So David Guest (Outside Edge, 2 February) has discovered that software is like other industries, in that it has a self-perpetuating infrastructure.
Does he complain when he buys a car from a dealer, who will also probably end up servicing and repairing it? There is a whole industry to service the needs of people who have bought cars, from the people who will sell you fluffy dice and mats to protect the carpet, to the garages, car-washes, the NHS (when you crash it), the road repairers and so on.
I grant there are differences though. There is greater potential for built-in obsolence, from the carelessness of the millennium bug, to the cowboys (on one project I worked on the manager defended the duplication of the same data in three places throughout the system by pointing out that we could charge more to change it.) You expect cars to wear out and need attention, you don't expect bytes to though - if you have electricity and good backups then those bytes will last a long time.
However, people are beginning to realise that software (and systems) have a cost of ownership, hence the focus on TCO. If you are completely happy with your system (which some Admstrad PCW owners are) and don't have to interface with anyone else, then it doesn't matter if the world moves on.
That isn't the case for most of us, so you have to put thought and money into what to do when your software is getting a bit faded round the edges.
Via the Net
The European Parliament could be about to bring the Internet to a grinding halt.
Despite vigorous campaigning by the European Internet Service Providers Association the European Parliament has voted to keep an anti-caching clause in the "Draft Report on Copyright in the Information society." If the report goes on to be passed it could cause the breakdown of the Internet.
The Internet backbone is becoming congested, movement is sluggish and users can find the medium slow and unreliable. The new generation of network caching systems have just begun to make a real difference - take them away and the overwhelming likelihood is that the Web will grind to a halt.
Ecommerce would become an impossibility and the repercussions could kill off businesses and cost millions.
Nana Mouskouri MEP and others have claimed that caching systems undermine the security of the Internet by holding information indiscriminately.
The facts are that with caches such as InfoLibria's DynaCache, all the objections raised by the lobbyists have already been addressed:
1. With real-time hit and cookie, serving content from caches is no different from serving from the originating server. All it does is give users a better experience - faster access.
2. Content providers know who's getting their content and when they are getting it.
3. User access can be controlled, just as at originating servers, by making restricted pages non-cacheable.
4. Content on caches is no more likely to be altered than it is sitting on originating servers.
The results of a recent DynaCache installation at FreeDotNet, the free UK ISP, showed access times cut by more than half since installation and dramatically improved Internet performance for end users.
The European Parliament has misunderstood the issue, and the serious implications which come from lumping caching systems in with the rest of the "Draft Report" have not been considered.
Via the Net
I'm just reading your article regarding recording artists complaining about their livelihood being threatened.
My reply is not really from an IT view point, but I do think the advent of the MPEG-3 format is a great step forward. While piracy is a crime, it strikes me that record companies and their artists have spent the last 20 years ripping us off.
This may not be a crime, but to consumers it certainly feels so. Most people are aware that the cost of production of a single CD is minimal and the profit margins added on are huge. Maybe if they priced CDs reasonably there wouldn't be the influx of "pirate" music on the Web now.
Via the Net
I am writing in response to your article in the 9 February issue entitled "Consumers tied to Win 98."
Who cares? It seems to me that over the past few years we've been told that we've got to upgrade to the latest and greatest (and more expensive) bit of software.
If we don't upgrade then our systems are not good enough. For me personally I'm glad that I won't have to worry about forking out #100 to upgrade my Windows 98 to Windows 2000 until at least 2002, three more years without having to upgrade - bliss.
The other side of the coin is perhaps Windows 2000 will be stable and not need any updates or service packs so I won't need to keep updating it either.
Anyway thanks for a great paper.
Derek G Thow
I feel just a little sad every time I see a letter defending Microsoft and pointing out how good its products are.
The people writing these letters are obviously genuine and believe what they've written and I have actually spoken to people like this so I know that these letters are not spoofs.
It would seem though, in most cases, that the people who support and defend Microsoft and its products have no experience of anything else - and here I'm not referring to using a non-Microsoft Windows product instead of the Microsoft offering, because they both run on Windows anyway.
It is only the people who have experience of entirely non-Microsoft systems that are able to make any really meaningful assessment of Microsoft and its products and these people aren't so enthusiastic.
Having worked for over 23 years in IT, I for one find the prospect of Windows 2000, with its 30 million lines of code, bloody frightening and quite frankly I expect to have a second 2000 bug problem to deal with.
Via the Net
A 17in monitor weekly
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