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UK Government Wants to Spring Ahead Two Hours 554

Anonymous Coward writes "In England it has been proposed that the clocks move forward by 2 hours this summer to give us more daylight time in the day, and hopefully in turn stimulate the economy. My question is what impact will this hold for computers that automatically adjust the time to British Summer Time? Could this cause another 'millennium Bug' fiasco?"
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UK Government Wants to Spring Ahead Two Hours

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  • by intellitech ( 1912116 ) * on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:11AM (#35265948)

    Could this cause another 'millennium Bug' fiasco?

    Y2K was a much different situation [], one which had absolutely nothing to do with such concepts as "daylight savings," "summer time," and the like. Y2K was caused by silly computer abbreviation of dates, and while DST [] can cause timekeeping bugs, it's unlikely to cause a worldwide meltdown.

    I would also like to point out that these things are much more likely to break down the more frequently you change them..

    • Maybe programmers in the UK are accustomed to assuming that localtime always equals UTC.

      • by Antony.S ( 813668 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:26AM (#35266038)

        I doubt it, since they would find themselves fired within 6 months.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )
          Maybe programmers in the UK are accustomed to assuming that localtime always equals UTC except during six hardcoded months.
      • by growse ( 928427 )

        Maybe idiots in the UK are accustomed to assuming that localtime always equals UTC.


      • Many people in the UK are accustomed to assuming that localtime always equals GMT. The side effect is many think that GMT = BST when it's in effect. I once worked for an airline and out of necessity, I got REALLY good at timezone math. I once asked for clarification whether a conference call in the middle of July was going to be 16:30 GMT or 16:30 BST and I could hear the blank stares on the line.
    • I would also like to point out that these things are much more likely to break down the more frequently you change them.

      I think that sums it up best . . .

      • by shallot ( 172865 )

        I would also like to point out that these things are much more likely to break down the more frequently you change them.

        I think that sums it up best . . .

        OTOH, if people changed these things more frequently, things in general would become less likely to break down, because everyone would become more accustomed to it. We would then be able to relegate those people who allow it to break down to the same caste we today relegate the "what do you mean someone can insert random SQL in my obviously numeric GET parameter?!" people. They would still exist, but nobody would really pay attention to their screams :)

    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:58AM (#35266182) Journal
      I have yet to see one single study that finds economical benefits in using DST. Actually, in the programmers' world, we see a lot of systems costing more because of this : Because DST regulations change almost every year (and I am not talking about leap seconds) the only away to have an accurate local time on a device is to have either regular maintenance or to link the device on internet to receive updates (and add some work to ensure the security of this, which can cost a lot on critical systems). I wish politician computed this cost. They manages to make the simple task of telling the local time too hard for a computer to compute on its own. That is really an achievement on their part.
      • by theCoder ( 23772 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @09:38AM (#35267094) Homepage Journal

        The Wikipedia page lists some studies, but I find this one most revealing:

        A 2008 study examined billing data in Indiana before and after it adopted DST in 2006, and concluded that DST increased overall residential electricity consumption by 1% to 4%, due mostly to extra afternoon cooling and extra morning heating; the main increases came in the fall. The overall annual cost of DST to Indiana households was estimated to be $9 million, with an additional $1.7-5.5 million for social costs due to increased pollution.

        There may be benefits to DST, but DST does not save energy, one of the original arguments for DST.

        Keep in mind, the main purpose of DST is to get people up earlier in the morning so that they don't waste that daylight. People are used to getting to work/school by some set time, say 8 AM. If you told them that in the summer, they had to get to work/school by 7 AM, even though they could leave an hour earlier, most people would balk. But if you tell them that 7 AM is really 8 AM, they don't seem to have any problem, and they'll happily go along with it.

        Now, maybe it's easier to just redefine the hours of the day this way than having different schedules for winter and summer months. Lots of people are easily confused by time, and changing your clocks is a one time event, then everything else is "normal." I do find it humorous that people like to keep this convenient fiction, though. If we never had DST and someone proposed it, I think most people would find it ridiculous. But since most people have done it all their life, it's just what we do in the spring and fall (and they think that places that don't do it are somehow backwards and wrong). Just a matter of perspective, I guess.

    • The rules for starting and ending U.S. daylight saving time and British Summer Time are both set by legislation and have changed several times []. Hard coding them into software is a serious mistake. The only safe way to deal with DST is to maintain a lookup table for the specific dates each year or a list of the years when the rules changed, and update these tables regularly. The more often the rules change, the more incentive people will have to adopt appropriate practice, rather than encrusting their softwa

  • I predict lots of people showing up to work 2 hours late if they us their cellphones or iDevice as an alarm clock.
  • BAU (Score:4, Informative)

    by isorox ( 205688 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:17AM (#35265980) Homepage Journal

    Could this cause another 'millennium Bug' fiasco?"

    If it happened tomorrow? It would cause a few problems. If it happens in March? Probably enough time to fix it. If it happens in October or later, no problem. There's usually somewhere in the rest of the world changes their DST policies on a yearly basis -- I believe parts of the U.S. changed in the last year or two.

    It's an OS patch which you wouldn't even notice, a new tzdata file or similar.

  • Why dont we just skipp falling back one autum instead of springing forward two hours in the spring. It would make more sense as it always makes me tired in the mornings when we change the clocke in the spring and two hours seams like a nightmare come Monday morning when the whols country has jetlag.
    • That's the plan for the winter, but they want the summer time to still be pushed further forward. So, we'll be in UTC+1 for the winter, UTC+2 for the summer, instead of UTC and UTC+1. This means more sunshine in the evening, when I'm awake, and less in the morning, when I'm asleep, so I'm in favour of it. We play ultimate frisbee from about 5:30 in the afternoon during the summer, but we have to stop as soon as the clocks change, because we've run out of daylight, even if it's not raining (improbable, bu

      • by xaxa ( 988988 )

        I don't know why businesses who want to just change their standard business hours to 8-16 instead. This is the case in other northern countries (Denmark, Sweden) AFAIK.

        Personally, I'll be annoyed as I think midday should be when the sun's above us, at least for part of the year. Though if it pisses off the Daily Mail (and readers) I'm in favour.

      • by jvonk ( 315830 )

        So, we'll be in UTC+1 for the winter, UTC+2 for the summer, instead of UTC and UTC+1.

        Isn't there some fundamental irony here? I mean, UTC is based on GMT []. This proposal is intended to fundamentally shift the time zone away from the meridian that was originally defined... by the UK... that runs right through the UK.

        The prime meridian is completely arbitrary, but out of the whole world, the UK was allowed to choose it and then base GMT/UTC from it. The more interesting implication is that this proposal is an effort to ensure your "noon" is no longer ever defined as the point when the sun i

  • by Gordonjcp ( 186804 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:18AM (#35265992) Homepage

    ... it's the whole of the UK. Otherwise, you'd have to adjust your clocks when you drive from one country to another.

    I wouldn't expect you Mexicans to know that though.

    • US Government Wants to Spring Ahead Two Hours

      "In Washington it has been proposed that the clocks move forward by 2 hours this summer to give us more daylight time in the day, and hopefully in turn stimulate the economy. My question is ..."

      I don't read the summary as England-specific, just that the suggestion originated there (in gov?). No reason to get upset.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To be fair, the Scots are reportedly opposed to the proposals because of how dark it'll make their does seem fairly England-led. (Some of England, at least - I'm not at all in favour.)

      • I'm in Wales, and I'm in favour. I'd much rather have daylight in the early evening when I can go outside and use it than in the early morning.
  • by LodCrappo ( 705968 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:18AM (#35265994) Homepage

    Probably not a big deal. Time just isn't that important. For instance the iPhones have screwed up simple time shifts multiple times, and noone seems that concerned about it.

  • *Ka-Ching* Mate! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:18AM (#35265998)

    I think the only economy this would stimulate would be the one involving IT Consultants.

    Not that there's anything wrong with that...

    • by NtwoO ( 517588 )
      That is indeed a possible reason for the change. Tinkering with time conversion algorithms were in the past also attributed to the economy stimulus it would give the IT sector. That being said, I've read some British press that they want to move to the CET, since that is their main trading zone. A switch which I think will not have the economic effect they might hope for. Countries trading with the UK know there is a time difference and make sure that they handle any issues within the time window. Switching
      • There's no need to tinker with time conversion algorithms. They're not introducing new time zones, they're just moving to the same time zone most of the rest of Europe uses. All that it needs is an update changing GB->GMT/BST to GB->CET/CEST. Any software that knows about time zones will already know about CET and CEST. The only programs that are likely to have a problem are ones that hard code the mapping from locales to time zones.

        They keep talking about tourism when they mention stimulus, and

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        The main reason given for doing it is to make the journey to and from school/work safer by having more usable daylight. It was tried in the 70s and worked very well, but some farmers objected and somehow got their way.

        There are two options on the table at the moment. We could go to GMT+1 with DST as well (so GMT+2 when DST is in effect) or we could just stick with GMT+1 all year. I would prefer the latter and it works well enough in much larger countries like Japan that span multiple time zones.

      • Re:*Ka-Ching* Mate! (Score:4, Informative)

        by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @09:32AM (#35267062)

        That is indeed a possible reason for the change. Tinkering with time conversion algorithms were in the past also attributed to the economy stimulus it would give the IT sector.

        Wonderful. So can we count on the next proposal to be sending someone around to bust out everybody's windows, so that we get an economic stimulus in the window industry? And I think the car tire industry could use a stimulus, so what do you think we could do about that? []

  • Darker mornings (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:19AM (#35266000) Homepage

    From TFA:

    Putting the clocks forward by an hour to British Summer Time +1 (equivalent to Greenwich Mean Time +2) would mean lighter evenings in the summer months, but darker mornings.

    Am I the only one who feels utterly miserable going to work in the pitch dark, where the first light of the day I see is the fluorescent tubes above my cubicle?

    • Re:Darker mornings (Score:4, Interesting)

      by asdf7890 ( 1518587 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:35AM (#35266094)
      No, but it is nice to occasionally leave the office with some daylight, and so feel like there is some of the day left for yourself after work has taken its pound of flesh.
    • Not at all. One of the issues with this change is it is largely driven by the English outlook - while it's understandable in terms of population distribution, it means that regions which are further north and west suffer quite seriously in terms of daylight hours. For example, sunrise in N. Ireland is typically about 40 to 45 minutes later than London in winter. If they go through with the most extreme change being discussed (that is, moving to match CET year-round) parts of N. Ireland and Scotland won't se
      • Oh, suck it up. I live at 63N, and we're just now starting to get sunrise around the time we go to work. It's inconvenient, but not "very unpleasant", and if you don't like it just go live on a tropical island.
    • Am I the only one who feels utterly miserable going to work in the pitch dark, where the first light of the day I see is the fluorescent tubes above my cubicle?

      I'm the opposite, as in I'd happily trade darker mornings for the opportunity to come home and be able to do more outdoors in the evening.

      It just seems silly to me that it's dark by 4pm.

  • by Adambomb ( 118938 ) * on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:19AM (#35266002) Journal

    If you think THAT will help the economy, we're gonna spring forward FIVE FUCKING HOURS []. Just think of the unwarranted extrapolations!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:19AM (#35266004)

    England != UK. Can you lot in the United States of Florida PLEASE try to learn this.

    • Given that the proposal only applies to England and the article actually discussees the government's issues with keeping the move unified across the UK, the summary is totally accurate.

  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:26AM (#35266026)

    With the DST changes that Congress mandated a few years ago, I think most commercial and Open Source OS's could adapt to this change easily.
    Since we're no longer bound by Railroad timetables, especially in the UK, the concept of standard time and the time zones truly becomes much more localized. What I fear is one day cities will adopt their own time zones rather than regionally. Wouldn't that be fun? It would be like George Carlin's gag.

    "In Baltimore it's 6:42, time for the 11 o'clock report."

  • I think the bigger impact for some people will be being even further ahead of the US in terms of timezone. At the moment 5 hours is okay, I work with people in the Middle East, Europe, UK and the east coast, from the UK and this is manageable at the moment. I don't start work until about 9 and then work till about 7 or 8 if needed. This gives me a good amount of overlap with everyone. If this goes ahead then I'm going to be have to work later into the evenings sometimes, just negating the increase in outsid

  • by Max Hyre ( 1974 ) * <mh-slash@hyre.n3.14159et minus pi> on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:29AM (#35266048)
    Unix & friends use a file or set of files with daylight-saving time changes; it's updated everytime somebody changes things. In Debian, it's in the tzdata package, described thus:

    This package contains data required for the implementation of standard local time for many representative locations around the globe. It is updated periodically to reflect changes made by political bodies to time zone boundaries, UTC offsets, and daylight-saving rules.

    Every time (*ahem*) some gov't tweaks the rules, the new info is encoded, and the updated package is sent out. Note that the superseded info is retained, so that if you ask about a time in 1974 in New York City, it'll adjust correctly for the idiotic Nixonian ``let's all go to work in the dark'' time.

    Debian's files live under /usr/share/zoneinfo, and amount to a bit over 6MB of data.

  • Is there even really a point to DST anymore? I just end up having my circadian rhythm thrown off for a while.
  • Not going to happen (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:33AM (#35266074)

    Man, this again? We get this from the english MPs every other week. This is the same ol' same ol' with a slight variation of +2 in the summer and +$unknown in the winter.
    For the Nth time, this is not going to happen, the rest of the UK wont agree to it. Scotland is much further north than its mild weather would suggest, and when this was tried shortly after the second world war it was an unmitigated disaster. It was dark till lunchtime in the winter in the Shetland Isles, for little gain in the evening in the summer. And remember we almost have 24 hour daylight in Scotland in the summer, we dont need an extra hours daylight at 3am. And neither we, the Northern Irish, nor the Welsh care if it's dark in England 24 hours-a-day all year round ;-)
    Every time the government changes and the Conservatives get in they start going on about this. The 'Tories' are an english party, and in England it gets dark at 10pm in the summer. Boo-hoo. It gets dark in Spain at 9pm in the summer, but they are out having beers till 3am. In England everyone is in their beds at 10pm, what do you want an extra hour of light for? Why do you want it to be light while you are asleep or in your house watching cricket and drinking warm beer or whatever it is you guys do? Especially if it's raining. I may be scottish but I've never seen so much rain as I have in Oxfordshire. No wonder you like your boats, you need them.
    It's not your timezone you want to change, it's your culture. You want to enjoy your evenings more? Get out more, talk to people in bars without waiting for a formal introduction. It doesnt have to be light outside to have a good time.

    Fecking sassenachs. The next time you bring this up we're cutting your power and water.

      I may be scottish and as such slighty biased

    • Not just you scots (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:57AM (#35266180) Homepage

      Its not just you scots who don't want it, plenty of us english arn't too happy either!

      I don't much care if its dark when I drive home from work , I'm already awake and have lots of coffee inside me. What I DONT want is it pitch black first thing in the morning when I'm half asleep trying to drive down dark roads with kids trying to get to school crossing said dark roads.

      Why the fuck our politicians want this I have no idea. We're more north west than all of the rest of western europe bar ireland which means the time our sun rises and sets bares little resemblence to what happens in germany 500 miles east or france 200 miles south.

      Also , can someone explain whats the point of a clock if it doesn't give at least a rough approximation of the real time?

      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        I completely agree. This stuff makes my blood boil, and the mainstream media only ever put the "let's move clocks forward" side of the story, as if nobody opposed it. Leave my fucking GMT *ALONE*!

    • I think you'll find plenty of English people don't want them to change it either.

    • by duguk ( 589689 )
      You're right, twice a bloody year we have this argument, and for months after.

      Who cares? We shouldn't be fucking about with the clocks - stick them at GMT, and whoever it is that's complaining that they don't like going to work in the dark, then go to work an hour later.

      Stop trying to change the time because you can't be arsed to schedule properly. Time isn't meant to be changed.
  • 1940 (Score:4, Funny)

    by WillKemp ( 1338605 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:37AM (#35266102) Homepage

    Ah, the UK, where reinventing the wheel is a daily occurrence!

    However, given the British obsession with world war two, this may be an appropriate move - it will be like returning to 1940-1945, when they had "double summer time", mainly so people could work in their gardens, growing vegetables, after they got home from work. Somehow, i don't think this is what they'll be using the extra hour of evening daylight for this time round though - it will be simply an excuse to get more drunk in the evening (if that's possible).

    • by igb ( 28052 )
      Double summer time was also experimented with in the early 1970s. Some of us are old enough to remember this.
      • I remember it. But i'm not sure you do! It was British Standard Time - 1 hour ahead of GMT all year round - which brought the UK in line with nearby European mainland countries.

      • by Shimbo ( 100005 )

        I'm not quite old enough to remember it; I do remember putting localtime(0) in a test case once though, and spending ages wondering why it didn't give the expected results.

  • That should totally screw people up and result in total confusion.

  • by thogard ( 43403 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:38AM (#35266116) Homepage

    The Australian government likes to mess with the day light offset for sporting events and I think they gave everyone a whole 5 weeks advanced notice a few years back. You get to the point where you just tell computer clocks to keep a common offset and then go change it twice a year.

    There are some master time zone files that can be found here: []
    On Unix like system you can run a command like # zic australasia (or whatever zone is messed up.. or just run them all).

    Then things should work.
    Here is a script I wrote up to test this sort of nonsense about half a decade ago.... []

  • Why dont everyone just switch to metric time and get it over with :|

  • by Max Hyre ( 1974 ) * <mh-slash@hyre.n3.14159et minus pi> on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:42AM (#35266132)
    During WW II, Britain adopted Double Summer Time [], skipping ahead two hours. It reverted to one hour after the war (modulo some funkiness a year or so later).
  • by mouthbeef ( 35097 ) <> on Monday February 21, 2011 @06:49AM (#35266154) Homepage

    I'm a UK taxpayer and I conduct a lot of business with the US west coast. Presently, we're 8 hours apart for most of the year, and that means that I can *just barely* squeeze in a conference call with Californian colleagues (I'm co-owner of and all my partners are in LA and San Francisco) and still get out of the office in time to get my daughter from day-care and get home for dinner.

    If the timezone difference goes to 9 hours, I'm buggered. The additional hour will have a direct, negative impact on my net income, as it will either require me to participate less in these transatlantic ventures (for example, it would probably mean no more freelance assignments for US editors, all of which generate UK taxes) or hire expensive babysitters to fetch the kid from day-care (something I also would rather not do for sentimental reasons having nothing to do with the economy).

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      also it makes no difference to anything.

      businesses can already - and do - adjust their timetables accordingly, you know that plenty of people already leave to work at 6 am and plenty already leave for work at 10am.

    • by brunes69 ( 86786 )

      It's a conference call... why can't you just leave work at 16:00 or 16:30 to pick up your kids, and join the call from your house at 17:00 or 17:30 ? What difference is it if you join from your home or office?

    • by N1AK ( 864906 )
      Or you'll have to get a bit more imaginative at finding solutions like anyone currently working with the Far East and Australasia does. It's not that I don't care about the inconvience this would cause you, I just don't care about it anymore than the inconvience the current system causes others. I find it very difficult to care about whether it happens or not, both options have merit and will suit different people and geographical parts of the UK better/worse.

      For example, could you possibly leave work an
    • by duguk ( 589689 )
      Why don't you just get up an hour earlier?
    • by pstorry ( 47673 )

      The City of London won't like it for similar reasons.

      Various exchanges open at 07:00 around the world, local time. Which gives London a 1 hour edge on the rest of Europe for trading.
      Combine that with your observations on scheduling, and the fact that we speak English, and you've got the three reasons as to why London is treated as the "gateway to Europe" by many businesses.

      Get rid of that, and you have to ask why you wouldn't just deal through somewhere like Madrid...

  • It may not be a problem for high end hardware, but lower end embedded controls with real-time clocks often use hard coded DST algorithms. For example the EU has defined standard DST dates for years in advance, these change-over dates are often hard coded into low-end devices, but with a default +1 advance. This allows a simple hardcoded table to be added to the hardware without the need for any user configuration, other than setting the initial time and date. Short sighted perhaps, but the reality is that t

  • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @07:03AM (#35266206) Homepage

    I mean if our politicians really don't see why clocks should tell a good approximation of the actual time why just 2 hours? Why not move them forward 12 hours and then it can be dark while we work but we'll have a nice bright nighttime for all those whingers to go out and have their cappucinos at 11pm or whatever the hell it is they want to do in the light late at night.

    Sorry , but I don't see the point of daylight saving AT ALL. Contrary to what some morons seem to believe we (surprise!) don't get an extra hour of daylight. The real problem isn't the time, its the fact that the working day is spread unevenly around midday. If everyone started work at 8am and finished at 4pm then this wouldn't be an issue. If you really need the extra light in the evenings get up earlier - thats all you're doing anyway when the clocks go forward!

    • by cronius ( 813431 ) [] :

      "I have made a decision to cancel the move back to 'winter' time starting from autumn this year", Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday, February 8, 2011. The new legislation eliminates the yearly switch between standard time and daylight saving time.

      I totally agree, and I love the fact that Russia just "did it". Maybe other European countries won't be so scared if they can follow the lead instead of taking charge themselves so that we can finally end the nonsense.

      Oh and by the way I live in Norway, were DST has a pretty strong effect on the sunlight. Just about every autumn the DST is discussed in the media, because people are so sick and tired of messing up their day rhythm. We don't care a

  • by janwedekind ( 778872 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @07:06AM (#35266220) Homepage

    ... will not make me trust the currency.

  • by mrthoughtful ( 466814 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @07:23AM (#35266278) Journal

    The families of Indian call centre employees will be happier - it means that their sons and daughters will be one hour less from the rest of India. If the UK were to be so generous to go +5.30 onto Indian time, even better

  • I recently worked on a trading system that had 50 columns for the half-hours in a day, to accommodate the long day when the clocks go back. So if this happens, they have 6 months or so to expend it to 52 columns and to make sure all the clock changing logic still works with a two hour change. I thought they were considering year-round daylight savings - maybe we will go forward two hours then back only one, and then stabilize at those UTC offsets, so our clocks then match CET. I bet a lot of Europhobes will

  • every spring we move the clocks forward an hour and every autumn we move the clocks back an hour, personally i wish we would split the difference and then leave the damn clocks alone!

    it does not save anything and you do not get anymore sunlight.
  • This is the exact same BS reason that the US screwed around daylight savings time, with the misguided idea that it would somehow save energy.

    These kinds of things might have mattered 50 years ago, but they simply do not in today's 24/7 economy. If people want to shop, they will go out and shop, they won't stay home because it is dark outside.... heck they would just shop online anyway.

    The idea that somehow giving an extra our of daylight is going to have any noticeable impact on a national economy is ridicu

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday February 21, 2011 @08:11AM (#35266554)
    DST sucks when you have kids.
    "It's time for night night"
    "It's night time"
    "No it's not" *Points a light still pouring through window*

Air is water with holes in it.