An energy bill signed this week by President Bush will lengthen daylight-saving time by nearly a month, and some industry insiders worry that the change could spark smaller-scale Y2K-style problems in computers and electronics.
The bill, signed into law Monday, calls for daylight-saving time to begin three weeks earlier and end a week later, in a bid to conserve energy.
Changes to the daylight-saving time table, which has been in effect since 1987, are scheduled to begin in 2007.
“The impact of the daylight-saving time switch is still unclear, but companies are beginning to take a look to see what will be involved,” said Bob Cohen, senior vice president of the Information Technology Association of America.
Since most applications have an internal clock and read time off of a network (i.e. cell phones) or have software written to update time changes automatically, these issues are most likely to be a matter of inconvenience for consumers, according Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director of JupiterResearch.
“Were not talking about major ramifications; there are very few devices that are hard-coded where the time is changed automatically and cant be updated,” said Gartenberg. “Something like Windows could be easily patched.”
The worst-case scenario is that consumers may have to set times on manual devices and check automatic devices to make sure theyve been updated twice a year.
Its the more sophisticated devices (i.e. PCs or “smart devices” with intelligent capability set in) that may be slightly more problematic.
However, even then, the majority of applications can be updated or patched to compensate for the new rules, according to Gartenberg.
“Its our dependence on these types of applications and the lack of forethought in terms of some of them that create this type of potential problem,” Gartenberg said.