Letters to the editor: "The Great Firewall of China"

Also: a scoring system for telephone support; Borland jettisons legacy wares; Feds and IPv6; San Franciso and Wi-Fi

Great Firewall of China

Regarding Linda Musthaler’s column, “The Great Firewall of China”: Can't say that I agree with the point of this article. Isn't this a bit like what happened in the World War II era with Germany? Let the state department deal with their policies; we want to trade with them. Something like supporting Saddam Hussein so that we would have access to his oil. And just a bit like selling Osama nuclear material.

China looks like a friend because they want to trade with us, but I've read that much of the profit from their trade goes into the military. If it’s such a great friend, why is China developing the military to such an extent?

It seems to me that one of the mistakes business always makes is ignoring all but the profitability of a partner. Shortsightedness of this sort causes everyone, including business, to pay down the line. A business entity should be viewed in context to avoid unintended consequences. Moreover, allowing the state department to use trade as leverage with the Chinese is more important than short-term profitability.

John Beale

IT director

End To End, Inc.

Portsmouth, Va.

Regarding Linda Musthaler’s column, “The Great Firewall of China”: I agree that the U.S. government should leave the technology providers out of this debate. Companies doing business in foreign countries have an obligation to abide by local laws, whether they like these laws or not. What would happen if governments who don’t support American policies legislated laws forbidding their national companies to comply with American laws? Musthaler also is correct that any knee-jerk reaction is unlikely to have effect except for the loss of business to American companies.

Given all the issues at Guantanamo and the program of domestic surveillance, maybe the U.S. government is not in a position to lecture other countries on human right and would do much better by cleaning up its own backyard.

I also agree with Google’s argument that even a censored version of their search engine gives Chinese people access to information that they would not have access to otherwise and that this will promote democracy and human rights in the long term -- maybe much more than anything the U.S. government would do.

Remi Gagnon

Managing director

Telesafe Asia

Bangkok, Thailand

Linda Musthaler states that companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo would lose if the U.S. government were to restrict them from offering their services in places like China because of ideological differences. While it would not make economic sense for the U.S. government to totally restrict U.S.-based companies from doing business with countries whose ideologies differ from ours, it would be foolhardy to completely reject the notion that the U.S. government needs to put in place some restrictions on conducting business with these countries.

U.S.-based companies (and some politicians for that matter) can dress China up all they want. But China still remains an active and hostile communist regime bent on the destruction of capitalism and its adherents such as the United States. Given this fact, it is greatly disturbing to see how desperate U.S.-based companies are to conduct business with China and places with similar or much worse ideologies.

If U.S.-based companies think they are caught between a rock and a hard place now in their business dealings with China due to ideological differences, just wait until China someday decides to cross the Taiwan straits militarily and drags the United States into armed conflict. To have to choose sides under this type of a scenario will not be pretty. By comparison these U.S.-based companies are in a relatively "soft" spot -- for now.

The question begging to be asked is this: Is this the price the U.S. government and U.S.-based businesses are willing to pay just to continue making additional dollars? Despite popular opinion, there are still some things in this world that are more important than money – such as integrity and trust. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little, if any, of these things left in either sector, which ultimately spells trouble for the United States as well as free enterprise.

Andrew Lorenz Jr. Milwaukee

Scoring telephone support

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ BackSpin column, “A scoring system for telephone support”: Gibbs should add these to his list:

* If the phone director says, "Please listen carefully to the choices because they have been changed recently" or words to that effect, deduct 10 points.

* If the phone director says, "We are experiencing an unusually high call volume and your wait may be longer than usual" or words to that effect, deduct 10 points.

* If you finally fight your way through to what you think is the last level before speaking to a human and the call director says, "All lines are in use at this time, please call back later" and hangs up, deduct 100 points.

* If the call director starts off with, "Our busiest call periods are Mondays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., you might want to call back on Wednesdays," settle down for a long wait and deduct 20 points.

Jim Jordan

Sacramento, Calif.

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ scoring system for telephone support: I disagree that having music on hold (MOH) is a bad thing...especially if you're calling from a cell phone. Having nothing but dead silence makes me wonder if I've still got a connection. Since I have no home phone -- just my cell -- I've been in that boat lots of times.

That said, I agree wholeheartedly with the other points about MOH, although I would subtract 50 points for breaks in the music with useless and ingratiating self-promotion (that's usually telling you to go use the Web site and stop calling customer support). And, of course, any MOH with a clarinet in it should be punishable by a long, slow, painful death.

Taking the broader view for a moment, realize that the entire point of call-in customer service is to annoy you until you hang up and go away. Customer service costs money, it never makes money...except in a very indirect way...so no company wants to provide good customer service.

No, it's much better to have lousy customer service, and thus have fewer people calling customer service, which lowers your cost outlay for customer service. It's a win-win from the company's point of view. They know you'll still go out and buy their products anyway because there's a monopoly of some kind in effect. Or they know you'll come back because they undercut everyone else's prices. There's no way to win.

Aaron Read

Boston

Bye-bye, Borland

Regarding “Borland to jettison legacy wares”: Another bad decision for Borland. When Borland got rid of Visual dBase, every developer I know switched to other (non-Borland) object-oriented platforms. Delphi was the only other Borland product most of us were interested in. Sayonara, Borland.

Geoffrey Rarick

Database/network adminstrator

Thoracic & Cardiovascular Institute

Lansing, Mich.

Misleading headline

Regarding “Feds back go slow approach on IPv6”: I understand the nature of the publishing business is to focus on hype and controversy, but this is inappropriate and will only lead people into a crisis mode down the road.

The IPv4 space is being consumed at a much faster pace than was apparent even at the time the input for the report was collected. See the September 2005 issues of the Internet Protocol Journal for a full discussion; but the short version is that if nothing changes, the entire IPv4 pool will be consumed before the end of 2008, even with the ongoing NAT deployments that slow the consumption rate from what it would otherwise be.

It takes federal agencies years to plan and execute technology shifts like this, so they need to start now. Telling them to “go slow” is both wrong and not actually what the report says. Finding 5 specifically points out “the Task Force concludes that both public- and private-sector users of networked information technology should begin planning for the emergence of IPv6 technologies” and “Within federal networks, the identified need to expedite IPv6 planning and analysis is consistent with other recent government studies.” “Should begin” and “expedite” are not consistent with a headline that says “go slow.” Deliberately misleading the public about the urgency of the situation is not what a respected publication should be doing.

Tony Hain

IPv6 Forum fellow

Woodinville, Wash.

Don’t forget Milwaukee

Your article, “San Francisco heads to city Wi-Fi” neglects to mention Milwaukee as a city that is getting wired. Why is it that we always get treated as if we were a suburb of Chicago?

Albert Krahn

Milwaukee

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