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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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a solution to changing clocks
By twnorows on 4/9/2008 1:01:07 PM , Rating: 0
Why can't the government force ALL appliance manufacturers (the ones with a clock) to implement firmware that also includes setting the date. This way, the firmware looks to see if it should "spring ahead" or "fall back" automatically.

This way, the appliance would need No attention (setting it forward/behind). At least Microsoft got it right.

This way, I wouldn't need to (TWICE A YEAR) run around resetting the clock in the radio of two cars, the clock in the garage, the two alarm clocks, the clock in the stereo entertainment, the clocks in two microwaves, the "convenience" digital clock near my workbench, the clock in my VHS player, the clock in my DVD recorder, the clock in our electric range. I probably forgot several, but life is too complex to try to remember what/where clocks are that need to be reset twice a year.

IF (big IF) a smart appliance company had a brain (instead of cranial-rectal inversion), they could get a significant edge on their competitors by TRUMPETING that their product is DST-FRIENDLY (that's Daylight Savings Time FRENDLY to those of you in Rio Linde). You just set it once and forget it.

Who in their right mind would buy anything from another manufacturer knowing that the product included additional aggrevation twice a year.

But as far as it saving energy, NOT. It's darker in the morning so we need to turn on more lightbulbs. No energy savings here. Further, although it's lighter later, it means more people are out in their cars shopping (and burning gas) because darkness brings with it a disincentive to go out.

If one hundred million people have to reset all their clocks twice a year - and it takes each person about 15 minutes to get them all, this is a cumulative total productivity loss of 171,703 MAN YEARS for just one resetting. There are two resettings per year, so we're losing over 342,406 MAN YEARS of productivity per year.

So my question is this: "Where's the savings?"




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 (blog) on 4/10/2008 7:35:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
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.


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