Herald and Journal Herald & Journal, March 30, 1998

The big and small of it

By MYRON HEUER

I don't know if you've heard about the big problem the computer people have. It's called "the year 2000 problem."

It seems that all of the computers that control our daily life were programmed to recognize "00" as 1900. this means that we're headed for a crash in two short years. For example, you see the computer doesn't recognize 1988 or 1999. It uses 88 and 99. In other words, if something isn't done by New Year's Day 2000, everything reverts back to 1900.

How bad is the problem? The experts say the cost for fixing the date problem will cost private industry between $300 to $600 billion. The government will also have a big cost. Think about all those social security and Medicare checks that will have to have the 00 corrected.

Mostly the cost will require hiring someone to laboriously go through line after line of computer code, checking the date-variable's digits and fiddling with minute pieces of code. And the demand is rising daily.

There are definitely not enough people out there to do this, even with the whiz-bang technology we have. A lot of people will have to come out of retirement to do this for two or three years, then go back into retirement.

I don't profess to understand this problem fully. I think it means that if not corrected, it will show that I'm not even born yet. Because the computers will show 1900 instead of 2000, I'd have to wait 28 years before being born. It's a real problem alright. But if man can fly to the moon, I guess they'll solve this problem.

Now for another problem. It involves toilet seats, and if the lid is raised or not. Man and woman have been fighting about this ever since the arrival of indoor plumbing. It's one of the first arguments newlyweds have. Well, some entrepreneur has come up with a solution.

There is a device on the market that attaches to the toilet seat. It sells for around $30. When the lid is down, a green light comes on. If the lid is up, a red light comes on. The people marketing this device say it's selling well. I have a cheaper and simpler solution. Turn the bathroom light on.

It'd be nice if the computer problem was as easy to solve as the toilet lid.

Now, should the toilet paper come off the top of the roll or bottom?


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