More Trouble With Time
Daylight Saving May Set You Back This Spring
By Ricardo Harvin
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For most people, the Y2K scare came and went without incident. This year there's another time-related computer problem to deal with–the change in Daylight Saving Time (DST).
Instead of starting on the first Sunday in April and ending on the last Sunday of October, DST this year will begin on the second Sunday of March (the 11th) and end on the first Sunday of November (the 4th). This change is mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to help save energy and will be studied by the Department of Energy (DOE) to gauge its effectiveness. Depending on DOE's findings, DST could be rolled back to the old dates in a few years.
Some date and time dependent systems (think billing systems) could be seriously affected by the date change. In most cases, however, the DST change should be more of an inconvenience than anything else. Still, I wouldn't want my life (or my business) dependent on a sys-tem that isn't prepared to handle the date change.
Computer hardware, operating systems, and programs-especially those featuring calendar functions-as well as cell phones, PDAs, and similar devices can all be affected by the change in DST. Keep in mind that cars, refrigerators, radios, door-entry systems, and other things that aren't necessarily thought of as being computer-related may also cause problems.
Unlike the Y2K bug, when most computer experts couldn't-or wouldn't-specify exactly what would go wrong, this time many software and hardware vendors are citing specific problems the DST date change will cause for their products that aren't current. Take a thorough inventory of your electronic products and check with those companies' Web sites to see if any of your products require updating.
DST updates are available for most recent software, but some vendors are choosing not to provide specific updates for older versions of their software or hardware products. If an automatic update is not available from your vendor, you may still be able to update your products manually. If you have custom software, you may have a bigger, and more expensive, task at hand-finding a programmer who can update your application.
Be sure to keep a close watch on how well updated software and devices perform between March 11 and April 8 and again between October 28 and November 4 to make certain they've made a successful transition.