Bankruptcy court keeps MS-DOS database

Bankruptcy court keeps MS-DOS database

Rather than replace the app, court opts to use Y2KFox for date code fix

By Chris Driscoll

GCN Staff

Last year, the Federal Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Georgia faced the century rollover with a growing workload and an aging MS-DOS database application that used only two-digit dates for year fields.

The court uses the National Integrated Bankruptcy System (NIBS) to track all bankruptcy case data. It stores and changes such items as docket entries and hearing dates, keeps up with debtor data to determine the outcome of cases and maintains the judges' calendars.

NIBS is based on Microsoft FoxPro 2.6 for MS-DOS, said Lisa Drescher, a systems analyst and programmer for the court in Savannah, Ga. At the same time Drescher and two co-workers were trying to figure out what to do about their two-digit year fields, the workload was growing for the court's 42 users in Savannah and Augusta, Ga.

'Bankruptcies are exploding,' Drescher said. 'We handle something like 1,800 each year in our office.'

The fix

After meeting with counterparts in other federal courts, Drescher's office licensed the Y2KFox package from Communication Horizons LLC of Stamford, Conn. Y2KFox, a terminate-and-stay-resident MS-DOS program, has a FoxPro library that adds either the number 1900 or 2000 to each two-digit year it intercepts, depending on a user-defined threshold.

About 40 federal bankruptcy courts use Y2KFox, as well as some U.S. District Courts, two Navy programs and several state agencies, said Neil Weicher, a spokesman for Communication Horizons.


Because the court's systems staff was kept so busy by the increasing caseload, Drescher said, she searched for a software fix that would be fast and easy to apply.



'''All of our date fields are just the two digits,' she said. 'What Y2KFox does is, if a two-digit year is less than, say, 30, the century should be 2000. Otherwise it should be 1900. It converts the date for you and displays it properly. You don't have to change your code, which is a timesaver.'

The court licensed the software for each of its PCs. Y2KFox costs $399 per client and $995 for a server version that handles up to 20 PCs. The package also comes in versions for Computer Associates International Inc.'s CA-Clipper, Inprise Corp.'s dBase, FoxBase+ from Fox Software Inc. of Perrysburg, Ohio, and FoxPro for Microsoft Windows.

The bankruptcy court's technical staff in San Antonio, meanwhile, is rewriting the entire NIBS, still using FoxPro 2.6 for MS-DOS, Drescher said. Her office will wait until sometime in 2000 to migrate to the new version because the current NIBS has many patches and fixes that must be repaired.'' Each court is ultimately responsible for its own systems, Drescher said. Her team consults with other courts, but her office must guarantee its own fixes.

'It falls on us to make sure it works,' she said, and the group 'has written a lot of code changes in response to specific court needs.'

Y2KFox has been running at the bankruptcy court since April. 'So far we haven't had any problems,' Drescher said.

Besides using Y2KFox, the court staff has been installing year 2000 patches for Novell NetWare 4.01, which resides on a 350-MHz Pentium II server, plus patches for several dozen Pentium PCs running Windows 95 and Microsoft Office 97. So far, the staff has done all the year 2000 work and has not outsourced any of the tasks.

Latest news

Drescher said she and her co-workers keep up with the latest year 2000 news by meeting with other court groups, watching the Web sites of companies whose software products they use, attending classes and keeping up with the bankruptcy courts' own year 2000 intranet page.

'It's a constant that we have to check now and again,' she said.

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington handles the changes necessary to make court e-mail systems ready for 2000, she said.

Even after the server has been tested, Drescher expects some problems.

'We've had so many meetings to make sure we're covering everything, but I'm sure that with all the off-the-shelf software and software that we've written ourselves, we're probably going to miss something,' she said.

Contact Communication Horizons at 800-480-1604.''

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