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ECU conducts tests for Y2K gliches

(Aug. 10, 1999)   —   ECU is ready for Y2K!

That's the word from the people who tested computers at East Carolina University in August to see how the year 2000 might affect such things as the campus payroll, purchase orders, financial aid and the registration of students.

"We had no 'show stoppers,' and we already have a plan for dealing with the few problems that did arise," said Donnie W. Tenney, ECU's Y2K coordinator in the Department of Computing and Information Systems.

Tenney and a crew of about 90 staff members put the university's system through a series of tests starting at 2 a.m. on Saturday and winding up at 2 a.m. on Monday. The computer systems at the library conducted similar tests as did EastNet, an internet access service with the School of Education. The tests involved setting the computers and software ahead by seven months--to March 2000-- to see how the systems responded to the change from 1999 to 2000.

"Most everything worked fairly well," said Tenney. He said that instead of 40 or 50 anticipated conflicts, only about 10 or 15 problems were reported. None were major or serious enough to cause a shut down of the system. Among the problems was one with the software used to schedule daily jobs.

The software worked okay, but the statistical log reported the completion of the job incorrectly. The problem will be reported to the software vendor Another problem involved the One-Card system used by students to check out library books, make purchases and attend student programs.

The software converted the date to 1993. The problem was reported on Monday to the company that makes the software so that it can issue a fixed version. Tinney said some of the other problems were in the form of message screens calling for software renewal or maintenance checks that had not been done when the software was bumped ahead by seven months.

"We ran a trial payroll run and printed checks on plain paper. It worked fine. The cashier's office put in a sample of 100 students who registered for classes and received financial aid. The system worked perfectly," he said. The concern for the effects of the millennium change on computers stems from the way programmers and data entry entry typists recorded dates.

Two digits, instead of four, were used to denote calendar years with little regard to how a computer will know the difference between dates recorded in the 1900s and those made after the year 2000. Tenney noted that ECU has been working on the year 2000 computer concerns for the last four years and consultants have been brought in to work on some of compatibility issues. One of the mainframe computers, expected to cause problems, was replaced.

The software and computer components that did not conform to the Y2K standards have been either fixed or exchanged. Additional testing on campus will continue. The auxiliary, stand-alone systems will be checked next. Similar tests were performed at the School of Medicine in July. "And we'll be here on New Year's Eve," said Tinney, "because no matter how many test we perform on the system, we won't know for sure if everything is okay until the new year rolls around."


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481