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5/11/2007
02:35 PM
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Best Web Software
You nicely defined the areas that have had the biggest impact on the Web ("Greatest Web Software Ever Written," May 7, 2007). Well done!

Instant messaging is definitely one of those. But don't you agree that the credit should go to ICQ instead of AOL?

There is one area that should have been in the list: online mapping. It changed the world, or at least how people are planning travel and how businesses attract customers.

WILLEM VAN SCHAIK, Solutions Architect
Calgary, Alberta

Get A (Real) Life
I find the concept that people will watch virtual basketball interesting only in that people will get sucked in ("The First Slam-Dunk Second Life Strategy," May 1, 2007). You certainly won't find me giving real dollars for virtual merchandise. I'm amazed and dismayed that people are searching for a "virtual life" when what we need to search for is real life, and that more abundantly.

PHIL JOHNSON, Senior Software Engineer
Karl Storz Imaging, Goleta, Calif.

Too Big A Risk
In your article titled "On Conservatism, Control, And Courage To Change," I found myself generally agreeing with you--IT should innovate more (April 30, 2007).

However, as you point out, the current environment isn't conducive to such risk taking. So asking IT pros to "stick their necks out to create something of lasting business value, even in the face of bureaucratic inertia" is akin to asking for someone to take risks without identifying the potential gain.

The issue here is that investors and business leaders are too eager to extract profit and demand huge short-term returns on any reinvestments. Innovation takes time, experimentation, and risk--exactly what investors and corporate leaders avoid.

Another point is that hardware innovation has carried most of the load thus far. Now, with hardware offering diminishing returns in the data center, it's software's turn to step up to the plate. But because of the corporate "land grab" using software patents, you're going to see a stagnation unlike any in software's history. If we want innovation in IT, we're going to have to fix the software industry first.

TOBY MEEHAN, Project Manager
Company name withheld by request, Milwaukee

High Price Of Vista
While Serdar Yegulalp made an obvious effort to be fair, there are two things that suffered greatly in his comparison of Linux and Vista ("Ubuntu Linux Vs. Window Vista: The Battle For Your Desktop," April 27, 2007).

The fact that Ubuntu is free is a large factor to contend with in today's world of shrinking salaries.

More important is the cost of equipment to be able to even run Vista. Most people will need to spend hundreds and more likely thousands of dollars. To find out, I set up two machines to run against each other.

With absolutely no fuss or tweaking, I was able to load Ubuntu on my smaller, older machine and everything worked without a single adjustment. That computer, with 850 MHz, 512 RAM, 20 Gbytes, set up and ran Ubuntu extremely well. Compare that with my other machine, running Vista, which had a hard time keeping pace: a 2.4-GHz, 512-RAM, 40-Gbyte machine. Imagine the real savings in being able to use your existing hardware and getting as good as or better performance than using the expensive Vista software and hardware to support it.

GEORGE DUCKWORTH, Owner
G & T Consulting, Compostela, Philippines

ColdFusion Confusion
Your article "Restore Backbone To Brittle Sites" seems to imply that ColdFusion only runs on Windows, IIS, and SQL Server (April 23, 2007):

"TripHomes originally was built using ColdFusion, a Web site development tool that runs on Windows and depends on Microsoft's Internet Information Server Web server and SQL Server database."

Of course, ColdFusion doesn't rely on any of those things. At most, it typically relies on JRun but will work with a variety of J2EE servers. It runs nicely on other platforms (Solaris and Linux, among others), and even on Windows supports the use of other Web servers, like Apache.

I suspect the site would have been just fine on ColdFusion, but as often happens with sites that grow over time, "best practices" fall apart.

RICK ROOT, Senior IT Analyst
Duke University, Durham, N.C.

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