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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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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:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=4609
http://www.standardtime.com/

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.


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