Are you ready for DST changes?

Are you ready for DST changes?

Summary: DST changes are almost on us. Are you ready?

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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This year sees Daylight Saving Time in many jurisdictions of the United States and Canada move as a result of Energy Policy Act of 2005 from its usual slots of the first Sunday in April and and the last Sunday of October to the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November.  While this could be good in terms of saving energy, it might cause havoc for computer systems and time-dependent applications, databases and hardware.

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I'm going to be frank here and say that I don't feel that this change has received the attention that it deserves within the IT community.  Unlike Y2K, where there was a massive ramp up to the main event and millions of dollars chucked at the problem, Y2K7 (as it is being referred to by some) has received little attention.  Here's what Alex Eckelberry, president of Sunbelt Software, has to say about Y2K7:

Some may characterize DST as a “mini-Y2K”. No, it’s not, it’s worse than Y2K. At least with Y2K, everyone had the runs for the year leading up to it and were prepared. DST has hit American IT over the head with a two-by-four. Here at Sunbelt, we have had buckets of work to do for the transition — updates to SalesLogix, Exchange, SQL 2005, Office, Java runtime engine, etc.

Even I had fun with this. If you run Outlook off of Exchange and applied the the DST patch before your IT department patched Exchange, good luck getting Outlook started. And then see if everything’s off by an hour in March.

Getting ready for the DST change is not a simple matter of applying a single patch and forgetting about it.  Being properly prepared means taking a critical look at both the software you use and all the hardware, taking steps to put the problem right, and then planning for things going wrong.

There are a lot of patches out there.  For example, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 will find information and patches on the Microsoft site (or downloaded direct if Windows Update is enabled).  Mac users will find information here.  Other vendors have released a lot of relevant information too - a few examples are Sun, IBM and MySQL.  Similarly, there is a lot of information out there relating to Linux distros and hardware.

But when you dig deeper, there are signs that there could be issues.  For example, if you want hotfixes from Microsoft for older software, expect to pay $4,000 – a reduced fee no less!  This gives you access to all of Microsoft's DST patches for affected products.  Fine if you're a large corporation, not so good for a Mom and Pop small business who are still running old hardware and software.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg.  The problem goes beyond Microsoft and beyond software.  Think of all the routers, firewalls, cell phones, PDAs, locks, and everything else that an office might have that could be affected by this.  Any one of these items not pulling their weight come March 12th could mean big (expensive) problems.

There are other, more subtle issues.  For example, any Canadians from the province of Newfoundland making use of the 50 kW signal from NIST Radio Station WWVB located in Fort Collins, Colorado will find that their radio-controlled clocks and watches will be an hour out for the four week period that DST has been extended.  Just one of the myriad problems that'll affect consumers and businesses come the big change.

More info on this CNET Video:

So, are you ready for the big DST change?  Have you drawn up a list of all hardware and software that could be affected, along with an action plan?  How much has this cost you?  What precautions are you putting in place in case of issues?

Topic: Microsoft

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8 comments
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  • Yes not sure where I wrk is... Also question on a cpu cooler=)

    Would this cooler wrk for over clocking???
    Thermaltake Beetle 4 in 1 Performance Heatpipe Cooler. Here is the Link (http://www.xoxide.com/thermaltake-beetle-4-in-1-hsf.html). Also I'm looking at a different Mother Board than the ones you mentioned. It's the (Intel 975XBX2KR Intel Socket 775 ATX Motherboard). Would that also work in your opinion?

    Thanks jon_j5
    1054
    • It'll work ...

      ... if you can get it into you case. I tried one a while back and was impressed but it's pretty big and depending on your cabling and PSU (some that have a fan underneath are bigger) it might be a challenge to get in.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Is a different i should look @? Aslo here is MB...

        Thank you, is a differnt one i should keep in mind? Alos I am looking into getting Intel 975XBX2KR Intel Socket 775 ATX Motherboard. I know it's not the two you mentioned in you piece but was hoping it owuld wrk.

        Thank you for your help. The over clocking piece really help me keep w/building my own pc. With the price of vista i was thinking I was back to having to buying a store pc.

        Thank you for your help=)

        Jon
        1054
        • As long as you have the space in the case ...

          ... it'll do just fine.
          Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Why is Newfoundland so vulnerable?

    Adrian, I am a little curious about you singling out Newfoundland as a problem with the NIST time server in Colorado. (I thought us Canadians had the corner on Newfy jokes). Do you have a reference for this? It confuses me because Canada has it's own primary time source, the atomic clock at the National Research Council of Canada's Institute for National Measurement Standards. (see:
    http://inms-ienm.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/time_services/time_services_e.html
    )
    The NRCC-INMS operates the shortwave time signal on CHU. Since this is based on the primary time source in Ottawa there is no need for Newfoundland to use the services ofa time signal in the US. In addition, the CBC transmits the time signal over it's national radio network at 12:00 noon EST (1:30 in Newfoundland ;) in English and 1:00 EST in French. Many Canadians tune in to this signal on a regular basis to set their watches.
    In addition, in Saskatchewan, they do not observe Daylight Savings Time (insert your own joke here ;) As far as I can tell it has never been a problem.
    burtoni
    • To clarify ...

      It's not a Newfy joke ... honest!

      Gear that works off of the NRCC-INMS signal will be just fine, but there are a lot of electronics (such as clocks and radios ... such as from makers such as Casio) that were sold in Canada that doesn't support NRCC-INMS but instead supports the NIST time server in Colorado. In most parts of Canada users will be able to tweak the device and make it think that it's in a US city with equivalent time. However, those living in Newfoundland won't be able to do this (there no equivalent city data bit sent by the NIST signal to set to).
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • Thank you.

    Our Company will up-2-date by Wednesday for DST.

    Thank you for your help!
    1054
  • DST... slowly becoming the big lie

    I am lucky to be living in a non-DST area. Every year I wonder why people contort themselves so much to deal with DST: why not just go to work an hour earlier and come home an hour earlier, if that is your desire?

    And now M$ and anyone else who can see the opportunity is willing to charge you four grand for the privilege!

    Or is this like the people who fool themselves by setting their clocks 10 minutes fast so that they can possibly get places on time... instead of simply planning to do things right in the first place?
    David Cowell