POSTSCRIPT / March 14 1999 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

Share on facebook
Share This
Share on twitter
Twitter

What to do to beat that pesky Y2K Bug

WITHOUT meaning to spoil your Sunday, let me pass on some suggestions on how to prepare for the doomsday scenario that some pessimists have painted on the arrival of the next millennium.

It’s probably already coming out of your ears, but this has to do with the Y2K or Millenium Bug threatening to disrupt even our leisurely life in these blessed islands.

When the countdown ends and the first second of Jan. 1, 2000, seizes this world, there may still be sporadic computer failures affecting us despite the excited and expensive preparations. What to do? Here’s what:

  1. Fill your car(s) with gasoline just before Dec. 31, 1999. If computer-regulated power generators fail, gas pumps may not be working starting Jan. 1. You should have enough gas to last till they fix the problem.
  2. Have cash to last you two weeks. Automated teller machines and banks may have problems so withdraw before Dec. 31, 1999. Let’s hope the banks can cope with the heavy withdrawals almost similar to bank runs.
  3. Have two weeks’ supply of non-perishable food, water, prescription medicine, candles, flashlights and batteries.
  4. Obtain a copy of your credit report before Sept. 9, 1999. After Sept. 9, 1999, but before Dec. 31, 1999, and after Jan 1, 2000, compare documents for errors. Reason: Sept. 9, 1999, is a problem date (9/9/99), because some sloppy programmers use a 9999 code as a reset flag.
  5. Obtain paper copies of bank, investment and credit card account status just before the end of 1999. They will be your reference in case the computer glitch makes a mess of the institutional records.
  6. Obtain paper copies of homeowner’s, earthquake, flood, car, life and health insurance policies with expiration dates printed on them.
  7. If you can avoid it, don’t fly or take a train ride just before the ticking in of Jan. 1. Flight and train controllers may experience outages. Automatic controls for train connections may not work.

Aside from those precautions, relax and don’t let the stressful talk get you. As a layman, there’s nothing you can do anyway. Let the government and the experts handle it.

* * *

IMAGINE the computer, which is just an invention of man, now dictating how we will live!

That’s just the anomaly. It should be the other way around – it should be us humans controlling computers and making them work to make life, our life, easier and more pleasant.

It’s the same with money. More and more people become captives of money and the hot pursuit of it. As our elders remind us, we use money and not allow money to use us.

Unfortunately, in this increasingly materialistic world, money has become the yardstick of success, reputation and influence. Nobody listens to the poor and those who look poor, while the rich often dictate what goes on in this world.

By some alchemy, wealthy women appear more beautiful and desirable than they really are. Rich and powerful men are suddenly handsome and fun and sexy.

* * *

WE got some feedback to our Postscript last week on assembling a personal computer yourself and saving a bundle.

Reader Dennis Lim of dns@skyinet.net says: “I can appreciate the article very much because I am a computer lover myself. It is always nice to hear people becoming more knowledgeable about PCs. It is frustrating to encounter people who say they don’t know much about computers and not see them do anything about it.”

Along the same line, Reggie Villamin of PC Builders Club says that it is not enough that we have advances in computer technology if this is not matched by the competence of people using them. Hence the need for continuing education and for computer education being made accessible to more people.

* * *

Lim continues: “You said in your article that assembling a PC yourself assures that you install the right parts and that they are installed properly. Unfortunately, the word “properly” can have different meanings. Properly can mean that the cables inside the PC are neatly arranged or that the cards and the processor are tightly inserted into their slots.

“But properly can also mean that you are using the right memory chip with the system or you are using the right video card for the system in question. For example, the connectors on the memory should match the connectors on the motherboard.

“Like when the memory module connector is gold plated, it is preferable that the connectors on the motherboard are also gold plated. Although, silver and gold connectors will work together, a good match is preferable still don’t you think so?

“Or it might mean that component types are compatible for the system. If you’re assembling a Pentium II 300 MHz PC, then the supporting peripherals like hard disk, video card and memory should also be “fast” enough to support the computing power that the PII-300 can potentially provide.

“For example, if you install only a PCI video card with 2 mb on the Pentium II 300 machine, a bottle neck will be created on the video subsystem because the processor can pump out more data than the video card can handle slowing down the PC.”

* * *

POSTSCRIPT also mentioned the malpractice of overclocking computers. This involves resetting the jumpers on the motherboard to force the overrating of a computer. Thus, a 266 MHz computer can be made to appear as a 300 MHz and sold as a faster model. The ordinary buyer won’t know the difference and will just rely on the Intel logo pasted on it.

Lim says: “Another way of overclocking a PC is not to increase the multiplier but to increase the bus speed. As Postscript mentioned, you can overclock a 266 into a 300 MHz by overclocking the multiplier from 4 to 4.5.

“Another way is to keep the multiplier the same but instead of configuring the PC for 66.6 Mhz bus speed, you configure a BX motherboard to 100 Mhz. Thus, 100 MHz multiplied by 4 is 400 MHz. Thus the overclocking now becomes worse.”

If you assemble your own PC – and it’s very easy! – you know that everything inside is in order and that your set is not overrated. For only P1,500, you can take a one-day course on how to put together your own PC.

* * *

WE mentioned last time that the Pentium II processors (good for 333 MHz to 450 MHz) are too expensive at P30,000 to P50,000. Sorry, we inadvertently gave the wrong figures. Those tag prices pertain to a complete PC setup (all accessories included). The Pentium II processor alone will cost P7,400 to P22,500.

If you have a Pentium II and can afford to experiment with and upgrade to the new generation Pentium III, you can open the casing, pull out the processor yourself and replace it with a Pentium III. Cost of processor: P23,700 for 450 MHz and P33,500 for a 500 MHz Pentium III.

Actually, you can have the same speed and power using cheaper processors. A lot of people, even in the States, still go for AMD. But this brand of processor is not as well known here as the Pentium of Intel, because it does not pour as much money into advertising and promotions.

But the AMD processor can hold its own against the Pentium, according to many who have used it. Because of the lower overhead, AMD is sold at a much lower price. Sample prices: AMD K6-2 300 MHz, P3,800; 333 MHz, P4,000; and 350 MHz, P4,600 (compare with Pentium II’s P8,500 for 350 MHz).

* * *

IF you are about to buy computer software or programs, it might make sense to postpone doing it. The grapevine says that the newer versions are about to be issued, so you might want to wait for them.

If you go to the right shops, you will find even the latest versions selling at incredibly low prices. For instance, if you want to buy the 1999 three-CD Britannica encyclopedia, which costs P400-P500 (yes, sir, its only for that much!), sit it out for a few days and Brittanica 2000 will be available locally.

Popular Microsoft software like Office 97 and Encarta 99 (consisting of two CDs) are reportedly about to be issued in updated 2000 versions. So, wait awhile and check with the nearest friendly pirate every now and then.

Would you believe that many Pinoys in the States buy the latest software in Metro Manila? Within the week of their issue in the States, we have them in Manila. Besides, we make them cheaper, that’s why.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 14, 1999)

Share your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published.