Letters to the editor: "Closing the door on Windows"

Also, Vonage, dealing with crazy corporations, Cisco IP radio, more

Mac solutions

Regarding Kevin Tolly’s column, "Closing the door on Windows": Being a Mac user with an iBook G4 in a 100% Windows environment I believe we probably share a lot of the same problems.

In regards to battery life, it is most likely heavily linked to Tolly’s LCD screen.  The larger the screen, the more power it will require, I have a 14" LCD and I get approximately 4 hours of battery life on normal use, about 3 hours playing a DVD.  Tolly can probably easily extend his battery life by 50% by reducing the intensity/brightness of his monitor; simply hit the F1 key a few times.  In my case, if I reduce the intensity down to minimum 1/16th, I get approximately 6 hours out of my battery… quite an improvement.

Another major problem I've run into in the corporate world is the interaction with Microsoft Server 2003; by default Microsoft forces on some encryption, which prevents the Mac from being able to access a regular file share. Luckily the page has a short summary of the changes required on the server to fix the issue.

I've been using OpenOffice.org (NeoOffice/J under Mac OS X) rather than Microsoft Office; it is free, able to read/write Microsoft files and well documented.  Accessing our corporate VPN was easy with VPN Tracker 4, and accessing the Terminal Server was a breeze (and free) using Remote Desktop Connection (from Microsoft).

Dave Poirier

IT consultant

Prairie Mobile Communications

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Happy with Vonage

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ Gearhead column, “Vonage: On again, off again”: I have been a happy Vonage customer for more than a year now.  I have been using it for my home phone.  I still use SBC for my home office line; however, since I have had such high quality with Vonage, I am getting ready to switch.  I was concerned about using it for business, but it works and I still have my Verizon "can you hear me now?" phone for a backup.

Gibbs’ problem sounds like a bandwidth and/or QoS issue.  His DSL line is not cutting it for sure.  I use Comcast and get 4M to 5M bit/sec down and 386K bit/sec up.  My friend in Detroit uses DSL and complains about quality.  He set the call bandwidth setting lower on the Vonage Web page and uses the adapter in front of his router for the adapter QoS and it helps.  Another person I know uses cordless phones, which can cause major issues.  I use Panasonic 5.8 cordless phones and they work great.  The only problem I had was when Comcast’s DNS servers were down, but Vonage still worked since it was already connected before DNS failed.

I don't buy Gibbs’ idea that his telco is doing something devious, since I have had great performance using Vonage and even Skype from multiple locations around the country.  It sounds more like someone is downloading and using up the bandwidth, then the telco drops.  It may also be Windows update running in the background.  The main requirement in my mind is to have a high-quality, consistent Internet connection.  Comcast gives me a DHCP address and it's constant.  If I didn't already say it, get more bandwidth, bro, and you will be all set.

Jerry Wesley

Algonquin, Ill.

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ Gearhead column, “Vonage: On again, off again”: This scenario is familiar to me in that I have had Vonage as my phone provider on Cox Communications cable Internet for almost a year.  One major problem with it was that my router at that time did not have the ability to set up QoS for the telephone adapter.  Once I upgraded to a Linksys router with that capability, I had no more dropouts, choppiness, or other problems.  Readers should know that a router with QoS is a must if you are doing VoIP.

Craig Wolf

Omaha, Neb.

Dealing with amorality

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ BackSpin column, “Dealing with crazy corporations”: The amorality (or immorality, depending on your point of view) of corporations has been well known and understood by the cynical, the skeptical, and the poor for a long time. It was a fundamental component in the 1960s’ anti-corporate movement, antitrust legislation in the late 19th century and Karl Marx's theory of socialism. For just the reasons Gibbs states so eloquently, business ethics usually lose when they conflict with the goal of profit.

This amorality, like most other attributes, is magnified by size. Small corporations are impacted by the decisions of a single individual. Corporations with assets and revenues millions of times that of the average worker have correspondingly greater power; it becomes impossible for individuals to make an impact. Only a correspondingly large organization -- government at the appropriate level -- has sufficient power to effectively deal with large corporations.

Sadly, the aphorism that “it is impossible to legislate morality” places serious limits on the positive affect government can have on corporate behavior. This limit is further eroded when corporations can and do freely use their economic muscle to influence politics, partly or completely neutralizing the only entity capable of controlling corporate excess.

Perhaps a solution can be found, but I suspect we will be once again faced with tradeoffs between the many economic benefits corporations provide and the clear abuse of power endemic to the system.

Randy Grein

Bellevue, Wash.

Just a phone, please

I fully agree with Howard Anderson’s column, “Curmudgeons of the world, unite”: Stop the nonsense. No more morphed electronic devices.

Give me a cell phone that sounds as clear as a land-line phone 100% of the time, lets me know when I am about to drop a call, rings me whenever I am in range, and notifies me of voice mail the moment I turn it on, not one or two days later. That's it. No camera. No video. No voice recorder. No music. No games. No nonsense. Just a phone!

Then apply this principle to other devices, such as printers, faxes, scanners, copiers, camcorders, alarm clocks, ovens VCRs and DVD/CD players. (Do I really need a digital clock in every electronic device in the house? What a waste of energy.) Oh, and can't my car just be a car? I don't need a rolling entertainment center.

Jack Pouchet

Director, Marquee Accounts

Liebert Corp.

Irvine, Calif.

Hamming it up

Regarding “Cisco talking IP-radio nets”: It is truly interesting to see technology that was pioneered by amateur radio operators (hams) become mainstream.  For several years now, hams have been pushing this technology forward and using it to communicate across the globe.  Right now, I can use my HT (walkie-talkie) to talk with storm-ravaged areas, Alaska, Europe, Australia and even Antarctica.  What irritates me is the fact that I have read nothing that credits the hams that have pioneered this concept.  Hams did it first!  Give credit where credit is due.

Ken Linder

Henderson, Nev.

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