Pragmatic 21: Daylight Saving

20 May, 2014


Daylight Saving was introduced as a means of conserving energy but does it achieve that in any way? Do the benefits truly outweigh the confusion and frustration it causes? John and Myke Hurley go through the history and draw their own conclusions.

Transcript available
Welcome to Pragmatic. Pragmatic is a weekly discussion show contemplating the practical application of technology. Exploring the real-world trade-offs, we look at how great ideas are transformed into products and services that can change our lives. Nothing is as simple as it seems. This episode is sponsored by Wet Frog Studios. Visit to get in touch and take advantage of a special offer for their app icon and logo design service exclusively for Pragmatic listeners. This episode is also sponsored by Audible. Please visit for a free audiobook download. We ll talk more about our sponsors during the show. I m your host, John Chidjie, and I m joined today by a special guest host, Mr. Mike Hurley. How are you, Mike? I'm very well, John. Thank you for having me today. No, thank you for coming. Appreciate it. So, should you be thanking me for having you? How does it work as a guest host? Well, I'd like to see you as a co-host more so than just a guest. Right. Which is why I'm kind of connecting the two terms guest host as opposed to one or the other. But I don't know. I don't know. - Co-guest. - Yeah, co-guest. Hey, maybe I'll switch up to that. But absolutely. So, for listeners of the show that don't read my site Tech Distortion, which you probably should, but that's okay if you're too busy. And those that don't follow me on Twitter or the Pragmatic Show account may not realize that there've been some changes on the show. And I just want to briefly talk about that before we dive into our topic for today. So basically after a bit of soul searching, I've decided to take pragmatic indie. And I know that indie is sort of one of those - I don't know - catchy terms, terms of the moment or something in the last couple of years. I'm not sure how you - but the idea is that I've decided I wanted to shake up the show a little bit and have different guest hosts each week. So - but don't worry everyone, still be making appearances as his time permits. And I just wanted to make this as clear as possible because there's been some speculation regarding why I've done this, why I've moved away from Fiat Lux and I've gone on my own and I'm sort of, I'm shaking up the format. There's really no gossip or backstory or anything really interesting. It's just being on a network, it takes a lot of pressure off you as a podcaster because they take care of everything for you, you just show up and you record. And the trade-off though, is that you hand over a degree of control to them. And generally that's not an issue. It's just that after a few months, I realized that I'm actually a control freak. People have actually told me that in the past and I sort of said, "No, I'm not." Anyway, so in this little voyage of self-discovery, I realized, okay, maybe I am. And in the end, I just decided that, you know what, I actually would like more control of my show. And that was it really. Ben and I are still really good friends. And I honestly think the work that the Fiat Lux team are doing on Constellation is excellent. And people should be paying attention to what they're doing if they aren't already. I do think it is really good and you should check it out. But at this point, I'm taking on the whole job, editing, publishing, and talking with sponsors and such, where previously they were handled by the network. But it's not a problem for me, I don't think, because I've done this before on existential. So I know what I'm up for. It's nothing I haven't done before. So anyway, there's honestly not much more to say about it. If you want to read the text version of what I just said, there's a post on Tech Distortion called Pragmatic Season Two. I'm currently working through some issues with iTunes and the iTunes that Pragmatic has disappeared from iTunes, unfortunately. I am still waiting for the new feed to go up. As soon as it goes up, I'll let you know. In the meantime, if you visit techdistortion/podcasts/pragmatic, there's an RSS feed you can subscribe to. But then if you're listening to this, chances are you've already found that or your podcatcher has already updated. So that'll be all good. Okay, so enough about that and time to get on with the show. So one of the other things I'm doing differently is that I have a list of topics of things that I would like to talk about and I'm letting my guest host each week pick what they would like to talk about. So, Mike, what would you like to talk about today? Well, it was a very interesting list. I was very daunted by the list. So, I decided rather than go and talk about something I know a lot about, well, really there wasn't many things on the list that I was definitely know as much as you would then, John, because you are knowledgeable about all things. I decided to go for something that angers me because I think some people enjoy it when I get angry about things. And that is daylight savings time. And by extension for me, anything time zone related. - I actually, that's a good choice because daylight saving is something that's in, I believe the Northern Hemisphere started about three, four weeks ago now. So this, I think that's about right, isn't it? - That seems about right. And the reason, I think the reason maybe it upsets us both is because we're not in America. So we have to deal with our American friends, colleagues, and coworkers when they change their time over. And well, I know this is the same for me anyway. I don't know what the deal is in Australia, so I apologize, John. But a few years ago, there was a change, and I believe it was in the States, they changed when they were doing their day-life savings time if I am correct. - Yeah, the-- - But some, yeah. So then it became a point of, now there is about a three or four week difference in one case in which our time zones change. And that wreaks havoc upon my schedule. - Well, I can definitely sympathize. One of the problems with podcasting, although it's not something that, this is not a new thing for me personally, because well before I was podcasting, when I worked at Nortel the first time I crossed the time zone problem because Nortel had development facilities working on the Metrocell. I was based in Calgary, we had an office in Ottawa, we had one in Richardson, Texas and we also had one in the UK. I'm trying to remember the maiden, was it Maidenhead I think? Anyway, it's been a while. But anyway, the point is that we had four time zones to contend with. We also had a Sydney office which you would think being from Australia, "Hey, I worked at Nortel in Sydney, but no, I didn't." Anyway, and that was always frustrating as hell. But the problem is that there's only one sun and the earth spins in one direction and the earth isn't flat. So, it's kind of, I don't know how I can soothe your time zone ills, but apart from offering to spread the world flat somehow, I don't know how that works. You could do that for me, John. That'd be great. - Yeah, that'd be great. - Well, okay. I'll have to get back to you on that one. But yeah, as for daylight saving though, I've always had this deep seated dislike for it, but that's because I grew up in the tropics. So one of the things that I wanted to get my head around and one of the things that's been bugging me for years, and I guess this is an opportunity for me to finally delve into exactly what I hate about it, about daylight saving. where it came from, whose crazy idea it was, and whether or not it actually makes a difference to anything. So that's what we're gonna talk about. So we'll start with the basics, which is how do we set midday? And this is just, I mean, okay, maybe this is high school stuff, but whatever, I'm gonna cover it real quick anyway. So definition of midday is the time of day at which the sun is directly overhead. Simple enough, right? So you stick, place a stick in level ground, a perfectly straight stick on perfectly level ground that is precisely perpendicular to the ground, no shadow will be cast on the eastern or western sides of that stick at midday. Now, you're still going to get a shadow based on the angle of the sun because the Earth's tilted at 23.5 degrees on its axis. So anywhere between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn, there will be two days each year where there is no shadow at all in any direction. Unless of course you're right on the tropic in which case only happens once. So that's how you figure out midday. Daylight saving pushes midday out for miscellaneous reasons we'll get to. Wouldn't it suck if you were a kid doing this experiment and you picked it on one of the two days in which it would cost no shadow? It would really ruin you for life. - Where's the shadow gone? My stick's broken. I can just picture that. Well, see, I grew up in Rockhampton, which is right on the Tropic of Capricorn. So this is one of those things that, yeah, we sort of learned about in school. We actually did the exercise. Actually, I'm trying to think about, yeah, we actually did do that exercise on the basketball courts. And yeah, but it's not, but you go further south from there and you'll, yeah, you'll always have a shadow. But anyway, okay. So there's two main arguments behind daylight saving as in why the hell we wanna do this. The idea is it's more sunlight time in the evenings to spend doing recreational activities. But the funny thing is that's actually not the reason that it was originally implemented. It was part of one of the proposals for doing it, but the reason that got it over the line was actually saving energy. Or at least that was the claim. So we'll dig into that one in a minute. But the funny thing is, the whole idea of changing the clocks and pushing the sunlight back or dragging the human day forward, if that makes any sense, it doesn't actually work in an agrarian society because people have to work when the sun's up. So it really, daylight saving could really only happen once our society had predominantly shifted to a business, office, industrial, school-based structure, with commuting hours, business school hours, industrial facility hours remaining fixed. So it's like you always show up at eight in the morning or if you're a nutter like me, you show up at a quarter to seven in the morning. Mind you, I leave at 3.30, so it's not so bad. So bottom line is you had to wait till that society reached that point before you could even do this because otherwise, why would you not do it when the sun was up? Because surely that's more efficient, the sun's up, right? Anyway, so the idea behind Daylight Saving is you wind the clocks forward by an hour. This is like the modern majority, okay? And frankly, the whole world is in a crazy place, so it's not all like this. But the vast majority, it's one hour. Some places are half an hour, some are two hours. There's probably even a three-hour one out there if I dug deeper. But honestly, let's just go with the vast majority is one hour. And I believe that there are some states in America that do not observe as well. Oh, yeah. They do nothing. Hey, hands up, hands up here, mate. I'm in Queensland and we do not observe daylight saving. So, yeah, we're one of the rogue states or something like that anyway. Yeah, okay. We don't all wear like balaclavas and things though. But anyway, alright. So, the point is, yes, look, it's an hour and the idea is you wind the clock forward at beginning of that of that time period, wherever is whatever day of month, and that also varies from state to state and country to country, which also sucks, and you wind the clock back again an hour when you're done. So you lose an hour, then you gain an hour at the end. Okay, so who was the who was the nutter that came up with this idea? It was actually credited originally, although I'm sure someone else came up with this idea well before this, it just wasn't documented, was originally credited to Benjamin Franklin. But the funny thing is, nothing ever came of it. There was no ever formal proposal to actually implement it. It was just like, "Well, you know, if we did this, then, you know, that would be cool." And it never actually happened. So, I think that if Benjamin Franklin hadn't been famous for a whole host of other reasons that I think are well understood that no one would ever know. But bottom line is, it was first credited to him. Nothing ever actually came of it until 123 years later, and that was when a British man by the name of William Willett tried several times to get what's recognised as the first official attempt to introduce daylight saving into law in Britain. But after 8 years of failing to do so, he unfortunately passed away and his efforts unfortunately stopped there. Now, the funny thing is that it was formally introduced by Germany and it was introduced on 30th of April 1916. So that was obviously in the middle of World War I as a method of conserving fuel and they shifted it not by one hour but two hours. And the interesting part is that not long after that, as in like only, I think it was about four four, five months later, something like that, not long afterwards, England then adopted it. Mind you, so did most of Europe. And even the next year, even America adopted it. Actually, they adopted it in 1918. - But it makes sense why people did it months later in Europe, right, if there was a war going on. - Oh, well, yeah, but the whole point was that they saw value in doing it. - Oh, okay. - So it's like, here was William Willett trying to convince people, hey, you know, we should shift the clocks to make it, you know, give us more leisure time, which is more of his angle, and less of the energy saving angle. And then you're in the thick of a war and someone says, you know, "Hey, for the war effort." And everyone's like, "Yep, let's do it." - Well, I mean, trust the Germans to think about efficiency in all of this. - Yeah, well, that's true. But what's interesting, and we'll get to this in a minute, is whether or not there was much of a gain. But that was the perception. Perception becomes reality. That's one of those things. But anyway. Okay, so the US, right. So the US adopted it in 1918 and it was pretty much after the war or at the very tail end of it. And so Europe followed including Russia and the problem was that it was so unpopular it was repealed the following year. But it was repealed, it was a federal law and it was repealed at a federal level the following year. But because it was left to the states to decide as in the individual states to decide in America, some states chose to stick with it, and even some bigger cities, if you can imagine that. So for example, New York stuck with it as a city. So New York was on daylight saving time, but most of the other surrounding area wasn't. But you see, this sounds crazy to us right now, you know? But you've got to remember, back in those days, the telegraph was really, and the telephone were all, you know, very new, very rare, and there wasn't, you didn't have satellite offices, you weren't trying to synchronize different time zones, even outside between cities, there wasn't a hell of a lot going on because there's a lot of commuting, right? And most people still had horses and buggies, right? Automobiles weren't a big thing then, you know, they were still too expensive. So it was a very different atmosphere. So it seems crazy to us that just a city would choose to keep it and yet that's exactly what happened. So anyway, okay. However, the US reintroduced it between 1942 and 1945, oddly enough in the second world war. So again, the push came from the fact of, you know, fuel savings and it was a year-round measure. It wasn't just summer, it was all year round and it was known as wartime. Literally, not summertime, not daylight saving time, it was called wartime, which is a very serious sound to it. But the worst part of that was that there were a lot of states and cities that remembered what it was like in 1918 and dug their heels in and said, "Nah, we're not doing it." So even though it was mandated that people would do it, a lot of states didn't do it. So you just had this absolute nightmare where you had no idea what time it was if you were going between states. You had just no idea. So some states would, some states wouldn't, and they would change whenever they felt like it and you just wouldn't know. So that just to me is insane. Even more insane than what we've got now. So anyway. Okay, so the UK, they stuck with it sort of generally speaking. And when I say generally speaking is that the first decade or so after the First World War, it was very patchy. So, one thing I read about was the people that did the tide times refused to adopt it because they're saying that the tides are governed by the sun. So, we will keep to the real time, thank you. And I can just picture them putting their hands on their hips saying, "I don't think so." - I guess their livelihoods in a lot of those instances were judged by the tide. So, it make sense, like, you know, assuming there was lots of fish trade. Absolutely. That it would make sense, because they're not actually judging their time by that, that instance is not judged by the sun, it's judged by the tide, and their work is also judged by the tide. So these two things kind of make sense to go hand in hand. Yeah, absolutely. And it's that's that's the whole, the whole agrarian angle, right? Because, yeah, you go out before the sun comes up, you come out when the sun is coming up, I'm not a fisherman, I think that's how it works. I've seen deadliest catch, so I apparently know everything about fishing. But you know, hey, hang on, that's crab fishing and whatever, anyway, yes. So yeah, absolutely right. And the whole, the pushback from the farming community was huge because there's no advantage for a farmer at all. They still have to work when the sun is up. It's just now that if they're delivering produce, everywhere starts an hour earlier. So they're like, oh great, so now I've got to get up an hour earlier in order to make sure my chores are done let's say if I'm milking the cows or catching the fish, that I have to be back to the market with my fresh produce an hour earlier because these city clowns want to spend more time jogging in the evening. So there's a lot of that pushback, a lot of hostility. So I think the UK struggled there for a while, but when it got to World War II, they did the same thing that the US did, and they, well, not exactly the same thing, they pushed the clocks ahead one hour in the winter time and two hours in the summertime. So again, it's subtly different from the US, but you know, they still sort of adopted it. But you can see where this is going, right? This is just, you know, a recipe for insanity. Everyone makes up their own mind about when they're going to adopt it, how they're going to adopt it. There's just no uniformity to it. And it all seems to be driven by this push for, "Oh, it's cheaper, there's energy savings." So, okay. Before we go on any further though I'd just like to take a minute to talk about our first sponsor Audible. Audible is a leading provider of premium spoken audio information and entertainment and allows listeners to choose the audio versions of their favorite books. Why would you want to do this? So many, I think, so many of our day-to-day activities, you need your eyes on the job. So when there's a book you really want to read, you're so busy with other things you just can't can't find the time, because your eyes are busy. And that's where audiobooks come in. It's much easier to multitask when you're listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook. Whether you're driving, doing housework, yard work, with Audible, you can still read your favorite book and you don't miss out. It's really cool, actually. You can buy books individually, or you can sign up for the Audible Listener Program, which gives you book credits each month for a low monthly fee. You can download your audiobook to your PC or your Mac, your Windows phone, Android or your Apple iOS device and you can listen to it wherever you are. Now me personally, I'm a huge Douglas Adams fan. I've read all his books so I thought, you know, let's have a look on Audible and see what they got. And what I found is that there were 19 audiobooks in their libraries including all the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books, my two favorites, the two Dirk Gently books, as well as two Doctor Who episodes he was involved with, including the unfinished Shader episode. And that was actually, for those that know a little bit about Douglas Adams, that was the basis for the first Dirk Gently book. And the best part though, is that some of the books are actually read by Douglas Adams himself. And I'd never heard Douglas Adams actually before, and listening to that was just awesome. So I've been listening to Dirk Gently, Solistic Detective Agency, and it is fantastic, read by Douglas Adams. But if you're not into listening to the original author, because some people say not all authors make the best narrators. So there are also books on there, the same books, but they're read by a different narrator. So there's plenty of other options. And in my case, for example, the other Dirk Gently book, "The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul" was read by Harry Enfield. And for anyone that don't know, for those that don't know him, he played Dermot in "Men Behaving Badly." That's for those that remember that show. Maybe I'm showing my age there, but anyway. So there's lots to choose from. Do you have any Audible books that you've read, Mike? - Yeah, I mean, I've been an Audible customer since 2007. - Wow. - And I think that I've actually read some, yeah. So I would also like to recommend, so I have two recommendations now. The "Hitchhiker's Guide" books. The first one, the original, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," There is a narration by Stephen Fry, which is on Audible, which is incredible. Because Stephen Fry is incredible. But I would like to go back to the third book that I ever bought on Audible. And it's one that I've listened to multiple times. And it's called The Second Coming of Steve Jobs, the unabridged version. - Cool. - This book, it was published in 2000, so it's not the most recent of Steve Jobs' history. But it's by Alan Deutschman, and it goes back and it tells a lot of his early story. if you've seen the Pirates of the Silicon Valley, it's all that story. But a lot of Pixar stuff as well. And it talks about the Toy Story movie and a bunch of things that happened around that time. And even though it's a fairly incomplete version of Steve Jobs' whole history, right, because it ends 14 years ago, in my opinion it is miles better than the official Walter Isaacson book. So that's the second coming of Steer Jobs. I highly recommend it. The underbridge version is just two minutes shy of eight hours long. So you're definitely gonna get your value for money on that one. Really, really great. - Awesome. Cool, I'll have to check that one out too actually. Sounds really good. So the thing about Audible is that they have books in business, classics, erotica and sexuality, fiction, history, yeah, I know, romance, mysteries and thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, self-development, kids, young adult, and lots more. They have 150,000 titles, pretty much every genre, you're gonna find what you're looking for. So right now you can get a free audio book and a 30 day trial by signing up at Make sure you use that specific URL, for your free audio book. I'd like to personally thank Audible for sponsoring Pragmatic. Okay, so the next thing I wanted to just quickly talk about is the reaction at the time for daylight saving. And I found an article, you know there's a few websites on the internet where they scan in old newspapers and they do some OCR on them, optical character recognition. And you basically get a snapshot as to what it was like. You don't have to go to the library anymore with a micro fish and a silly little doodad even if people know what I'm talking about. Anyway, have you-- - I have no idea what you're talking about. - You have no idea what I'm talking about, okay. That's okay. Well, nevermind, microfiche another day. And no, it doesn't swim. It's not a fish. Okay. - Is it like a film, like a tiny negative type film? - Yeah, yeah, think of microfilm, but it's more like, the card sizes vary, of course, but it was, what they did is they took the full size and they would shrink it down onto a small clear piece of plastic like a transparency. And you loaded this thing into a, I don't know how to describe it. Think of it like a photocopier lid, but much smaller. And there's a hole in the top. So it's all like, well, it's like the frame around the outside of the photocopier lid. And you'd put this thing down on a piece of glass, you'd close the lid and it would shine light up through it. And that light would come up through the hole, then there would be, you know, rear projection televisions have a magnifying mirror on the back, and so the screen shoots up onto the magnifying mirror and then it reflects onto the main screen in front of you, which makes it look much larger. And that's exactly what this thing does. It's just a large magnifying glass, essentially. And right in front of you, then you've got text. And frankly, depending on the age of the Microfish film, it was reasonably good quality. It was generally blue, sometimes black. And yeah, these things were, you know, they'd fit like four or five pages, six pages, whatever, eight pages of a newspaper on there. So you could look at an entire newspaper in a few slides of Microfish. So the appeal is obvious. They sort of, they stored a lot of things on them. And when I was starting out at university, when just before it was, that was '93, I think. '94, anyway, point is that, that was before computers had really taken off. They had computers in the library and they were just starting on their, their decimal, bringing the Dewey Decimal System into the library for searching into the computers, but yeah, it was not there yet. So there's still a lot of things on Microfish. So anyway, what they've done is they've done the modern equivalent, right? They've done a Google, Google Books, whatever, scanning all these things. And I found a clip from a 1916 Australian newspaper article. And I love reading old papers because the way journalism was done back then was very different and I think in a lot of ways, frankly, better. But anyway, the language they use is really quaint when you think back to what it was like a hundred years ago. So anyway, and I've linked to this in the show notes. I find it fascinating, but if you're not into history and stuff, maybe it isn't. But anyway, it's called "Pulling Up, Putting the Clock, Saving Artificial Light" was the title. So I like that, saving artificial light. Anyway, and what it does is it sort of explains in the language of the day how it helped the industrial classes. And it gives an insight into the thinking at the time that that point in history, many homes still had gas lighting, but the electric light, as they called it, I'm doing air quotes, the electric light was very widely used, according to the article. So it was a point in history where electricity was sort of becoming more popular, mainly for safety reasons because gas was more expensive. Of course back then there were very few electric appliances. So anyone that watches Downton Abbey, I don't know if people watch that or not. I watch it because my wife watches it. Hands up anyone who does that. But anyway, so the point is in Downton Abbey you sort of get this idea of the chronology when they get some of the electric appliances and so on around that sort of time period. So electric appliances were still very rare. Most heating was in fireplaces, was with fireplaces using coal or wood. Central heating was rare and only the richest people or businesses would have it back in those days. So the point of saving energy, the whole drive behind Germany's reason for doing it and Australia's reason for adopting it, the US, Europe, UK, everywhere, was that it would save energy. When it was saving energy, all they were thinking about saving was energy being used to turn on lights. So the argument goes like this. If you are waking up in summertime without daylight saving, and the sun is already up, you don't wanna get up at five in the morning just 'cause the sun is up because you don't have to be at work until nine o'clock or eight o'clock. So you'll wake up at 6.30 in the morning or seven in the morning because back in those days, towns were much smaller, commuting times were much shorter. So why would you wake up at stupid o'clock when you can go, thinking you could sleep in till 6.30? So let's say the sun comes up at five and goes down, sorry, hang on. Sun comes up at five and you get up at 6.30. There's one and a half hours or thereabouts of sunlight that you're sleeping through. So at nighttime, you would then have the lights on that extra hour and a half, assuming everyone sleeps an average, the same amount of time each night, which is not true, but let's assume on average that they do, six to nine hours. on average, the average person, the average household in the industrial classes that actually have lighting in their houses and candles are gonna notice the difference. Although I suppose you could say maybe they save on their candle budget, I don't know. But anyhow, the point is that that extra hour of daylight is more useful at the end of the day, if you're gonna stay up till eight, nine o'clock at night before you go to sleep, because it's dark by then. But if you shift the sunlight, then you don't need to have lights on until you go to sleep, because when you go to sleep is when the sun's going down. So that's the whole idea. But that's really, when you think about it, quite a niche situation. And the reason it's niche is because, think about the, the first thing that came to mind when I was doing the research on this, and the thing that had bugged me for years, is how the hell does that account for street lighting? Because street lighting is always on at night, because people need to get around and see where they're going. So the street lights are always gonna be on. So it doesn't matter if you push daylight or not, unless you turn off your street lights during the night, which most cities don't do now and didn't do then, there's no gain there. And that actually consumes quite a lot of electricity, a lot more than people think. So that was the whole idea. Conserving gas, conserving electricity, for the war effort, rah rah rah. and as a secondary benefit it was going to give people more time in the evening. So that's the whole reason that people did it. Anyway, okay so daylight saving as we know it today at least in the United States and I sort of I picked the US because well first of all you know well is there a good example. It was brought in in 1966 it was called the Uniform Time Act and it was an attempt to bring all the states into alignment and it was mostly successful but it was tweaked multiple times after that it wasn't until the mid 80s where they finally had what we essentially have now but as you pointed out Mike they recently I think shifted again slightly I think you were saying I'm gonna double-check this John because I feel like I think on this show as opposed to any show that ever been on I don't want to be wrong. Okay well I'll let you check that and we'll circle back to that in a minute then. But as I understand it anyway every place in the world is free to do whatever the heck they want and they will. So in my country for example Queensland does not actually have daylight saving. We did for a period of time, we trialed it for a few years, there was a massive backlash, kind of like there was in America in 1918 and 1919, and they repealed it. So state by state basis, there are several states in Australia that don't observe it. And there are a few in the US, I believe, that don't, or North America that don't, but, and the amount will vary slightly. And that's what makes it confusing. Sorry, John, it was in 2007. Right. In 2007, they changed the date. So as of that year, daylight savings time began on the second Sunday of March and ends on the first Sunday of November. This change results in a daylight savings time period that is five or four weeks longer than previously. Okay. Which affects me greatly. Well... I don't want to interrupt you. Oh, no, no, no, not at all. That's fine. I mean, that's the problem is that because it's arbitrary. - Yeah, that is the main crux of my issue. It's just like, we'll do it whenever. I mean, it doesn't really matter. So we'll just change it. - So this is exactly the problem. So we look at the whole energy point of view and honestly, okay, so let's keep exploring just a little bit more about where it's ideal and where it does work, where it doesn't work and why. Because this is the other thing that's bugged the crap out of me for so long is that daylight saving was always favoured by the Southern states. For us, the ones that are further from the equator, whereas in Northern Hemisphere, of course, it'd be more favoured by Northern states up to a point. So the question is, why is that the case? So if you are living between the tropics or living close to the poles, the idea is less useful. And if you think about the duration of a day in those locations, it starts to make a bit more sense. 'Cause if you're close to the equator, you basically get the same amount of sunlight all year round. It varies by plus or minus an hour or two at most, if that. Where I grew up, it was really a variance of only an hour and a bit, hour and a half, I think something like that. If you're on the equator, it's like half an hour at the extremes, something like that. It's not a massive difference. So pushing the time back, what exactly are you gaining? you're not gaining anything really extra at the end of the day. You've got a constant temperature, essentially you don't really have much of a winter. 'Cause where I grew up, our winter was very, very mild. If you dare to call it a winter, never went negative, no snow, no nothing. I mean, we were the tropics. So, and living in Rockhampton was very difficult when they brought out daylight saving because the hottest part of the day is two in the afternoon and it pushed the hottest part of the day in funny time, down at same time, to three in the afternoon. And it meant that during school time, the kids were all at school during, an even more extended hot part of the day. So it was sort of a bit weird for us. And that was only half the problem. So now let's go to the other extreme. Let's say you're living near the poles. And when I say living near the poles, I don't mean you're an Eskimo and an Igloo, okay? I mean, I guess you could be, but let's assume you're not. I lived in Calgary for two and a half years and Calgary is, you know, no, not just like two days drive, pretty solid driving north to get to the Arctic Circle. So it's close, but- - That's closer than most. - Yeah, but it's not, yeah, it's still not, okay. You can't do that driving from London. I guess you could get the, you know, channel across and so on, but yeah, it's a long way. It's a much longer way to get to the Arctic Circle from where you are. So anyway, the point is that the days in summer are very, very long because of the angle of the earth. The sun came up at something like four in the morning and set at 10 o'clock at night, so in summertime. So the thing is, well, do I really need another hour? Do I need to go to sleep at 11? Like, do I need sunlight till 11 o'clock at night? Am I actually going to use that? 10 to 11, yeah, the sun's up, let's go. Of course I'm not. I don't care. I just, what, why? - Well, what was really holding me back was the fact that there wasn't enough sun. - That's exactly right. I'm going to go out and work on my tan at 10 o'clock at night, let's go. God, it is unbelievable. Anyway, so this is- - Hey, but John, now the option is there for you, though. - What? Yeah, great. - You know? - Count the number of people taking advantage of that. Unbelievable. But the flip side of that is, okay, well, great. Now I'm waking up at 3 a.m. with the sun as opposed to 4 a.m. with the sun. No, 'cause when I was living over there, 'cause I'm... So I grew up in the tropics, which means that my eyes, as soon as I see sunlight, I'm like, I'm awake. That's it. And since I've had children, I've become sleep deprived. I've learned to sleep when I can, that's less of a problem. But when I was younger, I was always up as soon as the sunlight hit my eyelids. This is the way I'm wired. I blame the tropics. I don't know if that's really the cause, but whatever. So anyway, point is, the point is that I blacked out the window. So I actually got some masking tape and some black cloth and I did a double layer of it around the windows, just to stop, just to the bedroom so that sunlight would not get in during summer because I was barely sleeping. I was getting three or four hours of sleep. It was just so messed up. And then of course I'd take it down for the winter and you look outside and it's like, "Oop, time to go to work, oh, it's dark. "Oop, getting home from work, oh, it's dark." 'Cause in winter, it's the other extreme, right? Your sun doesn't come up till 8.30 in the morning, sun goes down at 3.30, four in the afternoon. So it's dark and dreary. Anyway, nevermind that. I liked the snow for a while, but when you got to de-ice your car for the thousandth time, the novelty wears off. Anyhow, okay, so it makes no sense at that point because, well, it just doesn't. You're not lacking for sunlight in the middle of summer. The other thing that's different, of course, is as you go further north or south away from the equator, is that the time, how do I put this? The rate of change of the number of hours in a day increases. So if I'm living on the equator, I might gain or lose a fraction of a minute with every passing day, depending on which direction the seasons are going. So, whereas if I'm at a high latitude, latitude, longitude, I always get them mixed up. Anyway, closer to the pole, there we go, it's a much, much bigger change. Like you could lose like five minutes a day as you go from day to day. So the days will get longer by bigger chunks all the time, which means, 'cause you're going, you're obviously, 'cause you're going from a shift of having six hours of sunlight to having, what is it, 18 hours of sunlight over the space of six months. So obviously each step every day is gonna be bigger. And this leads to the next problem that you were sort of complaining about, which is when do you start and stop daylight saving? Because it's gonna vary depending upon where you are relative to the equator and relative to the poles. So no matter what date you choose, someone's gonna be pissy. Someone's gonna say, "Hang on, now this is, it's either too early or it's too late." So you wind the clocks forward, you're in a much higher, much close to the poles and it's like, "Oh, the sun's not, sun's not even close to up yet. I'm gonna work in the dark 'cause of daylight saving." And then within a few weeks, you're good. You're going to work in the sunlight. You know what I mean? It's not, because states, Alberta is a good example, but there's also other states. And the other states in America, like California is a good example. It's quite a North and South, very, very large state. So it's gonna have a wide variance in daylight hours from the border with Mexico up to the border with Oregon, I think it is. So that's quite a decent distance. Now Queensland's got the same problem. So we on our Southern border, which I'm closest to the Southern border, all the way up to Cape York, which is really not that far from the equator. That's, let's see, Brisbane to Cairns is what? 1700 kilometers and that's by road. So I don't know that off the top of my head, but it's a long way. Okay, very long way. And Alberta had the same problem. So does British Columbia, all the states, all of the, sorry, I should call them provinces in Canada, have the same problem. So, but you can't, you can tend to set one daylight saving time zone for that one state. So it's stuck with that one state, right? But all points in that state have a different time when the sun comes up. So it's a compromise even when you begin, unless you then split the state. So then people say, "Well, we don't wanna split the state into two pieces." And that's been what they were arguing in Queensland for the longest time. So, "Oh, we'll draw a line at, oh, I don't know, "about 400 Ks, we're 300 miles north of here." And anything north of that can stick with normal time and southeast will go daylight saving. And then of course like, oh, now we're a state divided and now, so what, I'm gonna wind my clock forward and back every time I go between Brisbane and Rockhampton. I mean, are you kidding me? Yeah, it becomes difficult to manage. So people then shy away from that. So there's, okay, we'll stick with a state-based time zone. So that means you're always stuck with a compromise. So why do so many people like this? And it comes back down to where the majority of people are. And that really is the bottom line with all this. So where are the majority of people? And there's a band around the world, the Northern and Southern hemisphere, where you're either between the tropics and the Arctic Circle, but nowhere near the Arctic Circle, maybe about halfway to the Arctic Circle, where it's ideal. And the funny thing is that the majority of the world's population live in those bands. Alas, therefore, this would statistically seem to be, we have it mainly because the majority of people like it, because for the majority of people it works, and to hell with the people it doesn't work for. Seems to be one of the reasons that we're stuck with it. So, there's a little bit more to say, but before we do that, I'd just like to quickly talk about our second sponsor. And that is none other than Wet Frog Studios. Selling a business or an app is a lot like selling a house. You can take a huge amount of time and money redecorating and bringing the house up to scratch and modernizing it. You can take great photos, build a wonderful big website, showing off the house. But there's one missing piece that can stop buyers from ever walking through that front door, and that's curb appeal. The old saying goes, "Don't judge a book by its cover." But frankly, when you're dealing with human nature, most of us do. And people do the same thing with business logos, app icons, and well, books. And these days, ebooks. Without some curb appeal, people won't usually take the time to check out what's inside and all of your hard work can go unnoticed. Now, you might have seen recently that the show got a fresh coat of paint. The new artwork is the result of working with Aaron over at Wet Frog Studios and I can't can't recommend him highly enough. Remember that awesome icon that the Drafts had for the first couple of years? Aaron designed that. He also designed the branding for, and lots of other recognisable apps, businesses and websites. Including, I think, perhaps Mike, some of yours. Yes, I used to run a podcasting network called 70 Decibels. The website is still live because too lazy to take it down, And I worked with Aaron over the whole time that the site was around. One, he created the gorgeous logo, 70decibels logo, but all of the show artworks were Aaron's too. The main thing that I can say about Aaron Manke, the proprietor of Wet Frog Studios, bar maybe one or two of maybe the, the best of the best maybe 15 to 20 things that I had him, that I commissioned him to work on me for and maybe I only had to give him feedback, like, you know, more than one line, maybe two of them like, Aaron just completely understood what I wanted and delivered it, and a lot of the time, I would not even fill out his regular briefing form, I would just bug him with like four DMs on Twitter - don't do this by the way, this is a terrible way to do business and then he would produce for me a stellar piece of artwork which to this day all of my shows on 5x5, all of the ones that I brought over we only had Jory just adapt the art to fit the 5x5 style because I love Aaron's vision so much for the shows that I didn't want them to change that differently because they helped create the identity of my podcasts And of course, Aaron is also a host of the fantastic Homework Podcast, which you should check out too. - Absolutely, thanks for reminding me about that too. That's a good podcast, and you should listen to that. All about working from home and tips and tricks, and it's really interesting. So, and I have to say your experience mirrors mine. He took, Aaron took the time to understand exactly what I was looking for before he started. And his first, the first thing he sent to me is 90% of what I wanted. And straight out of the blocks for me, that was just blew me away. He took the time to understand what I wanted and he delivered it and it was fast. So I can't recommend him enough. So anyway, as a special offer, just for pragmatic listeners, Aaron is offering his app icon and logo design service. Normally it goes for, well, normally it goes for $800, but you know what? He's doing it at half price. That's 50% off. And now that's an amazing deal get access to a professional of Aaron's caliber and experience. There's plenty of other graphics designers out there that can give you something good, but Aaron will take the time to make you something great. Visit to get in touch and take advantage of this amazing deal while it lasts. A big thank you to Wet Frog Studios for sponsoring Pragmatic. So the whole idea of energy saving is something that I wanted to just dig into a little bit more because they said they in the beginning that it was going to save energy. Well, how does that apply these days? Okay, now we've got all sorts of appliances, we've got refrigeration, we've got air conditioning is a big one. So, you've got all these additional loads and you know, people come home from work, they turn the TV on, they boil their, you know, get a cup of coffee. Actually, maybe don't do a cup of coffee at five in the afternoon. I don't know. Some people might. Point is- I think a lot of people that listen to this show probably do. You may be right, Mike. So, yes, that's true. Okay. So, the whole idea, the original idea was that it would save energy. But the funny thing is, in a modern application, is that really relevant? So, there have been a lot of studies. And I was drowning in studies, trying to pick out the best ones, the most, honestly, the ones that I had thought were the best, most statistically significant. The truth is that they're all conflicting. Some hate it, some like it. The pattern that I can see is it all depends on where the state is where they did the analysis and its position relative to the equator and to the poles. So as I sort of indicated previously, you will get the biggest advantage in that ideal zone. And of those that got the biggest advantage, you have to consider the problem from two angles. and I'm going to refer back to episode 2, the battery problem. At 20 minutes 30 seconds in, I talked about peak lopping. So rather than rehash what peak lopping is, I'm going to assume that everyone pauses the podcast, goes back and listens, or are dedicated listeners and know exactly what I said at 20 minutes and 30 seconds of episode 2. Okay, maybe they won't remember. Okay, real quick refresher then. Fine, fine. I've convinced myself real quick. So you've got base load and you've got peak lopping. Base load is it's always on all the time and constitutes maybe 60 to 70 percent of the electricity available on the grid and the rest of it that goes up and down during the day based on demand that is what they refer to as the the peak lopping and that is what varies the most. So what you have then is you have more expensive but more expensive ways of generating electricity but those ways are fast acting you can turn them on and turn them off very quickly whereas base load takes days or weeks to start up and shut down, although it is much cheaper. So the biggest gains in daylight saving are actually to do with peak lopping. Because the same net amount of energy is still going to be spent. And this is the thing that they say we save on lighting, it's minuscule. If you look at it, the overall effect on base load is only half a percent, maybe 1% at most, depending on the study you choose to read believe me there's hundreds. So really the lighting impact is negligible. I mean you could say you know okay 0.5% of 10 gigawatts is still a fair bit of juice but you know realistically is it worth dealing with all the BS of daylight saving just to get 0.5%? You're far better off switching to LED light bulbs but you know whatever. So okay the the reason that it's a bigger impact on peak lopping of the region of three to five percent improvement is because the peak lopping period is the p.m. peak so there's the a.m. peak in the morning and then there's the p.m. peak in the afternoon when you're getting home from work. So if you're pushing it off then what you're actually doing is you're prolonging the amount of time that people are at work when they get home it then flattens out that peak so that hour or two hours gets pushed out to the right. So previously the PM peak would be higher because everyone would get home at a specific time of day with a limited amount of daylight left so they would in essence cram certain activities in whereas if you push it out further to the right it flattens the top of that PM peak. And peak lopping is all about reducing how much peak lopping you have to run. How many of these gas fire generators for example you need to run? Well you don't have to run as many now because the peak is much much lower when you've got daylight saving in that ideal band. So they recognize that there's a saving on peak lopping costs of between three to five percent. But if you look at the overall base load it's only half a percent to one at most. And again even those percentages are hotly debated. I found several articles where they were the other way saying that you know it was a detriment. It was actually consuming more energy. But honestly those ones ones were a little bit on the flaky side. So I didn't link to them. So anyway, have a look through the notes. There's a whole bunch of links in there if you're interested about some of the stats. But honestly, the improvement in daylight saving energy is barely measurable, but it is measurable. But your results will vary wildly depending upon where you are relative to the equator and the poles. So I have some statistics. This is based on the change of Daylight Savings Time in America in 2007. It was proposed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. And then in 2007, under Section 110 of the Act, the US Department of Energy was required to study the impact of the Daylight Savings Time extension, no later than nine months after the change took effect. The report was released in October 2008, and it reported nationwide electricity savings of 0.03% for the year of 2007. Yeah. And then another one which is quite interesting which is also added in, that the University of California at Santa Barbara, they undertook a study in 2006 after Indiana adopted daylight savings time. Yep. And they actually saw an increased energy consumption in Indiana by an average of 1%. Yeah I read both of those and that Indiana one is fascinating because think where Indiana there is relative to the, so it's going to get diminishing benefit. So, yeah. So I find the whole concept of daylight saving as the excuse for it for saving energy is, I think, flimsy at best. And honestly, when it was originally proposed, I don't actually know if it saved any energy at all in any measurable way for the war. I think that they did it because it was like rah, rah, rah, rationing. Now we can ration sunlight or something. I don't know. And that'll help us ration energy. I think it was one of those-- it sold because there was an idea that it would, as opposed to a measurable impact. Because it's one of those things, until you try it, you don't know. Now we have 100 years-- well, maybe not 100 years, but we have a lot of history on and off over the last 100 years. And the statistics simply don't back up the assertion that daylight saving saves energy. They just don't back it up. So I think that one is pretty well-- yeah, that excuse. OK. So then I got to thinking, OK, what if we were to optimize this? So let's think about how we could optimize for energy consumption. So let's completely rethink daylight saving, just for the hell of it, why not? You know, 'cause, well, why not? We're gonna shift midday dynamically throughout the year based on a formula that takes into account your latitude as well as the time of year to get maximum cost savings for your local area. Now, that would be the ideal way of optimizing for energy consumption. But of course, that would then be a big problem 'cause I sort of said previously, in a connected world, you know, it'd never work because businesses wouldn't be able to coordinate meeting times. It'd only ever work on a local level. And when you realize that that is the ultimate optimization of daylight saving, that's when you step back and realize, hang on, I've just remodeled an agrarian society again. Because that's the most efficient use of energy is to follow the sunlight when the sun is up, 'cause the sunlight is free. So to sort of wrap this up, because I'm not sure I've got much else to add, is daylight saving is a consequence of our rigid, industrialized, and dare I say unnatural move away from how the planet we live on works. It's an attempt to try and optimize our insistence that we can do what we want, when we want, wherever we are without relying on the sun to dictate to us. And that's, you know, that's never gonna be something that we can optimize for energy because by definition, we're going against the elements, we're going against free energy from the sun. It's not about tree hugging, it's just about, it's not gonna ever be optimal, no matter what you choose with daylight saving. And that's the problem. Daylight saving is a one size fits all solution. And in many parts of the world, it just doesn't make sense. And it has a nearly immeasurable benefit. So for all those people that enjoy having that extra hour of sunlight, 'cause it works for you, thumbs up, pat on the back, I'm happy for you. Be aware though that there's still a lot of people around the world where that is not a consideration of any interest or of any benefit. So yeah, that's all I got to say about that. Any other final thoughts on that one, Mike? Just get rid of it all. Well, honestly, I think they should. It'd be just simpler, wouldn't it? You know? I think so. There's just an element of at least if we're going to do it, if we have to do this, if the world has decided we're going to do this, let's just standardize our time because we've clearly established it actually doesn't matter when it is. So just pick a time and then everyone can do it. Yep, couldn't have said it better. So if you'd like to talk more about this, You can reach me on Twitter @JohnChidji, the same on, and please check out my site If you'd like to send an email, you can send to [email protected]. You can follow @PragmaticShow on Twitter or @Pragmatic on to see show announcements and other related materials. I'd like to say a final thank you to both of our sponsors, Firstly, Wet Frog Studios for sponsoring Pragmatic. If you're looking to add some curb appeal to your product or company, remember to specifically visit this URL,, to get a great result at half the normal price. And also a big thank you to Audible for sponsoring the show. Again, please make sure you use their URL,, for your free audio book. There's a link in the show notes that have both of those URLs to take you right there if I've been talking too quickly for you to write the URLs down. You can find Mike on Twitter @imike, that's I-M-Y-K-E, and you can also find his work on 5x5 at Also, of course, a very big thank you to Mike Hurley for joining me on this, I guess, for the one of a better description, season two of Pragmatic. So, thanks for coming on, Mike. - Absolute pleasure, sir. Thank you for having me. - Anytime. Thanks for listening everyone. (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) (upbeat music) [MUSIC PLAYING] ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ [Music] (dramatic music) [BLANK_AUDIO] [BLANK_AUDIO]
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Myke Hurley

Myke Hurley

Myke co-runs the popular podcast network and also writes occasionally at his blog.

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.