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by Readers

Letters to the editor: “IBM expert warns of short life span for burned CDs”

Feb 06, 20065 mins
BroadbandCellular NetworksData Center

Also: wirelesss laptop troubles, broadband showdown, DSL

Burned CDs live on

Regarding “IBM expert warns of short life span for burned CDs”: I’d like to know how the author came to his conclusions and what he used for data.

I am a retired CS project manager. My Bachelor’s degree is in CS and I have spent many years with computers. At home I have scanned in over 30,000 images that are stored on CDs and DVDs. Some of these date back as far as 1998. Since reading the article, I have been spot-checking both the DVDs and CDs with block-level checks. So far I have found none with back blocks with the exception of rewritable CDs, which are known for not being reliable. I have taken no special precautions to protect the disks except for making duplicates and most have been written on using felt marking pens. Some are scratched to the point of being embarrassing. However, all in the last few years have been “verified” after burning. Any with even one read error were thrown out and a new disk burned.

I have only my own experience to go on, but “so far” tests are proving the disks to be far more reliable and robust than the article predicts. I have many hundreds of disks left to check and the next one may be completely trashed, but so far I have been pleasantly surprised.

Roger Halstead

Midland, Mich.

Wireless trouble

Regarding the Help Desk item, “When the laptop keeps having wireless trouble”: Intel wireless devices include ProSet. That driver should be used instead of the Windows default driver to control setup, capture and access. Also, disable ad-hoc access if you are using a wireless router or access point. Do not leave the wireless radio on if you plug in a network cable for wired access. Also, your router might be defective with intermittent failure or you could have a bad cable connection to the Internet modem.

Roger O’Daniel


Broadband showdown

Regarding “Stage is set in Congress as sides prepare for broadband showdown”: The key measure of the 1996 Telecom Act of 1996’s success would have been when a customer had more than one RBOC/incumbent local exchange carrier to chose from as a telecom service provider. By that standard, the Act is an abject failure.

Common-carrier, transport-infrastructure provisioning (be it roads, airports, harbors or telecom) is a high-volume, commodity (low profit margin) business; that’s why it is normally regulated where it isn’t an outright government service. The standard model for business operations is the Wall Street Two Step: grow the business, increase margins/profits. The commodity, common-carrier, infrastructure business works in direct opposition to the second half of the Wall Street Two Step.

If one is able to provide content via one’s own infrastructure, that will allow for increased margins, but it introduces conflict of interest. The article quotes AT&T’s Michael Balmoris as saying, “[AT&T] has not and will not block our customers’ access to lawful content or applications available on the open public Internet.” One needn’t block access to make life difficult for competitors; the capacity for bias can be built into the infrastructure’s operating system software with incredible ease.

If there aren’t readily available, easily swapped, multiple infrastructure providers, then the only other viable alternative is government regulation, or the consumer suffers.

Stephen Wyman

Network specialist

Texas Department of Transportation

Austin, Texas

DSL help

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ GearHead column, “DSL techs and favorite tools”: Gibbs hits the nail on the head. If so many of the telecom companies are raving about how good their services are, shouldn’t the help desk be one of the things included? Shouldn’t the provider service level agreements encompass a certain skill set for every help desk technician that work at the telco? It is unfortunate that many of the existing telcos share the same ideology: “Save a dime, frustrate the end user.”

Alex Durand Melville, N.Y.

Regarding Mark Gibbs’ rant about DSL: Ethernet is as complex and more. Ever run a full certification scan on a Cat 6 cable install? How about troubleshoot a fiber run? The tools and technology for this stuff are every bit as esoteric as any other field. Sure, home wiring often doesn’t require that level of testing, but when stuff doesn’t work, it’s not always “just punch it down again and see if that fixes it.” After more than 20 years of trouble-shooting networks, I’ve seen a variety of failure modes that are not covered in the textbooks. You need tools to fix this stuff and some experience using them.

Knowing about bandpass filters in a DSL install is no more voodoo than knowing about SCSI termination, making a bootable CD, or any other topic generally found in technical publications. My home DSL (installed in 1999) has a splitter at the demarc and dedicated CAT 5 for the DSL run to the modem in the garage. No filters required for the phones, a clean data line to the modem, life is good. I’ve got a legacy MPOA connection with a static IP. Hasn’t gone down in five years except for extended power outages beyond the life of the UPS on the DSL modem and home server.

Spend some time on this site or a similar site. You’ll find lots of details on problem-solving DSL installs and quite a bit of other voodoo.

Matthew Leeds

Vice president, operations

Gracenote (CDDB)

Emeryville, Calif.