Big Brother scare I heard a rumour recently that Internet Explorer 4.0 checks PCs for properly licensed software and transmits information back to Microsoft. Can any of your readers confirm whether this is true or just scaremongering by certain resellers or Microsoft rivals? All the software (including shareware) on my PC is properly licensed. My concern is not with licences but with installing a product which browses my hard disks looking for information it deems interesting and transmitting that information to a third party. As a software developer, it's always a race against time for me to develop applications or components before any of the larger companies decide "Hey! That's a good idea" and bring out their own version with the bugs put back in. I would be mortified to discover that a program was transmitting information which I had previously regarded as safe from preying eyes. For instance, it could determine which company's development tools I use. From the number of files of certain types it could determine whether I was a developer or a user: for example, a majority of .doc files would mark me as a predominantly wordprocessing user. If companies want this information I expect to be given the opportunity to fill in a questionnaire, which I can decline to do if I wish. I do not expect programs to take this information uninvited. Ideas are the most valuable commodity in the software business and protecting ideas is a development company's highest priority. Programs which transmit information over the Internet are on trust not to transmit confidential information they find on the host PC. However, other than trust there is nothing to actually stop programs from picking up whole files from anywhere on the PC and transmitting them other than not installing the program in the first place. I know this all smacks of conspiracy theory but if software buyers don't protect themselves against unscrupulous practices who's going to do it for us: Microsoft? I think not. With the DoJ's current investigations into Microsoft's allegedly dodgy practices, we need to ensure that software companies also don't get away with distributing products which contain operations which have nothing to do with the purpose for which we have purchased them. In this country at least, I would hope there is already a law preventing this: something similar to the "not fit for the purpose for which is was intended" law. I would defend any program's right to check that it is itself properly licensed on a user's PC. Any other checking of the configuration of hardware or software not directly concerned with the product and the subsequent transmission of that information should be only with the express permission of the owner. Barry Harkcom [email protected] Marketing error David Carroll (PC Week 4 November) has made the classic error of believing that marketing is a passive activity confined to posting an ad web page or whatever and waiting for the responses to flood in. Marketing is an activity which requires considerable and sustained proactive effort, particularly in today's crowded markets, and will always need to be a combination of techniques to raise awareness and generate sales leads and thus sales. Or, could it just be the fact that when trying to enter the URL contained in his letter, I get the dreaded '404 File Not Found' error message? Nick Craddock Kasten Chase Applied Research [email protected] Net response David Carroll (PC Week 4 November) complained that the small business user could not compete with big business using the Internet as a selling medium and that he had little response to his marketing efforts at his web site. There are in fact a whole host of ways to advertise, such as newsgroups, forums, web sites, mailing lists, direct mail, signature files and search engines. All of this and more is covered in the best source of free information about Internet marketing that I have come across. Check out Essential Online Information at http://www.infoback.net/info G Furdot London N14 Hoping for the best I would like to reply to David Carroll's letter (PC Week 4 November) regarding the internet as a selling medium. The small business user has the same access to submit URLs to search engines as any other user. Marketing on the Internet is as complex as any form of marketing and not just a case of putting a site on-line and hoping for the best. I don't see why you can't advertise your address in the newspapers - many other people do this successfully. In any case you have now achieved this by having your address published in PC Week, but unfortunately it is incorrect. Had it read www.webworld.co.uk/mall/arthur instead of www.webworld.co.uk/mail/arthur you might have received more publicity. Frank Manning Wavertree Liverpool Bomber command With regards to D Graham's letter (PC Week 4 November) on the subject, does he really think that "the right command" to a power station over the Internet will blow it up? I'm sure there is no self destruct button inside the station (except in Bond movies) so how will it be accessed from outside? The same goes for bringing an airline down. If (command from internet) ... - ... crash plane ... - ... else ... - ... do what pilot wants With all due respect I think this is the kind of scaremongering we can do without and Mr. Graham shouldn't believe everything he sees on "Bugs". David Rigg [email protected] Got a gripe, then don't delay, get your pen out and write today send all your correspondence to: - The Editor, PC Week, VNU House, 32-34 Broadwick Street, London, W1A 2HG. or on the Net at http//www.pcweek.vnu.co.uk or Email [email protected]
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