Saving Daylight

This is mostly for my non- or semi-technical friends*, and once you’ve read it I’m sure you’re going to “be all whatever” as the kids say, but bear with me here because I think it’s kind of important.

This year Daylight Saving Time happens much earlier than it did last year – in Ontario as well – and the details which I’m going to spare you are not pretty but also unlikely to improve the quality of your life. The short version is that when many computers talk to each other they need to agree on what the time is or the conversation won’t happen.

You wouldn’t think daylight saving time would be a big deal, but there’s a decent chance that this change is going to break a few things in ways that I expect to be subtle and hard to diagnose. “The reason my computer is telling me my user name or password is wrong is that my computer’s internal clock is wrong” just isn’t a leap that I expect most people to make, especially considering the time displayed on the screen will be correct.

Here’s what to do:

  • If you’re using Windows XP, do a full Windows Update and reboot.
  • If you’re using Windows 2000, take a look over here, download their Network Administrator tool, and use as described.
  • If you’re using Windows 98 or Millennium, the same people provide a comparable patch here.
  • If you’re using Microsoft Office 2000, XP or 2003, this link will take you to Microsoft’s tool for making sure you don’t miss two weeks of meetings when Outlook loses track of what time it really is.
  • If you’re using a Mac, running OS 10.3.x or 10.4.x, do a Software Update, let it finish, and reboot. If you’re using Office 2004 for the Mac, run Microsoft’s Office Auto-Update tool as well. You need to upgrade Entourage to version 11.3.3 or later.

You should do these things before Saturday evening. If you have any questions whatsoever about this, ask in the comments or email me.

* – because, boy, if you’re one of my technically-inclined friends and this is the first you’re hearing about this I’d lay odds you’re in for a pretty rough week.

12 Comments

  1. Posted March 5, 2007 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/outlook/HA102086071033.aspx is absolutely hilarious, and highly recommended reading.

    I can’t wait.

  2. PK
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, this was very helpful.

  3. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Thanks!

  4. Lara
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Alternatively, edit the DaylightStart and StandardStart registry keys.

  5. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Not so much, no.

    http://support.microsoft.com/gp/dst_prodlist

    this list of affected Microsoft products, and

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/914387

    this page of the changes you need to fix just Win2k should disabuse you of the idea that this is a trivial problem.

  6. Lara
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    If you look at that link, the majority of the big scary changes come from updating all of the timezone registry keys for all available time zones. I live in PST, and am very unlikely to require my computer to operate in Azerbaijan time zone for any length of time. So long as I edit the PST keys in Windows NT and in the Current Control Set, my machine will probably work fine.

  7. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, but it’s definitely possible that you’d want to schedule a conference call with somebody in one of the affected countries. And does your ntp server revert that change? Please: just apply the patches. It is a far easier and less risky than registry-hack half-solutions.

    And, honestly – do you think I’m going to tell any of my non-geek friends to touch regedit?

  8. Jennifer Winters
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that whole download updates things is very cool, *IF* your computer actually *LETS* you do that.

    Unfortuantely, because I live in the ass-end of nowhere, I have a modem. Unfortunately, the Java DST patch for Mac OS 10.4.x is 81.2 MB. Unfortunately, it takes my modem ~ 1hr to download 1 MB. (Do the math; that’s ~8 hrs!) Unfortunately, my modem likes to hang up on me unexpectedly after being connected for ~ 7 hrs. Unfortunately, I CANNOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN THAT OFF.

    *HOW* am I supposed to get this update downloaded, again?

    Yours in frustration,

  9. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, it’s a broadband world. And the java situation is grim. Not much I can say about that except “sorry”. If you can’t what you need from the office or somewhere else via usb key, then get somebody with broadband to burn a CD and mail it to you.

  10. Mike Richters
    Posted March 7, 2007 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    So sad that some operating systems use local time for the system clock.

    Now, if only cron would use UTC instead of local time…

  11. Posted March 8, 2007 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    What of us early adopters that switched to Vista? I’m assuming that it’ll be an automatic update that will be downloaded and installed without my consent and without restarting, but it’d be nice to know for sure what to do. A more pressing question I suppose would be “Why in the hell did I switch to Vista?”

  12. Mike Hoye
    Posted March 8, 2007 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that Vista and Office 2007 are unaffected.