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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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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.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov
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