Your home or work computer has programs that keep a running clock, put a time-stamp on tasks you do and e-mails you send, and tell the computer when to switch that built-in clock to Daylight Savings Time and back to standard time. That will be upset this year, when the date of Daylight Savings is moved, a result of a Congressional vote. Jeff Gullion is an instructor on computer information systems at Des Moines Area Community College.
When some computers change for Daylight Savings Time and some don’t, that’s when problems will appear as an "inconvenience," Gullion says. "We’ve been doing Daylight Savings Time for a long, long time," he says, "so all computers are used to handling Daylight Savings Time. All companies have been dealing with Daylight Savings Time processing, so that’s not new, but the switch to an earlier start and a later finish is the real difference."
The switch to daylight time will happen this coming weekend, on March 11. Gullion says you can change the settings of the computer you’re working on. Just see the timeclock in the bottom right corner of your screen. Click on it, and you can adjust the date and time, forward or back. "It’s quite powerful, and it’s fairly simple," he says. You’ve probably never done it, since normally it’s done automatically by the computer system, which knows the dates the Daylight Savings Time switch is supposed to happen.
The place where it may cause trouble is in the office, where a computer server will handle traffic from many users in a number of offices. Usually that server sets the time, and all the other computers connected to its network adjust to the server’s time. If they’re in conflict, though, one user might send something dated at ten o’clock, and another computer will argue that it’s eleven o’clock, and it’s too late.
When there are deadlines or time-dependent jobs, that "difference of opinion" can cause problems for computers or their users. The bill adjusting this year’s daylight-savings dates was signed in the summer of 2005, and Gullion says most computer network managers have had time to prepare for this weekend’s change. Another detail to remember — updating appointments in computer programs like Outlook that keep a personal calendar for the user.