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Businessweek Archives

A Quick Fumigator For The Millennium Bug

Bits & Bytes


WITH MORE THAN 70% OF COMPANIES saying their PCs may not be able to read dates after Dec. 31, 1999, one Atlanta-based company thinks it has a quick fix: a software tool that can ready any IBM-compatible desktop or laptop for 2000--in seconds flat.

Sound too good to be true? Maybe so, but About Time Group Inc. says its new PCfix 2000 Y2K software program, out on Nov. 16, will immunize machines from the dreaded Millennium Bug--or your money back.

How does it work? As your PC is booting up, PCfix 2000 intercepts any wrong times and dates sent by your PC's time-clock chip, corrects them, and then sends the fixed data to the operating system. "Each time you boot your machine, this interception of the date and updating occurs," says Mike Johnston, About Time Group's technical director.

He says a Y2K repair team can implement PCfix 2000 in less than five seconds per computer. Consumers can download the fix--which costs $94.95 per machine--from the company's Web site, The company says the product is scheduled to hit retail stores early next year.EDITED BY HEATHER GREENReturn to top


CASH-SAVING COUPONS AREN'T NEW on the Net. Web startups, including CoolSavings Inc., helped pioneer such online bargain-makers. But when Val-Pak--the queen of the coupon distributors--went digital, that's when you knew the Net had gone mainstream.

Val-Pak Coupons' Web site offers more than 30,000 coupons for everything from food to video rentals and dry-cleaning, including ones for national brands such as McDonald's, Holiday Inn, and Jiffy Lube. For Val-Pak, the Web is a natural next step for the 30-year-old company: Americans clip more than 4.9 billion paper coupons a year, and Val-Pak executives say they want to be able to follow consumers online.

To use the service, consumers type in their zip code at Val-Pak's site, pick a category such as autos or restaurants, and get a list of available coupons, which can then be used electronically--or even printed out for use in terra firma.EDITED BY HEATHER GREENReturn to top


ADULT CONTENT ON THE WEB is big business indeed. Consider the numbers: Playboy magazine posted $138 million in publishing revenues last year, but its online rivals, still relatively new to the business, are already matching that booty. In less than five years, the top three adult content providers have each tallied annual revenues of $100 million to $150 million, mostly driven by subscriptions, according to Forrester Research Inc.--numbers that far exceed analysts' estimates.

All together, the industry this year will generate $750 million to $1 billion--some 20 times more than the total collected by all other online content sites. One site,, did $95 million worth of business in 1997, up 40% over the previous year, Forrester says.

And they're not just ahead on revenues. Porn sites could also teach the rest of the online world a thing or two about copyright protections. For instance, the threat of having another adult site copy pictures and resell them has led to the development and use of translucent but visible signatures of sites, which appear across images. "We expect these subtle signatures will soon permeate mainstream news and sports," says analyst Mark E. Hardie of Forrester. Necessity is the mother of invention, even when she has shed her clothes.EDITED BY HEATHER GREENReturn to top

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