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United States Software IT

One Step Away from Changing Daylight Savings Time 898

Posted by timothy
from the oh-that's-wise dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Congressional leaders from both parties have signed off on a proposal that will change daylight savings time in the United States as early as this year. All that is left is a signoff by President Bush. If the proposed solution becomes law, DST will be extended two months, from March to November. With many IT applications relying on accurate time information and many having automatic adjustments for DST, how will the IT world handle this change? And with the proposal reportedly taking effect this year, is there enough time to implement change?"
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One Step Away from Changing Daylight Savings Time

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  • by waynegoode (758645) * on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:31PM (#13118129) Homepage
    The International Association of Fire Chiefs does not want the change because the new time to switch would not work well with the "check fire alarm batteries when you change your clock" program. That kind of reasoning is ridiculous. Do they really think the US government should set the time for DST changes to suit one group's special program? Talk about special interests.

    The purpose of DST is not to remind you when to check your batteries. If it works for that too, fine; but that is something extra, not the reason for DST. Support or oppose the DST change for REAL reasons.

    From the article:

    For years, the International Association of Fire Chiefs has framed a widespread public information campaign around Daylight Saving Time, reminding people to change the batteries in their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when they change their clocks. The last weekend in November is too late for the reminder, fire officials say.

    • by nizo (81281) * on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:41PM (#13118266) Homepage Journal
      This isn't a problem; simply get Hallmark to create yet another holiday. Something catchy like, "Don't burn your house down" day to help people remember to change their batteries (maybe even with a pocket to hold replacement batteries).
    • by s20451 (410424) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:42PM (#13118289) Journal
      Support or oppose the DST change for REAL reasons.

      Here in Canada, the change is being presented as something the Americans are ramming down our throats. Seriously: here's the Toronto Star coverage [thestar.com].

      What kind of a country is this where you can get a knee-jerk reaction against anything by calling it "American-style"? (I'll tell you: it's the kind of country that, 138 years later, still prints their colonial ruler's face on their money.)
      • by Phisbut (761268) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @07:35PM (#13118898)
        Wow... I just love it when people say the stupidest stuff... From the article you pointed :

        While most people -- excepting vampires -- favour more daylight

        ... right... changing the DST will provide you with *more* daylight... it will somehow slow down the earth while the sun is shining, and accelerate it at night...

        What's the point of all this? No matter how you mess around with the DST, you won't get a single minute of daylight that you didn't have before.

        • Good Christ (Score:5, Informative)

          by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @07:38PM (#13118925)
          ... right... changing the DST will provide you with *more* daylight... it will somehow slow down the earth while the sun is shining, and accelerate it at night... What's the point of all this? No matter how you mess around with the DST, you won't get a single minute of daylight that you didn't have before.

          Wow, it's pedant day on slashdot! The point, Captain Obvious, is to provide the most daylight during waking hours for the average diurnal person.

          • The point, Captain Obvious, is to provide the most daylight during waking hours for the average diurnal person.

            And having different work schedules depending on season is somehow inconcievable, and changing the actual time for the entire country is, somehow, a better approach.

            I mean, change the 9to5 for 8to4? WHAT? NEVER! Lets have all clocks in the country changed instead, duh!
      • > I'll tell you: it's the kind of country that, 138 years later, still prints their colonial ruler's face on their money

        That statement is correct except for two minor inacuracies
        1) The image isn't of the Queen of England, but rather the Queen of Canada (so it isn't a colonial ruler)
        2) it isn't the image from 138 years ago, but rather of the current Canadian head of state.

        I am sure that there are some countries who do put images of centuries old rulers on the back of their coins, but it isn't Canada.
        • There's a queen of canada? Or do you just take the Queen of England and call her the Queen of Canada (kind of like prince charles is Prince of Wales.. shouldn't he be prince of England if his mum is the queen?)

          The only titles of nobility I recognize are Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Radon. And I don't count Radon since it's only temporary.

          • by hunterx11 (778171) <hunterx11&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @09:28PM (#13119782) Homepage Journal
            It is perhaps nitpicking, but Elizabeth II's title as the sovereign of Canada is seperate from her title as the sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Nothern Ireland. When she visits Canada, she wears Canadian regalia. In practice, however, it doesn't really matter since the Queen doesn't actually do anything anyway, and I have met Candians unfamiliar with this distinction.
          • by blibbler (15793) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @01:46AM (#13121345)
            As others have stated, the queen of Canada (and Australia, New Zealand, etc) is not defined as the Queen of England. They just happen to be following the same lineage at the moment.

            If the current, shared royal family dies out, there is no reason Canada would adopt the same royal family as England.

            Another situation where they could diverge is the sovereign of England is also the Head of the Church of England. In theory, if the Queen (or her successor) converted to Islam, or some other religion, then she would cease to be the Queen of England, but she would remain the Queen of Canada.
    • by eln (21727) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:44PM (#13118320) Homepage
      The biggest problem with this change is that Daylight Savings Time will now last much longer than Standard Time. Since it would then be DST most of the time, Daylight Savings Time should be renamed "Standard Time." Of course, that leaves the problem with what to call the old "Standard Time." My suggestions are as follows:

      - Daylight Wasting Time
      - Congress Has Too Much Time on Their Hands Time
      • Real simple.. We'll have Daylight Savings Time, and Daylight Standard time. That way we don't have to keep changing the abbreviation all the time.. Here on the West coast it'll just be "PST" all year 'round.
        (Patent Pending)
      • I would like as an add-on to the bill, a proposal for 13 O'clock to be added to the clock, that way we could all get an extra hour of sleep.
      • Winter Time (Score:3, Insightful)

        In Brazil, we call DST "Summer Time" (Horário de Verão). Sometimes we jokingly refer to the Standard Time as "Winter Time" (especially during the weeks before/after the switch).

        Since in this proposal the non-DST time would last only three months (Dec-Feb), you might as well call that "Winter Time". :)
      • by omeomi (675045) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @08:07PM (#13119168) Homepage
        Daylight Savings Time should be renamed "Standard Time." Of course, that leaves the problem with what to call the old "Standard Time." My suggestions are as follows:

        We'll just call it "Standard Time Full Speed" and "Standard Time Hi-Speed"...that'll solve the confusion.
    • Smoke detector batteries typically last a few years anyway. I change mine once a year, and the battery still has enough juice in it to run something else for quite a while.

      This recommendation should be changed to "Buy a new smoke detector that has long battery life; your old one may not even work properly anymore either. Then change the battery once a year."

      -Z
    • by dsginter (104154) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:47PM (#13118350)
      Daylight Saving [webexhibits.org]

      I always post this when the topic comes up. I'm a fan of Franklin and really enjoy reading this.
      • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @07:20PM (#13118765) Homepage
        I have always hated the switch- They said it was for farmers, but that is ridicerous. (Farmers get up when the cows need to be milked- it doesn't matter what a chronometer says.)
        My solution? "Fall Back" a half hour one year, and just leave it there permanently. Right in the middle....
        • Farmers *hate* DST (Score:5, Interesting)

          by billstewart (78916) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @09:44PM (#13119922) Journal
          Dairy Farmers have traditionally hated DST. Not only do the cows need milking in the morning (which is much easier after sunrise than in the dark), but lots of *real* farmers also have day jobs, either in factories or stores, so if the day job starts an hour earlier during DST, they've got to get up earlier to deal with the cows. Farmers without cows don't care as much.

          DST is there to make factory workers get up an hour earlier, without the government having to admit that it's telling everybody to get up earlier in the morning. Rather than messing with the clocks, they *could* just tell the TV stations to run earlier schedules, and most Americans would obey....

          There's no reason to set the clock to some other time - during Standard Time, the sun is at its highest at 12 Noon in the middle of the timezone area, and you could just as well leave it there.

    • That's what you get for relying on an undocumented feature.

      Phbbbbbbbt!

  • by lecithin (745575) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:31PM (#13118131)
    It's Y2K all over again. :)

    Hopefully the consulting companies will be able to sell the scare and raise the billing rates!

    Jobs!!!! Jobs!!!!

    How about we have our 'puters set for GMT?

    Seriously-Many applications have DST deep in the code. I can see the folks that develop things like the Netbackup scheduler (and others) to be freaking. Didn't they just fix bpsched? (again?)

    • It's Y2K all over again. :)
      Hopefully the consulting companies will be able to sell the scare and raise the billing rates!
      Jobs!!!! Jobs!!!!


      This is like rediscoving your erection again. In the beginning there were no problems having one. Then it disappeared, seemingly for good. And suddenly it all came back like saussages at a hotdog stand!
    • How about we have our 'puters set for GMT?

      Proper OSes run with the hardware clock set to UTC and /etc/localtime set to the correct timezone. This way, DST changes don't affect the hardware clock at all and happen automatically as encoded in the timezone file.
  • This is spectacular (Score:4, Interesting)

    by A Dafa Disciple (876967) * on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:32PM (#13118143) Homepage
    "How will the IT world handle this change?"

    I'll tell you how they'll handle it. They'll handle it the same way they handled Y2K, and that's by offering more jobs for people like me. The increase in demand for employees posessing the special skills needed to fix this problem will subsequently raise the expected salary for software engineers and IT professionals. Under these premises, I'd say this gives us something to toast and look forward to.

    I hope that Bush doesn't screw this up by not signing off.

    --
    I'm not a troll; I'm just a skeptic.
  • by ZoneGray (168419) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:32PM (#13118154) Homepage
    What I'd prefer is that they passed a law making the hours between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm shorter.
  • by djtripp (468558)
    I know some systems have a ton on clocks, so if it happens, I'm sure someone will figure our how to do it en mass. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with the user.
  • Every server and app I maintain is going to need OS and class library mods. Thanks a lot, guys.

    DDB

  • by Anonymous Coward
    US should reaffirm its innovation and move out of the old systems, like the metric one. They should break up the day into 100 hours instead of stupid 24. Potential benefits:

    - Easier to calculate amount of hours worked.
    - Working 9 to 5 becomes a breeze.
    - With minimum wage tied up to the hour everyone could be rich and retire early.
  • by fixer007 (851350) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:34PM (#13118175)
    I don't think it will be a huge deal to patch all of the software out there that relies on this. The main problem will be things like VCRs, TVs, watches and such that change the time for you automatically.

    It's nice to see the American government coming up with a solution like this instead of concentrating on and suggesting alternate energies.

    Really warms the ol' cockles of the heart.
  • Abolish DST (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Solder Fumes (797270) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:35PM (#13118184)
    I used to live in a non-DST state. And you know what? It was great, not having to wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour earlier, and not have one or two time-keeping devices with the wrong time a month later. It was a real headache this year because I had to travel, and keeping track of time zones is hard enough without worrying about DST.

    Heck, I'm not a believer in time zones, either. Let's adopt one time standard and adjust schedules accordingly. I don't need to be tricked into waking up in the morning.
    • by Dr. Transparent (77005) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:56PM (#13118489) Homepage Journal
      Blessed AZ. Giving the finger to you time switchers the world over.

      I agree no DST is awesome.
    • by poptones (653660)
      I HATE non-DST time. The winter days are already too short, working standard time in an office means you go to work when it's dark AND you leave work when it's almost dark. No time to go to the park, race RC cars, nothing. It's like living in perpeptual night and I hate it.
      • by j_w_d (114171) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @09:02PM (#13119600)
        DST is a stupid, utterly assinine idea and is Ben Franklin's major evidence of being human and prone to occasional, stunning attacks of stupid. Why set the frigging clock ahead or back when all you have to do is designate earlier times: "our summer business hours are 7am to 4pm" would accomplish the same thing without having solar noon arrive at 1:00pm by the clock. Arizona has the right idea.

  • Now going to have more Daylight Savings Time than non-DST. I find that ironic.
  • Answers (Score:5, Funny)

    by DanThe1Man (46872) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:35PM (#13118193)
    Badly. No.

    Score yourself at home. How did you do?
  • usa (Score:2, Funny)

    by sewagemaster (466124)
    since this is a US thing, will the change affect canada as well? (ok, before BC and Ontario become part of the US while Quebec splits off from the rest of Canada? ;)
  • Of just getting rid of it? I'd like to do that. If you aren't going to have it on an equinox, what is the point? Though I understand the latitude bias of the location of our country means that the equinox doesn't really mean we're getting equal sun and darkness at any point in the year.
  • Why do we need DST any more? and This is yet another reason to build applications to run off of GMT/UTC.
  • After missing out on the money fest the last time around, I'd be a fool not to market myself as a y2.005k consultant this time around.

    You might say there is nothing to really worry about here, but all the more reason to sell yourself to clients. If there is no real threat, there is no danger that you will fail.

  • Yea - Computers getting the change is going to suck - but thats a very easy fix. By that I mean its going to require a patch - but patching is common place so thats nothing new.

    What about embeded devices? I have a clock on my wall that automatically adjusts for DST - but if they change when thats going to happen I have to turn off this "feature" and manually adjust my clock. Granted one little clock isnt a big deal - but this is just a small example. Think about all the small devices you have around th
  • WAHOOO!!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by QuasiEvil (74356)
    Yeah, here goes my karma. Oh well.

    WAAAAHHOOOOO!!!! I'm not a morning person, so I don't give a crap if it gets light earlier. I'd rather have more light after work, when I'm actually awake and productive...

    Non-morning people unite and rejoice!
  • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
    I'd be interested to see how quickly and how well this change gets incorporated in open source vs. closed source software.
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#13118246) Homepage Journal
    ...other than mine, without permission?!

    This is yet one other sign that we need to shoot lobbyists that approach D.C. as if they were a direct Al Queda attack. This is a crackpot idea that not only screws with all the time-sensitive software (right down to our operating systems and their time zone support) but also fucks with the world agreement on such use of DST.

    I'm in Indiana, where we have just approved the use of DST for the majority of the state that never observed it (Arizona and Hawaii are similar holdouts). And NOW some politico-corporate lackey wants to change things just for business...never mind that you aren't saving a damn bit of daylight in November, unless their laws affect the Earth's tilt and orbital position to give us more sun than we're to have at that time.

    There's no reason for this...and the cost for changing everything will make the costs of Y2K seem like a pittance. Problem is, I don't know who would profit from it. Once I do find out, I hope they're shot. A lot.
    • And NOW some politico-corporate lackey wants to change things just for business

      Seeing as how DST was implemented FOR business to begin with, so what?

      There's no reason for this...and the cost for changing everything will make the costs of Y2K seem like a pittance.

      Nonsense.

      Y2K included all kinds of subtle problems in code. DST is primarily implemented in the OS's time-keeping functions. For systems where the application does the DST calculations, it is going to generally be a well-defined area that c
  • by dsands1 (183088) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:39PM (#13118251)
    "Surprisingly enough, daylight-saving time was thought up by Benjamin Franklin, not drunken voters. According to http://webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/ [webexhibits.org], it seems that one day Benjy got bored and wrote a little something called An Economical Project. It was an essay mostly about "himself, his love of thrift, his scientific papers and his passion for playing chess until the wee hours of the morning then sleeping until midday," and it was meant to be a joke.

    However, an Englishman named William Willett (how can you take someone with that name seriously? Come on!) was apparently too dense to realize that Franklin was joking. Therefore, he thought it would be a novel idea to set clocks back for 20 minutes on each Sunday in April, and then turn them back on the Sundays in September. Eventually, daylight-saving time came to be as we now know it."

    Taken from here [grinnell.edu]
    • Yes, but notice that attempt was struck down. It wasn't until WWI that they actually enacted it, and that was only for one whole year. This happened again for WWII, all just to conserve energy. Finally in 1966 it was pulled together by the Uniform Time Act because there was no reasoning behind who was observing it and who wasn't, each locality decided for itself whether or not it would observe DST. After that act passed, everybody had to observe it. Basically it wasn't a serious thing until 1966.

      http [wikipedia.org]
  • No big deal in *nix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TommydCat (791543) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:42PM (#13118286) Homepage
    While doing work for some telecom companies down in Brazil I ran into this because evidently (depending on province) they pass a resolution each year determining when to start DST and when to come off, usually planning around holidays and the whims of people in those positions. They have suggested dates, but they sometimes vary from year to year.

    For most *nix systems, look in /usr/share/lib/zoneinfo for zone definition files. If you're lucky (or have Solaris), there's a src directory in there.

    You'll find a README file with a reference to a place with updated zone files [nih.gov].

    On the other hand you could try to roll your own like I did for Belo Horizonte and edit the rules in one of the source files (I would think "northamerica" for the US ;)

    Do a man zic for more info on compiling and then distributing to other systems.

    • by Guy Harris (3803)

      Mod parent up "+5 Clueful". Yes, many UN*Xes use either the "Arthur Olson" time zone code or something compatible; this includes, at minimum, Solaris, OS X, most if not all Linux distributions, and all the free-software BSDs. For those systems, the time zone files would be updated, and anything using the OS calls for converting times, or otherwise using the time zone files, will Just Work.

  • by ottffssent (18387) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:48PM (#13118366)
    What an idiotic idea!

    I understand the theory that by changing people's work habits relative to the solar day, we may be saving some energy. I think the reality of it is rather less impressive than the theory, and certainly doesn't justify the expense and hassle, but it's undoubtedly there.

    Too bad changing DST is the stupidest way to do it. As has been mentioned before, DST impacts way more than just work schedules. It's buried deep in various applications where it doesn't belong. It's hard-coded into embedded systems where it can't be changed. It's stuck on old software installations that will never see an upgrade. Changing DST is bad enough, but a half-assed mix of new-DST machines and old-DST machines is just a recipe for disaster.

    If the government really wants to save energy by changing work habits, there are enormously better ways to do it. Tax credits for corporations that stagger their workers' start times by a significant margin would save way more energy than this DST nonsense, and it wouldn't have the unpleasant ancillary effects that changing the definition of time of day would have. Unimaginably large (you can look for the true numbers as well as I) amounts of gasoline are wasted in rush-hour traffic across the nation. Tax credits for starting 1/3 of employees 2hr earlier than normal and 1/3 2hr later would motivate employers to do it, and reducing the time people spend idling their cars on the freeways, or worse, driving in stop-and-go traffic, would save tons of fuel.

    Tax credits (or some other incentive) makes people happy because the government's not forcing anyone to do anything they don't want to. It would have very few unintended consequences. And it would save many times more energy.

    The reasoning that leads to a change in DST is just tortured. The government wants people going to work at a different time. So rather than ask (bribe, punish/bribe, whatever) businesses to employ people at different hours, they change the meaning of 8am, and screw up the entire country. Where's the logic in that?!
  • by Robotech_Master (14247) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @06:51PM (#13118427) Homepage Journal
    If we're going to be in Daylight Savings Time 9 months out of the year, they should call Daylight Savings Time "Standard" time, instead, and change Standard Time to "Daylight Wasting Time" (DWT).
  • by TorKlingberg (599697) on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @07:11PM (#13118662)
    Sweden changed the DST period few years ago. As far as I remember there were no big problems.

    Microsoft changed it through some Windows patch, and *nix people tend to fix things themself :-)
  • by thegameiam (671961) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <maiemageht>> on Wednesday July 20, 2005 @07:38PM (#13118934) Homepage
    DST is already bad enough from an Orthodox Jewish perspective, because we our holidays and sabbaths start at nightfall, and this makes "night" exceedingly late for much of the year.

    The specific case which shows the problem is the Passover Seder, which has to begin after nightfall, and there's about 2 hours of stuff before eating. Right now, about half the time, Passover falls during ST, and starts at a reasonable hour. With this change, it'll be much harder to keep children up to participate. :(

    -David Barak
    • I figured it would be appreciated by the Orthodox Jews who don't drive on the sabbath as it would make it easier for them to drive home on friday evenings before nightfall hits.
    • DST is already bad enough from an Orthodox Jewish perspective, because we our holidays and sabbaths start at nightfall

      High latitudes must be bad from an Orthodox Jewish perspective as well!
      Nightfall in the summer (depending on how you define it) routinely occurs as late as 10PM here. Go further north and night does not fall at all.
  • The major issue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by schnitzi (243781) on Thursday July 21, 2005 @12:21AM (#13120902) Homepage
    I'm now in Australia (where they also have DST), working on a project that involves entering important patient information, which can occur around the clock.

    In the course of writing the handler for DST, we came to realise that any standard UI widget that only lets you enter a date and a time is fundamentally flawed for dealing with critically important dates and DST. This is because every possible time that occurs between 1am and 2am on the "fall back" night (in the current system) actually occurs twice that night, an hour apart from each other, and there's no way to disambiguate which one it is given only the date and the time.

    I suspect this is not accounted for at all in a LOT of systems. We haven't come across any kind of standard way for the user to indicate whether they mean 1:30am before the "fall back" (for instance) or 1:30am after.
  • DST (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slashflood (697891) <flowNO@SPAMhowflow.com> on Thursday July 21, 2005 @01:24AM (#13121229) Homepage Journal

    I'd be so happy if "they" would give up the daylight saving time. All my clocks are running UTC and I'm just calculating the local time on the fly since years. It's much easier than setting all my watches and clocks all the time. In the broadcasting business nobody cares about any time offsets anyway. It's all about UTC.

    The funny thing is, that the switchover is not happening at the same date worldwide. That makes the whole problem more difficult.

    It's confusing enough for me, that for example LA is nine (or ten!) hours "back".

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