BrainTrust Query: Is Daylight Saving Time a Y2K Redux?

Discussion
Mar 02, 2007

By Bill Bittner, President, BWH Consulting

Depending on your perspective, the relatively quiet transition that all our computers made into the 21st Century was because of brilliant planning by the IT specialists or a case of over-anticipation for a first time event. Maybe that explains the complacency surrounding this year’s shift in the start of Daylight Saving Time.

Standard time zones were introduced in Canada and the United States by the railroads in 1883. After a few false starts, Daylight Saving Time was first instituted by law during WWII in 1942. The national standard expired in 1945. It was not until 1966 that a standard for start and stop dates was re-established but individual localities were still allowed to decide whether or not they would implement Daylight Saving Time. Hawaii, most of Arizona, and Indiana were the last holdouts until 2006 when Indiana adopted it, leaving only Hawaii and Arizona on year-round standard time.

In 2005, Congress voted to change the start and end dates for Daylight Saving Time beginning in 2007. As of this year, Daylight Saving Time begins the second Sunday in March (March 11) and ends the first Sunday in November (November 4). The extra period of Daylight Saving Time is meant to reduce energy consumption. The last time there was a change was 1987.

Since 1987, a lot more automated devices have been put into place and their
designers have attempted to make them “more intelligent.” The basic question
is, “Have they made them intelligent enough?” Will all your time clocks, order
polling and security systems advance their clocks properly on March 11? Will
alarms go off when your store employees try to get in an hour ahead of the
security clocks? More significantly, will the clocks leave the time alone when
the old effective date, the first Sunday in April, comes around?

Discussion
Questions: Was the Y2K event overblown? With that impression, are we being
too complacent about Daylight Saving Time? Have you done anything to prepare
for the change?

It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds. The short
answer is that if you have been maintaining the updates on your computer
operating system and applications you should not have any problems. The longer
answer is that it will take some time to determine whether all your software
is up to date. For those non-critical applications, if you think you’re OK,
you may as well just wait and see what happens. If you have a really critical
situation, you might want to try a test run by changing the date and time
on your computer and see what it does when it turns from 1:59 AM to 2:01
AM on March 11.

The problem is that if you have any “calendar driven events” in your system, you may not be able to do this test without backing up the whole system and restoring it afterwards.

Since many of us run the Windows operating system, I have included a link
to the Microsoft discussion of the issue along with a link to the general description
of Daylight Saving Time.

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10 Comments on "BrainTrust Query: Is Daylight Saving Time a Y2K Redux?"


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Thomas L Potts
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Thomas L Potts
15 years 2 months ago
I was involved in planning projects for Y2K and I can speak from experience that the changes required to computer systems was massive. Y2K was not overblown. If the Y2k issue hadn’t been brought to the public consciousness, I’m sure the results would have been catastrophic. I have also been involved in planning for Daylight Saving Time (DST) changes, and by comparison DST 2007 is miniscule and will not likely have more than minor headaches. For example, the Microsoft OS changes only affect when your PC advances the time. Everyone can do this manually. Other types of systems may have higher impacts but the impacts will likely be localized if they were not mitigated ahead of time. Besides, this isn’t the first time during the computer age that the date for DST has changed. In 1986, DST moved from the last Sunday in April to the first Sunday in April. Oh, one other thing. We’ll get to do it over again in 2007 because the date for the change back to standard time is also… Read more »
Bernie Slome
Guest
Bernie Slome
15 years 2 months ago

Like Y2K much ado about nothing. Most companies download the necessary patches to ensure no ill effects. Also, new computers have the new scheduling in place.

Robert Immel
Guest
Robert Immel
15 years 2 months ago

Maybe the change in Daylight Saving Time won’t be a big factor to IT departments, because there are relatively simple patches. But what about to the consumer? Most consumer electronics (such as VCRs) have the logic for switching to DST hardcoded. And when shopping at an electronics store, how can you tell which ones are reprogrammed for the change on March 11? Is there a DST2007 certification sticker we should look for?

Jeff Weitzman
Guest
Jeff Weitzman
15 years 2 months ago

I have to agree with tlpotts about Y2K. The event was perceived as overblown only because of the massive efforts of engineers behind the scenes to upgrade systems in time. It is a testament to that effort that the public afterward saw the whole thing as ridiculous.

By comparison, DST is a nuisance. Major software vendors have already issued patches, but I predict people will still miss meetings for 3 weeks or so. If you have systems that synchronize events, especially between disparate platforms, double-check the times on events for those 3 critical weeks.

It’s also likely that some systems will have problems with processes that run overnight and, for example, aggregate daily data as of a specific time. If those procedures aren’t checked for proper time shift, some data may be skipped or duplicated during the change.

Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

Y2K preparation helped America tremendously. It was the reason thousands of companies big and small used to junk outdated software and hardware. By accelerating the replacement cycle, productivity was improved. Certainly not in every case, but in many cases. The Daylight Savings Time change is a minor issue, and reasonably run organizations will test their systems beforehand.

W. Frank Dell II, CMC
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

The daylight saving time change is a minor irritant, not a major issue. Orders are due at the warehouse by 2:00 PM and it does not matter whether there is sunlight or not. Headquarters start work at 9:00 AM. Minor store labor adjustments may be required, but every retailer already knows what they are; just change the start and end dates. Any energy control system that has an automatic daylight saving adjustment needs to be overridden, but since most don’t, the schedule date is simply changed. The biggest irritant is Microsoft Windows will be off a few days, but this is easy to reset. In other words, this is no big deal.

David Livingston
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

Y2K was overblown. What I plan to do is change my clocks. I’m sure Microsoft will send out an update patch or I will do it manually on my computer. What about states that do not have Daylight Saving Time? Arizona has been dealing with this for a long time without any major problems.

James Tenser
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

I and my fellow rugged individualists here in Arizona tend to regard Daylight Saving Time as an unwelcome ritual that would make summer evenings hotter if adopted locally. So we continue to hold out, to the confusion of friends and colleagues elsewhere.

At least the Microsofties have been sufficiently aware of our stubborn resolve to include an extra “Arizona” time zone among the setup options for Windows. The main challenge lies in keeping schedules coordinated with out-of-state colleagues and clients.

Now that the changeover date has been shifted, I foresee a bit of extra human confusion on this last score, resulting in more mis-timed conference calls. As for technical breakdowns–near as I can tell, that won’t affect any applications or devices I use.

Herb Sorensen, Ph.D.
Guest
15 years 2 months ago

Pretty much all predicted major disasters are promoted by fools and charlatans to achieve ends that are not otherwise rational. True disasters are rarely foreseen. PT Barnum was one clear-eyed rationalist.

David Morse
Guest
David Morse
15 years 2 months ago

Thanks for the reminder on the early time change as well as the history. I’m with David on this one–my only preparation will be springing my clock forward.

Y2K could not have been more overblown. I remember some people expecting plane crashes and ship capsizings of biblical proportions. Why am I seeing Shelley Winters in her panties?

Though I’ve never seen studies, I would think that DST helps retailers. A trip to the Wal-Mart and the Dairy Queen seems a lot more appealing when it’s light out.

But in the final analysis, I don’t foresee too many calls for Mayday this March.

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