The Marketplace Report: Daylight Savings Havoc Madeleine Brand talks to Bob Moon of Marketplace about the proposed change in the schedule for daylight saving's time and the havoc it could wreak on software and gadgets. Many devices are programmed to record on a schedule that's been unchanged since 1987.

The Marketplace Report: Daylight Savings Havoc

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

President Bush signs the new energy bill today. What we didn't hear when the measure was passed last week was that the bill could create some problems for daylight-saving time. The legislation's proposed changes to the daylight-saving schedule could foul up numerous gadgets and computer programs that are set for the old time schedule. "Marketplace" New York bureau chief Bob Moon joins us now with more.

And, Bob, first, what's the change in the daylight-saving time schedule?

BOB MOON ("Marketplace"): Well, Madeleine, this legislation includes a provision to start daylight time three weeks earlier and end it a week later. It's billed as an energy-saving move. But it's already led to considerable debate about the wisdom of this change. It'll put farmers to work in the dark and send kids to school before dawn for an extended time in addition to creating more daylight at the other end of the day. And then we have these technical difficulties, you might say.

BRAND: And tell us more about these technical difficulties.

MOON: Well, if you're thinking back to all the hoopla about the threat to computers when we made the big Y2K switch over, it shouldn't be anything like that. This is more like a minor nuisance if you happen to have a gadget or a computer program that's affected. This potential problem was first brought to light last week by a technical publication called Computerworld.

Today the Associated Press has weighed in on what it means, and it says when this changeover happens a couple of years from now, in 2007, your VCR or your DVD recorder might start recording shows an hour late. And there are some other interesting effects that might be possible that might not come to mind at first. The telecommunications industry, for example, is going to have to make sure its computer schedule gets changed so customers get billed properly, or else you might just get an extra hour of free weekend calls. And some electric companies use advanced meters to distinguish between peak and non-peak times of demand. The AP suggests that's going to require new studies to figure out if any modifications of those demand schedules are going to be needed and then get that all programmed in.

BRAND: And will these things just stop working, or will there be fixes in time?

MOON: Well, undoubtedly, a lot of fixes will be coming up, and if that doesn't work, you'll just have to take things into your own hands, quite literally. If you've got a new model VCR, for example, they're automatically programmed to adjust when switching over to DST based on the way things have been since 1987. Well, now that feature will be essentially become obsolete. And an official at Panasonic says users might have to manually increase or decrease the time. Of course, I don't have to worry about that because my VCR reads 12:00 and flashes that way all the time anyway. That'll never change.

In the computer world, the Windows operating system automatically switches the time on your computer. Microsoft provides automatic updates, though, and it says it'll be taking care of that.

Today in the "Marketplace" newsroom, we're talking to a business management expert who's found that sex is counterproductive when used as a workplace tool.

BRAND: We'll listen for that. Bob Moon of public radio's daily business show "Marketplace." And "Marketplace" is produced by American Public Media. Thanks, Bob.

MOON: Thanks, Madeleine.

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