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"Matthew Ferrara Interview 1999"

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2/5/99 Interview with Matthew Ferrara

Matthew Ferrara Seminars and TECH HOTLINE
45 Osgood Street
Methuen, MA 01844

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What Y2K Is About

  1. The root of the problem is the computer's misinterpretation of the two-digit date configuration of 00 as 1900 instead of the year 2000.
  2. Most of our modern equipment is run by date-sensitive imbedded circuits, which control such things as maintenance/diagnostic mode; problems could surface even before 2000 e.g., chips that are set to 9999 in the date field may go into diagnostic mode on Sept. 9, 1999.
  3. Major areas such as power and transportation are beyond an individual's control, but we have the responsibility to find out in advance from authorities if the resources we use are 2000 compliant.
  4. The three key areas that will potentially affect Real Estate pros are your personal computer (hardware), your software packages and your electronic equipment.
The Hardware Issue

  1. Most computer hardware products will need some form of BIOS (basic input/output system chip) replacement; sometimes free software can accomplish this, but physical replacement of the chip may be necessary, even if your computer was manufactured as recently as 1997.
  2. Big offices are probably at greater risk for technological failure, but they probably also have better resources to cope; compensation with traditional methods (typewriters) may be necessary.
Software Issues

  1. Check your Windows operating system -- Windows 95 is NOT 2000 compliant; either upgrade to Windows 98 or download and install the several components on Microsoft's Homepage designed to make Windows 95 more compliant.
  2. All other software packages that you use should also be checked by visiting the vendor's web page to look up the version you have -- you may need to buy a later version.
  3. Almost every brand-name company has information on its web page about its systems and software as well as links to testing and repair tools.
  4. PC and software testing tools are on the market; check sights such as and for free and low-cost software packages.
  5. The testing tools can test basic functions and operating functions and give you a report; some can even upgrade your software.
Caution on Support Services

  1. The systems that agents rely on as sources for daily information such as voice mail, the web and MLSs are all run by computer; many MLS systems have already announced that they are not compliant.
  2. Related professionals such as attorneys, mortgage companies, inspection companies and title companies are also vulnerable; you should inquire about the preparedness of those with whom you do business.
  3. A Realtor has responsibility to clients for due diligence -- you may have legal liability not only for what you do but for whom you select for support; insurance companies are not insuring against Y2K-related failures.
How Brokers Can Reduce Risk

  1. List every piece of electronic equipment in your office and who you need to contact to determine if it is compliant; ask for documentation of its compliance level; repair or replace if necessary.
  2. Identify your crisis spots by simulating failure -- turn off the electrical power.
  3. Check with your landlord about building preparedness; responsible parties who are Y2K ignorant may represent your greatest risk.
The Legal Liability with Disclosure and Performance

  1. The Y2K Readiness Disclosure Act of October 1998 limits liability of a company if it discloses its level of compliancy and preparations; incorporate Y2K disclosure forms or notices in listing packages and buyer client packages.
  2. Failure to perform your contractual obligations due to impediments from Y2K-related problems of other entities may still leave you at risk of the seller suing or not paying you.
  3. Talk to legal counsel to evaluate your liability and take whatever precautions you can.
Web Resources

  1. Useful articles about testing and compliance reports are coming out every day on the web and can keep you informed.
  2. A special area of the Government Services Administration site lists the compliancy of government agencies and lists products and devices that have reported themselves.
  3. Each fix is proprietary, so check out the home page of the manufacturer of hardware and software; the web may not have information about electrical equipment C rely on phone contact with manufacturers.
  4. The web is a collection of computers, so the web itself is at risk of failure under Y2K duress; for example, email systems with automatic cleaning routines may purge messages instead of sending them.
More Vulnerable Dates in 1999

  1. The 99th day of 1999 will put all 9s into many chronological ticking systems.
  2. The third week of August (between 8/18 and 8/22) is a critical date for the 24 global positioning satellites that impact modes of transportation.
  3. The US government begins its fiscal year October 1st; some government payments may be affected; Social Security is compliant, but Medicare is not.
  4. The diagnostic date of 9/9/99 can potentially paralyze vital safety, security and medical systems of cities and institutions.
January 1, 2000

  1. Expect a drop in travel due to media hype and some annoying problems such as credit card transactions not going through C more inconvenience than death and disaster.
  2. Most areas will be quiet with business as usual, though a few big problems are likely one or two hospital failures or remote cities without power and water for awhile.
  3. Having some cash on hand would be prudent -- the Treasury is circulating extra money; withdrawing all your money from banks, etc. is not recommended.
  4. Have on file two years= worth of bank and investment statements in case of any disputes over lost financial information.
  5. Ferrara's best advice is to stop procrastinating with regard to Y2K; take the opportunity to plan ahead.
Contact Information for Matthew Ferrara:

(v) 800-253-2350
(f) 978-688-0055