August 8, 2005 1:11 PM PDT

Daylight-saving change could confuse gadgets

When eBay's clocks failed to jump forward an hour in 2001 to reflect daylight-saving time, the timing on auctions ran into snags, prompting some head-scratching from sellers and bidders.

At the time, eBay blamed the glitch on a bug in Microsoft's Visual C++ code. Microsoft had released a fix.

On Monday, President Bush signed a sweeping energy bill that will lengthen daylight-saving time by four weeks starting in 2007--raising the possibility of a smaller-scale repeat of Y2K-like problems.

For most computer users, the effect would likely be an inconvenience at worst: Their computers will be updated with new software by then, or configured to connect to network time servers that will know the correct time. But because not everyone's computer is networked or updated, some glitches could occur--especially in consumer electronics devices that aren't designed to be reprogrammed.

"If they're running systems that are not auto-updated, they'll have to be cognizant to make those changes themselves," said Mike Wendy, a representative for the Computing Technology Industry Association. "That will involve a modicum of some sort of education to the community to ensure that that occurs."

Companies may have to assign additional resources to the shift, Wendy added, perhaps designating some employees to work "two to three hours on a Sunday night before the change" to ensure that the patches do the job.

For its part, Microsoft promises that its software will be altered to reflect the new law. "We're aware of the upcoming change, and will make sure that Windows handles the transition smoothly," Peter Houston, senior director of Windows servicing strategy, said in an e-mail message.

More complex networks of computers, such as systems that run power plants or financial institutions, would likely have to undertake more intense reprogramming, which could prove costly, said Robert Cresanti, vice president for policy for the Business Software Alliance.

"Those systems are generally nonstandard and so they're unique to that institution," said Cresanti, a staff member on the Senate special committee on the Y2K rollover. "I think there'd probably be some more work that needs to be done there."

Rep. Fred Upton, R.-Mich., and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., proposed the daylight-saving shift as an amendment to the mammoth Energy Policy Act of 2005. The measure tops 1,700 pages and covers everything from nuclear power facilities to energy-efficient buildings. Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives signed off on it before heading off on their August recess.

Under the bill, Americans in the 48 states that currently observe daylight-saving time (Arizona and Hawaii don't) would move their clocks ahead by an hour starting on the second Sunday of March, rather than the first Sunday of April. They would set clocks back an hour on the first Sunday of November, rather than the last Sunday of October. The changes would take effect beginning one year after the law's enactment or March 1, 2007, whichever date comes later.

The four-week extension could save the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil per day in energy use, the House Energy and Commerce committee claims.

The bill charges the Department of Energy with evaluating the precise effects on energy use and gives Congress the option of reverting to the 2005 daylight-saving time schedule after the study is complete.

The government's reasoning behind daylight saving time is that people will use less electricity for lighting if they have extra daylight later in the evening. The practice first took hold during World Wars I and II but quickly became optional for individual states during peacetime. Only with the Uniform Time Act of 1966 did the government establish a single time-change pattern for the whole country. Before this year's bill, that pattern had not changed since 1987.


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Posted by BMR777 (61 comments )
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Shouldn't Be That Serious
For appliances which will connect to a time server and retrieve correct time, the new DST should not be a very bad problem :)
Posted by 201293546946733175101343322673 (722 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It can affect gadgets that connect to a time server
When a gadget synchronises with a time server, it only synchronizes UTC (Uninversal time). The time zones are shifts from UTC, and DST is just a 1 hour change of time zone. If a gadget is programmed to appply DST at a certain date it would just change the time-shift at that date. So if it is the wrong date, it would change to DST at the wrong date.

For PCs probably an OS patch would update the time-zone rules for the affected timezones, so a patched OS would not be affected. Only gadgets that automatically apply DST at fixed dates that cannot be changed would be affected.
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Link Flag
Just get rid of it!
I don't understand why we just don't get rid of Daylight Savings Time all together. It was created long ago to help farmers with their crops and we just don't need it. This country needs to work on other ways to conserve energy and push for more widespread use of alternate forms of energy like solar and wind. We need to start moving away from our huge dependency on fossil fuels!
Posted by lusci (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Actually...It wasn't for the farmers
There was an author on CSPAN's Book TV program a couple months ago who wrote a book detailing the history of Daylight Savings Time(DST). Sorry, I don't remember either the author's name or the book title but I'm sure you can find it on CSPAN's web site,

At least according to this author, the Brits started the ball rolling during WWI as a means to save energy, which according to some studies, it didn't. The U.S. followed along.

After WWI, It was actually Wall Street and the British equivalent that were the driving force behind continuing to use DST. The traders wanted to take advantage of something called arbitrage, which is in essence, buying and selling stock from a foreign exchange in a vary narrow timeframe to take advantage of price discrepancies. Ahhhh...The power of greed. Greed is Good!

Again, according to the author, the farmers actually hate DST because it gives them an hour less to get their goods to market.

Personally, I think DST is idiotic. Regardless of what is displayed on a clock face, you still have the same amount of daylight. If you want to take advantage of the additional daylight during the summer months, get your butt out of bed earlier. Don't require me to screw with all of my non-self adjusting clocks twice a year.

Another thing the author of the book pointed out was that time zones were the brain child of the railroads. Another concept that has out lived it's usefulness. If you want to see how screwed up that concept is, just do a little research to see how many times the border for the east coast time zone has changed in the last 25 years.

Perhaps it is time we all set our clocks to UTC and graduate to a 24 hour clock. It doesn't matter to me if the clock shows 10:00 UTC and it's dark out or 22:30 UTC and it's light out. The whole notion of setting the clock to a local time zone is for the little brains anyway.

Flame away....
Posted by (63 comments )
Link Flag
Washington Creates More Jobs!
I think its the hill's way of creating more jobs, like digging holes so people can have jobs filling them up. So it saves energy in the evening? What about the morning? People use lights wherever they go, and the sun is still out just as long. Seems much ado about nothing. Speaking of the sun, what about tapping into it a bit more? It's a wireless battery that nobody can fight over.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
You can start
Connect your leads to the Sun. Actually, the reason why DST was introduced was to save energy. Most people work more in the evening than in the morning. If you haven't had a job that required you to stay past 7 PM for an important project regularly then you must be a city politician.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Computers already don't automatically set the time!
When my PC resets the time for daylight savings it totally screws up the time. How will things be any different?
Posted by PCCRomeo (432 comments )
Reply Link Flag
computer time
when my pc resets the time for daylight saving time it dont screw up so i think it is your computer that needs to be looked at by a computer expert to see why it screws up the time when it resets the time for daylight saving time and need to get it fixed good luck!
Posted by angryticked (10 comments )
Link Flag
How Much Will Gas Cost In 2007?
$4.00? $5.00? Clearly there is no sense of urgency in Washington regarding energy consumption. If there was, we'd have an Energy Czar and policies like this that can help would be instituted immediately. Higher MPG requirements on new cars -- that's like 10 years out. I suppose it is going to take a disruption of Saudi oil flow to wake Washington up form their slumber.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I doubt it
I doubt that will cause a change. It would have to stop completely and forever to have the government do anything drastic. Especially while GW is in the office. I'd just like to know which town is missing their idiot? ;-)
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
Still Building Houses Like It Is 1950
Oh, and another thing. Developers are still building houses like it is 1950 and energy is cheap and plentiful. I was recently in Gilroy for the garlic festival. It gets in the mid 90's - 100 in the Summer. I saw new house after new house being built. Huge, "executive style" homes with no active or passive solar at all. No shade trees. No rammed earth sides. No PVC collectors on the roofs to heat the water. Given our energy problems, it should be against the law to build these types of structures. They are dinosaurs.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are you in construction
Because my father is. Now, solar panels, passive heat, and other such things are visible and exciting to some, but it's behind the scenes that construction has changed tremendously, even within the last few years. The way to save energy is to install good windows and insulate walls, and in these areas the progress has been incredible. The firm's in Chicago, where the technologies you cite would be of little use for 3/4 of the year.
Posted by sanenazok (3449 comments )
Link Flag
Give me the technology
I live in Phoenix & I would LOVE to use engery generators & savers - if I could find some cost-effective ones. I've spent time looking at different solar power alternatives & most would take 20+ years to pay back. I'm moving in a few years - why bother.

NOW, if the idiot-in-chief had signed an energy bill that instead of subsidising oil companies (it's $64 a barrel FFS - how much more subsidising does it need) and had included real measures to be more "icelandic" (Iceland is committed to producing 100% of it's electricity from geothermal), with REAL measure to start the solar revolution it would be a great deal easier. Hell, I'd settle for an energy bill that made the US oil independent. It'd cut down on the number of wars we have.

P.S. I live without fallout range of the country's largest nukular powerstation Palo Verde. <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
what does that have to do with daylight saving time i would like to know
Posted by angryticked (10 comments )
Link Flag
houses in 1950
what does that have to do with daylight saving time i would like to know
Posted by angryticked (10 comments )
Link Flag
The need to do something...
This is the typical story about a political measure that is taken to give the impression that the government is doing something to curb energy spending - with the advantage the it has zero cost of implementation.
True measures would start big spending in R&#38;D in alternative fuels, investments in solar, wind and ocean waves energy.
But that would be tooooo complicated... ;-)
Posted by aemarques (162 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More than computers affected
This change will definitely screw up more than computers. My alarm clock, VCR (okay, outdated technology, but still...), car's clock, and more will be affected. It sounds to me like the people who made this decision have no idea of how many consumer devices they are making useless without extra work. Now I'll have to adjust those clocks in March and again in April to correct the change they make to themselves.

Some government we have in the US. Many people use lights everywhere even during the day, so there will be no real energy savings - just mass confusion.
Posted by ddesy (4336 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Indiana, too
Arizona, Hawaii, AND INDIANA do not observe daylight savings
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Indiana will soon
Starting next Spring, all of Indiana will start observing DST, which means Gary Indiana will always be an hour behind Souh Bend &#38; Indianapolis. If NICTD gets their way, St Joseph County will also be added to Central Time Zone because they're complaining that the South Shore Railroad will have a time problem when South Bend starts observing DST in Eastern Time Zone. But that would create a major problem with the market as a whole, especially TV when only ST. joseph County might be in Central Time Zone, while the rest of the TV market would be on Eastern Time Zone. NICTD needs to deal with the hour difference like they do in the fall of every year by mentioning that South Bend is always an hour ahead of Chicago.
Posted by dave1973 (3 comments )
Link Flag
and the world is coming to and end
and the world is coming to and end just like it did in the year 2000
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Definitely not the end of the world
In Israel we had the DST rules changed almost every year for the past 30 years or so, depending on who the minister of interior was. Now we have a law fixing it that is partially based on the Hebrew calendar, so it still cannot be automatically applied to most systems. But we still get on with lives and use our computers.

Actually, non of the system admins at any of my employers understands time. All of them have a time server that is one hour off at summertime, probably because they cannot figure out how to set the time on users PCs to synchronise with an outside time server that is set to the correct time (for some reason all of them seem to think that DST means UTC is shifted by 1 hour. Either that or they don't know what UTC is... but they still get to run the time server...))
Posted by hadaso (468 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Daylight Savings Time
Per your report and the actual text of section 110 of the referanced Bill, two weeks will be added in March and four weeks will be added in November totaling six weeks more of daylight savings time.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
In part
A small portion of Indiana (SW tip nestled between Illinois and Kentucky and NW corner around Chicago) does observe DST; additionally, these two areas are located in the Central Time Zone. This make for great confussion as my company has 5 offices in the State, one of which is located in that SW tip. For half the year that office is an hour behind the other 4, the other half they are all the same.

The story also neglects to mention that not all of Arizona observes DST. The portion of the Navajo reservation located in Arizona advances along with the rest of the Mountain Time Zone.
Posted by Nathan Lunn (113 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does it save ANYTHING?
If they can prove that it saves as much as one barrel of oil then I would be for it. The problem is that our society is more and more becoming a 24 hour society. Having visited Las Vegas, the city that never sleeps, not one drop of oil will be saved. those lights are on on forever DST or not. (and don't they get hydro-electric)

in the midwest the farmers will need to get up an hour earlier so they will use MORE energy

for 29 years my dad got up at 5am to work at the "tank plant" (GM's Grand Blanc Mich. factory that made tanks during WWII) DST turned the time that he could drive in daylight to more dark drive time.

and how many have tried to get some extra sleep only to be kept awake by a sun that don't down 'til after 10pm?

the only thing this will save, in my opinion, is the jobs of the politicians that say: "See what I did for YOU?"
Posted by qazwiz (208 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I'm thinking SWATCH has the right idea.
Years ago, SWATCH came out with this "Internet Time" thing. I'm looking at it now and think this is what we should do. Lets face it, in todays society, everything is now global. Nothing is based on local times any more. The swatch beat seems to be a better solution. Same time. Everywhere on the planet. It's calibrated so that the sun comes up at the same time each day and sets at the same time each day. I mean, how much easier could that be?!?
Posted by (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Or you could
move to Arizona. Here we're much more sensible &#38; don't bother with daylight savings time. Who needs MORE daylight, when it's 116F ?

And I know when the clocks have changed elsewhere, because the TV guide gets about 50% of the program times wrong by 1 hour. Now, I realise that the first year could have been tricky. But how many years has the TV Guide being going for - and they STILL get times wrong twice a year :-(
Posted by (409 comments )
Link Flag
On the verge of confusion...
Well, we are less than two weeks from the traditional daylight savings time change, and I think people are still confused. I still hear people talking about the time change in two weeks, and I've no idea whether the code changes necessary for computers has been made; I've not seen news articles on the update.

Does the DST change occur in October or in November? What ever happened to this change?
Posted by lwvirden (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Savings Offset by Technology costs...
It is obvious that the government made no consideration of the costs this change will create for technology companies. The change to DST is estimated to save 100,000 barrells of oil a day for the 14 days DST was expanded. With oil prices at $58 a barrell, that's a dismal $81.2 million in energy savings and a decrease of less than 1/2 of a percent of the U.S.'s total oil consumption. I would argue that if a survey were to be conducted to determine the costs of facilitating this change for technology companies and there costumers, it would far surpass the $81.2 million in savings.
Posted by tailStrike (1 comment )
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