The fear that on January 1, 2000, computers all over the world would stop working, because of the lack of programming foresight to allow for a change of the century in all the code written up to that point, was referred to as “the Y2K problem.” A disaster movie made a brief splash but as one reviewer said the movie really sucked and wasted a few minutes of our time and then we moved on.
Yet at the time, there was considerable concern over what might happen. A lot of money was spent to address the problem, giving employment to many, as companies tried to make sure their world didn’t crash around their feet. A number of cautious citizens stored food supplies and developed a bunker mentality as they prepared to fight off the Dawn-of-the-Dead-type hordes that might want to break in and deprive them of their well-advised preparedness. In retrospect, it all seems rather silly now, but some debate still exists about whether the disaster was averted due to preparedness or whether there never really was much of a threat.
But steel yourselves. In case it slipped your attention, we’re on the verge of another “mini-disaster” because on August 8, 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
This Act changed the time change dates for Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. Beginning in 2007, DST will begin on the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November. The Secretary of Energy will report the impact of this change to Congress. Congress retains the right to resume the 2005 Daylight Saving Time schedule once the Department of Energy study is complete.(1)
So, once again, computer companies are scurrying about trying to correct their programming because they’ve realized that “Egads! Our calendaring systems might be off by an hour.” Mary Jo Foley reports on her “All about Microsoft” blog that the Softies are once again trying to get out a patch to their code that will keep from disrupting the flow of commerce as business users face the horror that their Outlook meeting schedulers might produce erroneous times. And Heaven knows a company can’t get along without meetings!
Although I am making light of the issue, this time the blame rests not so much with the software manufacturers as with the government’s decision to alter the starting and ending dates for Daylight Saving Time. Barely a month from now, we’ll all set our clocks forward by an hour. Since I’m no longer in a workforce that relies on Outlook’s scheduling abilities, I guess I take it a bit less seriously than others might. Still I can’t help wondering whether we’ll see people hosting parties on March 10th to await the disaster than may occur the following day as the DST problem hits the business world.