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Caught on the hop by XP’s early retirement

I work for a systems integrator and a regular task is to source new workstations and notebooks from distributors to sell to our customers.

Since Microsoft’s April announcement about the end of life for Windows XP, we assumed that new machines with XP installed would be freely available until at least October or November, giving us plenty of time to help our customers ensure that their critical applications work with Vista, and that there would be no compatibility issues with Office 2007 (Will XP’s demise trigger Vista stampede? 7 May).

To our surprise, however, we have found in the middle of this month that the three distributors we trade with can no longer supply notebooks with XP Professional. As well as this, we have found that they have also stopped stocking the OEM version of Office 2003, which has put us in an extremely delicate position with our supported customers.

I appreciate that there should only be a finite time in which an operating system or application is supported, but although Microsoft has stated that XP will stop shipping in January 2008, that deadline seems to be a lot sooner for the distributors of this country.

Pete Mistry

May 28, 2007 in Software | Permalink | Comments (2)

Prepare for Office trouble

New software always excites me, so I was enthusiastic as I installed Office 2007 on my laptop. The machine offers more than enough grunt for my media applications, but sadly not quite enough to install Office in less than 15 minutes, plus one restart.

Next came a surprise when I double-clicked on a Word document and saw the familiar Office 2003 interface. A quick check showed that my “upgrade” had left a side-by-side install of both Office 2003 and 2007. So I thought: “I’ll just uninstall 2003 - what harm can that do?” Bad move. One uninstall and reboot left me with no working office software. Office 2003 is no more; Office 2007 is crippled by grief for its lost brother.

Another 15 minutes for repair, another reboot and at last I was ready to revolutionise my productivity. A report was due by the end of the week, so I clicked on the SharePoint library to retrieve the document, and IE crashed. Debugging showed a problem opening Office 2007 documents...

Can someone remind me why Office 2007 is better?

Sam McGeown

May 28, 2007 in Software | Permalink | Comments (0)

Visualising Wi-Fi threats

Further to your article (Firms urged to shore up their Wi-Fi defences, 7 May), the issue of wireless security is not going to go away. Existing technologies, such as 802.11i and Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), provide authentication and encryption against wireless attacks but do not provide a full graphical picture of who’s using the network, so firms need to go further to protect themselves.

Tracking the location of wireless devices in real-time enables businesses to track individual users on a network and assign appropriate access rights, differentiating between employees and guest users. A suitable map can show the physical location of users on the system and how they are using different access points, to help firms identify danger zones.

Mike Hong, Foundry Networks

May 28, 2007 in Wireless | Permalink | Comments (0)

Varied chip diet is good for IT

IBM’s upcoming Power6 chip, if it delivers on the 4GHz to 5GHz promise, will outperform all other processors in terms of speed, power consumption, and thermals. Martin Banks’ suggestion that it is an irrelevance is wide of the mark (IBM should ease off the hard stuff, 7 May).

Most applications today are still written as single-thread apps, so clockspeed remains important for many workloads. IBM’s innovation will put pressure on other chip makers to continue their efforts.

It is important that competition remains because if the industry consolidates down to just the x86 architecture, as Banks suggests, innovation will be stifled and we will all suffer.

David Andreson

May 28, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wi-Fi critics are cooking up a health scare

Dave Bailey’s article on the health risks of Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi health risks are clouded by static, 14 May) highlighted a major psychological aspect of the debate - the word “microwave” is loaded through its association with an unnatural kitchen device that can burn your dinner without the plate getting hot.

People are aware of warnings about keeping microwave oven doors sealed: these ovens and their radiation are clearly highly dangerous! Campaigners against Wi-Fi play on this. However, microwave ovens don’t actually have to work at 2.45GHz, they simply commonly do so because licence-free spectrum is available worldwide and because it’s easy and cheap to mass produce components at this frequency. Microwave ovens could work anywhere between about 1GHz and 5GHz, maybe higher.

The old hospital treatment known as diathermy, which employed deep tissue heating, operated at 27MHz. Crumbs, didn’t they use that for CB radio too?

I was taught that microwaves begin at 1GHz but US sources seem to prefer the VHF/UHF boundary at 300MHz. Nothing special happens at either point, and the word itself just means “tiny waves” - which they are, in the context of radio broadcasting. Compared with infrared or light waves, they’re enormous. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Martin Nicholson

May 21, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

Web 2.0 makes bad sites worse

I agree that many firms are not exploiting Web 2.0 strategies, but I’d question whether an increase in customer-generated content would actually make sites more user-friendly (Sites score poorly for usability, 7 May).

Many sites still have glaring faults, such as slow-to-load pages, highly confusing layouts, unnecessary advertising, and poor site availability. Prioritising Web 2.0 over fixing these fundamentals could make sites worse.

Jacques Greyling, Rackspace

May 21, 2007 in Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0)

Taxing times on the internet

Guy Kewney writes that the online car tax system works, but sadly it doesn’t (A rude awakening in the bank manager’s office, 7 May). If you purchase your tax disc on the last day of the month online you still have to wait up to five days for it to arrive - unlike buying your disc from a post office. You are not given a warning about the implications of the delay, but while you are waiting you are committing the offence of failing to display.

So if you do renew your tax disc online, do it promptly or be aware that you might commit a motoring offence.

John Aire

May 21, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

The balance of power at work

I believe that the UK’s near full employment is imposing increasingly punitive constraints on UK firms (IT job seekers want flexibility, 7 May). In a bid to attract and retain key skills, employers are allowing workers to dictate their own working practices, from flexi-time to remote working. For many firms this creates an untenable shift of power towards the employee that hits profitability.

Few firms have any idea what impact conceding to staff demands will have, because most have no visibility of the financial or service impacts of staffing decisions.

It is only by attaining true visibility of the implications of changes in working practices that UK business can begin to maximise workforce efficiency.

Steven Moore, Rostima

May 21, 2007 in Skills | Permalink | Comments (0)

Spam is not to ISPs’ taste

If Richard Parkins seriously thinks ISP’s welcome spam for its revenue-generating abilities, he must receive rather more than I do (Letters, 7 May). A single MP3 file at 4MB or so is equivalent to 4,000 1kB spam messages. If anyone’s ISP is tracking their usage so finely as to make 4MB a big deal, I strongly suggest they change ISPs.

Iain Laskey

May 21, 2007 in Spam | Permalink | Comments (1)

The climate change debate is far from over

In your BusinessGreen blog you dismiss the idea that cosmic rays might be a prime contributor to global warming (Why the climate change debate doesn’t matter anymore, 14 February). Your argument is that the 90 percent certainty in a man-made origin, expressed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), rendered any other theory irrelevant.

I have searched in vain for any direct evidence supporting the greenhouse idea. The latest report of the IPCC is particularly disappointing. While giving the opposite impression, it does not claim any evidence of a direct causal connection between carbon emissions and global warming.

Nevertheless, the conclusion that it is now 90 percent certain that human activity causes global warming is often attributed to the IPCC. I can find no mention of that figure, and wonder where on earth it could come from. There is absolutely no methodology offered or calculations shown to justify this level of confidence.

The science of meteorology is undergoing a dark age and those scientists who retain open minds deserve all the support we can give them.

John Gibbs

May 14, 2007 in Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

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