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Daylight Saving Time may cause hiccups this year

In case you haven’t heard yet, the switch away from standard time this year won’t be, well, standard. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 changed the start of daylight saving time to March 11 this year, meaning that some software written before the act may rely on the wrong algorithms to calculate when to bump the clock up an hour.

Specifically, DST kicks in on the second Sunday of March from now on, instead of the first Sunday of April.

Much of the software out there has already been patched, so it is possible to prepare for the new DST. One program to watch out for is Microsoft Outlook; its automated scheduling feature will be an hour off.

IT departments at larger companies should have already alerted their employees, but workers at smaller companies may not be aware of the potential software glitches, said Patrick Mills, senior software engineer at NeverLand Software & Systems, a system integrator in Arlington, Va.

The good news is that many of those smaller companies don’t rely much on automated scheduling, Mills said. NeverLand has upgraded its clients’ software and given them a heads-up as needed, bit it’s important to keep in mind, Mills said, that in the end, most users will experience nothing worse than a little confusion over when meetings were scheduled.

“Worst case, even if you haven’t updated your machine at all, you can set the time by hand. This is not a Y2k [kind of] issue; this is a time change. You’re talking about being an hour out,” he said.

In mission-critical applications like databases or log files, there may be some issues, Mills said. Most of those should have fixes available, though; it’s just a matter of making sure they’re applied.

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