DST Change Could End Up Being Nuisance to Users

DST Change Could End Up Being Nuisance to Users

Spring ahead Sunday, but beware
Earlier daylight-saving time will surprise some technology

Poughkeepsie Journal

Daylight-saving time not only comes early this year, it may prompt you to do more than reset your clocks.

It's "spring forward and fall backward," by the way, and the day to set your clocks ahead is Sunday.

So you lose an hour of sleep. And then, fixing your computers and other date-sensitive electronic devices might cost you another hour.

Here's what might need adjusting:

* Check your computer to install a daylight-savings update if needed. See the box for the Web links.

* Check your VCR or DVD recorder to manually adjust the time, even if it usually does it automatically. This year, it won't, not on March 11, anyway. A TiVo will update automatically, and customers don't have to do anything, company spokesman Jeff Weir said.

* Check any calendar programs on your computer or online to be sure they got the message, or check company Web sites for how to adjust them if they didn't.

* Got a personal digital device with a calendar you use? Gotta update that, too.

* At work, be alert to any notices from the folks in your information technology department about changes in the systems you use.

What's up? Technology, sorry to say, isn't up to the task of adjusting to what Congress decided.

Last year, the law was changed to start the annual shift three weeks earlier to save more energy. It ends a week later, too, on Nov. 4.

Use more daylight; save more fuel and electricity, the strategy says.

"This is more of a nuisance than anything else, but it's enough of a nuisance that people should make the changes," said David A. Milman, CEO of RESCUECOM, a national, Syracuse-based computer repair company.

For personal computers at home, you need to first know which software edition you're using. Is it Microsoft's Windows XP or Vista, for example. Vista will update automatically. XP will update if you have the "automatic updates" feature turned on. For older versions, the company advises checking the Web site.

"Unless certain updates are applied to your computer, the time zone settings for your computer's system clock may be incorrect during this four-week period," according to the Microsoft Web site. That's the three weeks added to the front end of Dayight Savings Time and the one week added at the end that takes it all the way to Nov. 4.

"They didn't release updates for Windows 95 and 98, so people with those systems need to address the changes through internal programming or manually adjusting the clock. It's very easy, it takes 10 seconds," said Robert Wagner, chief information officer at Saint Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie.

"Lower right-hand corner, time clock, right-click on it, change the time," he said. "Fairly easy."

Apple is up to date

Apple MacIntosh software of the latest variety, Mac OS X 10.4.5 or later, is already on board with the new daylight-saving time rule changes for the United States and most of Canada, the company's advisory states. For older versions, go to the Web site and get the fix.

Word about the change has not filtered all around yet.

"I had no idea," said a surprised Joe Kirk, a Wappingers Falls freelance computer fix-it guy who owns Joe's Custom Computers and Repairs.

He said he'd look up the details to get ready.

Milman said, "It's the kind of thing that almost nobody is thinking about."

People running computer departments are, though.

At the Wappingers Central School District, Assistant Superintendent Charles Hill said three kinds of trouble spots have been headed off.

Big systems are the most critical, he said.

"Those tend to be quite time-dependent," Hill said. "They count time. For example, our business operating system - time is critically important to it." A patch has been installed. Another area is calendaring systems "that really need to know what time it is," he said, such as for people planning a meeting and logging it on their Palm Pilots.

"If it's off by an hour, then we may never meet," Hill said.

All PC and Mac users in the district have been e-mailed instructions on how to update their machines themselves.

At Dutchess County's computer center, known as the Office of Computer Information Systems, work has been done to update and patch all systems, said Frank McMahon, senior system programmer.

"We're in fine shape," he said. A team was pulled together to see what needed work and find the fixes. Most of the issues are with individual workstations. Scripts were devised and tested, and then an automated procedure set up so when a user signs on the fix is automatically applied.

But this weekend, "We'll have some staff on hand in case there are some unforeseen exceptions," McMahon said.

E-ZPass users have nothing to worry about, said Betsy Graham, a spokeswoman for the Thruway.

At Metro-North Railroad, all clock systems get their time signals by satellite from the Naval Observatory in Bethesda, Md., spokesman Dan Brucker said. All clocks should click over automatically at 2 a.m. As a backup, software patches were put in place.

New schedules had to be put out earlier because of the earlier change.

One curious anomaly will occur, but not one to worry about, Brucker said.

"On Sunday morning, at 1:50 a.m., a train will leave Grand Central Station and arrive in Poughkeepsie both on time and one hour late."

Huh? Well, it's due at 3:57 a.m. on the old time. But by then, it will be 4:57 a.m.

Sarah Bradshaw contributed to this story. Reach Craig Wolf at cwolf@poughkeepsiejournal.com or 845-437-4815.

On the Web

- Microsoft users: http://support.microsoft.com/gp/cp_dst

- Apple Computer users: http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=305056

- Palm and Windows Mobile device users: www.palm.com/us/support/downloads/dst.html

- Blackberry users: www.blackberry.com/select/dst2007/


Section: NEWS
Page: 1A
Byline: Craig Wolf
Source: STAFF

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