Daylight Saving Time – the phantom menace

Those of you employed in industries that have nothing to do with computers may have been blissfully unaware of the impending changes to the observance of Daylight Saving Time (until, of course, the Daily Show aired its brilliant exposé last night). For those of you who are still unaware, due to the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the United States is changing the dates of observance of DST so that it begins three weeks earlier Рwhich means it goes into effect this Sunday! (cue dramatic music)

While this may merely mean one less hour of hangover-curative sleep for some, it can potentially be a disaster(!) for computers everywhere, because machines with operating systems that haven’t been updated with the new rules won’t know that they should automatically change the time on the new date. IT nerds such as myself have been working to update systems to reflect the change, but many are unprepared and could face shocking(!!!) consequences such as:

– missing or being late to meetings
– oversleeping
– accidentally giving someone the wrong time when they ask you what time it is

We can’t have that! Whatever can we do? Update our clocks manually? OH, THE [email protected]!!

But seriously, just be aware that at 2 AM this Sunday, March 11, DST goes into effect, and you need to set your clocks ahead by an hour. Take a deep breath. It’ll all be okay.

Until October, when DST normally stops – it’s been extended by a week, to November 4.


16 thoughts on “Daylight Saving Time – the phantom menace”

  1. Or such shocking consequences as a mis-reading of my husband’s blood cultures and blood panels which are largely distinguished from each other by the time stamp indicating when they were taken, which could in turn lead to drugs being administered or not being administered, which could lead to his precarious septic condition (from a bacterial infection suffered while he’s in the hospital trying to recover from a head injury suffered two months ago when he was hit by a drunk driver while riding his bicycle in Griffith Park) worsening.

    Some people’s jobs are more important than ours and the consequences of faulty data therefore more serious than a stupid missed meeting.

    Hopefully nothing serious is later lumped into the phrase “…a few small SNAFU’s aside…” in the evening news.

  2. I’m sorry that your husband was injured.

    While I realize that there are many other possible consequences with timestamps being off, presumably the people who are doing the bloodwork are actually double-checking the time that they place onto the cultures/vials/samples when they are taken. And in the linked article at the LA Times, they mention that most systems have been updated already to automatically reflect the time, and even if they haven’t, manual changes can be made to update them. You know, that whole “being aware of the change” thing.

    Besides, what do you think the medical profession did the last time DST was changed in 1986? They… wait for it… moved their clocks forward an hour.

  3. Dear Ballookey:

    1. mislabeling blood cultures happens all the time, and daylight savings time is one of the very rarest causes. More often it happens because technicians are themselves idiots, or have a cold, or are still drunk from the night before, or forgot their glasses in their car. If you’re going to be worried about that, REALLY worry about it instead of getting all in a tizzy about the hour change.

    2. Doctors kill patients all the time, and daylight savings time is safely at the bottom of the list of reasons. More often it’s because they’re idiots, or have a cold, or are still drunk from the night before, or forgot their glasses in their car. I know that this is true; about 25% of my family are doctors both here in the US and in Germany, and there are some very dirty secrets in the medical industry.

    3. You’re paranoid. Your mentality is exactly the reason that Microsoft could charge FORTY THOUSAND DOLLARS for 41 lines of code that reset the daylight savings time change date. Say listen…I’ve got this great patch of ocean off the coast of northern California where daylight savings time doesn’t exist at ALL! All your problems would be solved. It’s 100x100ft square, just big enough to park a nice boat. I’ll let it go for 120,000 USD. But thats a special deal…don’t go blabbing about it.

  4. I always get confused because I’m an idiot. Does the three-week DST headstart mean we now get to deal with ultra-dark or ultra-bright mornings for that much longer? If it’s the latter, great, but if it’s the former (which is what I’m feeling it is) I’m gonna be pissed because I cherishes me my dawn’s early light dammit!

  5. Will…

    Hmmm. Head scratcher for sure. Seems so simple! It is just an hour after all. OK – “Spring Forward, Fall Back”. We go forward an hour – so the roughly 6 am sunrise we are having today will be the same as the 5 am dark morning in a few days. You’ll have the sun coming up an hour “later”. So, it looks like you’ll be pissed off for a while. I like the “longer” evenings myself, but then again the only time I see the sunrise is when I’m backpacking for the weekend or if I’ve stayed up all night… so a sunny early sunrise isn’t something I even think about.

  6. Will: You are gonna be pissed, because it means that what is now darkish 6 am will be darkish 7 am for an extra 3 weeks. This is supposed to make it so we don’t use lots of electricity at night, which would make sense except that I really think it’s a secret plot to allow trick-or-treaters to stay out later in the fall (because the change also pushes the time we go back to standard from October 28 to November 4).

    It’s the candy corn lobby at it again, the bastards.

  7. Thanks Ken and Kathleen for the illumination about the morning’s lack thereof for the next additional few weeks. I’m with ya Ken I certainly enjoy the later light — especially so with any bike commuting I’ll be doing back from El Segundo to Silver Lake in the late afternoons. It’ll be nice to actually be visible out there.

    Hell, another benefit of the longer daylight might be that the IAAL*MAF gets off its collective butt and together for an evening ride finishing at Lil Tokyo’s Joymart one of these Thursdays, too!

  8. Those of us old enough to remember the Carter-era experiment with year-round daylight savings (it was apparently an energy-saving measure) remember very dark mornings.

    I found the news coverage of the DST thing a bit amusing. All that it was missing was stories about people hoarding food and ammunition so they can survive the post-DST apocalypse.

  9. @Kathleen/Don:

    The consequences could indeed be more harsh than “missed meetings”. Many computer systems depend on having synchornized time. By far, most systems like this use UTC (not local time), but I wouldn’t rule out some systems using local time and getting out of whack if not properly updated.

    Its rather unlikely, but worst case, picture ATMs not working, phone service down, airplanes not taking off, etc. If you’ve got switching software coordinating your railroads, you better hope that none of the trains are off by an hour and think the track is clear when its not.

    It’s a giant pain, and congress definitely didn’t think it through, but while there’s no call for panic, don’t fool yourself – the potential consequences are indeed severe.

  10. Oh, goddammit. The point of the post wasn’t to enumerate all of the potential shit that could go wrong, which the media has covered already. The point was to make fun of the people who are making the biggest stink about it, which are mostly management-types who are wigging out because their fucking Blackberry isn’t showing the right meeting time.

    If you actually think that planes are going to sit on the ground and trains are going to crash into one another, you’ve been reading too much Y2K-type propaganda.

  11. Dear Another Tech Geek:

    Wow. You really, really have no idea what the hell you’re talking about at all. Your “worst cases” are absolutely 100% wrong. Unfortunately, I can imagine a far worse case than any you mentioned: that you actually work in the industry.

    I’ll tell you what. If any of your worst cases happen and you can provide documentation to the email address listed at the URL that “yttrx” points to, I will personally kiss your ass, buy you dinner, eat your socks, let a pigeon shit on my head, lick a seat on the A train coming out of Harlem, and stand in the middle of times square, naked, with a pink plastic flamingo up my ass, singing zippety goddamn doodah through a bullhorn.

  12. @Kathleen, my blackberry isn’t showing the right meeting time. I can tell you, it is a genuine horror, right up there with having to connect at DFW, using an airline that doesn’t help with my q-points, or flying a regional jet anywhere.

  13. YTTRX…

    Glad you clarified that you’d do that in Times Square… because if you did all that here in LA (especially Venice) it would be just another day and nobody would notice. LOL!!!!! Gotta love this town.

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