TO THE EDITOR
Why be bothered by ethics?
I JUST READ Linda Pliagas' article, "Learning IT right from wrong" (see Oct. 2). In the late 1960s, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) developed a pretty good code of ethics for its members. It received widespread attention at the time and there were ethics panels at a number of conferences. The universities on the whole didn't do anything; nor did management for the most part.
Many practicing professionals anticipated the Y2K bug and even programmed around it -- when we could get away with it. Management, however, often dictated that the problem be ignored. The usual arguments were that the programs would not last until AD 2000; the storage was too expensive and/or too slow to save the extra two digits in every date record and management couldn't be bothered. They knew that they -- and probably the professional techies, as well -- would not still be around when the piper had to be paid.
Stonewall J. McMurray III, New York
I'M APPALLED at the way people are willing to look the other way when it comes to Microsoft's -- and particularly Bill Gates' -- ethics and tactics. On the stand, he was so evasive that the judge laughed out loud. One Microsoft executive said something to the effect that it's not enough for the company to compete on merit; they have to "leverage the OS" to compete in the browser wars. And Bill Gates is the person young IT people admire! He's ruthless and unethical and rich, and money is clouding peoples' judgements.
And look at the Napster phenomenon. These kids act as if they're entitled to someone else's property, and they rationalize theft! Networking is anonymous, remote, and much too easy. It allows people to look the other way.
Michael N. Theochares, Chelmsford, Mass.
Map out the demand
THE TITLE OF the Oct. 2 Test Center Analysis, "Open new vistas with VPN" is appropriate. However, know your Internet connection before you add VPN traffic, because users will place a new level of demand upon it. I've implemented numerous VPN solutions over the past year: LAN-to-LAN and client-to-LAN over a variety of hardware and tunneling protocols. Each performs well, and because of this, they put heavy pressure on the corporate Internet connection. Tunneling protocols in general and IPsec in particular are sensitive to latency. The applications that companies tend to run over VPN tunnels, including Microsoft Networking, can also gobble bandwidth on both ends of the tunnel.
Charles Stern, New York
IT + politics = unbelievable
I'M NOT SURE which attribute to blame for Michael Vizard's incredible statement that we live in "an economy where people have far too much disposable income,(From the Editor In Chief, Oct. 2). Is this the bitterness of a closet old-fashioned, keep-the-mainframe-behind-glass IT manager, or just run-of-the-mill, pious political socialism? If Mr. Vizard would like to reduce his disposable income, I can gladly name some worthy charities on which I bestow much of my own. The presumption that buyers of gadgets do so because they are too wealthy is sheer foolishness. Witness the forest of TV antennas in every shantytown the world over. Gadgets have become a part of the quality of life, and for many of us the functions they offer are truly indispensable foor real work, not just for stock quotes and sports scores.
Neil Carlson, Durham, N.C.
Is UCITA the real problem here?
WHO CARES ABOUT UCITA The Gripe Line, Oct. 2)? Seriously though, the problem in this is when sales and marketing give the wrong information to people who call prior to purchase. The customers then buy the product, and the product does not work as promised.
I purchased Drive Image Pro when Windows 2000 had just come out. They informed me that, based on a configuration I was trying to set up, it would work. After the purchase, I placed several calls to tech support with no luck. A month or two went by and I refocused my attention on the problem. Several more calls to tech support yielded the information that the configuration I wanted would never work. Now I am stuck with the product and had to purchase Image Cast, which is now certified with Win2000. (It is working fine.)
But I called Powerquest, Drive Image Pro's manufacturer, to find out what it could do for me, and so far the company has not returned my initial call.
Half of the problem with licensing may be UCITA and the havoc it could wreak, but the other half is nontechnical marketing and sales on increasingly technical products.
Charlie Wohlberg, San Francisco
Domain déjà vu
I JUST READ Robert X. Cringely's column about the availability, or not, of domain names from Network Solutions (Notes From the Field, Oct. 2). I was checking out available domain names last year and received a call one week later from a local Internet company telling me they owned my domain name and then asking if I wanted to buy it from them at five times the cost -- or use their Internet hosting and Web site creation service?
They kindly offered to sell me the domain name at a greatly discounted cost (the original price) if I agreed to use their creative services. Out of bitterness, my mom-and-pop-sized company completely scrapped the idea of creating a Web site. Something seemed weird, but I had no knowledge of the recourse available to me.
Chad Lorenc, Colorado Springs, Colo.
I THINK I had the same kind of experience with a domain-name search. I checked on a name and found it available. About a week later I tried to secure it and found that it had been taken. The thing that surprised me, though, was that when I checked the statistics on the name, I discovered that it had supposedly been taken months earlier.
I then visited the page to see how it was being used and found a notice that said, "This page is a place holder for the home page of your own Web site." It appeared that the domain name had been secured but not used.
So was it my imagination that the site was supposedly available months after it had been taken? Or was there a technical glitch somewhere that prevented it from showing up as taken? Or is someone out there taking note of these inquiries and then buying the rights to domain names that have a potential for outside interest?
Marty Haas, St. Louis
OUR COMPANY has found the same problem with registering domains. The problem mentioned in the article has happened to us three times. The company that now owns the domain we seek is trying to sell it to us for $6,000. Because this has happened more than once, we suspect there is some hanky panky going on inside of Network Solutions.
Sean O'Dea, Sacramento, Calif.
Linux users need to get involved
I COULDN'T AGREE more with Nicholas Petreley's assessment of the Linux Standard Baase (LSB) and it's total lack of activity and leadership "The Open Source", Oct. 9). I would hope this doesn't end with just one or two articles on the subject. I'm appalled that nothing has happened in the three years LSB has been in existence. It's time for Linux users to become more involved as a community and demand these people either step down or start doing what they set out to do. I'm sure there are many qualified people in the Linux community who could take an active role and make things happen. Keep up the good articles and don't hold back any punches.
Ron Cooper, Houston
Check your password
IN HIS RECENT product review "Single Sign-on dangles prospect of lower help desk costs" Oct. 2), P.J. Connolly says, "Fortunately, only one of those systems, NetWare, requires me to change my password regularly, which explains that call I make to the help desk every 90 to 100 days."
This statement is not accurate. NetWare doesn't require InfoWorld reporters to change their passwords. InfoWorld's administrator decided to require everyone (or maybe just P.J. Connolly) to change their passwords on a regular basis. This is a feature in NetWare to increase security. It allows an administrator to require passwords be changed every three, six, or nine months -- or never. I've had the same password for a few years because I asked my administrator to stop forcing me to change it. He kindly turned it off on my user object.
Lynn Christensen, Provo, Utah