Pain in the neck
I'd like to have more apps for OS/2 so that proper comparisons can be made between NT and OS/2.
Until then, I'd say that NT is the bigger pain in the neck when it comes to getting bug fixes over the internet.
IBM splits the fixes up, making it much easier to download than NT 3.51's 12Mb service pack of five.
I don't know why you put a Stars and Stripes flag against the news item "W3C endorses HTML 3.2 specification" (PC Week 28 January).
The World Wide Web Consortium is not "based in the US", as your piece states, but at INRIA, Paris as well as at MIT, Cambridge, Mass. The original HTML was not designed in the US of A, but at CERN, Switzerland, by an Englishman, Tim Berners-Lee, who, I am told, spends most of his time stopping his world-wide standards being hijacked by Americans like Marc Andreessen and Bill Gates.
The World Wide Web is what it says: world-wide. I suggest you find some other flag. A globe, perhaps. The Stars and Stripes, never.
I don't want to start a flame war but the feature on Unix versus NT attributed to Cliff Saran (PC Week 28 January) contained some notable inaccuracies.
The article says that "Dennis Richie and Brian Kernigan ... found a disused DEC PDP-11 and ... created Multics and the B programming language." They didn't. The Multics operating system started life in 1965 and was implemented at MIT on GE hardware. Ken Thompson and Dennis Richie worked on the MIT Multics development effort until it was cancelled in 1969.
It is also debatable wether Unix evolved from Multics as stated. Some ideas in Multics were developed further in Unix but Unix was written from the ground up in the C programming language. Multics, on the other hand, was written in PL/1. A nod in Multics' direction was a weak joke made by Brian Kernigan that gave Unix its name.
The B programming language was written by Ken Thompson in 1970 for the first Unix system on the DEC PDP-7 (sic) as an offshoot of Martin Richards' and Colin Whitby-Strevens' work on BCPL (Introduction to K&R first edition).
Interestingly (and I know I'm boring the pants off you now ) in BCPL The Language and its Compiler, the first program written in BCPL prints "Hello World" and was reused by K&R.
For more information on Multics, see www.best.com/~thvv/general.html
I have just read your 28 January editorial on the UK banks and the electronic banking services they provide to the public at large. I think it is excessively and unfairly critical, though much of the current criticism directed at the UK banks is in my view deserved.
As a long time user of the Bank of Scotland's HOBS service (which you didn't mention) it is my view that banking via a PC is unlikely to ever replace the total flexibility of cheque book and ATM cash services which are the mainstay of domestic banking needs.
I am also highly concerned, despite predictions and promises of secure encrypted traffic, that the Internet can ever be secure enough for my peace of mind - especially after the recent report of the successful experiment of ISP ghosting that took place in an American university.
The Internet is a brilliant and unsurpassable repository of all that information that should be (and is) open to the public. But to apply secret data transfers to a wholly open network is, I believe, courting disaster.
I, for one, do not expect to be one of the takers.
Third time lucky
I have just been reading a colleague's copy of PC Week and was very interested to read the letter concerning Microstar.
Against my better judgement I was foolish enough to take up their initial offer. I too had terrible problems trying to cancel my membership - I tried via fax and subsequently via Email.
It was rather like the Sorcerer's Apprentice - Microstar packages came pouring through my letterbox at rapidly decreasing intervals and my credit card bill increased by correspondingly increasing amounts. Just before Christmas I made a third attempt to cancel membership via Email.
If they are still having problems, PC Week readers may feel more optimistic about their own situations when they hear that my latest credit card statement credited me with every single amount that had previously been debited.
Credit where credit's due
Having read and followed the correspondence on MicroStar, and having tried their offer myself, I too consider what it offers to be of no value.
However, contrary to other peoples experiences, I had no problem cancelling my account. I simply contacted them on their own Web site (http://www.microstar-usa.com/club/mail_ms_club) and explained why I was dissatisfied.
I received an Email by return confirming the cancellation and promising that my credit card would be refunded. This was indeed done the following day according to my statement.
Unix history lesson
I am writing about Cliff Saran's article "What's the way to do it?" (PC Week 28 January). Although the feature was interesting, his history of Unix appears to be wrong in almost every detail.
Bell Labs dropped out of the Multics project, and subsequently I think it was Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson who wrote what became known as Unix (reputedly,it was a play on the name Multics).
As I remember (and you should really check this!), the original Unix was written in assembler for a disused PDP-9 (or PDP-7). They then persuaded management to fund the purchase of a PDP-11, started rewriting the OS in a semi-interpreted (p-code) language which Dennis called B (from the initial letter of the language BCPL), and finally decided to use a compiled language. This led Dennis to write the original C compiler.
I think Brian Kernigan became involved around that time. Certainly, I remember reading some of his excellent articles/tutorials about various features of C and Unix.
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