Thursday, July 21, 2005

Daylight Savings Time Nightmare

Politicians are abysmally ignorant of the impact of certain decisions, such as the recent decision to alter DST in some jurisdictions.

The average person may think this is not really much of an issue. The worst that could happen is a little confusion now and then, right?

But what is not understood is how much software has been developed that assumes that the rules for when and how to apply DST are universal within a timezone. The software that automates springing ahead and falling back has been installed in all kinds of gadgets and pieces of infrastructure that have clocks. Gas pumps. Point of sale terminals. Parking meters. Your own PC. MP3 players. The software that allows you to configure whether to apply DST or not is based on timezone, with a few exceptions here and there.

If Canada does not follow suit with the US and adopt the same set of rules, there will be a software mess that will just keep giving. Clocks will be wrong in places where we did not even know we had places.

Having only scratched the surface of this, I can tell you all that it will be very costly to the economy to have special algorithms for DST automation throughout the country. Any questions?