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A daylight-saving digital headache

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal Ron Baker, with JFG Systems Inc. of Carson City, talks about the impact the changes in daylight-saving time will have on computerized equipment and "anything with a calendar."
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The good news is the change to daylight-saving time isn’t the end of the world. The bad news is for anyone who uses any kind of electronic device, the change will affect them.

“There is lots and lots of equipment that will be affected. Everything from calendar programs, personal digital devices, phone systems and basically anything with a built-in calendar or clock,” said Ron Baker, of JFG systems.

When it approved the 2005 Energy Policy Act, Congress authorized a change in the length of daylight-saving time.

Under the act, DST would change from the first Sunday in April through the Last Sunday in October to the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November. That means an extra four weeks of daylight-saving time in 2007.

The problem is that without updating their software, most electronic programs are not aware of the expanded time change.

“Computer networks connect to an atomic clock through the Internet. They get Greenwich Mean Time and then use a formula to adjust to the correct time. So you say you are in Pacific time and it takes Greenwich Mean Time and adjusts it eight hours,” Baker said.

Baker said that the biggest problems will occur in businesses that operate in several time zones, where accuracy in time can be important for deadlines and dealing with customers.

The other potential concern is for systems that require employees to log in.

“Many of them have security procedures that prevent you from logging in if the time on your machine is more than an hour off of the system. It just won’t let you log on at all until you resolve the problem,” Baker said.

One of the things people often overlook when updating software is their handheld devices.

“Blackberries are a big one. Anything that is connected to a server will have the same problems as any other computer,” Baker said.

Baker said that most software providers offer free patches for affected programs that are available on their Web sites, but people should still be wary of potential problems.

“Even if you are fixed, if someone else isn’t and they schedule a conference call or meeting using calendar software, it can still be wrong,” Baker said. “People think that if they change their clocks it fixes it, but if you don’t update the software, you will be adjusting clocks from now on.”

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at jshipley@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.