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LETTERS

Letters to the Editor Archive

This archive contains letters sent to the editor up to May 27, 2008. If you would like to comment on a current story, please visit the ECT News Network discussion area.


SYESTEM ISN'T BROKEN

As the Executive Director of the Election Technology Council, the national trade association of voting system providers, I disagree with the continuing portrayal of voting systems as unreliable or somehow inadequate. It is likely that voting technologies will evolve over time, but a missing component continues to be the recognition that voting system technology relies upon the procedures used by election officials to supplement its integrity. Open Source may be a solution, but a simple search of sourceforge will find that the voting system software projects currently underway are woefully lacking from activity. This is just one of the underlying problems with open source as a viable approach for voting technology. Given the current level of state and federal certification requirements, the ability to remain responsive to election customers in an open source environment is going to be extremely challenging. At the end of the day, many jurisdictions are making a conscious policy choice regarding paper or electronic, but it remains a policy decision. Not a decision that reflects the realities of voting systems. After all, it is difficult to dispute the fact that millions of votes have been cast, recorded, and verified during recounts and election contests.

--Dave Lajoie


EMC LIKE MAC

Your story on how EMC quality is based on customer loyalty is a joke!!! I've worked with a subset of EMC on a project to install one of their products in a way that we stayed as close to out of the box as we could after two years and large dollars [and] they still could not get the system to work. Their answer was "Well, pay us the money and we will part as friends." I don't see how that builds customer loyalty.

I have also talked with many others in the same boat, and they also said if it were not for spending big bucks for customization they would not have working systems, and that now systems were so customized they couldn't upgrade.

--David Beirne


KEYBOARD ON IPHONE

A terrifically helpful and simple improvement would be to have the enlarged keyboard ... if you rotate the iPhone for Internet also possible when you want to type in notes and in the calendar.

--Wyndham Clarke


RE: THE H-1B VISA DILEMMA, PART 2

A bravo to author Andrew K. Burger for giving space to noted H-1B visa program critic Norman Matloff, Ph.D. Professor Matloff has received public service awards from UC Davis for his long-standing work to expose the harms of this controversial program.

ECT readers who want to learn more about the specifics of the political corruption involved in the program are invited to read my 2007 article, "The Greedy Gates Immigration Gambit." You may be surprised to learn the name of the lobbyist who is central to helping procure three Microsoft-friendly changes to H-1B visa legislation between 1996 and 2000. Of course, Microsoft's spending about US$100 million directly and indirectly for political expenditures had a role. Please contact the author for his H-1B visa program bibliography. He works as an IT professional for NumbersUSA, which advocates immigration reduction.

--Gene Nelson, Ph.D., NumbersUSA


LAROUSSE WILL CHECK NEITHER ARTICLES NOR AUTHORS' NAMES NOR CREDENTIALS

Your article "Larousse: A Wikipedia Where Everyone Knows Your Name," has a very misleading title.

In reality -- and as anyone who attended Larousse's press conference or registered on Larousse knows -- Larousse does not check the identities of the people who register. That is, they request you give your name but they make no effort to check whether it is truly your name, somebody else's or a truly fictional name.

It is therefore possible to register on Larousse under the name of an established academic. It is also possible to register there under a false name and a false vitae, since they do not check vitaes either.

They have also said that they would not check user-written articles for accuracy. They apparently will just do some limited keyword searches to find possible problem words (they have not given details, but I assume they'll look for swearwords, racist epithets or other sensitive topics).

The site is therefore a glorified soapbox, with the added knack of possible impersonation, under an appearance of respectability. No doubt that high school students and teachers will believe that the site is well-monitored, compared to Wikipedia, whereas it is not.

At least Wikipedia is frank enough.

--David Monniaux


YOUTUBE TO LIEBERMAN: CENSOR THIS

I think the editor got this wrong. It's not that Americans can't spot anti-American propaganda -- it's that YouTube is being used as a weapon just like a gun or bomb in the hands of a terrorist is. YouTube is accommodating the spread of terrorist ideals.

Facebook wants to open source its application platform to make it easier to create and integrate applications into the F

--Mike Nelson


SO, TERRORIST VIDEOS ARE OK

So, what else is Google going to promote? Child porn? You're saying that should be protected as free speech too? Asking a content provider to NOT show our enemy's propaganda is hardly an unreasonable request.

What if the videos promoted the drawing and quartering [of] clueless journalists? Which, of course, would include the author. Our enemies don't have constitutional right to free speech -- our citizens do.

And I guess Jason misses completely the fact that those YouTube videos are being looked at around the world. The Jihadis use them as a recruiting tool. OTOH (on the other hand), video of the terrorists getting pasted by a missile might give them pause as to whether they want to get blown up themselves. Cutting both ways? Hardly, young Jason.

It isn't about Americans realizing it is propaganda. It is about the access of the videos by our enemies seeing and using that video to help their cause. To repeat, for Jason's benefit: It isn't about Americans seeing that, it is about the Jihadis seeing it, and furthering their cause. If you can't understand the difference, I guess you never will.

"A diverse range of views." Just whose side are you on? Have you ever considered, young Jason, that it is the U.S. Armed Services that provide you with the ability to make foolish comments? What else can be said?

--Chris Worth


JOE LIEBERMAN

I read your article on Mr. Lieberman, and agree. This is not the first time he has actually pulled this "censorship stunt." If you look back, you will find he is quite the proponent of censoring. He wanted to ban several video games -- along with Hillary Clinton -- due to their content. This is just another example of the individuals who purport to be looking out for our best interests trying to tell us we are too stupid to fend for ourselves.

I have to say I am glad that Google took a stand on this. Freedom of speech is there to protect the speech that you do NOT like, not the speech you do like. Mr. Lieberman and his cronies need to really sit down and consider the precedent which would be set by an action such as the one he proposed.

Thank you for your time. Chris

--Chris Kniffin


JASON Z. COHEN

Apparently your writer Jason Z. Cohen hasn't researched the videos on YouTube before writing his piece supporting YouTube and the videos of soldiers being maimed, tortured and killed. As a result of your organization reporting such obvious false information -- which could have been avoided by visiting YouTube and searching for the videos, which took me 15 seconds to pull up a video of a U.S. soldier being decapitated -- I can no longer trust the information coming from your organization.

I have removed it from my bookmarks, and will be sending out in the next newsletter of AITP (Association of Information Technology Professionals) [a] short story on how reckless and anti-American your organization is. This can be avoided by showing me your organization does not support Jason Z. Cohen's view and removing him from your staff.

--William Murray


MICROSOFT STRATEGY?

The troubles with the XP service pack may be slowly fixed. After all, MS wants to sell Vista, so if folks are having problems with the older system, they might be more likely to update.

--Peter L. Nelson, PyLoN PiX


PCI STANDARD - DAVE & BUSTER'S

I am growing increasingly frustrated with individuals with zero experience in applying the PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard), constantly blaming it for the security breaches that are reported in various media outlets on a nearly weekly basis. This is nothing but a red herring. There is nothing wrong with the standard; if it is followed and maintained, and there is appropriate discipline for non-compliance, it offers a more than reasonable means of protecting consumer financial data.

The problem resides with businesses who either don't disclose where they are storing and transmitting consumer financial data and/or businesses that fail to maintain the standard when the auditors walk out the door. Information technology managers are highly susceptible to operational pressures to just get the thing done, with security as an afterthought, [thinking] the time to worry about PCI and security is only when the auditor comes around.

And the way the PCI governing board is structured doesn't help. PCI makes the standard and approves the QSA (Qualified Security Assessor) -- PCI assessors, i.e., auditors -- but does no enforcement; that is left up to the card brands. I wonder how often -- in the case of large corporations who house huge amounts of consumer financial data -- do the card brands look the other way when there are issues of noncompliance, to avoid biting the hand that feeds them?

The entire game is not to protect consumer data, but to push liability off on the next guy as much as possible -- especially the merchants. This is a huge mess, and allowing the card brands to self-regulate is simply courting disaster. Until we see the same sort of regulations and security controls applied as there are in cash accounts (i.e., bank accounts) we will continue to see data breaches.

--Nel Walton


PCI ARTICLE

I keep reading articles that seem to state that PCI standards should be raised. While I do believe PCI standards should be followed by companies, I am disappointed that card issuers are not being pressed to employ smart stripe technology.

There are two companies that I know of that provide this technology: PrivaSys and QSecure. Both vendors have technology that changes the magnetic stripe with each use. The technology does not require any change of point of sale equipment by merchants. I strongly believe that issuers should be asked to do take responsibility for the card numbers they issue.

--George Odencrantz, Sinclair Oil


SAFARI VS. .GOV

Your article was good as far as it went, but why wasn't Section 508 covered? I've hammered multiple government sites for not being Section 508-compliant. The law applies to all federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain or use electronic and information technology.

Under Section 508 (29 U.S.C. 794d), agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to the access available to others. If a government site is requiring use of a specific OS or a specific browser, they cannot be Section 508-compliant. The ONLY way they can be compliant is to be [W3C] standards-compliant.

--Lee Allen


OLPC IN TROUBLE

The OLPC problem is that nobody in the company saw that the best way to market this was by bundling the whole system. No infrastructure for online education, and no curriculum for K-12 or textbooks. Not a word about WiFi to connect it, teachers and translators. Bundling is the only way this will work.

--Deborah Boyd, Global Development System


BIG PROBLEMS CONVERTING FROM EUDORA TO APPLE MAIL

I more than share Tonya's experience converting from Eudora to Apple's Mail application. I recently took the plunge and converted some 106,000 e-mails -- 12 years of e-mail -- and had nothing but trouble! All of this I've documented on the Apple discussions Web site.

My biggest frustration is with Apple Mail's poor management of e-mail left on the POP (post office protocol) server, which prevents me from keeping my e-mail synced between my work and home computers and my iPhone. If you are like me and are in the habit of manually managing your Eudora mail that is left on the server, with Apple Mail you'll end up losing all of your e-mail that you stored on your POP server.

It would seem that the setting to "delete mail from server when moved from in-box" would be the perfect choice for heavy e-mail users like me. However, this particular feature is totally bug-ridden (apparently for several years now) and randomly and regularly deletes your saved mail on the server.

Today, for example, the Apple Mail application at my office decided to delete all my e-mail from today from the server. Not yesterday's or before that -- just today's! Therefore, when I go on the road later this afternoon with my iPhone, or when I try to reply to my e-mails at home tonight, today's messages will be missing and I won't have the opportunity to work with them until I return to the office.

All these many years my many clients and I have solidly depended on my e-mail. But recently, they are all complaining that something is wrong with my e-mail as lately I keep loosing and missing their messages Therefore, I'm about to do the unthinkable: After 25 years of using Macs, for the first time EVER I'm going to deconvert from an Apple application and am going back to Eudora.

Now that Eudora uses the Apple Address Book, and given it's vastly superior message handling and message search capabilities, I will likely never try Apple Mail ever again, having wasted some 200 hours carefully and painstakingly preparing over 106,000 e-mail messages for this badly bug-ridden application.

Come on Apple -- it's just POP3 e-mail! Why can others like Eudora do it so much better than you ... and for free?!?

My advice: If you like Eudora, stick with it. There is nothing that Apple Mail does better than Eudora, and lots that it does worse.

--Randy Banis, Sundance MediaCom


WINDOWS AND INTEL

So why doesn't Intel develop an operating system -- or AMD, for that matter -- to support their processors? Seems to me they are best able to make the best use of their own chips. We could call it "Wintel," and use third-party apps such as Firefox, iTunes and OpenOffice. That way, MS could focus its entire energy on [getting] rich quick chasing after Google.

And leave Vista in a box where it belongs. I'd bet Intel could do an outstanding job creating a compact yet powerful OS. And I wouldn't be surprised if it already has an OS that it uses in the development/testing of its processors.

--Al Engle


VISTA AND WINDOWS BECOME BLACK HOLES

I think it is very important to point out the fact we have seen this play out in the Apple world already. In order to fight the consumer backlash as Windows become more bloated (even back to 95), Apple followed a fresh strategy for EVERY OS -- transitions to OS 8, OS 9, OS 10. Each time Apple forced its consumers to start all over with new hardware and new software (remember the PPC vs. 680x0), there would be a cry of anguish and more people would flock back to PC. Meanwhile, Windows continued to always be universal but grow larger and larger.

Now that Apple finally has released an acceptable OS with 10-11, we have watched feature creep and bloat fill the Apple arena. The original OS 10 machines could run fine on a 400 to 500 MHz processor and 64 to 128 MB of RAM, whereas XP would crawl on a similar setup if even start at all. However, the latest MacBooks are packed with Intel multi-GHz processors, and the OS needs every MHz of it.

Anyone who has been paying attention sees that Apple has locked itself into the same path Windows started 15 years ago, a slowly bloating OS that required ever-greater hardware. Apple already tried the "fresh start" approach and consumers didn't buy. The "forever bloat" business model appears the only way to keep up. It has brought Apple out of the dark ages, and I seriously doubt Microsoft would try a process that laid out their only competitor for 10 years.

--Matthew Miranda


VIDEO BEATING STOKES DEBATE OVER FAME, VIOLENCE

We as humans have violent tendencies. In the article on the subject line there are comments to the effect of blaming media once again. In other countries, they allow violence and nudity on TV, but this does not seem to present a problem.

"Kids who perpetrate crimes like this are 'totally disconnected from the reality of what they're doing,' [Parry] Aftab, [cybercrime lawyer and executive director of WiredSafety.org,] explained. 'They think they're good kids, just playing for their 15 megabytes of fame. They also see this kind of thing all the time around them in the media, and when you talk to them, you can see they just don't get it.'"

I don't agree with the above comments made by Aftab because no one is ever "disconnected from reality" unless [because] of illness or legal drugs or [what] not. They knew exactly what they were doing with or without the idea of being able to [communicate via] YouTube or MySpace. They wanted to assault her because the teens didn't like what she had to say. We are in a country of freedom of speech, and we have to hear a lot of things we don't like, but you have the choice to punch that person in the face or go on. They couldn't think that they are good kids. They knew exactly what they wanted -- revenge -- and it is possible that they wanted some fame.

I hate [she] blames the media, just trying to shove off the blame. I am a college student in my first years, I watch those shows -- the movies about killing, violence, murder, rape, whatever it is, you name it, as well as play violent video games on my Xbox 360. I don't feel compelled to go rape a girl or shoot up a classroom, no matter what anybody says to me or if my girlfriend were to break up with me. Then there would be those who would say that I don't want to do these things because of my upbringing -- I have to say they are wrong.

Being a person from a home where the parents never married, didn't get along after separation, [and] abused by my father gives me every reason to disagree, and even fought against him in court up until not to long ago. I sit in the same types of classrooms as everyone else that teach almost one constant: Don't do violence to others or, [as] the saying [goes], "do unto others as they would do unto you."

We each have a choice at who we are to become. I don't ask for pity, I don't act violent and, as far as everyone else sees me, I am just the same as the next guy. Those who say they have no choices have already made their choice. We all have options that we should look at and not just choose the quick and easy [and] then complain to others about it. I don't want to hear it. As it is told to us many times as children -- we are all responsible for our own actions.

A question everyone should ask themselves no matter how cliche it is: Would I/you jump off a bridge just because the other person has done it?

--David Carver


EBAY'S DONAHOE ERA ARTICLE

I am not a PowerSeller. I am a disabled American who sells on eBay to make ends meet, provide tuition for my children and retain some of my own self-worth. I started selling on eBay 2 1/2 years ago. I sell new hats, gently used clothing, homemade soap, etc -- the stuff one might find at a flea market. The reason eBay will continue to sink is because Mr. Donahoe said he didn't want eBay to become a flea market. Of course, it is because of the same stuff I was selling that eBay became the giant it is. It was the little guy who plugged away from the beginning.

It was said -- during the webcast in February -- these changes would be great for PowerSellers, but what of the little guy? No one asked our opinion. eBay took the top 200 moneymakers to lunch and asked them their opinion. What about the millions of sellers who were not those 200?

Sellers are leaving because they don't have a voice on the site. They can't get a person to answer the phone or their e-mail. The buyer, while very important, is being catered to from all sides: eBay is catering to them, and the seller is catering to them. Who caters to the seller? The seller pays the fees -- ALL OF THEM.

Customer service is what I provide to the people who pay me for goods and services. I pay eBay, which makes me THEIR customer, and yet I am not considered important enough to have an opinion, have a person to speak to when I need help, or even get an e-mail returned that isn't canned.

Mr. Donahoe is losing established sellers every day to sites like OnlineAuction.com (OLA.com), where you can pay for the whole year with what one months listing at eBay cost. No listing fees. No final value fees. Just a membership fee that, for a full year, costs less than one month of fees at eBay. They answer the phone. They e-mail back. They support the seller, who is THEIR customer.

eBay is on the outs, with sites like OLA.com, eCrater.com, and 20 or 30 other sites where the seller is being catered to. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen. eBay is a greedy dinosaur who is feeding off its sellers and, little by little -- sometimes in hoards -- the sellers are leaving. What a shame too, because eBay had it all ... just like Bogie and Bacall.

--Elizabeth Metz


WINDOWS XP

Here is a perfect case of "if is isn't broke ... ." The OS does pretty well -- they would do better to keep putting out SPs rather than some glitz hog like Vista. Remember Millenium (SP) Edition? What a piece of crap.

In time, XP could become a really nice entity and, by providing support, Microsoft would be rewarding those faithful to them. I would welcome your passing this to whoever makes these decisions at MS. New stuff almost always is bad for at least a year or two. Why keep inventing the wheel?

--John Diehl


VISTA/XP

I am today replacing Vista with XP on a Core 2 Quad. Vista is useless for anyone trying to get anything actually done.

I tried because I thought it would be good to know. I tried very hard, but the OS is just so breakable that is it not worth learning. So, tell Microsoft that its OS is not worth even the effort of trying -- and warn your readers, as well.

--D. Hard


RESPONSE TO "SHUTTING DOWN TEXT SPAM: JUST GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE"

In your article, you mentioned the Web sites of the four largest U.S. wireless carriers that did not contain instructions for how to report and handle text-messaging spam. This is not accurate for Sprint Nextel.

Go to Sprint's Web site and type in "text spam" in the search field. You'll see several articles that are easily available that discuss reporting wireless spam. The first link can help customers block unwanted messages from persistent sources.

While "spammers" dodge this work-around, the next two links go into more detail around reporting text-messaging spam. This information is very straightforward and should be easy to find from casual Web browsing users to the most savvy surfers.

--Michael Walton, Sprint Nextel


APPLE SECURITY

Hi,

I have read with interest many of these articles on Apple and security. I work as a Unix admin. As Mac OS X is Unix, it is inherently a more secure OS. This is because Unix was, from the beginning, built as a multi-user environment. Windows, on the other hand, was not. This isn't to say Unix systems aren't hackable as we all know they are, but it certainly is more difficult.

What annoys me about these articles is the smug tone that says "we told you so," which is just as bad as any smug Mac user. For example, you state in your article, "It's little surprise then that reports of Mac viruses have been rising steadily." Links to these reports? Any facts I can refer to?

As for hacking the iPhone, this is not considered a full-fledged computer, so to lump its security in with Mac OS X is a bit misleading -- to say the least. Of course, a stripped-down OS for a handheld device is not going to be as secure. Anyone that thinks otherwise is simply naive. Show me some hard facts that prove that OS X (NOT the iPhone version) is less secure than Windows including successful hacks and I'll be happy to sit up and take notice.

If that can't be done, I'll continue to consider articles such as this as nothing more than that other common human reaction to something that is really good -- envy.

Yours sincerely,

--N. MacQuarrie


WHERE ARE THESE REPUTED VIRUSES?

To quote Roger L. Kay, "It's little surprise then that reports of Mac viruses have been rising steadily." Kay blithely states that Mac viruses have been rising steadily. Where does he get this information? He should back up his statements with hard information.

To date, there have been no self-replicating Mac viruses in the wild. There have been a few proof-of-concept viruses discussed, but they required physical access to the machine.

There have been many reported vulnerabilities in Mac OS X, and most if not all have been patched. But one cannot equate vulnerabilities to viruses.

--Philip Ershler


UBUNTU 8.04

I use [Ubuntu version] 7.10, so i downloaded and burned 8.04 to a disk, [and I] also did the online upgrade. Both installed great, but reboot [led] to a blank screen. Seems as if it's not quite ready yet.

Regards,

--John Martin


HURLEY ARTICLE

"The executives have really turned it around in the last few years."

This guy is living in a fantasy world! People working there (at BMC) live in terror of losing their jobs from quarter to quarter. I don't see BMC adopting open source in a big way.

--David Gwartney


PAKISTAN BANS YOUTUBE

I don't know how serious you were by your "You can blame a Danish cartoonist and a Dutch filmmaker if you weren't able to watch video on YouTube last weekend" comment, but it's really inappropriate. It comes across as you blaming free speech for YouTube being down, as opposed to the exact opposite -- censorship -- on behalf of Pakistan.

--Steven Burton


MAD-AS-HELL BEST BUY CUSTOMER FILES $54M LAWSUIT OVER LAPTOP LOSS

In the first paragraph (of this story), it's stated that Best Buy refused to compensate her (the customer) fully. Unfortunately, compensation is only inclusive of loss. Loss -- in this case -- includes the laptop, and Best Buy not only offered to compensate, but extended its condolences with more than $2,000, despite the laptop only being worth roughly $900 new.

As far as data goes, (according to) the wonderful clause in EVERY tech service contract, the tech company is not responsible for any lost data. If I were Best Buy, I'd count my losses on a replacement computer and tell the customer the hard drive had to be wiped. You certainly aren't dealing with an ethical customer, so why be ethical in return?

--James Davidson


RE: GAMING ON MAC

I recently read the article on gaming for the mac written by Walaika Haskins, and while it was generally informative and correct, the author repeatedly referred to Apple's Boot Camp software alongside virtualization packages such as VMware and Parallels, which I think gives a mistaken impression. Boot Camp is merely a setup assistant and set of Windows drivers, which allow the user to install and run Windows NATIVELY on (his) Intel Mac hardware. It is not, by any means, a virtualization environment.

Virtualization packages do run native Windows code rather slowly and have questionable -- at best -- support for DirectX applications. Boot Camp allows the user to install Windows on a separate partition and optionally boot up into either Windows or Mac OS X.

I speak from (extensive) experience when I say that even graphically intensive games such as "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," "Half-Life 2: Episode 2," and "EverQuest II," as well as lower-intensity games like "World of Warcraft" and "Sam & Max" run at least as well on my MacBook Pro running Windows as they do on my equivalently powered PC desktop machine.

--Scott Harper


UBUNTU: A HOW-TU

In your recent article, Ubuntu: A How-Tu, I noticed something that may confuse many people new to Linux. The author states, "One of the best things about Linux is its ability to run well even on rather elderly PCs that are not powerful enough to run Windows XP." Now, this is very true for many versions of Linux, like you state, but the article is about Ubuntu.

The newest versions of Ubuntu have higher system requirements than XP Pro. Ubuntu version 7.10 requires 384 MB of RAM (random access memory) for the Live CD version. I had an old laptop that had 256, so I installed Ubuntu 7.10 using the text-based installer. It installed fine but it was so much slower than XP, that I had to load XP back onto it. XP requires 128 but as low as 64 MB is supported. XP ran much faster on the same computer.

Now I know you were not stating that Ubuntu will run faster on older computers, but that's sure what the article makes it seem like.

Regards,

--Daniel Chandler-Klein


OPINION OF A LONG-TIME SILVER POWERSELLER

Thought you may be interested in a recent post of mine to the eBay bulletin board that eBay promptly removed. This was submitted on behalf of my mom:

Quoting Humphrey Bogart's character from "Casablanca": "I stick my neck out for nobody." In other words, keep selling.

If the eBay community is truly behind this boycott, your sales should increase. Let the rich be the do-gooders of the world. (Furnished by my son when I asked him what I should do regarding the boycott.) I am participating and communicated back and forth -- many times -- with Stacy of CNN Money, who is supporting our cause. As a retired paralegal of 35 years, I am keeping close watch on any lawsuit aspect of this situation. I wish I could participate in the boycott. I want to, but after much consideration and discussion with my children, I simply cannot afford to do so. I am retired on Social Security. My eBay store and auctions provide my only other income. Yes, I am very upset with eBay's new policies. They are not fair -- but then none of the changes eBay has made in the last few years have been fair to sellers.

I started selling on eBay in 2004 and attained Silver PowerSeller in less than 15 months. My feedback is over 6,000, at 99.9 percent, and I have about 30 percent of buyers who leave feedback. I sell nothing that costs more than (US)$90, and most of my items are about $30. And yes, I ship internationally. I have an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee, no questions asked. I even pay for return shipping if a buyer is unhappy. One hundred percent of the few negative feedback (items) I received never contacted me with questions or a request for refund, and most were because the product was lost in the mail. Of course I always ship a replacement if that happens. And the most interesting statistic is the buyers were new to eBay. Of course, they did not read the eBay statements about how to proceed before leaving negative feedback. eBay could easily have prevented this. But yet, eBay doesn't care and still does nothing. eBay is punishing sellers for good customer service and being completely honest.

My biggest complaint about eBay was a change last year. What REALLY FROSTED ME was when I saw posts from sellers that actually supported this change! They obviously were not businesspeople, and were only game players (sometimes called a "hobby").

Here is my complaint: eBay stopped us from listing for three days, then increasing it to five days, then seven, and then paying the additional 40 cents for 10 days. The reason eBay gave was that buyers did not like it. If that is true, why did my sales decrease 60 percent almost immediately?

If buyers did not like it, why were they buying? I have asked eBay this time after time and, of course, get no satisfactory response. My eBay auctions and store items are truly a "storefront" to me. What storefront owner actually puts something new on the shelf and does absolutely nothing to promote the sale for 10 days? No one making any money does that. So, from this old Harley-ridin' grandma, keep the rubber down, and good luck with your boycott.

--Shari Gab, Work At Home Companies Online


EBAY'S REPLY TO MY CONCERNS

An e-mail sent to eBay:

I am very disappointed with the new changes eBay (implemented) on Feb. 20, 2008.

1. Reducing my listing cost by (US)5 cents is great, but raising my final value fee by 3.5 percent is too much.

2. Buyers will only be able to receive positive feedback? It will be sellers beware. Auction-style sellers will be readings the buyers' feedbacks to see if they have a history of leaving negative feedback and removing bids for those that do. There are good and bad buyers out there too. Basically, there will be no consequences for buyers who do not read auction descriptions, don't like the movie they bought, (experience) slow or lost mail, or a thousand other reasons.

3. The new feedback rating system sounds like a twisted maze of new math and IRS forms. My status sounds like it could change from day to day.

4. What the heck is the thing about PayPal holding payments? So, I may never get paid for an auction I ship because the buyer leaves negative feedback?

5. The only thing I am seeing in these new changes is a lose-lose situation for sellers. Paying eBay a great deal in fees last year plus a one-third cost in postage fees -- nearly closed me down. Now, I'm afraid with these new changes that my time with eBay maybe coming to an end. I think somebody needs to rethink these changes and their real impact on sellers.

Part of eBay's reply:

It is true that we have raised some of the final value fees, but this is only to balance the changes we made to the insertion fee schedule and also offering free gallery. PayPal may delay release of the payment funds to the seller. This would be only until the buyer has left a positive feedback or 21 days have passed without a dispute, claim, chargeback or reversal filed on that transaction.

--Gilbert Stevenson


I HEAR COMCAST AND MY BLOOD BOILS!

I just don't understand why they have all of sudden got such a big head. We used to have Adelphia -- they always were nice polite and easy to ask questions to. The same people work for Comcast, and they have got a Big Attitude!

I had to get rid of them altogether and, yes, take a slower connection. But half the time, my connection was not what Comcast promised. They said I was supposed to get up to 12 mg download -- most of the time it was maxing out at 3. No, it was not my machine -- I have 4 gigs of RAM (random access memory) and a SATA (serial advanced technology attachment) hard drive at 7200 RPM -- and it is not cluttered. I know for a fact that because I had Comcast cable and Internet, the good ol' boys in my neighborhood all of sudden had it too. When I would tell Comcast about it, they would tell me that no one was using my service but me. RIGHT!

The place that I made a mistake about moving to is Port St. Lucie, Fla. I use to live further south in West Palm Beach just about all my life, and when I moved up here, well, not only is Comcast the worst, but so is just about all the other services. If I am able at any point, I would like to supply free WiFi for the whole area -- maybe I would be able to make some friends then, but I suspect that Comcast and all the others would come after me. ...

Why not have free Internet? That is the way everyone gets around anyway, so then maybe you would be able to sell more items and it would not cost so much for people to try there ideas out. I say give it to them. I will -- if God is willing.

--William Lyman


RE: EBAY SELLER REVOLT

Fees are only one avenue of eBay's downfall. I was blackballed out of buying or selling for a non-stated reason, the closest I could get for a reason was: You have a low customer satisfaction rating, you do not ship what you sell, OR you are not stating what you sell factually.

I tried to garner assistance from eBay when I ran into unkosher behavior from a buyer, but they only sent me to put in a review -- no assistance given. I tried to be very accurate in my listings by going online and gathering details and specs for my item, even finding photos -- it would take me an hour or so for certain computer accessories, etc. I tried to get specific answers to my blackballed status, but I did not get it. I checked to see if anyone had posted a complaint about me in the system, but nothing was there.

I mentioned to some people I was buying from about the issue, and I found out that two I know of were also treated this way -- without ANY warnings they were shut out of their stores. They were kept out for weeks at a time. Meanwhile, eBay expects you to keep paying your fees of course! One was looking for a way to do her own store without eBay -- I gave her some suggestions and this was about one year ago now. Another indicated that he also ran into this within the last two years, he was not happy either.

I have never returned to eBay and I never will. I no longer sell things online, I paid my fees and took my losses. It was ALL losses for me. Whenever I see classes to learn how to sell on eBay, I e-mail the teacher how they should be teaching how NOT to join eBay and why, that they should warn their customers to stay away. I never hear from them of course!

eBay is a fraudulent site, they say they are fair, but I read how they will no longer accept any commentaries by sellers if they are not absolutely positive -- so how is this fair? The truth is, the buyer is allowed to stiff "us," to demand repayment without sending the item back and to post inflammatory comments against "us" without contacting "us" for a solution! It happened to me over and over again in just six months time! I was devastated -- to say the least!

Sincerely,

--Sandra Marr, Computer Tutor On Site


"WOULD-BE WIKIPEDIA REPLACEMENTS STUMBLE" IS AN EMBARRASSING HATCHET JOB

To the editors:

The characterizations of Citizendium in the article "Would-Be Wikipedia Replacements Stumble" by Mick O'Leary are either false or deeply misleading and, in any case, journalistically irresponsible. This article does a huge disservice to the hundreds of people who contribute to the Citizendium each month, as I will demonstrate. Mr. O'Leary should have actually interviewed me -- which he easily could have done. But I was never contacted. It appears that he had already made up his mind, and the facts were not going to stand in his way.

To comment on a few of his poorly researched remarks:

"This occurs through a highly convoluted process for submitting, reviewing and approving changes, in which editors and authors collaborate in an intricate hierarchical relationship."

This is simply and provably untrue, and belies any understanding whatsoever on Mr. O'Leary's part about how the Citizendium actually works. The process of making changes to Citizendium articles is virtually identical to that of making changes on Wikipedia: It is a wiki. You can see this by a casual glance at our recent changes page. As Wikipedia's main architect, I am not about to change parts of the Wikipedia model that work. The ease of contribution is the same in Citizendium and Wikipedia. Furthermore, it is highly misleading to say that there is "an intricate hierarchical relationship" between Citizendium editors and authors. In fact, they work side-by-side on the wiki, editing each other's prose; editor authority is rarely exercised. Mostly, editors "lead by example."

"What are the results of the Citizendium authority-driven model? Not much. There are 4,000-plus articles in Citizendium, but this number is misleading. Many articles are one paragraph or one page 'starters' with little content."

We have 5,400 articles now, and we have added our most recent 2,000 articles in the last three months or so. The number is hardly "misleading." In fact, the average length of the articles we created was six times as long as the average length of the articles Wikipedia had in its first year. We actually added more words in our first year than Wikipedia did in its first year, and now have about 6 million words.

"Citizendium's articles don't differ greatly from their Wikipedia counterparts; often, there are only minor editorial changes."

This is, again, provably false. In fact, we have more articles in the database than the 5,400 we take credit for; we do not include in that number the articles copied from Wikipedia to which we did not make significant changes. Moreover, we delete Wikipedia-sourced articles that do not undergo significant change. Most of our articles (I don't have the percentage ready to hand, but I think it's something like 60 to 70 percent) are original to us. By policy we discourage people from copying from Wikipedia. Not only are we growing, our growth has been accelerating very nicely on multiple measures -- number of active contributors, number of articles started per day and so forth. Acceleration is the opposite of "stumbling."

"First, their models of contributor/expert collaboration are cumbersome and laborious, which makes it hard to get anything done."

This claim does not describe the Citizendium community at all. The model of collaboration is the same as that used by Wikipedia: again, just look at our recent changes page. When we say that editors and authors typically work shoulder-to-shoulder in a bottom-up collaborative process, we mean it! That's how it works, and it does work quite well. That's why the project has grown as well as it has in its first year. That's why it's accelerating.

"Second, their models, which merge old- and new-paradigm encyclopedia publishing, are uncomfortable marriages. They insist upon old-paradigm authority and stability, yet they are trying to work within a new paradigm, which discounts old school authority and dismisses stability."

This represents a deep confusion on Mr. O'Leary's part: He has not even made an effort to try to understand how the marriage might actually be taking place. He did not observe that only 50 of our articles are approved so far (mind you, that's a statistic we will soon be making changes to improve). Even those articles are not "stable" in the sense that no one can improve them; in fact, our approved articles are often improved in the attached "draft" pages, which anyone can contribute to. It is extremely misleading to lump Citizendium in with Veropedia.

The Citizendium is more active by about two orders of magnitude. We now average well over 500 edits per day, have 40 to 50 different editors and authors working on the Web site each day, and over 200 different contributors each month. By contrast, Veropedia does not use named, verified experts, as Mr. O'Leary would have discovered if he had done minimal research. Moreover, it features only a dozen of log entries per day, and these are not "edits" but simply someone copying an article over from Wikipedia. The Citizendium is another whole kettle of fish. I believe Mr. O'Leary and this publication owe the many fine contributors to the Citizendium an apology for this hatchet job. Frankly, due to its many hostile, ill-informed misrepresentations, it verges on libel.

--Larry Sanger, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of Citizendium


EBAY UNFAIR TO SELLERS!!

With the new feedback system proposed at eBay that the seller may no longer leave negative feedback for a buyer, we as sellers are sitting ducks for any thief and con artist.

Our final fees will soon be calculated on our feedback rating. With this new system and the buyer having the power to lower your feedback score, we will either have to agree to lose money to a con artist or to eBay in our selling fees. Either way, the seller loses. The buyer will lose also because the seller will have to raise prices to cover the costs of the new fees.

And also, they have created another hurdle for the seller in that they must be registered with PayPal -- which is owned by eBay -- and take the risk of funds being frozen according to their feedback scores and what PayPal determines to be a risky transaction.

So now, the seller sells an item and is paid for the item through PayPal. (The seller) must ship the goods to the buyer and possibly wait 21 days to actually receive payment for the item. Who do you think pays the shipping charges for this item??? Not eBay, Not PayPal!! The seller. Then, as a seller, I risk that they may file a claim on this money and PayPal will refund them, so I've lost my merchandise, packaging materials and also the shipping charges!! Now this sounds like a con artists' playground. Personally, that is a risk that I am not willing to take -- me, along with thousands of other sellers and buyers on eBay. We are banding together -- strong, and with a vengeance.

The boycott is scheduled for Feb. 18-25, and many -- like myself -- are moving completely away from eBay over this. I am already registered with another online auction and will be spending the next week preparing for the big move. Goodbye to eBay!!

We have taken the fee increases over the last year and just sat quietly not saying much, but this has totally gone too far. The boycott of eBay is real!! We are talking about people's livelihoods being messed with. As both a buyer and a seller on eBay, I feel that I can speak fairly.

--Debi Pieraccini


TRICKED-OUT KNEE BRACE GENERATES POWER WHILE YOU WALK

TechNewsWorld is presumed to be cutting-edge. This knee brace generator -- which three universities are trying to develop -- is cumbersome and already antiquated. It's old hat already.

Just read Bill Bryson. He accomplished this a long time ago! All you need is to wear the right boots. Very good for armies, and all other "techies."

Sincerely,

--John Turnbull


FTC SHOULD APPROVE MICROSOFT'S BID FOR YAHOO

If the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has consumer interest in mind, it will approve Microsoft's bid for Yahoo, should Yahoo choose to move forward with the deal. The new firm would be able to put tremendous pressure on online ad leader Google, forcing margins for both companies down while either saving money for advertisers, increasing payouts to content creators or both.

A stronger competitor to Google in the market means a richer Internet and innovative new technologies -- things we all want.

--Cord Blomquist, Competitive Enterprise Institute


WHY DO YOU KEEP QUOTING ROB ENDERLE?

Rob Enderle has been wrong so many times that it is appalling that anyone continues to give him the status as an expert. If you want a list of his errors, I will be glad to give it to you.

In your "Are Toshiba's Price Cuts HD DVD's Swan Song?" article, he promotes downloads over Blu-ray, but later says that there could still be a miracle for HD DVD. What happens if the miracle comes? Then downloads AREN'T the way to go? Enderle is CLEARLY biased against anything Blu-ray. He is NOT an impartial observer.

--William Roberts


Letters to the Editor - Main
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