Readers get their turn on the soapbox

It's been so long since we've dipped into the mailbag that I can't even lift the thing. A few choice pieces:

My favorite recent missive comes in response to an item about a social-engineering experiment that saw 409 individuals out of some 250,000 click on a Google ad that read: "Drive-By Download … Is your PC virus-free? … Get it infected here!" Much scorn was heaped upon the 409. Reader John Huie is more understanding:

"I'm shocked that more people didn't click on it," he writes. "When I was a kid, my dad (who worked in electronics) built a little black box out of plastic. It was about 5 inches tall and maybe 3 inches wide and deep. It was completely sealed so that it couldn't be opened. On top was a little red button that was labeled 'Do not press.' If someone pressed the button it would begin beeping loudly and there was no way to turn it off unless you put a magnet up to the bottom.

"He would put this thing in the bathroom in a drawer, or under the sink, or in the medicine cabinet. It was amazing how many times guests would come over to the house and go to use the restroom and then we would hear this beeping coming from in there. … People are curious."

My recent rant about a spate of outages suffered at the hands of Verizon FiOS TV brought this contribution from a fellow who asked that he remain anonymous because he was once involved in a FiOS rollout and still does work for Verizon:

"I am not surprised there are issues [with FiOS TV]. They go deeper than the outages you experienced," he writes. "The FiOS project was a marketing initiative. They controlled the time line and the budget. Marketing did not understand the complexities of integrating cable systems with their own proprietary telephony systems or the differing regulatory requirements. Some business units were virtually excluded from the process. IT was given very little input into the decision-making process and when they did, they made very hurried decisions without sufficient research.

"Verizon will continue to throw money at the system until it is stable, but their bureaucracy and lack of decision makers with a view of the big picture will make this process much more expensive than it needs to be. Verizon is a good company. They have just grown their bureaucracy and become so inbred, they are not very innovative."

Another reader offered his view as a Verizon customer:

"Wow, you actually got to speak to a real individual at Verizon!" writes Ed Jenkins. "My voice recognition customer service representative would be jealous!"

In writing about a study by the Centers for Disease Control that shows more people ditching their landlines to go mobile-only, I asked "what a telephone-usage study has to do with disease control and prevention." It was not meant as a serious question, but a number of readers offered serious answers:

"Quite some time ago I took part in a CDC study about cell phone use in rural healthcare environments," writes Howard Stewart. "Some of the CDC concerns were with public health alert notifications and the effectiveness of 911 in a cellular environment. In our area the all-mobile scenario is still rare. … So the CDC is trying to get a handle on the wireless world and what changes they need to advocate to take advantage of technology and changes in communication practices."

Finally, we have a reply to an item about Microsoft taking heat yet again -- this time from a user who ignored an explicit warning when installing a BIOS … and then wanted to blame Microsoft for the trouble that ensued.

"It’s nobody’s fault but the user," writes Jim Lloyd. "And we need to quit blaming Microsoft for everything that happens to us, period. I am not a big fan of their practices but this is ridiculous."

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