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SAXoTECH - Resources - Article Vault - Year 2000

Year 2000 - The Millennium Bug


The SAXoPRESS Publishing System in itself has no Y2K problems,
we have done extensive tests and are 100 % ready for the new millennium.

As a service to our customers we have done research on how other products related to the SAXoPRESS Publishing System will comply to the Y2K problem.


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The turn of the millennium is both looked forward to and feared by many people. Yes, there is a problem out there. There is no doubt about that, but let's not get hysterical and blow this problem out of proportions. Personally I look forward to the best and biggest bang of a party imaginable, very much expecting to get my morning newspaper in my mailbox the very next day. But that's not the point. Does SAXoTECH have a Y2K problem or not? That is the question! The answer is:

SAXoTECH's solutions do not have a millennium problem. In fact we never had a Y2K problem. But before we explore why that is so we are going to define the problem.

A definition of the Millennium Bug
While doing a lot of research on the subject of Y2K compliance I have seen many definitions on what the problem really is, and how people address the issue. But nowhere, except at Apple, have I seen a definition very simple and easy to understand.

This is how Apple describes the Year 2000 problem:

"Across the world, many computer systems and software have been developed and deployed without the ability to correctly handle dates that represent a year greater than 1999. For example, a hotel reservation system may be unable to book reservations if the date is in the year 2000 or beyond.

Many systems use a two-digit date format for the year, typically mm/dd/yy.
A comparison based on that format would falsely claim that the year 2000 (i.e., 00) falls before the year 1999 (i.e., 99). This has serious ramifications for mission-critical applications that may be at risk of failure.

The source of the problem can come from several different levels, including:

  • Hardware: a clock circuit that may be incapable of holding dates beyond 1999
  • Operating System: may not correctly recognize and process date beyond 1999
  • Applications and utilities: may have limited date-processing capabilities."

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No solution is an Island
Looking at the above definition, it is obvious that the Millennium Bug is both a Hardware, Operating System and Application problem. This means that even if we at SAXoTECH do not have a problem in our own software, everything our solution is running on could still have a problem. Scary thought isn't it?

As we are aware of this, we have decided to dig deeper than our own back yard and also look towards our suppliers to see what their Y2K status is, so both you and we can feel more comfortable going into the next millennium. However, we still advise you to do your own tests, as our systems are only a fraction of the systems found at any of our clients.

Our products have been tested on all the operating system platforms we support: Unix, MacOS, and Windows NT. But, just in case you wish to do your own systems test, please note that you should not exceed the date range of your operating system.

The date range of the Unix systems currently available ends in 2038, Windows operating systems are year 2000 compliant until 2027, and for the latest Macintosh operating systems there are no restrictions that could affect you and me, as they will run until year 29,940.


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SAXoTECH's Y2K Status
The statement "SAXoTECH's solutions do not have a millennium problem. In fact we never had a Y2K problem" might seem a bit too bold and arrogant, since SAXoTECH develops mission critical software for editorial production of newspapers. In fact, losing a day's production due to a major system failure can have almost immediate ramifications on circulation, which again could hurt ad sales, etc. That's why we at SAXoTECH are happy that we have never (knock on wood!) even lost a page, due to system failure on our part. And we wish to continue to maintain this track record!

One of the reasons we can say that is quite simple. We are a fairly young company. The first solutions we ever made were in 1992 - none of which are still running, as they have been upgraded. So we do not have a technology lag, as many old companies have today.

Furthermore, everything we developed until the end of 1996 was on a MacOS platform, which everybody tells us does not have a millennium problem. But more about that below.
And then, when we started working with Windows NT in January 1997, we knew that the Year 2000 problem was a reality and took the necessary precautions before we started the development.

Finally, we have tested our systems. Testing our own systems for Year 2000 of course meant making sure that we had the most Year 2000 safe test environment available, given the shortcomings already known by the developers of the third party software and hardware we utilize in our solutions.

The result - the SAXoPRESS Publishing System passed with flying colors on all platforms.


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Supplier Y2K Status
Looking at our systems from a turnkey perspective, they will or may include hardware, operating systems, database software, applications, XTensions, Plug-Ins, etc. However, that is not always so in reality. In reality, the client may already have some of the hardware and third party software, or the client may be buying the third party products through other suppliers.

In fact, outside Denmark we encourage our clients to either buy from our distributors or whoever they prefer as supplier, given that they follow our guidelines for the system setup. However, as we cannot go through the proclaimed Y2K status of every product on the market today, we will focus on our main suppliers.

This being said, we cannot give any year 2000 warranties and/or guarantees.
As a reseller, we are not necessarily privy to the exact tests made by our suppliers and have only little or no leverage to influence the further development of these products. Actually, we may not have any more leverage than any other ordinary user has. Therefore, the best piece of advise we can give you is to make sure that you are running the newest versions on all your systems before the end of 1999. And do your own tests both before and after you upgrade!


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Hardware & Operating Systems
The Client and Server hardware used in our systems are PC's from Compaq running Windows NT, Macintosh computers, running MacOS, and Sun computers running Sun Solaris.

Apple Macintosh computers, MacOS - and Year 2000
SAXoTECH uses Apple Macintosh computers, running MacOS for clients, background machines of various character, including servers. The verdict from Apple is that MacOS does not have a year 2000 problem, as:

"The Macintosh and Mac OS have had the ability to properly handle dates past 1999 since the introduction of the Macintosh computer.
Any Mac OS application that makes correct use of the Mac OS Toolbox for clock functions will not have a problem transitioning to the year 2000."
In fact the more recent MacOS systems can handle dates until Year 29.940.

As an Apple Developer, SAXoTECH follows the guidelines set by Apple for product development. Therefore, naturally we comply with the correct use of the MacOS Toolbox for clock functions. None the less we tested it and went through all our Macintosh applications. They all handle the year 2000 and beyond without any problems.
But we still urge you to do the test on your systems to check if all your software for MacOS can handle the year 2000. Click here to see what to do.

PC's, Windows NT  - and Year 2000
SAXoTECH use PC's, running Windows NT for clients, background machines of various character, including servers, RAID systems, etc. In the following we will look at both PC's and Windows NT, as both hardware and operating system may have problems.

PC's
SAXoTECH's primary vendor for PC's is Compaq, but in reality it could be any other PC, just as long as it is able to run Windows NT. In the following, we will therefore look to Compaq and their Year 2000 program, to discuss the issue regarding PC's.
Compaq follows NSTL/National Software Testing Laboratories' guidelines for testing for Year 2000 compliance, or check the Year 2000 Compliance and the Industry Standard Personal Computer

Compaq states the following regarding their Y2K compliance:

"Compaq has taken significant measures to verify that all such products purchased on or after October 7th, 1997 pass the NSTL YMARK2000 test. Compaq verifies product compliance by auditing the ROM with the NSTL test throughout the Development Cycle, Wide Area Testing and Quality Assurance practices that have been implemented in our Manufacturing Processes."

More information on how Compaq handles Year 2000 can be found in their Year 2000 White Paper, Preparing for the Year 2000.

If you have Compaq products yourself, we suggest that you check out the status of your products' Y2K compliance in Compaq's Product Tables or do a search for your type Compaq.

If you use other PC vendors, we urge you to contact your supplier to make sure that your hardware conform to the NSTL YMARK2000 test or other similar test programs. You can also test your hardware's Y2K compliance by following the test in NSTL's guidelines for testing for Year 2000 compliance: Year 2000 Compliance and the Industry Standard Personal Computer

Windows NT
According to Microsoft, Windows NT Server 4.0 is compliant with minor issues today. And most applications designed for Windows NT Server are already Y2K compliant as part of the BackOffice® logo program.
But, Windows NT Server 5.0 beta 2 will be Y2K compliant upon release.

Until we get to Windows NT Server 5.0 beta 2, SAXoTECH  recommends that all our clients follow Microsoft's recommendations in their Windows NT Year 2000 Strategy.

Sun Solaris operating system, hardware  - and Year 2000
When choosing Sun/UNIX as operating systems for the servers or Raid systems, etc. in our solutions, SAXoTECH recommends Sun Solaris 2.6 - which from April 1998 has been approved as Year 2000 compliant by The Software Laboratory Limited, a respected UK-based software testing service.

The Software Laboratory Limited certifies the following:

"It is our considered opinion that the Year 2000 compliance of the Solaris 2.6 operating environment as well as the next version now in beta, are exceptionally good," said Ken Veitch, managing director of The Software Laboratory. "The pass rates show that Sun has put a great deal of effort into ensuring compliance of their operating environment, and we certify that the Solaris operating environment is Year 2000 compliant as of April 1998."

For full press release from Sun Microsystems, click here. For information on The Software Laboratory's Y2K service provided to Sun Microsystems, click here.
For information on Hardware Compatibility for Solaris please check out Sun's Hardware Compatibility Lists for Solaris (Intel Platform Edition).
And check out the Solaris X86 Hardware Certification Test Suite to perform compatibility testing on Solaris versions 2.5.1 and 2.6.


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Server/Database Software
Our primary SQL database software platforms are Oracle running on NT and/or UNIX operating systems. We also utilize the full text database BRS/SEARCH from Dataware Technologies, running on NT and/or UNIX operating systems for the SAXoBRS Archiving System.

Oracle - and Year 2000
According to Oracle, all Oracle7 and Oracle8 servers are fully Year 2000 compliant.
However, some old products from Oracle may not be Year 2000 compliant. So if you have an old Oracle system, why not check out Oracle's Year 2000 White Paper, to check out your system compliance.

BRS/SEARCH
Charles Rabie, Vice President of Software Products at Dataware Technologies, Inc. states that "all of these products [BRS/Search, CD Author Development System and Advance Design Library (ADL) and Publisher/Dataware II.] currently address the Year 2000 requirements, provided there was no hardcoding of dates to force a prefix of '''19'' during the production process." For the full press release click here.

Metaframe
SAXoTECH uses the Citrix MetaFrame/Enterprise (formerly known as Winframe) concept in Windows NT environments to emulate direct access to the main database in SAXoPRESS, if the costs of communication lines are too expensive for the client to maintain online access at all times from remote offices.
Citrix states the following about year 2000 compliance:

"WinFrame® 1.7 is considered Year 2000 compliant when Service Pack 5A has been applied (except for the issues and limitations described below). At no point prior to the installation of Service Pack 5A can Citrix promote that WinFrame 1.7 is Year 2000 compliant.

For more information about metaframe, winframe and Year 2000 compliance, click here.

SAMBA
SAXoTECH uses SAMBA to make it possible for an NT client to address a SUN Server. Is SAMBA Year 2000 compliant? Well, the answer is an unqualified "yes".

Samba has no difficulty with dates from now until well into the next century. However, since Samba is nearly always used with many other pieces of software to create an SMB filesharing network it is important to understand the issues, as both the server and the client operating systems or the client programs may have Y2K problems. Therefore, SAMBA users are advised to do Y2K checks on their own systems.

Helios Ethershare
For Macintosh-UNIX networks SAXoTECH uses Helios Ethershare 2.5., developed by HELIOS Software GmbH.
According to HELIOS Software GmbH, all their software products shipping since 1997, including Helios Ethershare 2.5., have no problem at all with calendar dates regarding year 2000. For more information about HELIOS Software GmbH's Y2K compliance, click here.


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Client Software

Products from Adobe
SAXoTECH uses several Adobe products in our solutions, including especially Adobe Type Manager 4.0, Adobe Type Reunion 2.0 (Mac), Adobe Acrobat 3.0 (includes PDF Writer, Acrobat Exchange, and Acrobat Distiller software), Adobe Acrobat Reader 3.0 and Adobe Photoshop 4.0 or newer. All these Adobe products and more are Year 2000 compliant, (click here to check it out) provided that the operating system used is year 2000 compliant, as Adobe software currently supports any date value set by the operating system click here

Microsoft Products
Apart from the Windows NT operating system, SAXoTECH also uses several other Microsoft products, including especially MS Word 97 and Remote Access Services.

FileMaker Pro
Earlier, SAXoTECH has used FileMaker Pro as the basis for an Image database solution for a few clients. According to FileMaker Inc. (formerly Claris Corporation) FileMaker Pro is Year 2000 compliant from version 2.1., however, given the statement by FileMaker Inc. regarding Year 2000 compliance, SAXoTECH recommends that users use/upgrade to FileMaker Pro 3.0 or newer.

Furthermore, we recommend that the user consults FileMaker Inc.'s Year 2000 statement to figure out whether the information already in their system can be misinterpreted after year 2000.

First Class from SoftArc, Inc.
First Class is used as the communication engine in SAXoGateway - the communication solution used by all Danish wire agencies and all daily newspapers but one to receive and send all types of content.

SoftArc, Inc. warrants that their systems are as Year 2000 compliant as the operating systems upon which they are running, as the FirstClass products are designed to obtain their time and date stamp information directly from the operating system clock of the computer on which they are installed. In other words, check your operating system for Year 2000 compliance!

For more information about SoftArc, Inc. Y2K compliance, click here.

Timbuktu Pro from Netopia, Inc.
SAXoTECH uses Timbuktu Pro together with Remote Access to do remote support on our installations. Both Timbuktu Pro for Macintosh and Windows (versions later than 1.5) are Year 2000 Compliant. For more information about Netopia, Inc. Y2K compliance, click here.

QuarkXPress & QuarkXPress XTensions
SAXoTECH uses QuarkXPress & QuarkXPress XTensions as the pagination engine in the SAXoPRESS Publishing System. The QuarkXPress XTensions used with our systems are generally the XTensions provided in the standard package by Quark Inc. plus our own QuarkXPress XTensions for the SAXoPRESS Publishing System.

Other QuarkXPress XTensions may also be used by the individual client, under the provision that these QuarkXPress XTensions have been approved by SAXoTECH. However, SAXoTECH makes no representation, guarantee or warranty, neither express or implied as to their utility in connection with our systems.

Quark and Y2K Issues
Cautious as always Quark Inc. says that they "are happy to report generally that [Quark, Inc.] have tested the following Quark products and are not now aware of any Year 2000 problems intrinsic to any of them: QuarkXPress version 4.0 and later, QuarkXPress Passport version 4.0 and later, QuarkImmedia version 1.5 and later."
And they continue: "Quark cannot review or test its old products or prior versions of the tested products listed above, so if you have a Year 2000 concern about our old products or a previous version of the listed products, we strongly urge you to upgrade to the most current version of the product in question."

Furthermore, they make no guarantees that their programs will run with other programs, including "XTensions or other similar programs that are linked, or otherwise interact with, the Quark products [Quark, Inc.] have tested." Quark Inc. strongly urges people to contact their suppliers of other systems and ask them regarding year 2000 Issues.

For more information on Quark and Y2K Issues click here.


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Lars Halkjaer
lars_halkjaer@saxotechonline.com
SAXoTECH Inc.

SAXoTECH Viking

 

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