Lab Notes

Lab Notes

Brit brouhaha. The British government is attacking the year 2000 problem on a new front: a public awareness program to calm fears.

The Brits are not saying there won't be incidents. They just want to make sure hysteria does not divert resources away from fixing whatever year 2000 problems do arise. In a brochure titled 'Fact Not Fiction,' the British government assures citizens that banks, social services and utilities will all survive the date rollover. Maybe a British accent is more soothing?

Office 2000 hits Y2K speed bump. At the recent launch of Microsoft Office 2000, Microsoft Corp. president Steve Ballmer acknowledged that initial sales of the new productivity suite might be slow because offices are focusing their attention on year 2000 preparations. The suite will sell for up to $399 per copy in various versions.

As many business and government networks put off any changes or new deployments until the beginning of next year, volume buys of Office 2000 will probably lag for a while.

The GCN Lab would like to know when readers plan to install the new suite. Please drop us a line at labnotes@gcn.com and say whether you plan to begin deploying any of the new suites from Microsoft, Corel Corp. or Lotus Development Corp., and if so, when.

Don't copy that floppy. The Software Publishers Association's snappy phrase sounds a little dated, but its urgency is undiminished. A recent study shows that two out of every five copies of software worldwide are pirated.

When a piracy ring recently got caught in Los Angeles, eight people were arrested and software with a retail value of $56 million was confiscated. The group not only had a $1.5 million CD-ROM duplicator but also was printing color manuals and boxes, faking authenticity certificates and even shrink-wrapping boxes.

SPA has merged with another group and now is called the Software and Information Industry Association. Its Web site, at www.siia.net, has information about software piracy.

The root of all evil. OK, that might be an overstatement, but for spreadsheet users, failure to correctly calculate numbers bigger than 16 digits definitely sounds like a phantom menace.

The inaccuracy, which affects all leading spreadsheet programs, stems from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' floating-point guidelines for rounding off 17-digit computation results to the nearest 16-digit number. Until a new guideline and a new microprocessor architecture are in place, has anybody got a calculator with a 17-digit display?

By Jason Byrne
Internet: jbyrne@gcnlab.com

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