February 16, 2007 4:00 AM PST

Gadget owners beware: Daylight saving time has changed

Daylight saving time is springing forward three weeks earlier than usual this year, but consumers may be unaware that some of their gadgets won't automatically be making the transition.

Daylight saving time (DST) will begin at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 11, and will end a week later than usual, on Sunday, November 4. The change, thanks to a massive federal energy bill passed in 2005 (click for PDF of energy bill) adds extra hours of daylight with the hope of decreasing national energy consumption.

DST gallery

This small change could have big implications for a range of gadget users, from employees of multinationals relying on their devices to remind them of appointments in different time zones to average consumers who count on their smart phones to be, well, smart, and tell the time correctly.

First, the good news: don't worry, your TiVo is fine. TiVo says it sent an automatic software update to its digital video recorder customers last month that included a patch for the DST switch.

But smart-phone customers should take heed: if they don't update both the mobile device and the computer software it synchronizes information from, scheduled items will be off by an hour.

"The way to think about it is to consider any deadline requirements an application has that are more specific than midnight or close of business," Pete Lindstrom, an analyst with the Burton Group, said in an e-mail. "Of course, financial transactions are of the most obvious concern, since minutes and even seconds can matter there. In a smaller way, other deadlines (like the end of the quarter) may be affected, but remember, (it)is only a four-week period...where the impact is felt."

The problem with DST and smart phones can be fixed with a software update that will adjust the date tables that are preprogrammed to tell the device when to move the clock forward or backward by an hour.

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hassles for IT professionals.

Consumers carrying a mobile phone running on any version of Windows Mobile except the recently released Windows Mobile 6 will have to download software updates from the Microsoft Web site to the devices themselves.

Microsoft says there are several ways to perform the update--for instance, downloading the software to a PC and syncing via a cable or downloading the update directly onto the device from Microsoft's Web site. Alternatively, IT department managers can issue an e-mail containing the update, which individuals have to install themselves.

But there are already signs DST won't be a perfectly smooth transition for gadget holders. Susan Bradley, a network administrator for an accounting firm in Fresno, Calif., reported having difficulty doing automatic updates for Windows Mobile phone users.

"I've had to manually update them and I don't know how larger firms will handle this," she said. "In my early tests, one phone is syncing to the mailbox with the right time, one isn't, and I haven't a clue as to why one is working and one isn't when they have all the same patches."

Some Palm devices run Windows Mobile, but for those running Garnet OS, formerly known as Palm OS, the update is not yet available. Palm is "currently working on" a DST software update, which will be posted on the Palm Web site along with instructions once it's available, according to a company spokesperson.

All BlackBerry models will also need to be updated. Individuals can manually download the software patch or IT managers can do the same and automatically push the update to all phones connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

BlackBerry users can instead choose to manually adjust the time forward and back on the appropriate days to avoid the software update altogether.

Though Research In Motion and Microsoft are letting customers know about the problem by posting fixes on their Web sites and e-mailing some customers in advance, the update process is complex enough that many users may not know whether the problem has been fixed on their device until they've missed an appointment, said Ken Dulaney, an analyst with Gartner.

"I expect over 90 percent of users to ignore any proactive effort on their part. If their company or operator is able to fix the problem then it gets fixed. Otherwise I think they will brute-force it and rearrange the appointments to fit the schedule," he said. "I think that many users will change their signature line on their smart phones and PDAs to say 'Please note, if I (am) an hour late or an hour early for my meeting with you, please understand, its not my fault, it's my government.'"

CNET News.com's Joris Evers contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
TiVo Inc., smart phone, Microsoft Windows Mobile, digital video, Palm Inc.

12 comments

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DST less relevant every year?
Over time more U.S. appliances are pulling time from outside sources - "Atomic" clocks that pull the NIST time signal from Ft Collins CO, video devices that grab time embedded in the local PBS signal, PCs that access time servers & mobile phones that get network time. Except for net admins, time adjustments are pretty much handled for average consumers - unless they're using antiques. In that case they'll just twist the hour-hand to the right position as they always did :D
A nuisance? meh.
A looming problem? Highly unlikely.
Posted by punterjoe (163 comments )
Reply Link Flag
not really
unfortunately, my laptop is not an "appliance" that gets its time updated by atomic clocks. Neither do many computer applications whose operation depends on accurate time. I suppose for a person whose electronic devices are limited to a fridge, toaster, and VCR clock, yes, this will not be an issue.
Posted by zboot (168 comments )
Link Flag
DST may be more relevant...
Yep, you're right about the fact that devices can get the correct time from atomic clocks or other sources. But these references give universal time (GMT). So if your device dosen't know about the new dates for Daylight, then you're screwed... :)
Posted by MoussePad (2 comments )
Link Flag
It figures....
Congress is forever doing meaningless things to make themselves and the fools that think they are looking out for the good of the country think they actually do something useful... regardless of the havoc it recks... One of the top ten lies of all time... "We are here from the government to help you..."
Posted by rleeson (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Wake up and smell the coffee
For those of you who can't think beyond your own thermostat, changing DST does affect overall energy consumption across America. Stuff like this does make an impact -- albeit a small one. It's not like Congress didn't give you ample warning. Everybody wants to blame Congress for their own shortsightedness. 2005. Think about it...
Posted by mrjam32 (8 comments )
Link Flag
DST
Argent Software offers a free test utility and informational website to help ensure your computers are ready for DST. Visit <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://DST.Argent.com" target="_newWindow">http://DST.Argent.com</a>
Posted by argentsoftware (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
DST changes
You can manually do it yourself for a Palm device. Check out my posting here:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://palmdiscovery.netfirms.com/nfblog/index.php?p=382" target="_newWindow">http://palmdiscovery.netfirms.com/nfblog/index.php?p=382</a>

I've also included a link to change it for Windows including the Win 9x.
Posted by maceyr (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
DST costs me money and energy
My thermostat does not know or care what time it is, if the temp in my place drops under X, it comes on.

The lights in my home are another story entirely. I have no trouble getting ready in the morning with only a few lights on, even if it is dark outside.

Now, when I get home from work and it is already dark at the crack of 4:30 PM thanks to daylight savings, guess what? Just about every light in my home gets turned on becasue it is dark IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY.

Many people are not even awake when it gets light out at 7 AM in the middle of winter, however I have never met ANYONE who is in bed every night before 4:30 or 5:00 PM!

So where are they getting this huge cost savings by having it get light out at 7 AM instead of 8 AM that makes it worth turning on every single light bulb starting at about 4:30 - 5:00 PM?
Posted by Dachi (797 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You have it backwards Dachi
What will happen is you will set your clock 1 hour AHEAD of the current time so that 4pm becomes 5pm. If the sun set the day before at 5:30pm then it will set at 6:30pm on the day you change your clock giving you an EXTRA hour of daylight in the evening.

You lose daylight in the MORNING. Instead of sunrise at, for example 6:15am it would occur at 7:15am after the time change.
Posted by Guido Muldoon (24 comments )
Link Flag
Time for a new thermostat?
Most thermostats from the last 10+ years can turn the heat or a/c off or on at programmed times throughout the day, so all I need to do is change the clock on it. Presto, all done! The heat comes on at the new 7:00am DST when I get up, not the old 7:00am PST.
Posted by RoutinelyCalled (10 comments )
Link Flag
It's not that bad.
So, you'll have to adjust the time on a few devices you own, or download an update for them. At least we'll be saving energy.

Global warming is the biggest issue facing the modern world. Just ask Al Gore. He'll tell 'ya.
Posted by o2mcgovem-20822100750713932708 (34 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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