POLITICS

Spring forward, but don't expect your technology to do all the work

03/10/2012 04:00 EST | Updated 05/09/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - The notion of adjusting clocks for daylight saving time may seem as antiquated as a VCR, but this weekend even the most cutting-edge technology may not be enough to keep people from falling behind the times.

Canadians in most provinces are gearing up to "spring forward" this weekend, sacrificing an hour of sleep for longer stretches of sunlight in the coming weeks.

Except for most of Saskatchewan and parts of British Columbia, which remain on standard time year-round, daylight saving time goes into effect across the country on Sunday at 2 a.m. The adjusted time will remain in effect until the first Sunday in November.

Modern technology has gone a long way toward taking some of the legwork out of the process.

While computers, cellphones and tablets can't alleviate the fatigue that sets in Sunday morning, they are able to update their internal clocks automatically and save users the trouble of changing the settings manually.

Sidneyeve Matrix, media professor at Queen's University, said the concept of physically adjusting clocks seems positively quaint to generation Y, whose lives are so often governed by digital technology.

But young Canadians, she cautioned, would do well to follow their parents' lead and double-check that their electronics are towing the line.

"It's surprising that even in our digital day, we still have a number of objects that aren't quite smart enough to change the clock ahead or bring it back for us," Matrix said in a telephone interview from Kingston, Ont. "Or we have a few analog things hanging around gathering dust, but we love them and they keep us on time."

The most likely culprits will be found in the average living room, which often houses televisions and PVR's that aren't equipped for automatic updates, she said. Any devices not linked into a cable or other digital network are candidates for a manual adjustment, she added.

Even some devices that can usually be relied upon to get the time right occasionally miss the mark.

Last time iPhones were scheduled to spring forward in March 2011, they wound up falling back and presenting befuddled users with a time that lagged reality by two hours.

The three-day Blackberry blackout that took millions of the devices offline last October would also have scuttled daylight savings updates if it had taken place at the right time of year, she said.

Matrix said such widespread glitches prove that technology is far from infallible.

Anyone hoping to stay current, she said, would be wise to keep doing things the old-fashioned way.

"Taking a quick tour around your house to just make sure that everything is on the same page at the same time, and that you're where you need to be when you need to be there, is something that we all have to do when the time changes."