What future for NT?
Although your recent article on the NT vs Unix debate (PC Week 28 January) raised several interesting points, I do not agree with one of its conclusions - namely the questioning of NT's current and future role in large business.
I refer to Robin Bloor's view that "NT is not a large server operating system. Even with four processors it's a bit iffy." This does not take into account the true scalability of native Windows NT, or the depth and breadth of enterprise-scale complementary software available from third-party systems houses such as ourselves and others around the world.
Microsoft has taken the lead in developing its Wolfpack API, while ourselves and others have developed software to further broaden inherently strong characteristics of NT, such as security and user administration. Coming from an end-user heritage, NT may have a low-end, familiar feel, but this interface is a clear advantage from a how to use perspective.
It also belies its high-end business performance in conjunction with other BackOffice components, such as SQL Server. NT's continued development and the add-on products now available, make it a faster-growing system than either Unix or NetWare.
Our record for supplying software to major oil companies, such as BP, and to banks, shows NT is fast becoming the operating system of choice for middle and large-scale companies. Because of this, we will continue to add further dimensions to what we regard as the enterprise platform of the future.
Uncertain over certified
I believe your description of the CNE qualification (PC Week 18 February) is wrong.
In the article titled "Career Engineer" you described the CNE as "Novell Certified Network Engineer", I believe that CNE means either Certified Novell Engineer or Certified NetWare Engineer depending on who you talk to.
If you have obtained your description from Novell I apologise for this mail and would appreciate an Email to correct my ideas. If I am correct I hope this is not taken as a criticism of the author of the article but I imagine anybody with the qualification would prefer the correct title to be used.
The Editor replies: You're absolutely right, CNE stands for Certified Novell Engineer - sorry about the confusion.
Knowning your station in life
Echoing Clive Bowery's sentiments (PC Week Letters, 18 February), the Railtrack timetable is actually a damn fine system. You need a bit of intelligence to use it though.
Your first guess at a station name may be wrong, leaving you stumped if you try to work out what it should be. It also has no recognition of the fact that Kings Cross and Kings Cross Thameslink are joined by a tunnel: an attempt to get from City Thameslink to St Neots resulted in the following obscure routing:
City Thameslink, Kings Cross Thameslink, Highbury & Islington, Finsbury Park, St Neots.
Rather than City Thameslink, Kings Cross (Thameslink), St Neots.
No cheque, mate
Given that a lot of companies now pay their bills by the Banks Automated Credit System, why is it that computer software companies, of all companies, are still in the dark ages when it comes to ordering their products, and insist on a cheque with the order?
Having read PC Week Labs review of Winfax 8.0, I rang Symantec to obtain further information about upgrading from Winfax 7.0 and was told that they only accepted an order accompanied by a cheque.
For many companies, the expense required to raise a one-off cheque for a single item is just not worth the hassle involved. This is one person who won't bother to upgrade to Winfax 8!
Cash up front
I refer to the letter from Jeff Fallon (PC Week 25 February). It seems that whoever you buy computer equipment from, taking your money off you is the firm's first priority and delivering their goods the last.
I placed an order with Look Micros on 13 January for #400 of new bits for my PC. It was all in stock - I even changed part of the order to an item that was in stock - and was promised 48-hour delivery.
A week later no bits, several phone calls, many different excuses among which was the inexcusable: "Oh we're waiting for a bit to come in, it's out of stock".
When the goods did arrive, over two weeks later, the order was incomplete and incorrect. They had also taken the money off my credit card on the day I placed the order.
When the replacement (and missing bits) arrived I put it all together and, hey presto, I only have half the RAM I expected.
Three weeks later I am still trying to get a replacement SIMM module with no sign of any customer service in sight despite repeated phone calls and faxes. I can't call between 11a.m and 3p.m because this appears to be their lunchtime, and there is never anyone there who understands my problem.
There again I had trouble with Time Computers when I bought my original PC. They are two companies I won't use again.
Don't let them off the hook
I have to agree with Jeff Fallon's letter (PC Week 25 February). This dreadful telephone queuing system is now rife among both software and hardware vendors.
It's very unlikely that you will ever speak to the right person or get any sense within any known timescales. Meanwhile BT is smiling all the way to the bank.
PC Week should start a blacklist of vendors so we can publicise the matter and get something sorted out. Better still, stop buying from the people who are effectively not offering any support. It's a shame it's so difficult to get through to anyone to explain why your custom is going elsewhere.
After some dreadful experiences with big companies I was given the solution, for the hardware problems at least, by a friend. Never buy hardware from any of the big vendors unless it is being used in a well-defined role with up-to-date software. They tend to use custom designs and these can never be fully tested with combinations of the old DOS/Win 3.1 type software.
If you use any custom or legacy software then you are far better off going for a small local outfit. These suppliers tend to deal in well-established clone parts which all seem to integrate much better than the custom solutions.
The prices are usually pretty competitive and you can actually take the thing back and demonstrate the problems if necessary. From discussions with such suppliers they tend to build using only minimum hassle parts (there is usually no significant cost difference), i.e. the parts that customers don't keep having problems with!
Unfortunately I am still after a solution with the software vendors.
Does anyone know why my copy of Diablo keeps crashing? Still, running under Windows 95 and using ActiveX is a trial enough for anything! Shame they don't seem to answer the Email, perhaps I ought to phone.
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