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Changes in Daylight Saving Times could cause computer problems

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ERIC CORNELISON
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A change in Daylight Saving Time may make parents of trick-or-treaters happy, since they won't have to stubble around in the dark, but the change could cause some problems for computers and software users.

This year in the United States, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 has moved up the beginning of Daylight Saving Time and the return to Standard Time would be delayed a week, from the last Sunday in October to the first Sunday in November.

It will begin on the second Sunday of March at 2 a.m., which is March 11, instead of the usual first Sunday of April.

DST or Summer Time, as it is called in many countries, was begun as a way of getting more out of the summer days by advancing the clocks by one hour during the summer.

This month, there would be a new element to the twice-yearly adjustment of the clock, the one on the mantle as well as the ones embedded in computers and their software.

Computers or applications, programmed to change based on DST start and end dates in use for decades, will suddenly fall behind.

None of the experts were talking a replay of the worst fears in leading up to the Y2K concerns - No widespread computer outages, no scare talk of a global information technology meltdown. This issue would be primarily confined to date-and-time-processing functions.

Even household items using a programmed clock might also be affected.

This would not just affect the U.S. but will be felt far outside the country.

Canada and Bermuda were changing their DST dates to conform to the U.S. change and computers.

Applications anywhere around the world could be impacted if they supported users, transactions or applications originating in those countries changing their DST.

As an example, scheduling or synchronizing problems could arise where systems make or check date or time stamps relating to transactions in other countries or there could be difficulty in scheduling meetings.

Security systems could also be affected along with fire panels, automatic transfer switches and multiple other computer related equipment and software.

A fix was available for some systems and applications, but others recognize only one DST rule at a time and, according to the experts, shouldn't be patched until after DST ends this year.

Those who were using some type of device or software installed before 2005, such as Windows 2000, Windows XP, MAC OS X 10.4.5, Blackberry, etc., needed to check with their IT Company to determine if the systems would need patches and whether patches were available.

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