It’s one of the few remembrances of my ill fated bout with French 1: “Quelle heure est il?” What time is it?
The answer has always been simple, but will now become painstakingly difficult with the new and improved switch to Daylight Saving Time¹, coming this weekend.
Notice how NIST (National Institute for Standards and Technology) is desperately trying to distance itself from this debacle to come!
What will happen this weekend is much of what was feared for Y2K. I don’t expect planes to crash into mountains, but I do expect all sorts of small to moderate problems with everything from banks to clocks and watches to VCRs to alarm systems.
Yes, it will be a pain-in-the-ass to reset all my watches and the clocks that are now on everything electronic. The bigger problem will be reseting the items that are already programmed to set themselves later in the year.
I have one watch that just might be incapable of finding the right time! A website, associated with the vendor, says it should be OK. Unfortunately, the watch sets itself automatically off a low frequency radio station… a station it hears every once in a while.
How some computers are reset will make a big difference, because underlying our individual time zones are UTC, or Universal Coordinated Time (the order is screwy because the acronym is based on the original French).
If you look at the inner workings of email, you’ll see times are referenced in UTC plus or minus a variable. Lots of the Internet and international commerce in general, works that way.
Delivery-date: Mon, 05 Mar 2007 06:39:42 -0600 Received: from geofffo by longmont.hostforweb.net with local (Exim 4.63) (envelope-from
) id 1HOCTe-0001BC-7d for firstname.lastname@example.org; Mon, 05 Mar 2007 06:39:42 -0600
My mailserver, in Chicago, is -0600. My home computer, here in Connecticut, is -0500. They understand a common time by using those offsets.
Unfortunately, lots of people will just reset their computer’s internal clock, throwing the mutually understood coordinated time off. The computer will still think it’s 5 or 6 or whatever hours off UTC, while it’s actually not!
I’m not sure how that will throw things into a tizzy – but it will.
At work, though my computers are on Eastern Time, everything we do is really done in UTC. All weather info around the world is UTC. Going to Daylight Saving Time means all my data will arrive an hour later. All the forecast guidance, all my computer generated help, will now be delayed.
I have a list of instructions that I have to follow to get each computer on the same page. I’m dreading that. Nothing digital ever works perfectly the first time.
Maybe I should just start with my watches now too?
This story will unfold this week. The bigger it is splashed, the smaller the problem will be. If this entry is the last you hear about it until the weekend, we’re in deep trouble.
¹ – It is Daylight Saving, not Savings, Time.