Fixing Daylight Savings Time Problem for Computers Not Difficult
By Phillip Ramati
An early 'spring' ahead
Daylight-saving time coming sooner, lasting longer this year
The annual spring-forward ritual is coming a little earlier this year.
Traditionally, most people set their clocks ahead one hour near the end of March. But because of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, daylight-saving time begins early Sunday morning, three weeks earlier than usual.
In addition, the end of daylight-saving time will be pushed back a week in the fall, with clocks being set back an hour during the first weekend of November rather than the last weekend of October.
"Congress wanted to experiment (with daylight-saving time) to see if it would reduce energy consumption," said Tom Welch, a spokesman for the Department of Energy.
In addition to losing an hour's sleep this weekend, the average American may also experience problems with home and business technology, since much of the operating software was written before the Energy Policy Act.
Because some of this technology, such as personal computers, VCRs and Palm Pilots, may have been programmed to automatically change their clocks in late March, when daylight-saving time normally takes effect, people could find themselves changing their clocks four times a year. They may have to set them this weekend, correct the problem in three weeks, and then repeat the inconvenience this fall.
David A. Milman, CEO of RESCUECOM, a national computer repair company in Syracuse, N.Y., said his company already is trying to make certain business computers aren't affected by the time change.
"We've got customers we've issued alerts to," he said. "It's an important issue for a business to make sure their computers have the right software."
Milman suggests that computer owners check their operating systems to see if they will need to correct the time on their computers. For users of Microsoft's Vista or XP operating systems, he said, computers shouldn't be affected. But computers that use older operating systems, such as Windows 95, 98 or ME, users may have to go to the Microsoft Web site for patches or updates, he said.
The same is the case for Macintosh users - computers that had the newest software should be fine, but owners may need to check Apple's Web site for older versions of the OS operating system, he said.
But even if the computers' clocks are off, Milman said, it shouldn't be a major issue.
"Fixing it isn't tough," he said. "At worst, you're off an hour. It's still a low-level nuisance."
Doug Smalley, who works in information systems at Macon State College, said he's run some tests on some of the equipment there and isn't too worried about any problems.
"We'll wait and see how it turns out," he said. "We've tried it out on a few machines and there have been no problems."
Whether or not the new daylight-saving schedule will remain in place is unclear. Welch said Congress would examine 2007 data on energy consumption and then decide if it wants to put in place a different daylight-saving schedule next year.
"It could just be for this year," he said. "We're going to do our report, and then Congress will decide if it wants to go back to the old schedule or keep the new one."
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