July 1999

Finding Y2K Problems

A free program to test and fix certain Year 2000 problems with your PC is available from Viasoft:


The BIOS Test & Fix program checks three things:

  1. Will your PC report the correct date if it is left on when January 1, 2000 arrives?

  2. Will your PC report the correct date when it starts up in the year 2000?

  3. Are leap years properly reported for the years 2000 through 2015?

The first problem can be avoided by turning off your PC when you leave the office for the last time in 1999. The other two problems require a software "patch" which the Test & Fix program can install for you.

We tried the program on several computers. A Dell Dimension Pentium II machine and two Toshiba notebook computers had no problems. On an older machine with a Cyrix 6x86 processor (a Pentium-compatible 133 MHz chip), the test program reported a problem if the machine was running when the century changed. We'll just turn it off before New Year's Day.

An even older PC with an Intel 486 chip had both problems (1) and (2). We installed the software patch to fix problem (2).

Fixing The Operating System

Once the BIOS issue is eliminated, the next step is to consider the operating system. We'll only discuss Windows 95 and Windows 98.

Microsoft has Year-2000 updates for Windows here:


For Windows 95, you need to download a file named w95y2k.exe. This file is over 2 megabytes long, so it won't fit on a 1.44 MB floppy disk. You can order the software on a CD-ROM by calling 888-673-8925.

For Windows 98, look for Windows Update on the Start menu. This leads to Microsoft's Web site and the opportunity to download the Windows 98 Year 2000 Update 2. When we tried it, several errors occurred and it asked us to insert a floppy disk! Did it work anyway? Probably, but the problems it fixes are too subtle to know for certain.

Microsoft recommends that you check a setting in the Control Panel (Start, Settings, Control Panel). Double-click Regional Settings. Click the Date tab. Look at the Short Date Style. It may show M/d/yy, which you should change to M/d/yyyy. Programs which respond to this setting will now require a four-digit year instead of a two-digit year. That will prevent ambiguity about the century.

Checking Applications

Once these basics are attended to, you can concentrate on the Year-2000 readiness of your applications. This is where most problems will occur. Viasoft offers a program, OnMark 2000 Assess, which looks for applications known to have problems. It also claims to check data files for the use of two-digit years in dates.

No verification program, however, can substitute for the vendor's own tests. You should carefully review each application and find out if your version has been tested by the manufacturer. Be prepared to upgrade any applications more than a year or two old.

Even thorough testing by the vendor is not an absolute guarantee of compliance. Make sure you know how to contact the vendor to obtain upgrades after January 1, just in case problems are discovered.

RTG Bills And The Year 2000

As we've reported before, RTG Bills and RTG Timer are ready for the Year 2000. You can find complete details on our Web site at


Our programs store dates with four-digit years. When you type in a date, they allow two-digit years for convenience. We assume the years 50 to 99 refer to 1950 to 1999, and that 00 to 49 refer to 2000 to 2049.

We strongly recommend that all RTG Bills users upgrade to the latest version, currently Version 1.21, before year-end. If any problems do arise, it will be easier to fix them if you are running the latest version. Free upgrades are available on our Web site.

RTG Bills Bug Reported

We recently discovered an unusual problem in RTG Bills. When you try to print a prebill, bill, or certain reports, you may see an "Overflow" error message. Then the program exits (or crashes with a "General Protection Fault").

This error can occur when RTG Bills tries to print a transaction that contains a very long paragraph. The transaction could be a fee or an expense, or even a payment or an adjustment. Usually it is a fee, since the other transactions rarely have long descriptions.

Here is what goes wrong. RTG Bills says to the printer, "If I printed this entire paragraph as one line, how long would the line be?" Instead of returning a length (which would give the correct answer, "Much too long to fit on one line!") the printer driver says "Overflow" instead. The problem only occurs with certain printers, so it could be considered a bug in the printer driver.

The next version of RTG Bills will avoid the problem by not asking for the length of a paragraph which is clearly too long to fit on one line. In the meantime, use the Enter key to break up a long paragraph into shorter paragraphs. Note that it is the paragraph length that is a problem, not the total length of the description. Very long descriptions cause no problems, so long as they consist of paragraphs which are not too long.

This problem can be serious if it occurs while RTG Bills is printing a bill. If this happens to you, contact us at support@rtgsoftware.com.

We think this bug has been lurking in the program since its first release in 1996. Yet it was not reported to us until this month! Problems like this make it impossible to be certain that any program is bug-free.

Two RTG Names Bugs Fixed

We found two small bugs in RTG Names, our free name and address program.

The first bug appears if you minimize RTG Names, then right-click on it in the task bar and choose Close. When the program starts again, it gives an error message.

The second bug involves importing information from a file or synchronizing the names and addresses with RTG Bills. If the only change to an entry (in the file that you are importing, or in RTG Bills) is the e-mail address, then the entry is not updated. In other words, the change is ignored. If there are other changes, say to the name, then the e-mail address is properly updated.

Both bugs are now fixed. You can download RTG Names Version 1.06 from our Web site.

RTG Bills and RTG Timer are trademarks of RTG Data Systems. Other company and product names may be trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.

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