'Springing forward' causes ills for eBay and NT

Daylight saving causes problems for eBay customers and Microsoft Windows NT users.

It was only because I was an hour late meeting Randi for lunch on Sunday that I realised the clocks had gone forward. She was waiting for me outside the San Jose restaurant where we had arranged to meet. When I arrived, she was digging in her purse for spare change to give to the ex-dot-com chief executive who was begging on the corner.

I explained my mistake, and she, of course, took great pleasure in ragging me about it.

"Only you could be that disorganised," she said.

Going, going, gone

Luckily, however, I was later able to demonstrate that I am not the only one -- eBay also messed up its handling of the time change. Whereas my mistake caused me mild embarrassment, eBay's was a little more serious: a software glitch meant that the company closed down its auctions an hour earlier than it should have, causing all those bidders who had planned to swoop in at the last minute to be shut out. Of course, the sellers were also aggrieved because they lost out financially.

Behind the times?

I'm also told that Microsoft's Windows NT suffers from a bug related to the time change. According to one reader, the OS fails to account for daylight-saving time when April 1 falls on a Sunday -- as it did this year. Apparently, the server displays the correct time, but the MSVCRT.DLL run-time library in C++ -- used by certain applications to determine the time, including the reader's time-card system -- is off by an hour. It apparently caught up with the rest of the US on Sunday, April 8. The reader says that the glitch was discovered in 1999, giving Microsoft two whole years to sort it out, but apparently nothing was done.

Readers speak

I haven't been through them in detail, but I have been copied on many, many email messages in which readers have given their opinions on Microsoft's benchmarking policies. At first glance, the vast majority seem to agree that, although Microsoft should be able to prevent inaccurate information from being published, it should have no say in the way the benchmarks are run -- any disagreement in the methodology or configuration used should be included in the review. This seems fair.

"For being so late, you can pay for lunch," Randi said. "But this place looks a bit downmarket to me; let's find somewhere more expensive."

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