The Penn State faculty researcher will play a key role
in helping the University achieve year 2000 readiness. "One of
Penn State's biggest challenges this year is to ensure that our
researchers and their systems, data and laboratories are ready for the
year 2000," said Kenneth Blythe, senior director of the Office
of Administrative Systems and the University's year 2000 coordinator.
Research involves many system components including instruments, computers, computer programs, data created by the programs and data obtained from other sources. These are of a greater variety and greater number than any other type of computers at the University and they are used in many different ways.
Equipment sometimes has embedded chips that are not easily tested for year 2000 readiness. These function like a built in computer. In many cases, the only way to determine that an embedded chip is year 2000 ready is to work with the manufacturer or supplier of the components.
Embedded chips are just one of the complicating factors of research readiness for the year 2000. Data used in research often is gathered on a global basis without knowledge of the readiness of other data partners.
"If they must fail because of year 2000 problems," said Blythe, "it would be better for research computers and chips to fail outright rather than to keep running and produce spurious results."
If a computer or chip is not year 2000 ready, it can still keep running as if nothing happened, while producing bad results. To avoid this problem, researchers have to track down and identify critical components, then test them or obtain assurances of compliance from the vendor or manufacturer.
The Office of Administrative Systems and the Office of Sponsored Programs have developed a white paper, "The Year 2000 Problem and the Penn State Researcher," to guide the University's efforts in this area. The paper provides clues for understanding, assessing and fixing the year 2000 problem in the research environment. It is available at the Penn State Year 2000 Web site at http://www.psu.edu/Year2000. The paper is directed at researchers because their specialized knowledge means that they play a key role in determining the readiness of their research projects.
The formal process involves taking these steps:
As part of the University's diligence for year 2000, research faculty will be asked to indicate in writing their "awareness and commitment to year 2000 readiness."
They also will be asked to categorize research components as being Y2K compliant, Y2K noncompliant, or unknown and document their plans for dealing with year 2000 noncompliant or unknown components. The University also must track and retain records received from each faculty member as evidence that every precaution has been taken to prepare for the year 2000.
Faculty members involved in research will receive
information from deans or research executives regarding preparations for
If you own a personal computer, it is your responsibility to make sure that it, and the software you use on it, is ready for the year 2000. The summer is a great time to do this. Please check out the white paper titled "Personal Computer Preparations for the Year 2000" at http://www.psu.edu/Year2000/action/intro.html on Penn State's year 2000 Web site.
Kathy Plavko, Office of Administrative Systems
One of the steps for correcting year 2000-related problems in PCs is to apply operating system updates. The following links point to general Y2K resources including IBM and Microsoft update files which will reportedly make the intended PC operating systems year 2000 compatible.
For general PC year 2000 issues see the Penn State
official Year 2000 Web page at
http://www.psu.edu/Year2000/ and the CAC Web page: http://ftp.cac.psu.edu/pub/year2000/PSU-NSTL/pcy2k.htm.
For the latest on IBM product year 2000 compatibility, please see the company Web page: http://www.software.ibm.com/year2000/resource.html .
Microsoft's Year 2000 Web Page offers links to their latest product updates and a free quarterly Y2K CD containing the update files. Please see: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/year2k/.
The CAC recommends checking vendor Web pages often since developments in this arena are changing rapidly. If you do not feel that you have the computing skills to implement these updates, please contact your Penn State Departmental Year 2000 Officer for help. Please see the Web site http://www.psu.edu/Year2000/action/attach1.html.