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PUBLISHED: 3:38 PM on Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Daylight savings time throws off computers
Yes, this is 2007. Don't adjust your clocks - not yet anyway.

You didn't wake up this morning back in 1999, once again facing the Y2K scare.

Though, as the new earlier daylight-saving time starting date approaches, it may feel more and more like it.

"Daylight savings is earlier this year, which computers and applications aren't programmed for," said Doug Seelen, a systems programmer.

"It's kind of a big issue."

After a congressional decision in 2005 to lengthen daylight-saving time as an energy-conserving measure, the technology industry has had a growing concern about the ability of computers to adapt to the change.

Had DST not been switched, the traditional day to "spring forward" would be April 1, the first Sunday of the month. Instead, the time change begins at 2 a.m. March 12.

Computers with operating systems prior to this year won't expect the early switch.

News releases from Microsoft have people believing this is Y2K all over again.

In recent weeks, the company has released statements warning users about the impending doom - personal computers, applications, software and servers won't automatically move up an hour on the correct date.

For the three weeks between the new DST and the traditional DST, clocks will be incorrect unless properly updated.

Microsoft suggests users "consider any appointments and meetings in the extended DST period to be suspect."

Brian Pentecost, a computer systems manager, said for personal computer users, any panic is unnecessary.

Windows Vista, Microsoft's newest operating system, came programmed for the new DST start date.

Automatic updates, which users must have activated, will correct the problems for Windows XP and 2000 users.

Apple Macintosh OS X computers will be automatically updated, as well.

Older Microsoft operating systems, including Windows ME, 1998 and 1995, will need to log on to www.support.microsoft.com for step by step directions on how to correct the change with a patch, a program written to correct a computer problem.

Mac OS 9 users must manually change the time on their computer. Visit www.apple.com/support for more help.

Pentecost said most of the grief for the DST transition will be for IT departments.

Updates have to be made to servers, computers, networking hardware, applications, even telephone operating systems to ensure all times are correct.

"We'll be paying really close attention to accounting software and payroll," Pentecost said about the computer systems his company oversees for their clients.

"It's creates a lot of work for guys like us."

Though the extra work is a pain, worst-case scenario, Pentecost and Seelen said, would be people are late to a meeting.

The hype is much ado over nothing for normal household users.

"This isn't going to cause you to lose data or anything like that," Pentecost said.

"You just need to make sure your times are in line."

And make sure your other techno-gadgets, such as VCRs, digital watches and cell phones, are adjusted for the time change, too.

Then, rest easy, for the three weeks following March 12, you have an excuse for being late to work.


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