Time to think about changing the clock…

February 16, 2007 at 9:38 am | Posted in Technical | Leave a comment

Everyone knows that daylight savings time comes up in spring, and that we all set our clocks ahead, somehow losing an hour of sleep. We also know that our government has decided that this year we will be losing sleep a bit earlier in the year than ever before. In the past we rolled back our clocks around the first of April. This year we will turn them back on March 11 at 2 AM. At first glance it seems to be no big deal, just another way to try to conserve energy. Yay us.

The thing is, we aren’t just talking about the family grandfather clock and the alarm clock next to the bed. Think about how many devices and software packages you use with the time included, and how many of them are programmed to automatically adjust for daylight savings time. (The one on the first Sunday in April, not the one we have now.)

Some of us are already sighing and rubbing our eyes as we recall the absolute joy and anticlimax that was Y2K for IT people.

Microsoft released an announcement which essentially said that users with Vista and parts of Office 2007 are all set! Everyone else (the vast majority of Windows users) will need to put in a little work. Users of XP Pro who have service pack 2 installed will simply need to run Windows Update, no reboot necessary.

If you’re still running pretty much anything else, there is a bit more involved. Outlook 2007 and its predecessors, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Visual Studio, and Windows CE, will all require a manual edit to update, including servers, and will then require a reboot. No word yet on Windows Mobile, other than to say that it will require a registry key set to be installed, and Microsoft has released those keys to the OEM vendors for distribution.  

Mac owners, I’m afraid you don’t escape from the grief this time. Apple OS will run an automatic update, and will require a reboot.

HP-UX, older versions of Suse, and Red Hat will require patch installs. Solaris and AIX will require a patch and a reboot.

Beyond the operating system, enterprises will need to fix: Exchange Server, Outlook, Dynamics CRM, SQL Server Notification Services, Windows SharePoint Services, Office Live Meeting and/or Microsoft Entourage, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft advises that updates should be organized from the core of the network and move out to the edges. So, companies should upgrade their servers and MS Exchange first, then go through and patch the desktop OS, then patch MS Outlook, then work on mobile PCs. At home, users are advised to patch their OS first, then their applications.

If you are a heavy calendar user (not using an online calendar app, but one on your PC) Microsoft advises that you should go online and download a small program known as “tzmove” – Time Zone Move – that can retrofit all previously booked appointments to the new daylight-saving rules. Other vendors offer similar tools for their systems. This will fix the appointments which were entered prior to the time change bug.

The fun doesn’t stop there, however. There are also a lot of nuisance bugs related to the time change. You’re probably going to have to figure out how to fix your car yourself, or simply live with the clock being wrong for four weeks per year. Then you get to go home and figure out how to fix the clock on your entertainment system, camera, phone, and thermostat. At least none of these devices is going to change all your appointments to the wrong time. I think I’m just going to leave my Xbox and Playstation alone; the time isn’t displayed on screen that often, and I’m therefore just going to settle for knowing they are wrong.

If you’re scheduling an international conference call, you should probably not rely on any automated systems, instead agreeing to use Greenwich mean time for planning purposes. There may also be some issues with late-night financial transactions being posted on the wrong day, so this isn’t a good time to conduct time-sensitive funds transfers at the last second.

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