Daylight-saving time change impacts campus technology

Author: James Cope

Check "": to prepare your computer, telephone or PDA for Daylight Saving Time March 11.

To quote Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin’.”

In 2005, Congress passed a law shifting the start of daylight -saving time (DST) from early April to March 11 and its end to Nov. 4 from late October. The change, a result of the Energy Policy Act, affects technology and computer programs with built-in coding that recognizes the previous DST season.

Keeping ordinary clocks and watches synchronized during these extra daylight days is a mild disruption. But tweaking personal computers, Notre Dame’s central computing systems and telephones to recognize the extra days in daylight saving can be a hassle for campus computer users and a lot of extra work for the Office of Information Technology (OIT).

“Users of computing devices on campus need to take action before March 11,” says Peggy Rowland, OlT’s director of customer support services.

OIT has prepared a Web-based guide for adapting to the change at , Rowland says. There, users of Windows PCs, Macintosh computers, Linux-based machines, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and telephones will find what they need to know and do to accommodate the time change.

Employees may find that their office and personal computers and other devices employ operating systems that will require patching or that will be unable to adapt to the new time schedule. The OIT Web site identifies programs that may become obsolete with this changeover.

For the OIT, preparing the campus has involved a multi-phase approach. The most all-encompassing chapter thus far has been prepping faculty and staff for an update of CorporateTime. Printers throughout campus reproduced calendar hardcopies as part of the transition late last month.

Since the beginning of the year, OIT engineers have spent approximately 200 hours patching 370 time-sensitive central computing systems. Database administrators spent at least 50 hours in February patching over 50 databases to accommodate the extra daylight saving days.

“Computers that process everything from paychecks to e-mail reference an onboard clock and the clock’s interaction with operating systems and applications,” says OIT Director of Operations and Engineering Mike Alexander.

Unlike last year, when OIT responded to Indiana’s switch to daylight-saving time, “the mandated change in the start date resulting from the Energy Policy Act is nationwide; information technology departments all over the country have been scrambling their resources.”

Alexander says, “Our testing shows we’re ready; we’ll know for sure at around 2:01 a.m. on March 11.”

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