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Changes to Daylight Savings Time continue to plague IT companies across the country

Daylight savings time (DST) is probably one of the most annoying inventions of the human race. Each year people spend a week or so adjusting to an hour forwards or backwards causing all sorts of erratic behavior and poor sleep while people adjust. Last year the U.S. Government decided to take it a step further and cause IT professionals and IT vendors to spend plenty of time and money to satisfy a few politicians with a not so brilliant idea.

The reason the last few transitions were different than any other change was because of the U.S. government mandated move for the start of DST to the second Sunday in March and a return to standard time on the first Sunday in November. This change required multiple computer systems and servers to be patched to change how they handle the traditional switch to DST. While this isn't such a big deal for the lone computer sitting on your desk at home, for an enterprise with hundreds of computer workstations and servers the issue is huge.

When this change first went into effect I wanted to throttle the U.S. Congress for the headaches of changing over countless software systems and applying patches. You also have to deal the small eventuality of IT, that not everything works or patches exactly as intended, resulting in some manual changes and hacks to get everyone on the same page. The coup de grace in this whole ordeal was the fact that its estimated that we didn’t save a penny in electricity, yet we spent tons of money making the change. What’s even worse is that by Congresses’ own admission if the change didn’t save them anything they might revert back to the old system in 2008 forcing us again to change everything back to the way it was. This would cost IT professionals and IT vendors again.

An article at ZDNet during the original change last year outlines the rough costs of the change back in early 2007 to be in the neighborhood of $300 million. This amount is a very conservative estimate based on labor costs alone. This does not account for the time and money spent on developing, testing and distributing DST patches by the various IT vendors. It also does not take into account the headache and manual pain of having to change older systems by hand or troubleshoot modern systems that fail to patch correctly.

According to the Wall Street Journal a researcher observed India while making the switch from standard time to a DST system. The change to DST resulted in an increase in electricity costs of nearly 9 million annually. The article also points out that past studies have shown no cost savings by switching clocks in the U.S. each year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that in the spring of 2006 when the Indiana Legislature mandated that all counties in the state had to participate in DST, as opposed to only 15 of the 92 counties that participated before, it gave Matthew Kotchen, a economics professor from the University of California-Santa Barbara the chance to actually see if DST saves money in the United States. According to Kotchen, his numbers (taken from actual meter readings in Indiana counties) showed that Indiana residents spent an additional $8.6 million in electricity bills after the change to DST.

I dislike DST as much as the next guy and after dealing with the initial impact of the switch in March 2007, I wanted to wash my hands of it and never speak of it much like the Y2K debacle. The problem is that with DST the problems seem to rear their ugly head every time we change the clocks, resulting in a few loose screws falling out and causing headaches for IT teams across the country.

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DST is a blight on humanity!
By amanojaku on 4/8/2008 2:46:55 PM , Rating: 4
Having lived with DST for 30 years I see no benefit to it. There has got to be a way to provide a consistent clock all year round, no matter the location.

I never paid much attention to DST until I started dealing with software that runs 24/7. It's a pain to reconcile time across the change (one day is now 23 hours and the other 25!) and lots of applications choke on this, particularly billing systems. Keep it simple already!

This article is a great reference on DST, why it's desired, and why it sucks.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By therealnickdanger on 4/8/2008 3:09:07 PM , Rating: 5
I've always been against DST for my own personal reasons (losing an hour of sleep), but I've always found it stupid that some states (AZ) don't use it and many countries don't bother with it either. Let's just end it.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By bdewong on 4/8/2008 3:19:20 PM , Rating: 3
I live in Hawaii and we don't have DST and it is great. I have lived in states with DST and never understood it and agree with ending it.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By ImSpartacus on 4/8/2008 9:28:24 PM , Rating: 3
I heard about small parts of Midwestern states (Illinois or something) that don't practice it. My dad travels for work and says he has had lots of fun adjusting back and forth.

I think it's just stupid. It had a purpose at one time, but it no longer does.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By deeznuts on 4/9/2008 1:07:46 PM , Rating: 2
AZ doesn't have it at all.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By TimTheEnchanter25 on 4/9/2008 3:58:37 PM , Rating: 4
Move to Michigan and you will wish that they would extend DST even more than it is now. I'll take all the daylight I can get! I could care less if it makes a difference on electric usage or not, I think it's wonderful.

I'm sure that it's a pain for IT people, but you have to realize that 99% of the country isn't effected. They just install their windows update and forget about it.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By Nlight95 on 4/9/2008 6:17:12 PM , Rating: 1
99% not affected? Obviously you know nothing of what the cost entails. Perhaps you're at your home computer where the transition is an easy one. IT folks like me know it can wreak havoc. I suggest you read this:

On another note. I live in northern Maine, further north than what you are. Our summer days and winter nights are longer than anything you see in MI. In today's world DST is a complete waste . Like the Electoral College, DST came from an agriculturally-dominated era where the primary concern was about planting and harvesting. DST now only serves to distort our sleep cycle.

DST needs to end, period.

By TimTheEnchanter25 on 4/10/2008 1:05:02 PM , Rating: 2
I'm saying that 99% of the people in the US are not IT workers.

We have a small company without an IT department, but I take care of any problems with our 30 computers (and my 4 at home). And all we did was install the automatic update and forget about it.

I would guess that a high percentage of small bussinesses dealt with it the same way, or they just don't care if the clock is wrong. You might be surprised how many US companies have less than 5 PCs.

By Captain Orgazmo on 4/11/2008 1:11:05 PM , Rating: 2
I live in Canada, and in winter we have to go through many months of very short days (as short as 7:30AM sunrise / 4:00PM sunset). To make up for this (which causes real problems for people like "Seasonal Acute Disorder" or depression), we need all the sun we can get in the summer.

Without DST, in the summer we would be getting 4:00AM sunrise, which benefits nobody, but with DST we get sunsets at 10:30PM which makes for great summer evenings of golf, BBQ etc.

Unfortunately for us, we really have no say in whether DST can be implemented because our economy is tied so closely to that of the US.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By SiliconJon on 4/13/2008 4:42:29 PM , Rating: 3
Instead of pushing for a time change that effects those far away from your environmental experience, you should push for local changes where possible to maximize your ability to enjoy your daylight. Don't shove your sun exposure problem on the rest of us, please!

End DST!

By eye smite on 4/9/2008 6:54:40 PM , Rating: 1
I'm of the same mind, we're being dictated to by a few half brains that were elected to office. I think we should all write our Reps and Senators calling for an end to DST period.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By Sulphademus on 4/8/2008 4:19:32 PM , Rating: 4
Can we just split the difference and leave it 30 minutes off of "real" time all year round?

By AlphaVirus on 4/8/2008 5:29:50 PM , Rating: 2
I propose 30 extra minutes of "unclocked" party time at the end of every year.
10..9..8......4..3..2..1..(30minute transition to next year begins)

I know this wouldnt work though, how would banks function if there is no time? Would interest be gained on this time? For people working, would they get paid for this time?

It is a very tricky problem, but we gotta start somewhere.

DST serves no purpose.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By masher2 on 4/8/2008 4:22:09 PM , Rating: 2
I agree -- time to get rid of DST entirely. At least one recent study concluded it saves no energy at all, and it certainly costs us plenty in lost productivity.

One of my personal machines somehow didn't register the MS patch to update DST, meaning its clock is now off for several weeks a year. It's an older box, so I'll probably wind up retiring it as an easier solution than spending more time trying to fix it.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By Master Kenobi on 4/8/2008 4:45:34 PM , Rating: 2
Download the TZEdit.exe tool from Microsoft and make the changes to the windows clock manually.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By masher2 on 4/8/2008 5:39:35 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks, I'll try that.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By hellokeith on 4/8/2008 6:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
TZMOVE won't fix Blackberries one hour out-of-sync with the Exchange Server. :(

Stupid DST!!!

By Master Kenobi on 4/8/2008 10:35:06 PM , Rating: 2
JavaTZ wasnt much better.....

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By 16nm on 4/8/2008 8:51:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that tzedit does not work so well on Win2K servers. The machine has to be restarted for the hour to reset. For machines that operate 24/7 it does little good. Yes, the solution is to dump DST and live happily ever after.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By Master Kenobi on 4/9/2008 9:20:40 AM , Rating: 2
Win2k has a patch available, as does XP. I think the 2k patch required us to pay Microsoft to obtain it (Win2k is on extended support).

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By kattanna on 4/9/2008 10:38:41 AM , Rating: 2
i went to this site to obtain an unofficial win2k patch

worked a treat

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By 16nm on 4/9/2008 11:02:22 AM , Rating: 2
I found a good piece on it for anyone interested.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By johnsonx on 4/9/2008 12:39:53 PM , Rating: 2
yes, it works fine, no reboot needed. Make the changes with tzedit. Now go into time/date settings, and change the timezone of the server, apply the change, and then change the timezone back. It will have the correct time and the correct timezone with DST activated.

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By 16nm on 4/9/2008 7:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
Right. You can do that or just reboot. But I would like to not have to do either. Just let the system alone and have it apply DST all by itself.

It's very annoying. Let's do away with DST. How do we get the ball rolling with that? :)

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By masher2 on 4/9/2008 11:08:37 PM , Rating: 2
Write your congressman!

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By 16nm on 4/10/2008 2:25:52 PM , Rating: 2
I will and, actually, my problem is not with DST but the recent increase to the number of days it is used. I saw a report on the national news that discussed a study showing that DST actually causes us to use more power than the opposite which is what the idea was behind the recent changes. How absurd is that?

RE: DST is a blight on humanity!
By mxnerd on 4/9/2008 1:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
Dailight saving is completely ridiculous and I don't see how it saves energy when a lot of U.S. office buildings never turn off their lightings when no one is in the office.

And yes, it create a lot more headache then it solves, especially when more and more people use computers.

I would like to see this on the general election.

Let's vote off this daylight saving idiocy!

why even have it?
By kattanna on 4/8/2008 2:32:29 PM , Rating: 2
honestly, why do we even have this time change anyways? it does nothing but confuse whose in what time anyways since not all the states even support it.

RE: why even have it?
By KristopherKubicki on 4/8/2008 2:58:33 PM , Rating: 2
Arizona doesn't :)

RE: why even have it?
By johnsonx on 4/9/2008 12:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
I think Arizona is the last of the 'lower 48' that doesn't do DST. Indiana joined the rest of us a couple of years ago.

RE: why even have it?
By sonoran on 4/10/2008 7:15:16 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, Arizona did try DST - and hated it. To understand why AZ doesn't do DST, you have to understand how hot it is when it's 110F (or hotter) outside and the sun's still up. In the Arizona desert, you just don't want to start summer sports activities until the sun goes down. Being on DST makes the sun go down too late for that to be feasible. Not doing DST was a very pragmatic decision for those living in the desert southwest.

RE: why even have it?
By cochy on 4/8/2008 6:27:41 PM , Rating: 2
You have it so farmers can get up at the same time in the morning and have it be light outside during the winter months when it would otherwise be dark.

RE: why even have it?
By cochy on 4/8/2008 10:36:08 PM , Rating: 2
Ah. I have it backwards. It reduces daylight during the mornings so it actually hurts farming. I always remembered when the clocks were changing during the Fall, to it being brighter out when I woke up. I also thought DST started in the Fall and ended in the Spring. Why would we not want to save daylight during the Winter when there is hardly any? Meh the whole thing is counter-intuitive to me.

RE: why even have it?
By 306maxi on 4/12/2008 1:14:48 AM , Rating: 3
Why don't farmers just get up an hour early if that's what helps them? It's not like the cows have watches is it?

RE: why even have it?
By Trippytiger on 4/13/2008 6:55:58 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, my understanding is that the cows have their routine and really like to stick to it. Here in Canada, Saskatchewan doesn't observe DST just to keep the cows happy!

RE: why even have it?
By FITCamaro on 4/9/2008 10:17:52 AM , Rating: 2
Yes it makes sense for the majority of the country to change its time so the relatively few farmers in this country don't have to turn on a light.

RE: why even have it?
By AlexWade on 4/8/2008 9:36:01 PM , Rating: 2
DST was started because the US government was trying to conserve energy during World War 2. It worked back then. Not so much now.

DST has been shown to reduce crime. But, the energy savings do not exist anymore. When DST was extended, it was shown that energy usage didn't go down. Which was the point of extending DST.

Really, DST is deprecated. But habits are hard to change.

RE: why even have it?
By StormEffect on 4/9/2008 1:15:12 PM , Rating: 3
Most people have no idea why DST exists and then they continue to spew the false information they learned, perpetually preserving myths. *sigh*

Wikipedia: Adding daylight to afternoons benefits retailing, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours,[2] but causes problems for farming, entertainment and other occupations tied to the sun.[3][4] Extra afternoon daylight reduces traffic fatalities;[5] its effect on health and crime is less clear. Although an early goal of DST was to reduce evening usage of incandescent lighting, formerly a primary use of electricity,[6] modern heating and cooling usage patterns can cause DST to increase electricity consumption.[7]

Origin: During his time as an American envoy to France, Benjamin Franklin, author of the proverb, "Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise", anonymously published a letter suggesting that Parisians economize on candles by rising earlier to use morning sunlight.[14]


The World War 2 angle is also not entirely correct:

World War I changed the political equation, as DST was promoted as a way to alleviate hardships from wartime coal shortages and air raid blackouts.

WWI, thanks very much.

Read what I wrote and quoted from wikipedia. Next time you pass on information, make sure you know it is true.

Heresay and propoganda does nothing good for anybody except politicans.

//Semi-Rant Off

RE: why even have it?
By i3arracuda on 4/10/2008 9:19:46 AM , Rating: 5
Read what I wrote and quoted from wikipedia. Next time you pass on information, make sure you know it is true.

The irony in this statement is staggering.

a solution to changing clocks
By twnorows on 4/9/08, Rating: 0
RE: a solution to changing clocks
By TomCorelis on 4/9/2008 4:46:48 PM , Rating: 2
There's an easy fix to that: neglect all the clocks nobody checks, and wear a watch.

I am a proud 12:00 flasher, and I don't care because I never check those clocks anyway. Call it a habit forged in the fires of California's energy crisis (rolling blackouts... got tired of resetting everything).

RE: a solution to changing clocks
By Master Kenobi on 4/10/2008 7:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
I am a proud 12:00 flasher

Reminds me of this tech support call gag from a few years back......

RE: a solution to changing clocks
By Devo2007 on 4/13/2008 3:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that might be where he got it from. "Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie" referenced that in their Internet Help Desk skit.

Candy lobbies
By TomCorelis on 4/9/2008 4:44:57 PM , Rating: 2
I heard some pretty crazy theories about how the DST change was orchestrated by the Candy lobby -- to give Halloween another hour of daylight, giving trick-or-treaters more daytime to do their thing.

RE: Candy lobbies
By johnsonx on 4/10/2008 3:09:15 PM , Rating: 2
Someone did have a bill to that effect, the Halloween Safety Act or something like that. To me that's a little odd though, since around my neck of the woods trick-or-treat time doesn't start until it gets dark, nevermind what the clocks say. Sure, you get a few little kids before dark, but 90% of kids won't come until after dark. So all the DST change did was extend trick-or-treat time later into the night (and perhaps compress it a bit, which is welcome).

I'm baffled
By lobadobadingdong on 4/10/2008 8:36:47 AM , Rating: 4
at all the ignorance concerning DST here at dailytech. I"m in IT we have had all of about 6 hours lost time on this (the windows patches where so easy to deploy it was rediculous). Granted we only have about 750 workstations and 140 servers (yes we have goodlink, exchange mobile devices, and several flavors of Unix in house) to manage, but this was one of the simplest things for us to go through.

Also why so many poeple thinks DST is for farmers eludes me, it's purpose was and always has been (since Benjamin Franklin first thought of it) to conserver resources.

Granted I just assume we have a single standard time year round and just start the average work day at 8am instead of 9 am. So don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly for DST, but I'm not really against it. To get home at 5pm in the dark sucks huevos grandes. When DST hits, it's like a holiday for me since I can finally have an hour at home without having to turn on the damn lights. Or an hour at home to be able to enjoy the outdoors. (call me crazy if you must, but I don't enjoy living by incandescent/florescent light 24/7)

Change the working hours, not the clocks!
By mxnerd on 4/9/2008 5:40:00 PM , Rating: 2
If a business find it saves energy and worth the hassle.

Just don't mess with everybody's clock!

By peterlution on 4/9/2008 9:54:59 PM , Rating: 1
100% agree!

DST is not justified at all. I have suffered the pain for years, especially dealing with foreign countries with different DST, such as UK, France and Australia. We should have an absolute consistent time measurement around the world, year round.

If we want to save energy, change the schedule. China tried DST before and gave up. They back to summer schedule and winter schedule.

Abandon DST!

By CoderX on 4/11/2008 1:39:43 PM , Rating: 3
I personally love DST. The first day of DST is just awesome for me. Why?
1) I live in a northern US climate.
2) I'm not a morning person. Who needs light in the morning anyway? I'm not really awake (I'm up by 6:30, but not awake) until probably 9:00 or 10:00 anyway. And all I do in the morning is shower and drive to work. I don't care if it's dark or not.
3) I absolutely hate getting home from work and having it be dark already. With DST I can get home from work and still have some time to play with my kids outside, work in the yard, etc... Daylight after work is precious, before work... who cares? DST = (Precious family time)++
4) To make matters worse I'm on the far east end of a time zone (so far east that other towns south of us are actually a time-zone over). This really sucks. DST Helps.
5) My batting average in softball is at least 100 points higher when I play in natural light vs. under artificial light. The extra hour of light nets me a higher BA and RBI total each season. :) Not to mention my fielding percentage which goes up as well.

So my feelings are that congress should get a big bouquet of flowers and a thank-you note for extending DST. I know my kids appreciate it, and so do I. Having to update a few computers (which was almost totally painless) is a small price to pay. Let's be honest, the time that is calculated to have been "spent" on this issue by IT would have just been spend surfing DT, Digg,, etc... anyway.

By UppityMatt on 4/8/2008 3:01:33 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree, lets get rid of the system all together. I ran into the same headache the other day when i came home and my alarm clock had "Sprung" ahead like it was programmed to do. Now the problem is it will throw my time off twice a year that i have to fix. I don't see a patch coming anytime soon to fix my alarm clock.

By wwwebsurfer on 4/8/2008 9:55:00 PM , Rating: 2
nearly 9 million annually.

Can I buy a unit, please?

DST is a pain
By Nik00117 on 4/9/2008 4:37:30 AM , Rating: 2
Every year when we jump an hour back its annoying as hell. I know at my job site each year a few people typically always forgot about the change. They also aren't the type of people who would do this on purpose. I Mean I did this year too walked in an hour late with a smile on my face thinking I was going have a good day that day (had a date planned for later) then my boss was like "your late" and I thought to myself "WTF?" turns out my alarm clock didn't jump forward so guess what :) I was an hour late.

You want confusing
By gmyx on 4/9/2008 3:30:26 PM , Rating: 2
For good time headaches, you should go to Lloydminster, Alberta / Saskatchewan. The town is on the border of both provinces including a time zone border! Alberta has DST and Saskatchewan does not. Half the year, the town has the same time and the other half have two times.

At least the restaurants love the extended lunch crowds!

Daylight SAVINGTIME not savingstime
By goku on 4/10/2008 5:27:41 AM , Rating: 2
Just thought you should know.

By johnsonx on 4/10/2008 3:18:02 PM , Rating: 2
Myself, I like DST and would not being willing to give it up entirely. I don't think it was necessary to mess with it; those first mornings in early March after the change were rather dark (though conversely I did enjoy having an extra hour of afternoon daylight so early in the year!). However it's done now, please please please don't change it back!

DST is terrible.
By maverick85wd on 4/11/2008 10:59:22 AM , Rating: 2
And we should get rid of it!

While we're at it, let's switch to metric! And I'm not being sarcastic, I just bought a socket set... and it would have cost half as much if I didn't have to buy SAE sockets along with metric. Not to mention how much easier it is to use after you get used to it...

By sld on 4/14/2008 12:20:48 PM , Rating: 2
I live in possibly the only country at the equator that is wholly off its correct time zone (islands near the International Date Line are not counted).

My country is supposed to run in UTC +7, but because of geopolitics, it decided to switch to UTC +8 (makes it easy to follow the timing for Chinese festivals, too). Hence, the sun rises and sets an hour later, which isn't bad after all. How many here adore sunrises before 4:30 am? This is a very true scenario for people in the more northern latitudes of their respective continents.

DST is a godsend for people who swear by the sun for their daylight hours and who actually keep healthy sleep cycles.

I see too many petty complaints here, driven by technological lack of DST compliance. Blame the machines you work with, not the system, because the system will work if the machines work.

Anybody here are actually aware that the entire country of China adheres to only 1 time zone?

By PandaBear on 4/8/2008 9:22:47 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, you turn on your light 1 hour later, but now you keep your AC on 1 hour later too.

I do support it because I like sunlight, but when you think of it, it actually consume more energy by having more AC on.

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