Daylight Saving Time Computer Chaos

Monday, February 19th 2007, 10:05 am
By: News On 6

Daylight Saving Time will come about three weeks early this year, on March 11th. Congress is hoping the added daylight will help save electricity. If you didn't know that, you're not alone; your computer might not know it either. The News on 6’s Steve Berg reports that could throw off your schedule.

Computers that don't know what time it is? Many are programmed with the old starting date for Daylight Saving Time. Damon DoRemus with Geek Rescue computer repair says that could be a problem.

"It's certainly a big deal to someone who administrates a lot of systems that aren't network aware," he said.

Just what does network aware mean?

"I mean something that doesn't go and connect to some time server to say 'What time is it?' most Windows machines do that," said DoRemus.

For instance if you double-click on your computer's clock, you can open up a menu showing a list of time servers around the internet that your computer will automatically connect to, usually every 3 days or so, to check the time.

"Windows is often calling home to some degree,” said DoRemus. “Even if it's just calling home to find out what time it is."

Some companies, like banks, have computer systems that are closed off from the Internet for security reasons, so they're not network-aware. But in all likelihood, they have a good IT staff that is aware of the daylight saving change and has tweaked their systems appropriately.

That still leaves us with the average Joe who doesn't have his computer connected to the Internet, or maybe a handheld personal data assistant that's not connected to the Internet.

“Is that a big deal?” asked reporter Steve Berg.

“Sure it could be," DoRemus said. "Your time is going to be off, you could be late to that appointment. More often than not, it's going to be a non-event, but it could cause a problem for some folks."

The bottom line is that some of the things that we're used to adapting automatically might not this year, so mark March 11th on your calendar. You'll want to check all the electronic devices on your list to make sure they've got the right time.