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No Exploding Appliances in Year 2000

If massive interruptions and chaos in American life occur from the Year 2000 computer bug, you can rest assured that your coffeemaker will still be cranking out brew, and the microwave won't explode at the stroke of midnight, December 31, 1999. The Federal Trade Commission, looking out for the average consumer, has been reviewing home appliances that have electronic timers to see how they'll be affected. What the electronics industry has been telling the FTC is mostly good news for homeowners, according to The Washington Post.

"Essentially all consumer electronics products currently being sold, and a vast majority of consumer electronics products sold in the past will not experience Y2K problems," said the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association. If you own certain older model appliances, however, you may need to do something about it. Older personal computers may require software to reset the internal clock. Some camcorders and VCRs also may require manual resetting, while other camcorders won't even accept a date after 1999 but will run fine anyway.

The problem is, it's tough to tell whether or not your equipment will work just by looking at its age. The only way to know is to contact the manufacturer with the make and model number. If you're concerned about a critical system such as a home security system or medical equipment, the sooner you check the better. Some automatic sprinkler systems could go haywire--get the cure or risk getting doused. Programmable thermostats could be affected, too.

Personal computers only started becoming "fully Y2K compliant" about a year ago. Avoiding a computer crash is probably your most serious concern. Whatever you do, make sure you don't experiment by resetting the computer's clock to December 31, 1999 to see what happens. Kaboom! Instead, try visiting your manufacturer's web site--many are posting software for fixing your particular brand. Another resource is the web site that shows you how to test your PC for Y2K compliance.

Remember, if you do online banking or stock trading, Year 2000 could throw a wrench in the works of your daily financial transactions because those functions rely on software that is date sensitive. Better contact the software manufacturer and your bank to keep your money machine running smoothly.

Overall, the coming of the new millennium should cause minor aggravations and mild hiccups in most appliances. Coffeemakers and microwaves, for example, are not year-specific--they only register time or day of the week. Certain VCRs, camcorders and fax machines will suffer from amnesia but continue to work anyway. You'll just see the wrong date on your faxes.