the potential for information anomalies and system outages was real and, had problems not been addressed, the impact would have been considerable.

Early computer programs used two digits instead of four to represent the year because of space constraints: punched cards used for input were limited to 80 characters, computer memory was scarce and storage was expensive. And because programs were only expected to be in use for a few years, they did not take into account the change of millennia.

Obviously programs would fail or produce inaccurate results when the year changed from (19)99 to (20)00 if they had been coded to prefix the two-digit year with 19, expect it to be part of an ascending sequence, or attempt to divide it by four to test for a leap year.

These are just a few simple examples of the kinds of problems that existed. A major challenge was to identify which programs contained any kind of problematic coding.

The article was concerned that beliefs should not be confused with reality. We also need to make sure that real facts and events are not distorted by inaccurate statements and erroneous implications.

Andrea Gagnon

Esquimalt

Just Posted

13-year-old Langford boy missing

West Shore RCMP say Alex Meickle was likely headed to Tofino

Oak Bay volunteer and sustainability professional throws his hat in the ring for municipal election

‘We can retain what makes Oak Bay great while planning for a future that’s even better,’ says Appleton

Salmon Fest swims into Oak Bay Saturday

Family event raises money for Kiwanis Pavillion

Oak Bay High washes cars for kids

Annual Tour de Rock fundraising car wash hits the lot Saturday at Oak Bay High

UVic chemist claims international prize for ‘reversible’ preservative

University of Victoria green chemist and civil engineer Heather Buckley led a… Continue reading

Reader photos: Greater Victoria’s hazy skies

Lingering smoke from wildfires contributed to the province issuing a smoky skies bulletin

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Post-surgery monologue comedy gold

If you’ve ever had surgery with anaesthetic you know the coming out of it process can be a treat.

LETTERS: Doctors speak out on surgical wait times for B.C. patients

‘Governments know they will lose private clinic lawsuit’

Thieves steal supplies, tools and juice boxes from B.C. summer camp

‘Take a moment to think about who you stole from,’ says Burns Bog Society’s Mark Robertson

Women-owned businesses generate $68,000 less revenue than men’s: survey

When Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was “shocked” by the feedback she received from one of the bankers.

Hedley frontman’s alleged sex offences case returns to court

Jacob Hoggard faces three sexual assault-related charges will return to a Toronto courtroom this morning.

Most Read