This Sunday, March 11, is the new beginning of daylight saving time in the U.S. and Canada. Some computers will handle the change automatically while others may need to be manually reset. Some alarmists are saying this will be a mini-Y2K with all sorts of broken equipment. I think these folks are over reacting but I would suggest that you be familiar with the issues before March 11, just in case you have to change something.
Daylight-saving time starts three weeks earlier this year and stops one week later than usual. Many people believe this will save energy. I'll refer you to any of several hundred other web sites for the details of possible energy savings. However, this first year of change is causing headaches for those who maintain computer operating systems and applications.
Apple has already fixed the Macintosh operating systems with an online update that was released a couple of weeks ago. If you own a Mac, simply make sure that it is up to date. However, a few Macintosh applications may still have some problems. The most notable application that is known to have a problem with the shift in time is Microsoft Office Entourage. It seems ironic that the biggest Macintosh problem comes from software written by Microsoft.
Windows' issues are a bit more complex. Microsoft has posted an explanation entitled Daylight Saving Time Help and Support Center at http://support.microsoft.com/gp/cp_dst.
Windows Vista and Windows XP computers have fixes if, and only if, the latest patches are installed. Make sure that you have Automatic Updates turned on. If you are not sure whether or not you have the latest patches installed on your system, read Microsoft Knowledgebase ID number 931836 at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/931836.
The bad news is that Microsoft is not offering help for users of Windows 98, Windows ME, and all Microsoft operating systems prior to Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4. However, most users of these older operating systems can make the change manually by changing the time on the system clock and turn off the automatic time-switch for daylight-savings time. Of course, they will have to make similar changes in the fall.
Just like the Macintosh, even if the operating system functions properly, you may encounter problems with applications. Microsoft Outlook is known to have problems with the shift in time. Details are available Microsoft Knowledgebase ID number KB931667 at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/931667.
In short, the change in time looks like a minor problem for most computer users. However, I'd suggest that you at least be aware of the issues involved before you encounter an unpleasant surprise on Sunday.