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Letters To The Editor

No Problems With Upgrade

I enjoyed Fred Langa's write-up on ZoneAlarm, as I've upgraded to version 6 ("Software Suites Versus Standalone Tools," Aug. 22). It downloaded perfectly, and I've had no trouble with it (maybe I'm just lucky this time). I've had more trouble from Microsoft then from ZoneAlarm. Now, isn't that something?

Marc Stacer
Cove, Ark.

Alarmist ZoneAlarm

Having a registered version of ZoneAlarm, I casually accepted the upgrade to version 6. I was in for a shock. There was no real warning about the hundreds of warning messages I started to get. "Oh my God" was my initial reaction. "What have I been letting loose on my system all these years?" Then I read the What's New part of the help files.

Fortunately, I'm an experienced computer user, so I understood all the gobbledygook. But the average user could easily accept the over-the-top warnings and shut out some very important applications. ZoneAlarm may well have bloated itself out of the "average user" market with a far-too-complex program that relies on a large amount of user input and understanding.

Kevin Robb
Perth, Western Australia

Marketing, Not Politics

Big cities tend to be heavily Democratic ("Blue, Red State Broadband Penetration Mirrors Election Results," Aug. 17). Big cities tend to be the target market of new product rollouts. But it's ludicrous to observe that because big cities are heavily Democratic, that's why they're ahead on broadband deployments. It would be equally as ludicrous to try to deduce that more Democrats than Republicans embrace broadband. C'mon ... It all has to do with efficient marketing techniques and really little or nothing to do with political affiliations.

Art DuFault CEO, TransInfoCom
Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Little Threat From RFID

Until RFID technology gets way better than it is, the probability of reading RFID tags inside someone's house from the street is less than zero ("RFID: Future Consumer-Data Battleground," Aug. 16).

Will technology ever push RFID read range this high? The odds are no, it ain't gonna happen.

It's far easier to find out private information by simply asking or digging through the trash. Read "The Art Of Intrusion." It really puts the A in Art.

Vern Mastel Technology Coordinator, Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library
Bismarck, N.D.

Security Measures

The example of people driving around with an RFID tag reader gathering information is predicated on the readers and tags having much more range than is available now. This doesn't seem like a viable activity for thieves to gather worthwhile information. What can they do with information like I bought a gallon of milk or own a dress shirt from wherever? RFID tags on products would seem to not be a privacy concern. Most people use loyalty cards, so retailers already know what they're buying.

However, I would expect the security on ID cards and such to be encoded to avoid the information getting into the wrong hands. We'll always have leaks, so we need to set up the processes to make it easy for people to use, but difficult for thieves to use this wonderful technology. Perhaps we should add biometrics to enhance the security?

Richard J. Kern Market Analyst, IBM Global Services Americas
Arlington, Texas

RFID IDs Are Safe

I'm sure that RFID loyalty cards, and probably most other RFID-enabled personnel ID items, will have little more than an ID number that references all the other information in the provider's computer-system database. So, other than possible counterfeiting of RFID cards, there would be no danger because of RFID in these items. In fact, RFID would probably hamper the card-counterfeiting processes.

I'd be more afraid of RFID attached to the liquor bottles, guns, and the safe that would possibly provide information to someone outside my house!

Ron Barnhart HR System Administrator, U-Haul International

Spotfire's Achilles' Heel

For an E-mail to be intercepted, it first must be sent over the Internet, and here lies the weakness of any program like Spotfire ("Revealing E-Mail's Secrets," Aug. 1).

Groups have been known to create free E-mail accounts and then share their user name and passwords with other members. They'll then create

E-mails and save them in draft form. Other members can then access that unsent draft E-mail, read it, and respond to it without ever sending it. The E-mail that was created never leaves the server, and thus it's protected from traveling the unsafe Internet, where it runs the risk of being intercepted by programs like Spotfire. The unsent

E-mail, in essence, serves as a bulletin board for the group.

Guillermo Ulmos Follow-on Support Team Leader
U.S. Navy

Service And Support Suffer

I read the articles "See You In Court" and "Small-Scale Offshoring" in your July 25 issue and couldn't help smirking to myself.

One of the lessons from "See You In Court" is that poor quality isn't acceptable in the IT industry. Yet, in "Small-Scale Offshoring," the tickler reads, "Benefits of offshore outsourcing for smaller companies include cost savings, flexibility, and better use of limited tech staff." You should have followed up with: "The downside is that you might lose a share of your customers because of poor to marginal service."

I buy a bit of IT inventory every year, and more and more, I base my buying decisions on ease of support resolution and technical support that's located in the United States. That once-long list is getting to be a true "short list." I wonder how many decision makers ever have to directly deal with tech support and try to solve technical issues with foreign-speaking support staff.

Will Hanbury Jr. Tech Support and Webmaster
Sitka, Alaska, IS Department

A Serious Issue

I think you missed the mark ("U.N. Snatches Internet; Tomorrow All IT?" July 25). While there are serious and valid concerns on both sides, the question of the transfer of control of ICAAN and management of the root servers is a legitimate issue and not a bizarre U.N. plot.

David Schaffer Owner, There Must Be A Better Way
Sherman, Conn.

Ahead Of The Curve

I read your article, "Fuel For The Web" (July 4). I was a little disappointed that you failed to mention that many Ajax toolkits are already available as open source that are much more powerful than what Microsoft is even planning.

I'm the author of such a toolkit, named CPAINT, and it would be great to see some of us open-source software authors getting a little bit of credit for being ahead of the commercial vendors.

Paul Sullivan President, Boolean Systems
Cary, N.C.

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