Area businesses debug the earlier daylight-saving time

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Area businesses and organizations that depend on computers expect the early change to daylight-saving time will go smoothly.

In 2005, Congress passed a measure to begin daylight-saving time three weeks early this year in an attempt to save on energy consumption, with an extra hour of daylight beginning March 11 instead of the first Sunday in April. However, digital clock-driven devices were designed for the original timetable.

Local businesses such as banks, hospitals, cellular and cable companies have made special preparations for the change. "It's been a little bit of a pain for us. We've put in a certain amount of hours fixing it," said Jay McQuire, director of information systems at the Southeast Missouri Hospital.

McQuire added that there are no automated devices that patients rely upon, such as heart monitors or IV drips; nurses keep track of that scheduling.

"Any kind of comparison to Y2K is probably a stretch," said Travis Akin, spokesman for Saint Francis Medical Center. "When things have to happen at a scheduled time and you're working with patients, it could be problematic. So we've taken steps and think we came up with a solution."

Software manufacturers have implemented a patch to prevent problems with scheduling programs based on the old start of daylight-saving time. If problems occur, technicians with the ability to fix it will be on standby, according to Akin. Patient account information has already been secured at both Cape Girardeau hospitals.

Coco Reed, a Cingular Wireless employee from the West Park Mall, said to turn the cell phone off and back on for the service provider to send the new time signal after the time change, if the phone is not already set for automatic updates.

For BlackBerry or Palm Pilot users, appointment reminders might appear one hour late on the handheld device, according to Cingular store manager Paul Petrosino. Customers who bought through Cingular, AT&T or BellSouth and don't have the BlackBerry 8800c model will have to download a file to update the system. For Cingular updates, go to www.blackberry.com/dst2007. For those with other cellular providers, the company Web site will have instructions.

John Miller, director of communications for Charter Cable, said the company has examined the issue for months and has made adjustments so there should be no impact on customers. The TV guide will be adjusted, and customers with the DVR feature will be able to record as normal.

Innovative Idea Integration LLC in Jackson has been assisting customers who use Microsoft Exchange and Outlook and rely on the calendar features for business scheduling, according to sales account manager Charlie Herbst. He said people who have WindowsXP and have installed the latest updates will have no problems. The company has done hands-on work with some older machines with Windows 2000 and Windows 98.

"As a rule there is no reason to panic," he said. "If you do nothing, then there is a chance that your appointments could be off an hour."

Julie Powers, assistant vice president of marketing for First State Community Bank, said the bank has an updated system scheduled for testing Sunday to make sure it works properly.

"It's not that big of a deal for us really," said Retta Penrod, branch manager of the bank in Cape Girardeau. "We had to make some special considerations, and now we're happy to just have the extra hour of daylight so we could be home when it's still light out."

tkrakowiak@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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