Leader Blues

Monday, March 12, 2007

TOP STORY >>Early time change baffles many here

IN SHORT: Will an earlier daylight savings time create chaos or will it pass unnoticed? How many will be late for church tomorrow?

Leader staff writers

Thanks to Congress, Daylight Savings Time has been moved up to begin at 2 a.m. Sunday rather than the first Sunday of April in order to help conserve electricity.

But Mike Right with the American Automobile Association says the clock change could inadvertently make gasoline prices go up.

And rolling the clocks forward three weeks earlier than usual could mean technology lags behind, something local cities, businesses and organizations have had to consider.

The three-week earlier time change will end on Nov. 4, one week later than usual, resulting in a Day- light Savings Time (DST) period that is four weeks longer than in previous years.

Paul Mushrush, Jacksonville’s finance director, said, it shouldn’t affect the city much as city computer operators had already downloaded a Microsoft program to correct the date change.

Barbara Daniels, the city’s systems administrator, was at the 911 center Friday after inputting the Microsoft program to make sure the time stamps on the calls are unaffected.

Mike Hutton, with Sherwood’s computer services, expected no problems in Sherwood. “It’s a simple fix, and we’ve been on top of it.

“If it affects anyone, it will be those more time-sensitive machinery such as bank time vaults,” Hutton said.

At First Arkansas Bank and Trust, the computers have already been adjusted and are running fine.

The bank’s online banking site, however, had been out of commission for 24 hours from Thursday to Friday, but the problem is not related to the DST adjustment, Roger Sundermeier, vice president of marketing, said.

Sundermeier said all of the bank’s computers and daily-operating systems would work fine after the time change, having addressed any possible problems earlier on.

He also said the main bank’s time and temperature display sign would not have any problems come 2 a.m. Sunday, adding that anytime it is wrong he hears about it.

“That sign we purchased recently came equipped with software to accept the change,” he said.

The signs at the Heber Springs and Greenbrier branches would have been wrong because they were older models, but Sundermeier said they were taken down and sent off last week for a new software chip.

“They will be up and running next week,” he said.

Rebsamen Medical Center does not anticipate any problems with the 21-day-early change.

“We have a master clock that we submit the change to and it resets all the clocks, lights and locks,” Kristen James, marketing coordinator for Rebsamen, said. “We don’t foresee there being any issues,” she added.

Some people say extra daylight hours provided by changing to daylight savings time provides more opportunities for families to be on outside and on the go.

Home Computers
Unless certain updates are applied to people’s home computers, the time zone settings on their computer’s system clock may be incorrect during the extra four weeks of DST, but both Microsoft’s and Apple’s Web site offered updates to prepare.
For home users with Windows Vista or automatic updates turned on, you may not be affected by the change.

But if you use any other Windows operating system, you will first have to download an update – available on Microsoft’s help and support Web site – before DST changes will be applied to your computer.

Apple is also providing software updates for computers with Mac OS X 10 and later.

If you’re a Mac user and still on Mac OS 9.2 or earlier, you will have to use the date and time control panel to manually enable DST.

Outdoor activities
Now that DST will begin in March every year rather than April, we have more daylight to enjoy outdoor activities.

Area golfers will now have more opportunities to play a few holes after work before it gets too dark to see.
“This time of year, we have lots of people that like to play after work and this will give them more opportunity,” David McKinney, general manager of Greystone’s Cypress Creek Golf Course in Cabot, said.

“We will definitely benefit from the earlier time change; it will be great for business,” McKinney said.

“They still might not be able to play a full 18 holes before it gets dark, but they should be able to get in nine holes,” McKinney said.

The extended daylight after 5 p.m. will also allow parents time to play outside with their children without dinner and bedtime looming near.

“Personally, I like it (the change) better coming earlier,” Dr. Randy Walker of Counseling Services of Jacksonville, said. “I can work off the stresses of the day this way,” he said.

People will be able to stay out on their patios and porches longer, and more families will be seen at the ballpark, in their yards and on bicycles thanks to the earlier time change.

For those that suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that tends to occur and reoccur as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter, the earlier time change could come as a welcome relief.

“I would think that with more daylight it would help their attitude,” Walker said, adding that was not something he dealt with often.

SAD symptoms (which include tiredness, depression, overeating, body aches, irritability and poor sleep) typically tend to begin in the fall each year and last until spring.