GW hires computer doctor to cure `millennium bug’

If computer experts are on target with their predictions, the year 2000 could be anything but a celebration.

In fact, the dawn of the new millennium could bring everything from entire computer systems to personal desktop computers to a screeching halt.

Dan Dragaset is GW’s answer to the year 2000 problem. He’s one of the latest breed of computer doctors trying to work out kinks in computer systems before the “millennium bug” hits.

The University hired Dragaset this year to head the Year 2000 Project – a program administrators hope will prevent GW’s technology from being plagued by the computer glitch.

With less than two years until the millennium, Dragaset is echoing the concerns of technology experts on the Web and on the covers of news and computer magazines.

According to experts, the millennium bug is a computer programming snafu that has left computer hardware and software unable to understand the date “2000” in mathematical computing, data processing and software applications, Dragaset said.

Most software cannot differentiate between the years 1900 and 2000, Dragaset said.

He said the implications of such a breakdown for students with personal computers and GW’s computer systems could include the disruption of student services and the disturbance of University financial and administrative functions.

“Basically any computer system is susceptible (to the glitch),” Dragaset said. “If the operating system doesn’t recognize the year 2000, the computer may just stop or, in the case of some PCs, revert to an earlier date – changing `00′ to the year it was created, ’76, for instance.”

“The more recent systems built in the last 10 years may have been properly built,” he said. “But if they were built earlier or are supplied by computer vendors, then they may have to be upgraded or even replaced.”

Gaec, the company that supplies GW’s financial computer system, is in the process of correcting the glitch in its system and is building updated systems. GW will implement the new system in the next six months, Dragaset said.

“Our goal is to make sure all aspects of the University are identifying where they might have problems. The plan is to have everything corrected before the year 2000 so that there shouldn’t be any problems when it rolls around,” Dragaset said.

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