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Time change could wreak havoc

March 04, 2007|by TAMELA BAKER

HAGERSTOWN - Thanks to the U.S. Congress, we all will be springing forward a little earlier this year.

Daylight Saving Time arrives promptly at 2 a.m. next Sunday, three weeks earlier than usual. It will last a week longer as well, courtesy of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extends Daylight Saving Time this year in order to conserve, you guessed it, energy.

But the best-laid plans of mice, men and Congress can go astray - the switch is causing headaches for businesses with computer programs that automatically make the switch on the traditional dates, the first Sunday in April and the last Sunday in October.

These are minor aches, however, compared to the migraines anticipated by the Y2K frenzy seven years ago.

"This is much more localized," said Jack Drooger Jr., computer training coordinator for continuing education at Hagerstown Community College. The problem affects programs such as Microsoft Outlook and others that use time stamps, and could cause some problems for people logging into networks or secure areas.

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Mainly affected are Windows-based PCs, Drooger said.

But Microsoft is ahead of the problem - patches to correct the programs are available from the software corporation, and Microsoft's Web site (www.microsoft.com) has step-by-step advice to "ease the transition."

The new time-change date also could cause problems for time-stamp devices used by hospitals, such as digital imaging equipment and electrocardiograms. But Washington County Hospital's staff has prepared for the problem, obtaining patches and notifying vendors of potential issues, hospital spokeswoman Maureen Theriault said. Patient records, she added, are recorded manually and won't be affected.

Microsoft products affected include Windows, Windows SharePoint Services, Exchange Server, Office Outlook, Office Live Meeting, Dynamics CRM, SQL Server Notification Services and Entourage, according to the Web site.

Drooger advised users to make sure their automated updates are turned on so that patches automatically can be applied.

The federal law requires the secretary of the Department of Energy to report next winter on how much energy actually is saved by extending Daylight Saving Time, and provides that Congress can change it back to 2005 schedules once the study is complete.

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