University adds Y2K link to site

Page intended to inform campus of possible millennium problems

by Sally Claunch

Special to The Shorthorn

As the year 2000 approaches, university officials have added a Y2K link to the university Web site, This link was added to keep students informed about possible computer problems they may face on Jan. 1, 2000. When students log on to the Internet in the computer lab in Ransom Hall computing center, they are automatically directed to the university home page, which contains the new link. James Stewart, software systems specialist and the administrator of the site, said he added the link two weeks ago. Chauncey Jackson, year 2000 project coordinator, said Y2K information had been "buried" on the site, and he wanted the link added so students would see Y2K information on the UTA Web site. Jackson said Y2K awareness is important not only for faculty and staff, but for students and the community as well. "There is just so much misinformation out there," he said. The page offers a comprehensive look at Y2K problems and how to address them. It also provides timely information about Y2K, how the university is complying and contacts about Y2K status. The site contains a newsletter called "Y2K Monthly" and a free mailing list dedicated to Y2K problems. To subscribe, students may e-mail and follow instructions. Erin Morgan, technical and user service specialist, has been responsible for updating the Y2K site since October. "The Y2K link is a big topic and worthy of being accessible on the main page." She said. "Information needs to be in front of people so they can get up to date." Jackson said the link is vital in informing students. "We are advocating as strongly as possible to give Y2K exposure and have established the link in an attempt to reach students," he said. Jackson said that while faculty and staff may be aware of the Y2K issue, many students are not as well-informed. He said he wants the students to know exactly what Y2K is and to be able to prepare for it. Jackson said Y2K is a big problem because it affects many computer systems that are date-sensitive. He explained that when the date changes from 1999 to 2000, many systems will experience problems because the computer systems interpret the date as '99. These systems do not have a protocol in place for the year 2000. Because the system will assume that the date gets larger, not smaller, the date '00 can cause problems in computers that have not been upgraded to deal with the year 2000. Jackson said faculty and staff are aware of Y2K problems because he has set up a "Y2K champion" in each department. These champions produce an inventory of all hardware and software , with check points outlined by Jackson, to determine what problems may arise on Jan. 1. He said as far as the university is concerned, their systems are scheduled to be ready for the year 2000 by mid-April. Jackson has also attended meetings with the North Texas Council of Governments to assist them in addressing Y2K problems that may arise in local utilities, fire departments and 911 service. "We can't just beat our chests and say we're cool; we need a common voice to say to the community 'here's what we're doing,' " he said. Students who have problems with Y2K can check out the Web page or call the Maverick Computing Center and get free information about how to address particular problems from the service technicians. Billy Watkins is a PC technician at the center. "We advise students to get with their manufacturer and get an update," he said. "Most manufacturers are working to put out updates so their computers will continue to work in the year 2000."

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