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Game Time for Y2K
by Jon Gordon
December 20, 1999
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Only 12 days to Y2K. Do you know where your bottled water and ramen noodles are ? Your money? Do you know how to keep your computer happy? There are some things you can try to ward off the millennium bug, but you just might beat it by doing nothing at all.
Final Tune-Up
Is your computer susceptible to the Y2K bug? First, test your BIOS. Download a program from CNET to do this.

How do you fix a Y2K problem? Check Y2K Base Web site for recommended software to accomplish this.

Still have questions? The Geek Squad provides some free technical support.

For additional resources, see our Y2K Resources page.

IN THE NEXT FEW MINUTES, you'll hear tips on how you can prepare your home and computer for the Year 2000 bug. But the experts we called for this story all say, or at least imply, there is little peril in ignoring their advice. The American Red Cross says you won't freeze or starve.
Deppa: Normal families here in Minnesota have more than adequate clothing and blankets, and most of them have a two or three day food supply on hand anyway.
A computer repair expert says don't worry about your PC.
Stephens: We don't expect it to really be a big deal at all.
Same thing for Y2K-related computer viruses.
Perry: They are not in wide-enough circulation to cause mass problems.
And says our personal-finance expert.
Brown: I don't really perceive that it's going to be a tremendous issue.
Still, if you're worried, or just want to be prudent, keep listening. Ron Deppa, disaster-services manager for the St. Paul chapter of the Red Cross, says keep some food and other supplies on hand, just like you would for a winter storm.
Deppa: Kind of establish a little disaster-supply kit. Non-perishable foods, also include water, and prescription-non-prescription medications that you may need for your family.
Also on Deppa's list: flashlight, batteries, and a full tank of gas in the car. Some people predict the Y2K bug could cause power outages, and that would mean loss of heat in many homes. Deppa says he's not worried.
Deppa: If there is a transformer or something that goes, it could be anywhere from four to eight hours and a normal house won't cool down in that time. And so you don't have to worry too much about that.
Banks and other financial institutions have promised no Y2K disruptions. Still, Twin Cities financial adviser Judy Brown advises people it's always a good idea to keep extra copies of your records, especially if you use a software package like "Quicken."
Brown: They absolutely should make two backups and put it away carefully, and make sure the backup works. I would keep the hard copy of all records of your last bank statement.
Brown says these records will be handy in the unlikely event you have to reconstruct your finances. Getting back to Quicken: older versions of the financial software are known to have some Y2K problems, so get a software patch from Quicken's Web site.

Let's move on to your PC itself. Macintosh users, you can ignore the rest of this story, and begin gloating. Robert Stephens, president of the Twin Cities computer repair firm the Geek Squad, says any PC made in the last five years or so will be just fine. Even older machines will probably function normally, but just in case.
Stephens: Number one, back up your machine, any critical files, just in case. So that if something goes wrong you can revert to the state before the date change.
Stephens says you should also visit Microsoft's Web site to download various Y2K software patches.

Finally, it's wise to run anti-virus software on your computer, and update it about once a week. Virus writers find Y2K an irresistible target. David Perry of anti-virus company Trend Micro says there are at least a dozen Y2K-related viruses circulating. He expects more, including a nasty one that would make all your Y2K preparations for naught.
Perry: It would be something that would undo the Y2K fix that you have done.
Now here are some things experts say you definitely should not do. Don't draw a large amount of cash from your bank; home insurance wont cover large losses due to theft or fire. Don't fall for Y2K scams. And don't rush out and buy massive quantities of food and other supplies. Panic buying will just deplete store shelves and make life more difficult for everyone.