Here is something for anyone believing they have exterminated the millennium bug to think about. Executives of Asian Vanguard who are putting a different spin on the term 'Y2K compliance'. The company distributes TimeBomb, developed by British firm Continua, that fixes Y2K problems in PCs. The difference between TimeBomb and other Y2K fixes, according to Continua, is that it fixes a PC's real-time clock (RTC) - the battery-operated hardware clock in computers that keeps the time even after PCs are turned off. Continua officials claim many new, supposedly Y2K-compliant PCs being bought to overcome Y2K problem do not have compliant real-time clocks. If they are right, millions of dollars of new PCs may have to be fixed - defeating the object of the investment. To understand Continua better, you need to know how computers store dates. Software applications retrieve date and time information from the system clock, the Bios and the real-time clock also known as Cmos. The system clock, which is the operating system clock in Windows 95 or 98, retrieves the time and date from the Bios when a PC is booted. The Bios is the ancient-looking, DOS-like screen you invoke when you need to set up a new hard disk or change the settings for your printer port. The Bios, in turn, retrieves the same information from the real-time clock. Most software applications get time and date data from the system clock, so many vendors of products that fix Y2K problems suggest that patching the Bios will allow the system clock to retrieve the correct date and time after 2000. If the Bios is fixed, then even if it retrieves the wrong RTC information, it will pass the right information to the system clock which will display the correct time and date, right? Wrong, say Asian Vanguard and Continua. 'Many people are saying that the RTC is irrelevant, but we think they are wrong,' said Clement W.H. Lee of Asian Vanguard. He explained that there are still applications frequently accessing a computer's real-time clock. For applications that directly access the real-time clock, a Y2K fix in the Bios will not do any good. So why are most vendors of Y2K diagnostic and fixing products happy with a Y2K-compliant Bios? Mr Lee blames the US and British Y2K standards followed by most countries. For these bodies, he says, Bios fixes equate to hardware Y2K compliance. Continua's TimeBomb, fixes a non-compliant RTC and Bios by sitting in memory and monitoring the real-time clock and the Bios. If an application seeks date and time information from the RTC, TimeBomb intervenes and delivers the right information. But even the TimeBomb fix is not comprehensive. It uses a window of 100 years to fix any date problems. The two-field date 40 becomes 1940, while 41 becomes 2041. Thus 00 becomes 2000 instead of 1900, source of the Y2K bug.