Friday, April 08, 2005

Congress Considers Extending Daylight Saving Time

At first I thought this was another April Fools joke, but Congress really is considering making DST start in March and end in November. If you are over 35, you probably remember a similar experiment in 1974 and 1975. Allegedly, we saved energy then, but I remember there were lots of skeptics.

Even if we did save energy then, this is not the 1970s. I think there are big problems with this plan. The most prominent problem in my mind is the effect on people who use calendaring and scheduling (C&S) software -- unheard of in 1975.

Most C&S software stores event dates in terms of UTC (or GMT) and then uses time zone rules to render the dates in a user's local time. These time zone rules include information on when the locale observes DST. To accomodate the planned change to DST, three things will need to happen: 1) Software makers like Microsoft will have to update time zone rules, 2) Users will need to apply the updates, and 3) Users will have to reschedule events already planned for next November and March.

If ... no WHEN, these three steps don't happen, we'll have lots of confusion. The same event on two different calendars will apparently have different times. People will miss important appointments. This is not exactly a national emergency, but trust me, it will not go smoothly.

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