And you thought Y2K was all over : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

And you thought Y2K was all over By SEAN O'SULLIVAN Staff reporter 02/21/2000

For those who may have stockpiled bottled water, cans of Spam and batteries in anticipation of a widespread computer meltdown on Jan. 1: You've got one last chance to use your bunker.

It's "the Leap Year bug."

Call it the last hurrah for Y2K. Experts say this is the last of the anticipated computer glitches because of the new millennium. The potential problem comes because 2000 is an unconventional leap year, and some computer programs may not account for February's having 29 days.

The rule is that, when the year is divisible by 4, it is a leap year. The exception to the rule is the "00" year of a century, such as 1900. But the exception to the exception is a "00" year divisible by 400, such as the year 2000.

The President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion has delayed closing shop until the date has passed.

But fear not. The fix-it-up panic over Y2K -- where citizens, governments and businesses scrambled to update their computers -- probably has killed the Leap Year bug.

In testimony to Congress last month, John Koskinen, chairman of the Council on Year 2000, said he does not expect major national problems.

Most programs that fixed the year 2000 rollover also fixed the Leap Year bug, said Betsy Mackenzie, director of computer-system security at the University of Delaware.

Even if they didn't, she said, the worst problem she expected was that computer users may have to reset their machines' date on March 1.

On Feb. 29, affected machines will think it is March 1. The Y2K bug was expected to shut down computers and scramble data, thinking the year 2000 was 1900.

"It is not quite as ominous as Y2K," Mackenzie said. "I wouldn't make such a big deal out of it."

And once humankind gets past the Leap Year bug, Mackenzie said, there is one more surprise down the line.

Computer experts at UD noticed that a newly acquired statistics program might have trouble calculating a year with five digits.

"It has a year 20,000 problem," Mackenzie said.

So if the Leap Year bug fizzles, you can hold onto those bottles of water, cans of meat and batteries for Y20K.

-- Martin Thompson (, February 21, 2000

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