03/09/07 — Early time changes puts pressure on electronics

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Early time changes puts pressure on electronics

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 9, 2007 1:50 PM

Don't expect your electronics to fall back to the Dark Ages when the clocks spring forward this weekend.

But you could miss that Monday morning meeting if you don't take the necessary precautions.

A new federal mandate has changed daylight-saving time from its normal April arrival to three weeks earlier on Sunday at 2 a.m.

Everything from computers to VCRs have time features that have been programmed specifically for the April time change. While some can be handled manually, many software companies have available "patches," or specific programs, that can be downloaded to fix any possible problems.

But for some people, those patches may not change the times on a person's Microsoft Outlook appointment calendar. Or a person might forget to download a needed patch to his or her BlackBerry or personal computer.

Although failure to download those patches are not expected to cause significant problems to a computer and times can normally be changed manually, some local businesses and institutions are not taking any chances.

At Wayne Memorial Hospital, time is always of the essence. Patients require medications at specific times throughout the day and scheduling is vital to surgery and other treatments.

And nearly everything at Wayne Memorial is electronic.

Wayne Memorial Hospital information technology director Lori Cole said staff in nearly every corner of the hospital have been applying patches manually to computers and other systems for the past three months.

Many of the patches have come in from vendors who handle much of the equipment at the hospital. Although many have been applied and only a few personal computers remain unprepared, Mrs. Cole said she will keep her staff on call for another week to ensure no problems arise.

"As long as the patients get their medication, I think we can handle it if someone misses a meeting," she said, referring to any scheduling that might be affected by the time change.

Cindy Whetsell, technology administrator for the city of Goldsboro, said city employees started updating their servers and computers about a month ago.

Since all of the city's computers use Microsoft programs, Mrs. Whetsell said Goldsboro was fortunate that the company had several automatic upgrade patches available for the city's servers and desktop computers.

Although some of the desktops using older Microsoft Windows models were manually patched, Mrs. Whetsell said the process has been relatively easy.

During the week, employees finished patching the city's system by updating the routers and switches associated with Goldsboro's voice-over Internet Protocol.

The information technology department at Wayne Community College has also been busy for the past month making sure there will be no problems for several servers and nearly 1,200 personal computers, officials said.

Despite all of the work that has gone into making sure servers and computers function properly come Monday, many said they are just ready for next week to come and go.

"It's been more time-consuming than anything else," Mrs. Whetsell said.