Archive for Thursday, March 8, 2007

Daylight-saving time comes early this year

March 8, 2007

That electronic calendar that helps organize your life might betray you soon.

Digital calendars and computers run by older software could schedule appointments one hour later than intended because daylight-saving time starts three weeks earlier this year.

Thanks to Congress' 2005 Energy Policy Act, the time change (or "spring forward") begins Sunday, March 11, and will end a week later than normal, in November. Proponents hope the measure will conserve energy.

Because of the software and scheduling quirk, businesses and institutions that depend on technology have scrambled to make sure applications, particularly calendars, will work properly.

To add to the confusion, only the newest versions of Microsoft and Apple software are prepared for the switch.

Microsoft software users can go to support.microsoft.com to find out how to prepare their computers for the early changeover. The new Vista operating system already is equipped to automatically make the change.

For Apple, only Macintosh OS 10.3 and higher are equipped for the change, and users will have to run their update software to guarantee the switch.

Anyone who uses software that will not update the time will have to manually change their computer clocks not only on March 11, but again on April 1 - when daylight-saving time would have begun under the old schedule - and two more times in October and November at the end of daylight-saving time.

Jeff Andrews, the technology coordinator for the Lansing School District, said he's run the Microsoft patch on the district's servers in preparation for the change. Since all of the district's computers receive their time and dates from the servers, "I hope it's not a big deal."

He said he saw some parallels to the beginning of the decade, when there was worry the changeover from 1999 to 2000 would stop computers in their tracks.

"There was a lot of time devoted to getting ready for Y2K, though," Andrews said. "For this, Microsoft just released the updated patch about a month ago."

- Editor John Taylor contributed to this report.

Breakout:

Daylight-saving time first began in 1918 during World War I to allow for more evening light and save fuel for the war effort. Since then, Daylight-saving time has been used on and off, with different start and end dates.

Benjamin Franklin first suggested the idea in 1784. It was later revived in 1907, when William Willett proposed a similar system in the pamphlet, "The Waste of Daylight." The Germans were the first to officially adopt the light-extending system in 1915, followed by the British, and in 1918 the United States, when Congress passed the Standard Time Act, establishing U.S. time zones.

- Source: The Old Farmer's Almanac

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