Letters to the editor: “Vonage: On again, off again

Also, parasitic P2P,Skype,sexism in IT,ISP,Level 3,Cogent,utility computing, more

Don’t give up on Vonage

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ Gearhead column, “Vonage: On again, off again”: Why would anyone sign up for Vonage phone service while still receiving services through SBC? A bit of an oxymoron if you ask me. I am very happy with Vonage through Comcast. I have better sound quality than I did through the old POTS. I do have issues with Comcast, but that’s another story. Still, with all their hiccups and slow times, my Vonage never misses a beat. I did have problems about a month after starting with Vonage. I exchanged modems, routers, had Comcast out several times and put PingPlotter to work. After several months I took my Vtech 2.4 Ghz phone to a friend’s house while I was housesitting and realized I had the same problem there. It was the phone...uggghh. I bought a new Vtech 5871 and it works great now. I’ve never paid over $28 a month...unlike with SBC, which tacks on tons of silly charges you don’t understand and neither do they. The only extra charge I have seen so far is directory assistance. Don’t give up on your Vonage. I’m sure SBC is just getting its revenge on losing business. I say kick them to the curb.

Norvin Dale Ennis

Independence, Mo.

Parasitic P2P

I recently started getting concerned about "parasitic P2P" (my phrase for P2P apps that are likely to unevenly and detrimentally consume resources for the benefit of users unaffiliated with our institution), so I read Kevin Tolly’s column, “Skype: Hazardous to network health?” with interest. 

Columbia University has a paper on Skype.  It should also be noted that Skype is boasting of large file transfer capabilities ("Make sure you're on the same page.") .especially #3 under Basic Operation ).

Skype isn't the only product with the potential for significant parasitic P2P effect; check out PPLive for video (

Parasitic P2P may well reach a tipping point due to a large number of broadband end users behind NAT creating unsustainable burdens on corporate or educational networks.

Kevin Schmidt

Office of Information Technology

University of California, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara, Calif.

No place for sexism in IT

Regarding “Keep out! Best ways to secure the home net”: I was shocked to find such a blatantly sexist comment as, "Once you get past the setup, Mom can run these," Milovich says. Does a woman who bears a child suddenly become a computer illiterate?

I'm a retired IT CTO of a Fortune 500 company, as well as a former computer technician (now a university instructor of technology at three colleges) and the current Webmaster of dozens of high-profile sites.  I can't imagine anyone ever saying, "Once you get past the setup, even Dad can run these."

Shame on you for allowing this thoughtless and ignorant comment to go to print, and shame on the clueless individual who made such an insensitive comment.

Suzanne Delahanty

Landscape designer

Ray Martin Designs

Palm Springs, Calif.

Bridging the disconnect

Regarding “ISP spat leaves customers disconnected”: If two ISPs de-peer, their users should not fall out of connectivity. Instead, each ISP should use a third party to route packets addressed to the other ISP's customers and accept packets addressed to their own customers if they are delivered to any still working peering interface. Failure to do this (or an adequate substitute) breaches the ISPs’ explicit or implied contract with their customers.

In this case, Level 3 should have begun forwarding its customers’ packets to Cogent via other carriers no later than the moment the direct link was cut, while Cogent should have rerouted as soon as it found out the link was down and/or its customers' packets weren't getting through -- and should have been ready to switch when it knew its peering agreement was expiring without renewal.

The article doesn't give enough detail to know who dropped the ball -- and thus is responsible for dropping the packets.  This information should have been dug up and published.  Then customers would know which of the carriers let its customers down and whether either of them did their best -- short of knuckling under on unreasonable peering contract terms -- to keep their customer commitments. Customers need this information so they can make an informed decision on their future selections of carriers and contracts.

Michael McClary

San Jose, Calif.

Utility futility

Regarding “IT guru extols utility computing use”: We've already had utility computing available from a company called Aristasoft -- a full-blown application service provider with Oracle engineers on staff to debug clients’ work.  Aristasoft offered "soup-to-nuts" delivery if you wanted it. Sad to say, the company imploded like the other dot coms, with the sense to close up shop with money still in the bank.

Few organizations are ready to put their proprietary data into the hands of a company in which they don't control the equipment or the staff responsible to support their needs. If you outsource your data center, whom do you manage?  Sounds career limiting to many people.  If a utility service provider has 20,000 customers, just how important is your corrupted Oracle database to them?

Until the applications being run are as reliable as the light switch in your home, and have full control of the equipment, few people are going to take the leap. Utility computing also has to become as cheap as other common utilities are -- like running water, not like cell phone service.

Brian Kinney

Albuquerque, N.M.

Simplify, simplify

Regarding Howard Anderson’s column, “Curmudgeons of the world, unite”: Although I do not fall into Anderson’s age group yet, I too do not need any more buttons and menus in my life. My current stereo receiver is almost 20 years old and works fine. The knobs and buttons have a solid and satisfying mechanical feel to them. You cannot find this quality in today’s stereos.

What really caught my eye was Anderson’s comment about his Razr phone. My first impression of this thing was that finally they made a simple phone that will fit in my pocket.  The last thing I want is a lot of electronic gizmos hanging off my belt.  Alas, it seems that all the other gadgets have been compressed into this phone and the buttons are labeled with techno-speak symbols.  It must weigh six pounds.

Unfortunately, I long for the simplicity that is only attained in fantasy: Captain Kirk never dialed his communicator and was happier for it.

John Russo

North Haven, Conn.

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