Feedback, April 7
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Thursday April 7, 2005
How will it wash?
Bobbie Johnson hit it on the head about why truly high-speed broadband is revolutionary (Making up for lost time, March 31). It isn't necessarily what you use the web for but how smooth, fast and stress-free it makes whatever you are doing. Think of dial-up as hand-washing clothes, and fast connections as the latest high-spin, high-speed automatic.
I was bemused, though, that you omitted two service providers, Freedom2Surf.net and Eclipse.net, which offer 2Mbps DSL monthly contracts from £14.99 per month. These deals are not only significantly cheaper than their nearest "capped-service" big-name rivals (Tiscali, Wanadoo, BT Basic, BT Yahoo) but just what newcomers to broadband need.
Bobbie Johnson should try asking BT for a 2Mbps broadband connection from my local exchange, and when it plans to make broadband available from this exchange. He also might consider asking the BBC when it intends to provide digital TV/DAB to this valley. Where is this village that is so far off the beaten track? Well, it is 17 miles west of Sheffield and 25 miles east of Manchester — hardly the back of beyond. Government policy on rural provision of broadband is a joke and BT is only interested in providing a service when it can extract profits from the hard work done by others.
I live in a relatively remote rural area and the small rural exchange to which my line is connected has been enabled for ADSL. Apparently, this means I have "access" to broadband. The reality is there are just three copper wires delivering services to the five telephone lines for four houses. Four lines have to be bundled on to two wires using line-sharing technology — ADSL doesn't run over this, so only one line of those five can carry broadband. My neighbour was lucky enough to be the first to ask for ADSL and he got it. BT has rejected my request as being "out of cost". What is worse is that our line is shared, so our maximum modem speed is almost halved.
The article would have been even more interesting if Bobbie Johnson had compared upload speeds.
Having just bought a new Dell desktop, I registered the pre-installed McAfee anti-virus and firewall with the McAfee website. Despite several reminders, McAfee didn't send the confirmation email to my registered email account. When I tried to download the latest security updates from its website, it wouldn't allow me as I was using Mozilla Firefox. McAfee insists you use Internet Explorer. It doesn't impress me as a credible computer security company if it insists you can only use what many think is the least secure browser. Needless to say, I have uninstalled McAfee and installed an alternative antivirus and firewall.
Your piece on the BrainShare conference (It's a race against time, March 31) states: "Novell executives give the impression that the Gnome and KDE open source desktop environments are not quite up to competing with Windows." How true. Why should they compete with an inferior product? Having used KDE for about a year, Gnome occasionally and Windows for more than a decade, I know which I prefer. In a Linux environment, I no longer have to click a Start button to halt my machine — just one example of its superiority.
Blogback reaction from the web
I'm a tremendous fan of Ben Hammersley (Second sight, March 31), but I think Google isn't really in danger of losing its superior footing. Just open Google's home page; now open Yahoo's. What do you see? Yahoo lacks the purity of purpose that is Google's strength.
We have fairly small incremental moves in the web space, with two megaliths (three if you include Microsoft) going in very similar directions. All have a token developer-friendly API, but the core applications are largely walled-garden systems. There's very little real innovation.
It's a great feeling knowing you never have to delete any emails (One year on, what has Gmail done for you? March 31). I never receive spam either, which has been a breath of fresh air.
Many people refuse to return even personal emails sent using Gmail because of the software that reads the contents of the Gmail. I think people might have accepted this five or six years ago, but people are too savvy now.