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5/18/2007
11:20 AM
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Don't Fence Me In
In "Message To Cell Carriers," the writers miss the fact that the U.S. Register of Copyrights recommended an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allows customers to legally defeat provider locks on cell phones (May 14, 2007). The exemption took effect on Nov. 27, 2006, and will be up for renewal in three years.

In order to put this new freedom to the test, I contacted T-Mobile to see if I could unlock the new BlackBerry Pearl I bought from Amazon. T-Mobile support responded that unlocking my BlackBerry was absolutely something it would help me with, once my account was 90 days old. All I had to do was ask.

I realize that handset subsidies are one of the major marketing tools available to carriers in the U.S. wireless market, and I have no problem with my carrier asking me to wait a reasonable length of time before freeing my handset. In this case, T-Mobile's willingness to unlock my phone without giving me a hassle has earned it a loyal customer.

WILLIAM JONES, Technology Coordinator
Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago
Chicago

Not So Great
I enjoyed "The Greatest Web Software Ever Written" (May 7, 2007). But here is yet another complaint about one of your choices: I don't think XMLHttpRequest should have made the cut since you can achieve the same results with another technique: Hidden IFrames and a bit of JavaScript. Sure it's a hack, but a very workable one--and because of that, I don't think XMLHttpRequest rates as a revolutionary improvement.

CHRIS KEMPER, Software Contractor
Philadelphia

But Then Again ...
Thanks for "Greatest Web Software Ever Written." Now, when someone asks me why I hate Microsoft so much, I can adopt a conciliatory tone and muse, "Well, I guess it did all right with XMLHttpRequest."

Not sure how you could have missed the mark so widely picking World of Warcraft, a fine and very popular toy, over Second Life, the preview of the future of the Internet. But perhaps Second Life's promise will be recognized by the time you get around to writing "Greatest Metaverse Software Ever Written."

I was delighted to see appropriate credit being given to AltaVista. It was the system that made the Web the tool it was meant to be. In the pre-Google days, I was considered a wizard just because I knew about AltaVista and how to use it. Even today, a well-constructed Boolean search on AltaVista sometimes finds what Google leaves buried.

BILL FREESE, Instructional Media and Computing Labs, College of Education, Health and Human Development
Montana State University-Bozeman, Bozeman, Mont.

Present And Accounted For
The senator in California may want to rethink his position on radio frequency identification in regard to its use on school ID cards ("California Legislature Considers RFID Card Bans," April 24, 2007). As a practical matter, all the RFID has to transmit is the child's name and a unique identifier (school ID number, for instance). Neither of these is really personally identifiable information from a governmental definition and won't provide anyone with useful info. What it will do is allow the school to know whether a child is present.

I assume that while the senator and others complaining are happy to remove this capability, are they prepared to have a child disappear from school and lose the possible several hours of notice that could result from this tracking ability?

GARY L. FAETH, Deputy Director, PIH IT
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington, D.C.

Holding Out For A Hero
I'm surprised that the issue of IT leadership has taken so long to get to the forefront ("Gartner Calls On IT Heroes," April 23, 2007). It's just another indication of the decline of innovation.

We have rejected development of technology for too long, and the incentives needed to gather steam are coming from small businessmen and not the large corporate providers.

I believe we can compete on any level with anyone in the world, and we can return to the forefront in technology--but not without leadership that's willing to challenge itself to learn what the real world needs.

GENE TRACY, IT Manager
General Management

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