Commonwealth Games patch

The Commonwealth Games are looming, as is the week’s extension of summer time in Eastern Australia.

Microsoft have issued a patch for most (but not all) versions of Windows. What they haven’t done is made it an automatic update for affected users, nor made it easy to find — it’s not shown on the Microsoft Australia home page, for instance, you have to search for it. They also haven’t provided a smooth way of reverting to “normal” summer time for next year: users have to remove the patch and manually set the timezone.

Meanwhile Apple have done… nothing. Charles Wright has tracked down how to fix it on Macs, which involves going an finding a timezone update file on an ftp server, untarring and ungzipping, running an obscure (if you’re not a Unix god) command… jeez.

Ask yourself: is the typical non-geek computer user going to seek out these solutions, and even if they find them, are they going to bother to figure it out and do it? I’m betting not. I’m betting a lot of computers will be an hour out during the week of the summer time extension.

This is very sloppy behaviour from both sides of the OS fence, and something the millions of Australian computer users won’t be too happy about in March. (Though most will have forgotten about it by late-April, no doubt.)

PS. 29/3/2006. Still getting a lot of comments here, but there is a later post on this topic here.

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21 thoughts on “Commonwealth Games patch

  1. mgm

    > Meanwhile Apple have done… nothing. Charles Wright has tracked down how to fix it on Macs..

    Of course, that fix is only for the latest OS/X boxes. People with earlier Macs have been ignored by Apple.

    Of course, the real blame should be with the politicians who made the change without a thought for the millions of dollars cost to businesses to rollout two sets of patches to every PC in Australia. When I mentioned to someone in Information Victoria about the cost to business of this change I was fobbed off with the comment that nobody else had complained.

    And it’s only going to get worse. A polly in NSW has proposed a change to their daylight saving act to make it easier to make changes (by regulation, not legislation) to allow more “flexibility” in the future.

    Grrrr.

  2. Noel Goddard

    Someone suggested to me that folk should “take control” themselves. In the case of Windows
    machines (I’m not at all familiar with Mac’s, U**x or Linux boxes) the method was:

    Assume the machine is “on” Daylight Saving time at the moment. Using Control Panel and the
    “Date and Time” applet, select the Timezone tab and untick the “Automatically adjust …”
    box. “OK” the change and then wait. In theory, the time on the machine will *not* be set
    back to Standard Time automatically.

    Then, after the extended Daylight Saving time period is over, go back to Control Panel and
    “tidy up” the change you made, setting everything back to “normal”.

    This procedure shouldn’t be too onerous and should relieve folk of the bother of waiting
    for messrs Microsoft and Apple (and anyone else for that matter) to do it for them.

  3. mgm

    If you “untick the “Automatically adjust …”
    box then you will immediately revert to non-daylight saving time. I can’t see how that helps at all.

  4. Adrian Paech

    Hello!
    I work for the SA Government, and this Daylight Savings issue is starting to give me a headache.

    I am sure that you all know about the issues related to applying the patch..
    However I thought I would provide an overview of my findings and also pose the question as to
    how to get around some of these issues…

    Here are some of the major problems that are haunting us!!!

    ————-
    Server Scheduled Tasks:

    Microsoft Outlook Calendering stores appointments using GMT time rather then the current system time.
    When viewing and adding appointments, Outlook automatically adjusts the appointment time to reflect the timezone that the user is located within.
    Windows Scheduling and all other scheduling software that I know of leverage off the system time, not taking timezone information into account.


    Related Impact:


    Applying the patch:
    – Scheduled tasks will execute at the expected date and time.


    Not applying the patch:
    – Not applying the timezone patch and allowing Daylight savings to end on the 26th of March, will result in scheduled tasks executing one hour after standard time between the 26th of March and 2nd of April


    Required Intervention:
    – If there is a compelling reason to do so, scheduled tasks must be adjusted to run 1 hour earlier between: 26th of March and 2nd of April

    ————-

    Outlook Calendaring


    Applying the patch:
    – Appointments scheduled between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006” will appear normally up-until the new timezone patch is applied. Once the timezone patch is applied the same appointments appear 1 hour earlier. However, when the user creates appointments after the patch is applied (scheduled between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006”) the appointments will appear at the intended time.


    Required Intervention:
    As Outlook calendering is based upon GMT time rather then system time, Meeting requests that are scheduled between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006” may appear at different times depending on whether the user has had the timezone patch applied or not. Ultimately appointments align no-matter which timezone you are in, however staff may not understand why a meeting request appears at 10:30am on their machine (timezone patched machine), and the same meeting request appears at 9:30am for the invited member (non timezone patched machine). This could cause confusion for staff members and users may ring their helpdesk to query what looks like a technical issue.
    Required Intervention: If deploying the patch across government is the chosen option, deploy the patch ASAP and reduce the time between commencing and completing patch deployment.


    Mobile Devices:
    Where mobile devices are synced with PCs that have the patch applied, new and existing appointment entries scheduled between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006” appear 1 hour earlier on the mobile device compared to the same appointment on the PC.
    Required Intervention:
    Microsoft recommend manually changing the timezone on Mobile devices between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006” the current timezone offset + 1 hour. However, there is no +10:30 GMT offset timezone setting available. Therefore manually changing the timezone will not resolve the issue. Users must be notified that between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006”, their Mobile devices will be 1 hour behind the correct time between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006”.


    Not applying the patch:
    PCs will 1 hour behind the correct time between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006”.
    Required Intervention: All users would need to be notified appropriately.

    ————————
    Based on the info above,
    If there was some way of automatically updating Outlook 2000 appointments scheduled between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006”.
    E.g.: As a post task to applying the patch,
    run a script through Group Policy that moves appointments scheduled between “26/03/2006″ and 02/04/2006”
    to the correct meeting appointment time. (1 hour forward)..

    Does anyone know of a script or application that could automate this?
    A colleague of mine seems to think there is such a app, however I cant seem to find a solution :-(.

    Any help with this would be much appreciated! 🙂

  5. Adrian Paech

    Also
    Regarding Noel Goddard’s post…

    ——
    Assume the machine is “on” Daylight Saving time at the moment. Using Control Panel and the
    “Date and Time” applet, select the Timezone tab and untick the “Automatically adjust …”
    box. “OK” the change and then wait. In theory, the time on the machine will *not* be set
    back to Standard Time automatically.
    ——

    Good idea in theory…
    For callendaring software that is not based on GMT offset, this works fine..
    This would also work for scheduled tasks (backup jobs etc)..

    However with Outlook 2000 to 2003 callendaring is based on GMT offset.
    Therefore,
    As soon as you uncheck Daylight savings, all of your appointments scheduled between “26/03/2006″and 02/04/2006″
    will appear an hour earlier. :-(..

    Yes, I know its hard to believe…….

  6. Mark Lassau

    > Of course, the real blame should be with the politicians who made the change without a thought for the millions of dollars cost to businesses to rollout two sets of patches to every PC in Australia.

    I know some of us find it hard to believe, but Computer Systems are supposed to model the real world, and not the other way around.
    Ideally systems would include Timezone information relevant at time of release, but knowing that these can change, the user should be able to configure these changes WITHOUT needing a patch.

    As for users needing to undo the Windows patch AFTER the affected time:
    What a crock of S**T!
    What if I want to go back and look at historical data after I have removed the patch.
    Hey Presto – it has shifted by an hour.

  7. Anil

    Well I say GOOD !
    GOOD that some OS’s have done nothing and
    GOOD that some fixes are a crock of ‘S**T’.

    Timezones are complicated enough without shifting DST for some states in one country just for one year! What an incredible idea! When I first heard it I thought it was an internet hoax! But no, it’s true, someone in the Australian Government started to think that his little Commonwealth games project is so important that he has to make the whole world… what a nightmare.

    Timezone calculations are hard enough already. What was he thinking of? Oh, I know, we’ll just change ALL THE TIMEZONES for 2 weeks. Yeah! Sure! Maybe we can make the sun go backwards too! I hope that this causes such a big mess, especially in his own department, that he’s so embarrassed that this will never ever happen again anywhere forEVER! That guy should be fired.

    And anyway, for what it’s worth, I’m an Australian too.

  8. Hugh

    Macs have their timezone updated as of 10.4.5 :
    “Updated the rules for time zones and Daylight Savings Time to conform to changes in the law for the United States, Australia, and other locations, for 2006 and later.”

    The really good news is that you don’t have to do any funky business with timezones (it doesn’t create a new zone … just update dates for 2006).

    Going back to work … 50 Windows servers to update ….

  9. Jeff

    Shouldn’t we be blaming Australia? Who’s insanely stupid idea was it to change DST for some games?

  10. Damon

    yes, blame the polititians, but dont forget to blame Microsoft for releasing such a haphazard solution.

    After documenting all the changes for and against applying the patch Ive encouraged my clients to not apply the patch and leave with the borked time for a week. Our own office (which is a major IT player in South Aus) have boycott it as well based on my findings. The time and money to go through the whole process in 90% of cases can not be justified.

    Didnt the daylight savings timezone change in 2000 for the Sydney olympics? Many mention it did but i have no recollection of it.

    Cheers

    Damon

  11. Anil

    Well, now, that’s a little strong…
    We don’t have to blame the _whole_ of Australia!
    Just the one guy who’s idea it was.
    And maybe anyone who helped him.
    Ok?

  12. Anil

    http://abc.net.au/news/olympics/1999/07/item19990719151754_1.htm
    Mon, 19 Jul 1999
    The South Australian Government has rejected any extension of daylight saving next year for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
    Mr Olsen says the move would have disrupted the lives of South Australians from school children to farmers.
    He says the decision comes after consultation with the state’s interest groups and little benefit or support for the plan was found.

  13. Eugene

    Yes the same thing happened for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, at least in the eastern states. I thought it was a dumb idea then and still do. I’m sure it’s just done to avoid confusion during the games period, however I think in general it would do anything but. I think the best way for Microsoft to have dealt with it would have been through a seamless automatic windows update, rather than an obscure manually installed patch. Most end users will simply not have the know-how to do it, and will therefore just have to live with the confusion for a week.

    The really silly thing is that the games finished today anyway. The end of DST would have only impacted 1 day of the games. It really doesn’t seem worth it.

  14. Bob

    Personally I think they should have extended Daylight Saving for just one day. That way they would have had daylight savings for the Commonwealth Games but everything would have been back to normal for this week. The only problem is that we wouldn’t have had a day to get used to the transition.

  15. mgm

    > I think the best way for Microsoft to have dealt with it would have been through a seamless automatic windows update, rather than an obscure manually installed patch.

    A patch was released via Windows Update.

  16. Jaz

    I agree that this was a disaster waiting to happen. We deployed the comm games patch to
    over 300 XP Domain clients in an MSI package via a group policy. While this seemed to
    push out and change the Timezone to comm games time, This morning ( the 27th March)
    All times rolled back an hour anyway and we had to reset the timezone in order for it to actually work. In addition All calendar appointments moved forward one hour after that and reaccurring appointments moved also.
    what a nightmare experience this has been. I am not looking forwards to the rollback.
    Bu what ever you do make sure you have all your users print off their calendars before you make any changes

    Jaz

  17. StyleyGeek

    I’ve found the simplest solution is to manually set the timezone for my computer clock to New Caledonia for the rest of the week.

    At one of my part time jobs, however, I don’t have administrator rights on my machine, and am hence not able to change the time (God knows what I might get up to if that was allowed!). The admin people sent out a company-wide email to tell everyone the computer clocks were screwed for the rest of the week and there’s nothing they or anyone can do about it.

    Presumably they haven’t even heard about the Microsoft patch. Or are refusing to use it.

    The whole thing is pissing me off.

  18. Chris Brown

    I believe Sydney did extend daylight savings. However worth noting that many companies had been resourced-up for dealing with the Y2K bug so dealing with the daylight savings extension in 2000 olympics would have been easier. The daylight savings shift for the 2006 Commonwealth Games is causing all sorts of havoc!

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