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Letters To The Editor

Truth Be Told

We're changing the way performance appraisals provide feedback to employees, to be more honest in the evaluation of their skills and performance ("'I've Never Had A Bad Performance Appraisal'" Dec. 8, 2003). We've had performance evaluations that overrated employees. Now, trying to more effectively rate employees honestly, we see the same issue: They've never had bad or satisfactory performance reviews.

I'd like to think that everyone would prefer to know the truth about his or her job performance, but I find that they honestly believe they're all above the standard. I know we all cannot perform above standard all the time, but I wonder if there's an effective way to communicate this to employees?

Pam Peschel
Business Support Specialist, Denver Water

Legislation Isn't The Answer

The majority of spam originates overseas or from ordinary people who don't even realize their machines are being used to send spam ("Spam Act A Step Closer To Law," Dec. 1, 2003). This law does nothing to combat these situations. Congress has chosen to treat spam the same as telemarketing calls, but the two are completely different in their methods and their audience. How often does someone receive a telemarketing call for anti–depressant drugs, for instance?

Congress has given no budget to the enforcement of this law. Given the enormity of the problem, it won't be enough to simply make examples of a few big spammers, even if it were possible to find out where they really are.

The only answer is to put in place filters that are intelligent and flexible enough to determine what a given individual or company wants and doesn't want coming into its in–box.

Ron Samson
President, Voyant Strategies, Hazlet, N.J.

Uphill Battle

Hewlett–Packard hasn't necessarily taken a shaky stance by covering Linux/ HP users ("You May Be Next," Nov. 24, 2003). It has examined the code and found it reasonably separate and unique. If SCO Group should win, however, HP will work for a settlement and still reap a boatload of clients that used to belong to those 1,500 or so big companies that are keeping silent or just saying, "Prove it." HP makes a great deal of money on long–term support and development work and stands to make a lot more with its aggressive stance.

SCO stands to create a shift in the IT community, but only if it wins. If it loses, it may cease to exist. Still, I believe the fervor that Linux has created, the uniqueness of the coding, and the time lag between Linux's debut and SCO's complaint will ultimately work against SCO.

Walter L. Johnson
VP, Perspectives Unlimited, Wooster, Ohio

Sorry State Of Affairs

In a country that used to be able to pride itself on innovation and leadership in technology, we have the likes of Darl McBride, CEO of SCO Group, raising equity money, not so innovation and societal benefit may result, but so SCO can claim some sort of hollow victory.

Meanwhile, Bill Gates has to be sitting back with the biggest grin on his face as the only genuine challenge to his sophomoric attempt at producing a reliable operating system is being constrained by the only thing the United States seems to produce these days-litigation. What a sad commentary.

Jim Grace
Director of Operations, General Plastics, Milwaukee

Hacker Versus Cracker

The term "hacker" is a compliment for an industrious, innovative, and determined programmer ("Time To Give Thanks For Many Things," Nov. 24, 2003). A "cracker" is a miscreant who tries to breach security systems and perform illegal activities.

While in the past, most crackers had to be hackers, that's no longer the case. In fact, most crackers are mediocre programmers at best. Among my peers, we use the term hacker to describe someone who's highly skilled and deserving of respect.

Lyn Mortensen
Programmer, InTransit, Medford, Ore.

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