Does Arizona pay an IT penalty for ignoring DST?

Daylight Savings Time - Arizona

Last week I noticed that Daylight Saving Time would be upon us this Sunday, March 13, and I got to wondering if there were IT-related issues involved in the changeover that Network World should be covering. An initial search query on the subject reminded me that Arizona doesn't participate in DST at all, which got me wondering whether that independent streak in and of itself leads to any techno-headaches. (I also couldn't recall why it is Arizona doesn't play DST.)

Fortunately, my long-time go-to guy for most matters technical, Network World Test Alliance partner Joel Snyder, happens to live in Arizona, where he is a senior partner at Tucson-based consulting firm Opus One:

Arizona doesn't participate (in DST) because it doesn't make sense.

Actually, it's not clear to me that DST makes sense anymore in any context, but certainly the original idea was to save energy by shifting schedules to increase the amount of daylight that people had.

Well, in Arizona, as I like to say when answering this question, we already have plenty of daylight.  In fact, we have so much daylight that the evening time in the summer is a time of relief.  Although I personally enjoy the late summer hours that you get in Boston, if it were light that long in Tucson, we'd be spending even more money on air conditioning.  It's hot in Arizona and we are happy with less sunlight (and heat) in the summer months.  In fact, people have seriously suggested putting Arizona on Daylight "Losing" Time in the summer, although that doesn't get much of anywhere.

From a technical point of view, generally, it's not a problem.  In fact, before the era of NTP, I used to watch with great amusement as my colleagues all around the U.S. had to be up at 2 in the morning to switch their clocks one way or the other twice a year.  In some companies it was a very big deal; I used to work for CompuServe and they billed by the second (actually they billed by the jiffy, but that's a different story) and if you lost an hour of time -- or accidentally charged a customer for an hour when they'd used a second -- that was a big deal.

What was a real technical (read: 11-letter bad word beginning with "c" and ending with "ck"), however, was when they changed the dates for DST a few years back.  As far as I was concerned, that was Y2K all over again, because a bunch of systems didn't have updates (or couldn't be updated) and we didn't have five years to plan for it.  That meant that a lot of systems were confused about what time it was in Arizona that year.  And it still happens.

Being in Arizona has caused some issues.  For example, time zone support in PDAs has been very primitive.  Some of the early ones, like the Palm, did it "right," but a lot of newer ones don't do a very good job.  The result is that my Nokia phone on more than one occasion managed to duplicate every single appointment in my calendar, offsetting by one hour, because someone wasn't sure what time it really was in Arizona.

Even today, Microsoft Outlook has a poor to non-existent knowledge of time zones.  They used to send out meeting requests that were simply wrong (didn't account for time zones).  Now, they send them out; they're still wrong, but there's a note that says "oh, this time doesn't account for DST."

I do miss a few conference calls now and then because people aren't aware of the time in Arizona, but I am not sure that I regard that as a bad thing.

My cursory search didn't find much in the way of DST-related IT problems, but if you are grappling with one or know of any, please share in comments or drop me a line at buzz@nww.com.

I did find a press release contending that one-third of Americans actually dread Daylight Saving Time.

To these people I offer two possible solutions: Buck up ... or move to Arizona.

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