One new Y2K fix is so elegant that it makes you long for the problem. For once, the fate of a tiny section of the wired world isn't in the hands of faceless computer technicians cleaning miles of code. Saving yourself from sure malfunction is now as easy as reprogramming your VCR.
An oft-forwarded e-mail, traced through Channel 13 in New York, a university in Florida and back to a New York real estate broker, suggests that VCR owners whose machines won't accept the date 2000 reset the year to 1972. The year of the Watergate break-in shares the same days of the week and month as 2000, which is all the advanced recording function of your VCR needs to know.
Alas, finding a VCR with faulty coding isn't easy. A salesman at a Wiz electronics store explained that manufacturers code newer VCRs with two-digit numbers -- 00 already means 2000. Furthermore, MTZ Electronics repairman Mark Zackiewicz says the older machines in his Brooklyn shop, those made before 1992, are immune to the Y2K bug since they are programmed only by day of the week.
There is a slight chance that some short-sighted manufacturer may have coded the non-lethal error in the mid-1990s, in which case the intuitive e-mail solution may have a problem after all. In the meantime, don't be too impressed by a VCR boasting a Y2K compliant sticker, and don't put too much faith in the wisdom of spam.