back to article Chilean clock-cooking could cause computer chaos

In what promises to provoke an entertaining IT apocalypse, the Chilean government has decided to postpone the end of daylight saving time by five weeks. The clocks were due to go back an hour this weekend, but the powers that be have reset the date to 7 May. According to interior minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter, the extra 60 …


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  1. Darryl


    So if "The Omega Man" was the only survivor of the biological apocalypse, does that make "The Delta Man" the only survivor of the Chilean Outlook calendar apocalypse?

    1. Lester Haines (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

      Re: Apocalypse

      Yes, and he's likely to be Bolivian.

  2. despairing citizen

    Government by press release

    Another example of government by press release, just annouce Sh!t, and don't tell anybody about it before hand.

    Oh, well at least their in company with others, such as our chancellor annoucing a tax rate change to be applied within the next 6 hours (1p off fuel duty), and then the public wonder why several thousand retail outlets (petrol stations) couldn't cope.

    Just goes to show politicians are the same everywhere.

    1. Rodrigo Valenzuela

      "Just goes to show politicians are the same everywhere"


      Anyway, the problem already manifested itself.

      The "official" daylight saving time switch day was the second saturday of march.

      At least, that was the date until last year, when the earthquake pushed forward the switching date.

      So, last year there was some problems.

      This year, already has been some problems.

      Microsoft already issued a hotfix for the last change, but not for this one.

      I have a lot of users and most of them has become used to check the system time when they turn on their windows PCs.

      Not a good solution, mind you, but until our ruling class agree to a definitive solution to this matter, will have to cope with it.


      Beer icon, just because I feel like having a beer.

    2. Steve Foster

      Fuel Duty Change Preparedness...

      Hmmm, funny how in previous years when fuel duty has been raised in the budget, all the retailers had no difficulty in implementing the rise at 6pm, but when it's cut (for the first time ever?), they suddenly either a) can't cope, or b) prepay the duty so have to keep the price up until their stocks are exhausted/replenished.


  3. disgruntled yank


    I thought only the US Congress had the naivete to believe that DST manipulation did anything but inconvenience the citizens. I remember the winter of 1974 when we had winter DST to show that we were serious about the higher oil prices. I do not remember it fondly.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      That was under Ford, right?

      The guy with the "Whip Inflation Now" motto who believed inflation could be managed by licking the dinner plates clean [as opposed to having sound monetary bases]?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, that old chestnut..

    I remember the millemnium bug alright. Got sick of telling people the worst that would happen is there VCR wouldn't record Corrie'....

    1. kissingthecarpet

      Only because

      some people did a lot of work fixing silly bugs. Sure, the apocalypse was never going to happen, but there was a lot of business software that would have gone tits-up if it hadn't been fixed. Your Giro might not have arrived.

      Now the millemnium bug - that was a lot worse. Anyone affected lost the ability to spell "millenium" and "their"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I love this kind of post

        "Now the millemnium bug - that was a lot worse. Anyone affected lost the ability to spell "millenium" and "their""

        and "millennium".

        1. kissingthecarpet

          Ha Ha - So Do I

          Muphry's law strikes again - you know I was *sure* it had 2 n's then I made the mistake of googling it & unfortunately saw something like this headline

          so I thought I must be wrong. I can be really anal about spelling but this just goes to show that there's no limit to human arrogance & stupidity

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Millenium bug effect

        The only effect I ever really saw of the millenium bug was a forum which, instead of listing the date as 01/01/2000, listed it instead as 01/01/19100.

        Laziest. Coding. EVER.

      3. LINCARD1000
        Thumb Up

        Thank you, KissingTheCarpet

        As someone who fixed a lot of old RPG400 code for a UK based insurance company to ensure it was compliant, the results would certainly not have been the utter catastrophe that the fear-mongers would have you believe. However, it would have produced a bit of a mess financially with many of the automated systems for large corps producing some entertainingly hairy results.

        Y2K - overblown? Yes. Still an issue? Yes.

  5. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    World will not end

    It didn't end when Microsoft said that there are only allowed to be 4 Sundays in October.

    It didn't end when Apple said that the clocks should change (or not) at a different time (seems to happen every year).

    It didn't happen in 2000 either.

    Lester, bet you a cerveza that it doesn't happen now.

  6. The Unexpected Bill

    What chaos?

    Years and years ago, Microsoft supplied a little goodie known as the "Windows NT Timezone Editor". It was even backported to Win9x as part of the Kernel Toys series, where the help file was sure to point out that this version was "so compatible, it even says Windows NT in the title bar".

    (Now, why is it I can't remember this week's password?)

    That tool was the only way to go if Microsoft didn't offer an update package for your version of Windows when the US changed some of its DST rules.

    Around that same time, Apple did the same thing for Mac OS X, although they did not release it for older versions. I'm sure the Linux/Unix, BSD, OS/2 and whatever other operating systems you might care to name all adapted somehow as well. After all, if even Microsoft was smart enough not to hard-code timezone info into should have been obvious for everyone else not to.

    So, what's to stop anyone from simply doing the same for Chile and its time zone(s)?

    I'll bet I'm not the first to mention this... :-)

    1. Cameron Colley

      I think Linux just uses text files like it does for everything else.

      So you could either change /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/Santiago on affected machines (probably using a script) or wait until the package for your distro is updated.

      The above assume that changes to a time zone data file can be rushed through your change management process and/or your chosen distro or supplier sends out patches in time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or just set the environment variable TZ

        For example, UK's current time regime can be defined like this:

        export TZ=GMT0BST,M3.5.0/1,M10.5.0/2

        "3.5.0" means the last Sunday in March, and "10.5.0" means the last Sunday in October. I'm sure you can work the rest out for yourself. Or find an explanation online somewhere.

        The point is that time zone should not be a system-wide setting. It's perfectly reasonable for different users of the same machine to be in different time zones. It even makes sense for different processes belonging to the same user to use different time zones. (What about different threads in the same process? Hm... I don't think so. Per process it is, then.)

        1. Cameron Colley


          I was assuming that it wasn't only people in the time zone affected, so others may want to adjust also. But I take the point that it shouldn't really matter which time zone userland is set to.

      2. Velv


        Windows uses exactly the same to update the details. OK, so they get pulled into the registry, but in there it's all just text in a very well documented format.

        Biggest problem for Windows users is that there aren't any geeks sitting in their bedroom writing the code into a .reg file to import (which is what Microsoft release several times a year to account for the planned DST changes around the world - and it surprised me how many countries change the rules every year).

        Cue some geek to write one for Chile...

    2. Eddie Johnson

      That's not nearly as elegant as Netware

      On Netware I simply edited my Autoexec.ncf:

      set Start Of Daylight Savings Time = (MARCH SUNDAY SECOND 2:00:00 AM)

      set End Of Daylight Savings Time = (NOVEMBER SUNDAY FIRST 2:00:00 AM)

      # set Start Of Daylight Savings Time = (APRIL SUNDAY FIRST 2:00:00 AM)

      # set End Of Daylight Savings Time = (OCTOBER SUNDAY LAST 2:00:00 AM)

      20 years later and MS still hasn't caught up.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    A Title is Required

    Well, at least iphone users will be able to wake up on time

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If their clocks go back, wouldn't unadjusted Outlook users turn up an hour early for meetings ?

  9. Christian Berger

    It's a good test for your government

    a) Your government abolishes DST completely => Mildly competent

    b) Your government just leaves DST as it is => stupid/cautious

    c) Your government fiddles around with DST => bunch of complete idiots

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: a good test for your government

      So the evidence is that no country has ever had an even mildly competent government. Yeah, I suppose that's fair.

      But it will happen. Before the railways, every village had its own time because it was all solar. The railways came, chaos ensued, and after a few decades the penny dropped and we adopted national standard times.

      Now computers have arrived. We've had a couple of decades (of widespread dependence on them) and the penny is slowly descending. Eventually it will fall to the level of the politicians poxy brains and we'll all start using a definition of time which is both monotonic and continuous. Future generations will boggle that we ever even contemplated definitions which failed either test.

    2. dlc.usa

      Not Quite On Target :-)

      d) You leave the composition of your government as it is ==> clueless

      e) You fiddle around with the composition of your government ==> clueful

  10. No. Really!?


    Could we move the clocks half an hour and then just leave them alone

  11. fLaMePrOoF

    Not surprising really...

    From a country which circulated a 50 peso coin with it's name spelled 'CHIIE' and it was TWO YEARS before anyone spotted the error...

    They may as well have spelled it 'FAIIL'

    1. Christoph


      They probably put an extraneous apostrophe in "its" as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Fail fail

      Given as "CHIIE" replaces an L with an I, wouldn't it be a FAII?

      *Waits for someone to point out errors in this post and call fail fail fail.*

  12. Richard Porter

    "Most seriously,

    "Outlook calendar users turning up an hour late for vital meetings."

    That's always been the case in the UK in Summer. When I was working Outlook would routinely invite me to meetings at times in GMT in the summer. The septics don't understand BST. Anyway, how does fiddling the clocks save any daylight?

  13. Richard Porter

    Re: Government by press release

    "Another example of government by press release, just annouce Sh!t, and don't tell anybody about it before hand."

    Er, I thought the purpose of a press release was to trell people about it.

  14. Stevie


    Give us back our lost hours!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Hey, they only ANNOUNCED it.

    Yes, the government announced the change... but this still needs to be officially instated by a decree, which has to be announced in the Diario Oficial. Changes on servers can't (shouldn't) be done before this important step.

    The last change was instated by decree the very last day it could be (chilean clocks are changed on a saturday, and the decree was published on the previous friday). All signs point to this being the case AGAIN.

  16. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Round we go again

    Where this is concerned, I was either a child prodigy or am still an utter fool (I'll happily accept either definition) because I *always* though swapping clocks around was a stupid idea that made no difference at all to actual daylight, nor to the length of day you could really make use of.

  17. mascix

    they did it in Turkey already

    and it did not change anything banking system refuse to change their clocks and I personally manage around 40 servers and I did not touch their clock either :)

  18. Dropper


    Funny, but most of the studies show that daylight saving time either results in no energy savings whatsoever because the offices most people work in do not have windows - and as far as I know solar-powered computers and heavy machinery aren't as widespread as some people seem to believe.. or even worse, it seems any real studies have shown even more energy is used caused by the extra hour of darkness in the morning and because people like staying up when it's sunny outside - even if they're inside watching TVs and using computers.

    I mean seriously, the same people that claim to not worship gods because they are scientifically minded apparently believe the sun god gives them an extra hour of daylight because they change the time on their alarm clocks.

    The next time I stub my toe in pitch black of morning or shin myself on something, the fck you I'll be sending is in the direction of halfwits that believe in this George Bushian idiocy.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Maybe in the US, but...

      > the offices most people work in do not have windows

      Not legal in the EU. You must have natural light. Mine is being reflected off nice snow-covered mountains at the moment. Occasionally even the EU gets it right :)

  19. Tom 35

    I remember when we had double DST

    It was before outlook so I don't remember it being that big a deal but I expect it would break lots of stuff if they tried that now.

    1. Robert E A Harvey


      The morons will no doubt do it again. They were talking about repeating the bst in winter gag a few months ago.

      Why don't people just get up when they want? if changing the clocks makes all get up an hour earlier that makes us sheep, not citizens.

  20. Martin Usher

    I just don't bother

    I end up keeping the clocks on one time and leaving it at that. I'll maybe move them as and when I feel like it but I don't bother changing all the clocks. They'll fix themselves in a few months.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    It is Chile, FFS...

    bloody hell, does anyone care? I mean it is Chile after all.

    If it affects the latest crop of nose-candy it might, I guess.

  22. -tim

    Its always fun switching?

    Does anyone know how to patch a cow for DST? I hear they have problems reading clocks.

  23. Allan George Dyer

    Two solutions:

    Personal solution: move to a region without DST (I've done it, it works)

    Global solution: standardise on GMT.

    The one with the Harrison Marine Watch in the pocket, please.

    1. PT

      Third solution

      Set the damn computer clock to the right time manually, like every other clock in the house. God what a bunch of whiners.

  24. Herby

    Just remember...

    The clock in most PC type computers has a clock chip that has DST built in. The design is based on the Motorola (at the time, I don't know who sells it now) MC68HC18 clock chip. The original IBM PC-AT has one of these chips, and most modern computers have the core in a bridge chip. It has DST starting on the last Sunday of April, and ending on the last Sunday of October (which was the rule when it was designed). In the USA we first changed the rule to have DST start on the first Sunday of April (it was done at the behest of the Barbecue industry). Now the latest change is to start in March (second Sunday) and end on the first Monday in November. The saying we use around here is "Spring forward, Fall back", but the advance date for what others call "summer time", is now in the WINTER. STUPID government.

    If you want to change your hours for the summer, then simply do it!

  25. Where is Ben
    Thumb Up

    Domain Controllers

    Surely businesses could just change the time on their domain controller and let all the little slave PC's update.

    That's how I'd set it up.

    Kudos to the government though for giving everyone no notice whatsoever.

  26. Leona A

    or more likely

    Iphone users not waking up!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do the Outlook users manage in Brazil?

    According to the BBC Brazil "sets its summer time by decree every year. Both the date of switching to and from DST, and the decision about which parts of the country observe it, are made annually"

    How does that work?!

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      How does that work?

      Quite well.

      You agree to meet someone at 9:00 on Monday.

      It's monday, you get up at 06:00, wash, get the bus and meet him at 9:00.

      The government announces that on Saturday the clocks will change. On Saturday you change your clocks. On Monday you get up at 06:00, wash, get the bus and meet him at 9:00.

      See, no drama.

  28. Alan Brown Silver badge


    The number of alarm and timer systems which failed to operate on 9/9/99 was staggering (We caught a lot of them a few months earlier, but not all companies were as good at it). Remember this was the pretext for Space 1999's flimsy plotlines.

    The chinese internet (and a bunch of other networks) melted down around 26 Feb 1999, thanks to the binary representation of the time since 1970 adding a digit (went from being able to be represented by a signed number to being an unsigned long). This threw a large number of embedded systems using NTP into a tizzy and the core of the chinese network was using stuff from one particular manufacturer that had this bug (I was using the same gear and have the dubious distinction of working out that it was a bug in the NTP code before anyone else in the world did.)

    Y2K fixes had to be applied to every single NEC NEAX switch or they would have stopped working.

    In at least one case the system restart required after loading in new code showed up memory corruption which had been sitting onboard for _months_, resulting in 50,000 people without phone service for 2 days and 6 weeks of "strange behaviour" as all the incremental changes loaded in since the last good backup had to be replayed into the device. (backups contained the corruption and were useless as a result. The telco had to step back 18 months to find a non-corrupt version)

    One of my customers (a law firm) had an ancient sco installation which insisted on resetting the clock to 1 Jan 1970 at every reboot after 1/1/2000 - the only workaround for this until they updated was to reset the bios each time. Thankfully they only normally rebooted every 3-6 months and moved to a more modern solution by June 2000.

    Still, the thought of the Bolivians invading seems a bit amusing. Do they have any roaring mice?

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Space 1999

      Flimsy Plotlines? not as bad as the scenery and the control consoles.

  29. Bill Fresher


    I say get rid of the fixed time system and use stopwatches. Instead of "see you at 2pm", say "see you in 19 hours, 6 minutes".

  30. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The clock in most PC type computers has a clock chip that has DST built in.

    For the northern hemisphere. More specifically for the USA.

    Let's just say that it can cause "unusual" events south of the Equator if the end-user isn't aware of it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      None of the PC type computers has any such chip. And even if they had, they would all have failed when the DST change moved not all that long ago.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Chile didn't give much warning, Turkey wasn't much better and as for Bangladesh

    The one-day change in Turkey was known about a few weeks in advance: the timezone database that most Unix and Linux machines use as the basis for timezone madness was rolled out sufficiently in advance for it to be picked up by those that cared. Unfortunately that was not necessarily the case: a friend tells me that people sort their phones go back and forth during the day.

    The change in Chile had even less warning. The announcement, verification and whatnot meant that tzdata package would be pushed out on Monday, after the clocks had changed. Breaking with tradition, it will actually go out tomorrow, with any luck. It's possible that Linux distros will also get their update pretty sharpish, maybe tomorrow, but I wouldn't count on it. It would be pretty impressive to see a Windows fix go out on time.

    Bangladesh? Don't tell me you've forgotten already.

    And don't forget about Morocco.

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