The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, January 16, 2000
Snip Net

A sprinkling of Y2K troubles

THE new year is marching forward smoothly, with only minor glitches related to the Year 2000 technology problem. The Y2K glitch has yet to disrupt any key infrastructure systems, with just a few minor problems affecting individual computer systems that were able to be fixed within a few hours or so, according to government officials and industry observers, reports Erich Luening, Staff Writer, CNET

However, some warn there is still plenty of time for the bug to wreak havoc as more and more businesses bring their complete systems back online.

"My concern is that some will let their guard down because we are still overly focused on the next few days rather than the next few weeks, especially for embedded systems," said Leon A. Kappelman, an associate professor at the University of North Texas and Y2K expert.

  One fairly high-profile Y2K issue: Software giant Microsoft said it is experiencing two Year 2000-related problems that affect software for viewing Web pages and using its free email service, Hotmail.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer software is displaying the date as 3900 on some Web pages when it reads outdated programming language commands scripted in some sites, Bloomberg reported. Microsoft also experienced a "minor" glitch in its Hotmail email program that can cause an error in some message dates.

Most reported Y2K bugs turned out to be fairly minor. For example, at Super Video, a video store in New York state, a customer at the store got the shock of the young century on New Year’s Day when the charge for renting "The General’s Daughter" came to $91,250, Reuters reported. The store’s computer was charging customers as though they were returning videos 100 years late. "The clerk and I were shocked, and then zeroed out the late charge and gave the customer a free video rental and wished him Happy New Year," s said Terry Field, owner of the store.

Where will the growth be?

Now that we shoud look beyond Y2K, which are the major growth areas in IT? If we take Jesse Berst, ZDNet AnchorDesk Editorial Director’s word, the five sectors are already healthy, but they will soon take off big-time are:

Business to business ecommerce: This category has merely been awaiting standards (like XML), infrastructure (like VPNs) and the end of the Y2K stall to explode. With those things in place now, B2B ecommerce will grow from $43 billion in 1998 to $1.3 trillion in 2003. (Merrill Lynch.)

Wireless: Could Nokia or Ericsson be the next Cisco? Wireless will be to the 2000s what data networking was to the 1990s. Combine tremendous subscriber growth with exciting new services and you have a growth machine. That machine will kick into hyperdrive when the Third Generation (3G) standard rolls out in 2001 with data speeds of 2 Mbps.

Internet appliances: Get ready for the post-PC era. It could hit as early as next Christmas, though the year after is more likely.

Handhelds: Sprint PCS says three-fourths of its new phones already contain a microbrowser. Combine palm PCs with data-ready phones and you have a huge market. We need only standards and more bandwidth to take this market to the next level.

Software as services: Some software will be "rented" over the Internet instead of sold. Recurring revenue streams, long-term contracts and customer lock-in will create new financial models for software companies. However, the transition will take years

— Compiled by Roopinder Singh