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  • Washington Post Staff
    Sunday, May 16, 1999; Page H8

    1. MYTH: At midnight on New Year's Eve, all computers everywhere in the world will shut down.
      FACT: There are lots of computers that the millennium bug will not bite. No one can be sure just how many machines are going to have problems, but those that are carefully tested and repaired stand a far slimmer chance of experiencing problems.
    2. MYTH: All your office appliances – the coffee pot, the microwave, the fax machine – will shut down too.
      FACT: Although many consumer electronic devices have programmable clocks that allow users to start them automatically, most of those timing mechanisms do not keep track of the month or year, so they will not be confused on Jan 1.
    3. MYTH: There is "magic bullet" software that can fix all your problems automatically.
      FACT: Nothing is that simple in the computer world. While there is a lot of software available to identify and attack the bug, using the software requires serious effort and concentration. It then requires testing.
    4. MYTH: "I just use PCs; I don't have to worry."
      FACT: It's not just mainframe computers that can harbor the bug. Many PCs, including some sold as recently as last year, rely on an internal clock that stores only the last two digits of the year and assumes the first two are 1 and 9. Users should contact their PC's manufacturer to see if their machine's clock, contained in a chip called the BIOS, is Y2K compliant. If it isn't, a "patch" can be downloaded from most PC makers' Web sites.
    5. MYTH: If I install new equipment, I'm home free.
      FACT: Experts strongly advise businesses to test all their software and hardware – data that is transferred from an old to a new machine could be encoded in ways that cause trouble. And just in case something unforeseen occurs, people should make back-up copies of all important data.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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