Business & Finance
Commentary
10/26/2003
04:27 PM
Commentary
Commentary
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Letters To The Editor

Bigger Interoperability Issue
Bob Evans' open letter to Microsoft hit the nail on the head (" About Linux: An Open Letter to Microsoft"). The only thing I'd add is that the situation doesn't only apply to Linux but to all other operating systems on the market. This includes Mac OS X, Solaris, and other flavors of Unix. I hope the letter sparks discussion both within and outside of Microsoft on the larger question of Windows interoperability.
David Attwood
New York



Rewrite The Rules
I strongly support Indiana state Sen. Jeff Drozda's push to require outsourcing of contract labor to be limited to U.S. companies ("Bargain Or Bad Idea?").

We send enough money outside this country for economic development. We should make it mandatory for all federal, state, and local governments to outsource only to U.S. firms, with 100% of their employees U.S. citizens, and make it unlawful for them to sub out the work.

The General Services Administration contract rules should be rewritten to contain these changes.
Doug Kelly
Principal, Service Technologies Group, Normal, Ill.



RFID Won't Invade Privacy
In recent weeks, we've seen stories focusing on the privacy aspects of radio-frequency identification at the item level ("Don't Let Protesters Scare You About RFID").

All the ink is being expended on the feature of RFID least likely to be implemented in the short term. But for the moment, let's give privacy advocates the benefit of the doubt. If they're so concerned about RFID tags on boxes of cornflakes, they should send back their EZPass tags, because, of course, with the Patriot Act in force, those tags will provide yet another tool for the government to track our daily movements.
Tony Baer
Principal, onStrategies, New York



A Question Of Cost
We're not concerned with privacy issues. We're concerned about cost. We are a very small, woman-owned business that enjoys contracts with a couple very large companies. And while we have such a niche market that our revenue is about as small as our company, we may be forced to comply with corporate edicts about RFID if we want to continue to sell to these companies.
Rick Braud
VP and Chief Operations Officer, Power and Environmental Services, North Wales, Pa.



Nothing Does Everything
I'm tired of technologies such as RFID being pitched as a panacea to solve ethical, moral, legal, and political problems ("The New Drug War").

RFID technology is new and powerful and holds both promise and peril across many domains, including the detection and thwarting of counterfeit medicines. It can introduce and track degrees of "pedigree" for the medicines. It can alert for business rules and processes being violated. Alas, it cannot make good people out of criminals or produce blood from a turnip.
Atul Salgaonkar
Founder, RFID Solutions



No Good Answers
When I see the number of programs and systems that are compromised because of buffer-overflow vulnerabilities, I have to wonder why a company the size of Microsoft, with all its programming talent, can't come up with a solution ("Enough Already: Microsoft Must Change"). In fact, most of the recent patches seem to have been produced in a chaotic and knee-jerk fashion.

Recently, I decided to log on to support .microsoft.com to see if there were some general solutions. I was amazed by the number of similar questions posted there (and the lack of good answers). But what really surprised me was that within an hour of posting a couple of messages I began to receive a flood of E-mails containing viruses. Pretty sure that my recent activity was the cause of this, I tried to inform Microsoft of the problem, but the place where I'd post such a message was "temporarily unavailable." On returning to the site a few days later, I noticed that the form for posting messages had the E-mail address already filled in with anonymous@etc.
Garry Allen
Owner, DataBase MicroComputing, Kingston, Ontario



No Cost, No Change
Let me offer a possible reason that Windows has never been inoculated since Windows 95 was released: There's no cost to Microsoft when these viruses get spread repeatedly. A monopoly market share, by definition, means there's no cost for adverse actions or subpar products.

Many of the recent viruses also affect XP, so while killing pre-XP operating systems will help reduce the symptom, the disease still exists. (Incidentally, many systems administrators are choosing Mac OS X-based PowerBooks for the FreeBSD kernel, and many users are switching to Mac Office for ease of use and file sharing between Windows. For these people, their firewall, interestingly, was not using any version of Windows.)

No software company will ever be able to stop a lonely user from clicking on an E-mail that promises love and sex and riches, but the rest we may be able to tackle.
Kamalesh Thakker
Beverly Hills, Calif.



Structural Problems
When Fred Langa says, "Switching vendors in and of itself won't eliminate security problems because malicious hackers will simply target the new top dog," he's somewhat correct, but he's ignoring the larger reality. As recent reports have shown, the basic structure of the Microsoft system is a security issue.

Yes, open software contains bugs and weaknesses. But these other operating systems have a process that rapidly removes and remembers problems rather than replicating them. The fact is, other operating systems have been top dog in various areas (see the numbers for Web, E-mail, and database servers) for some time now, without the cascade of problems associated with the flawed Microsoft design.
Cliff White
Portland, Ore.



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