Early Time Change Won't Harm Computers
March 8, 2007 7:35 PM
SF State Information and Technology experts said daylight-saving time (DST), which will start three weeks earlier on Sunday, Mar. 11, will not prevent school computers from running smoothly.
The change of when "spring forward" begins has raised the possibility of a smaller-scale repeat of Y2K problems, but Jonathan Rood, associate vice president of SF State’s Division of Information Technology, said it will not affect the way computers operate.
“It isn’t anything like Y2K…a change in date isn’t nearly like a change in not being able to add a year in a data base. At that time, software programs weren’t programmed to deal with an out of number sequence,” said Rood. “This deals with calendar scheduling systems.”
It doesn’t pose a serious problem, but could create a hassle, explained Rood.
"The worst thing that could happen is that [computer times] could be put off for a three week period,” said Rood. “People might get the wrong time and be off an hour at a certain time of day…some interface with other systems, but it doesn’t mean a whole system will go down.”
For the last two weeks, the Division of Information Technology and the Center for Computing for Life Sciences have worked on making sure that all our computers’ software has been updated, according to Jack Tse, senior director of network and operations and chief operations officer of the Division of Information Technology.
“[Students] should follow the procedures laid out by their computer manufactures, update systems to have the newest software possible, and manually adjust clocks, calendars, and cell phones accordingly,” said Tse, who sent the mass e-mail alerting all SF State students and faculty to check for DST software settings.
DST will also end a week later on Nov. 4. The date changes are stated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as an amendment designed to conserve electricity and save an estimated 300,000 barrels of oil a year, according to a conference report by the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee.
“There are a lot of evening classes…that extra time means a little less need for outdoor lighting. It all adds up,” said Rood. “Also, more people would be [on campus] in the evening during that time, with that extra hour of light, than the number of people that would be on campus during the morning in the dark.”
According to Mike Wong, staff research programmer for Center for Computing for Life Sciences, our computers are running the Linux operating system. One of the available services of the Linux operating system is something called the Network Time Daemon (NTD). The Linux NTD can contact other trusted computers on the Internet and ask them what time it is. When NTD finds out what time it is, NTD will reset the computer's chronometer, which keeps the computer's most accurate time.
Each computer is programmed with knowledge of its geographic location (roughly) and time zone, and so each computer knows if its locality observes daylight-saving time, and what the difference is from Greenwich Mean Time.
“[SF State] computers are individually programmed to know how to respond to daylight-saving Time, and they also can talk to each other (and more importantly, a trusted ‘time server’ computer with an impeccable chronometer) to figure it out,” said Wong in an e-mail. “Daylight savings time is by-and-large a solved problem for experienced system administrators.”
To review the web page that the Division of Information Technology
has prepared, indicating the associated changes that may affect your computer and software and to ensure that dates and times are set properly, go to:
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