Try this on for size – the EPAct2005 is the Y2K of Y2K’07. No, this is not an anagram. No sooner is 2006 behind us and folks are already worried about “the next Y2K”, the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Between January 1st and January 3rd, I’ve received no fewer than 8 emails on this topic. These emails include everything from details about software and hardware that will require some form of remediation to EPAct2005-related business opportunities.
What is the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exactly, you ask. If you read the Wikipedia entry on EPA2005, you will get a face-full of legislative overload. What’s important to look at, at least if you’re in the IT industry, is the one section titled Change to daylight savings time:
“The bill amends the Uniform Time Act of 1966 by changing the start and end dates of daylight saving time starting in 2007. Clocks will be set ahead one hour on the second Sunday of March instead of the current first Sunday of April. Clocks will be set back one hour on the first Sunday in November, rather than the last Sunday of October. This will make electronic clocks that had pre-programmed dates for adjusting to daylight saving time obsolete and will require updates to computer operating systems. The date for the end of daylight saving time has the effect of increasing evening light on Halloween (October 31).”
“Will require updates to computer operating systems”. Ugh, that sounds both nebulous and uggy. The links below lead to the vendor specific remediation instructions.
- Microsoft – http://www.microsoft.com/windows/timezone/dst2007.mspx
- Sun – http://java.sun.com/developer/technicalArticles/Intl/USDST/
- IBM – http://www.ibm.com/support/alerts/daylightsavingstimealert.html
- Red Hat – http://kbase.redhat.com/faq/FAQ_80_7909.shtm
From the links it doesn’t really look like things are so bad. What makes this a bit less containable than it appears at first glance is the pervasive nature of embedded devices, occasionally connected devices, and computing systems other than the ones with keyboards and monitors on them. Y2K turned out not to be so bad because it was a bit easier to quarantine the old iron running the offending code. With EPAct2005, getting to the desktops and big machines is only part of the battle. There are just so many other devices out there running on computers of some form that much is bound to slip through the cracks. Then again, your DVR and your kids’ robotic dog aren’t exactly air traffic control systems.