Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hug Your Friendly Neighbourhood Geek - or - Why I Hate George Bush

You might have noticed that I haven't been around the blog a lot lately. Why? Well, it's all because of George Bush.

In July, 2005, the US Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which was signed into law by George Bush on August 8th. God, do I hate the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In this ridiculous piece of legislation, Daylight Saving Time (now known as "Extended Daylight Saving") starts three weeks earlier, on March 11, 2007. (At 2 a.m., if you want to be specific. I have to know this because I'll be up at this time, glued to the clock.) Canada, claiming business reasons, has followed along with this insanity. The reason behind this law? Save energy by having more daylight at the end of the day. Of course, logically, people will be getting up an hour earlier, in darkness, and will have to....turn on the lights. God, do I hate the Energy Policy Act.

I have to instert a disclaimer here: I was the Y2K compliance officer for the company I worked at at the time. I had a year to prep, very little work to do in order to get compliant, and zero issues after the fact. So I know a little bit about massive systems changes, researching compliance issues and generalized foolishness. My better half was also on the Y2K team for his company. So between the two of us, we have a pretty good knowledge of these kinds of issues.

So, it's with this knowledge that I make this statement: Extended Daylight Saving is worse. (Well, in some very small ways. Don't start stockpiling food or anything.) And it's the reason I've been working my tail off lately.

Part of the reason that this is so bad is due to the fact that vendors are STILL working on the patches that are required for geeks like me to be able to transition our systems over to the Extended DST period. Microsoft has released tools in the last week or two when people normally need a month or two to test and roll-out. I've only been working on this a month.

So, why should you care. Running a computer? PDA? Blackberry? You need to update.

Here are some tips to make things earlier. (I have to provide a second disclaimer here, this is a suggestion only, not professional advice. When in doubt, always consult your vendor. But I'm right, so it's okay.)


1 - Edit your calendar items *now* to reflect the correct start time of appointments between March 11 and April 1. Just click on the item and change the subject line to include the time.
2 - Print out your calendar *now*, paying special attention to any travel or critical appointments.

Then update your computer. If you're running Windows XP SP2, your patch is available here: This patch will update your time zone configuration so that your computer will move an hour ahead at 2 am on March 11. You could, however, change the time manually, but your PC will likely move another hour ahead 3 weeks later when the old Daylight Saving Time kicks in. (Hey, I haven't tested this scenario yet, but I'll put that on my list.)

After updating XP, appoinments in Outlook Web Access or Outlook will appear one hour later in the three week delta period after March 11. You can either manually move your appointments back or run the Outlook Time Zone Update Tool, although this is *not* guaranteed to work in all cases. I say, when in doubt, do things manually. (More information on this here.)

If you're using another vendor for your mail client (Eudora, etc.) you should check with them. If you're using a web-based program, Gmail, Sympatico, etc. your vendor should be fixing the problem, so don't worry about your email. You still need to update your own computer, though. To make things even more fun, Microsoft released the XP update this week as a critical update - so if you have "automatic updates" already set up - you might have the patch already. If that's the case, double check your appointments if you're using OWA or Outlook.

If you're running a Blackberry device, you can get a device update by navigating to: on your device. If you're running other Blackberry software, take a look at their site to see what you need to do. If you're running a different PDA, check your vendor's website.

I'm amazed that this is just starting to hit the news now, considering the impact could potentially be significant. Billing, banking, accounting, and travel systems? Well, I'm glad I don't run them. My problem, however, is that I work for a company who hosts email for *other* companies, so that can get sticky. Plus some of the changes on my side of the fence are a little hairy. PLUS, information is changing almost daily, meaning it's impossible to keep up with new issues/changes (in fact, when looking for some links for this blog, I found out that Microsoft has changed their DST webpage since yesterday). Excuse me while I medicate my ulcer.

Now, to be honest, I don't think it's going to be the end of the world. Most people will likely experience a few headaches and take it in stride, but if a CEO misses a flight for THE meeting that was going to make their company millions of dollars, I can be sure that I'm going to have some 'splaining to do.

So, thanks, George.

Oh, and the best thing? This is a TEST PERIOD. So we might have to undo all of this next year. If that's the case, I'm quitting the computer industry and opening a fruitstand.

So, if you have a friend who's a geek? Give them a goddamn hug. We need one.


Oh, and don't forget, change all your clocks, smoke dector batteries, VCRs, PVRs, your automatic furnace settings, your watches, your car's clock...and anything else that keeps time. Which is pretty much everything.