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News Editor

The e-mail never stops

May 19, 20034 mins

The e-mail has been piling up faster and higher than did the snow this past winter. . . . OK, not quite that fast or high, but plenty. Let’s share a few excerpts:

Martin Erwin writes to disagree with a column that spanked California Congressman Darrell Issa for trying to reverse an Army plan to build a wireless network in postwar Iraq based on GSM technology, which is standard throughout the Middle East. Issa and others were touting technology owned by Qualcomm, which also happens to be a major contributor to Issa’s campaign coffers. The issue also got all mixed up in the France-bashing that’s in vogue.

“Issa’s comments may be self-serving, but there are definitely reasons to support the position,” Erwin says. “The European Union is definitely attempting to compete with the U.S., and this is more the issue rather than deployment of a particular technology.”

David Smith writes to accuse me of going overboard in support of a handful of small e-commerce site operators who are being unfairly sued for patent infringement. His rather-amusing rebuke included the charge that I had infringed on a patent of his called “Apparatus and method for restraining poor journalism.”

“Seriously, there are good patents and there are bad patents. You should not be lumping all patents into the category of bad,” Smith writes.

I agree, which is why the column did no such thing.

“Bad patents are very easy to ‘invalidate’ if, in fact, they are bad,” Smith continues. “A request for a re-examination is quite affordable, approximately $2,500, and can be completely anonymous.”

Another reader named Robert takes issue with me suggesting that participants in a new online hobby – baiting Nigerian spam scammers – might have too much idle time.

“I’ve stopped judging whether people have too much time on their hands,” Robert says. “Some people watch a lot of TV, some people play golf, some people commute two hours a day, and some people bait spammers. Who are we to pass judgment?”

Interesting philosophy, but in my line of work the alternative to passing judgment is unemployment.

After an unflattering item here about EarthLink, David Schaffer writes to defend – in a backhanded way – the ISP’s customer service.

“EarthLink’s support burden may be related to the fact that they are the ISP for cable systems, such as Charter Communications, which are completely clueless,” Schaffer writes. “I frequently have to call EarthLink support for problems that are really the cable company’s because with EarthLink I get an actual technician, not a customer service rep reading a troubleshooting script. Often EarthLink knows that there is a DNS or DHCP problem on the cable system before the cable company does.”

A recent column jumped all over a nationally syndicated writer for pooh-poohing the Internet as being much ado about very little. By way of comparison, Schaffer writes, loss of the Internet would be nowhere near as significant as losing the ability to drive.

Reader Jay Jordan backs up Buzz on this one. “If the Internet collapses tomorrow, the far-reaching consequences on communications, financial and military systems would devastate the global economy on a unimaginable level,” Jordan says. “And at that point, who cares if I can still drive my car?”

Finally, an item about a forthcoming “smart” wristwatch from Microsoft and three watchmakers had Wei Wang thinking about the practical implications.

“What I wonder, though, is if the watch runs Windows. If so, what happens if one needs to reboot it? Doing Ctrl+Alt+Del on a little watch every day would be really annoying.”

Now that we’ve made room in the in-box, feel free to send more. The address is