Apple offers more style than substance
I wholeheartedly agree with your review of the MacBook Air (Why notebook PC makers will be happy about the MacBook Air, 16 January). Even though the reviewer is obviously someone who would always plump for a laptop PC over a Mac, few could fault his findings.
Surely most people would agree that in terms of cost, specification and design, the MacBook Air is yet another example of an Apple system that is more style than substance. Mac users, however, will swoon over it.
Look at the iPhone. This device has as many faults as Newcastle United has had managers over the past few years, yet people still go out and buy it because it is a “cool” product with a “wow” interface that can do some “groovy” tricks.
Air falls short of brilliance
In response to the recent Labs Blog post (Why notebook PC makers will be happy about the MacBook Air, 16 January), I agree entirely with the comments. The screen is a bit on the small side, the colour is not as attractive as the snow-white colour or black anodised aluminium of earlier models, and the keyboard is also a bit disappointing.
I will not be buying one anyway. I might just go for the 24in iMac instead and the tiny snow-white iBook as well. The MacBook Air could have been brilliant but instead it is compromised. However, it does have a DVI port, which can be connected to the 20in and 23in Apple screens. That is its saving grace, along with the Wi-Fi.
The future of offshoring
I read with interest your article on the future of outsourcing (Predictions for 2008 outsourcing market, 14 January). I am delighted to see that companies are now recognising the position that we have advocated to our clients for some time. Outsourcing can no longer just be cheaper: it has to be better and to succeed all parties need to be strategically aligned and working towards a common set of business objectives.
Nonetheless, we would disagree with the implication that nearshore destinations will become increasingly attractive simply because of “the combined benefits of proximity and familiarity”. In an era of globalisation, there is no reason why the global delivery model should be affected by geographical proximity in itself.
As technical expertise becomes less of a differentiator, it is the soft skills and business expertise rather than the hard technical skills of an outsourcing vendor that need to become primary decision criteria for companies.
When faced with potentially wide geographical and cultural
differences, it is essential to focus on the human side of the business to
ensure the smooth running of the organisation. With 21st century communication technologies, there is absolutely no
reason why a successful outsourcing strategy for a
Mike Reid, managing director, Sapient
Proud to be a gamer
I enjoy gaming and have done for 20 years, but it is disappointing to see that once again I have been stereotyped as a sad, socially inept person who sits on their own in front of a screen for hours on end (Game on, 14 January).
It seems acceptable for people to sit in front of the TV for hours at a time watching the drivel that is pumped out. And would eyebrows be raised if I said I spent the entire day reading a book? But mention you spent the evening gaming on your console or PC and you are transformed into a sad loner.
I have met and chatted to people from all over the world through my PC and console and have learned more from playing games and chatting with them than I would from an episode of Eastenders.
Questions over Shell’s outsourcing plans
Shell may be missing out on the lowest-cost, best-of-breed approach, but one must remember that assembling a best-of-breed solution from diverse vendors presents a challenge that its management may not be up to (Rise of hosted IT spells gloom for outsourcers, 7 January).
By having three prime contractors as throats to choke, Shell may be able to better manage the process. The problem with this approach, however, is that the entities have been announced prior to completing commercial discussions. These vendors are very sophisticated and now have a significant advantage in negotiating the deal. Thus I would expect that final agreements, while comprehensive, will absolve the vendors of most of the responsibility for failure and for innovation.
Taking this approach means that there may be no throats to choke, compromising both quality of service and Shell’s ability to see substantial financial benefits from the outsourcing.
It is unfortunate that Shell and its advisers did not learn from the experience of those who came before and put together a more nuanced, creative approach to vendor selection and negotiation.
Is Enum’s number up?
While end devices do indeed use mnemonics for dialling, most of the infrastructure does not, and numbers are still critical to the placement of calls (Letters, 17 December). Enum – telephone number mapping – is a technology that works at the infrastructure level, connecting islands of VoIP. It does not work at the end-user device level. In fact, it is deliberately not intended to be used by people.
What it does do is let an enterprise that runs VoIP take control of its telephony in much the same way that it controls email. This is an important step that many enterprises are more than capable of taking.
To make the change that Simon Paton suggests is so close means much more than just the end devices changing, it means the entire infrastructure has to change. There are plenty of telecoms providers out there that still use PSTN extensively and will continue to do so for as long as possible. Even those operators that use next-generation networks still have support for numbering built into everything.
Jay Daley, Nominet
Admin options for Cranberry
In response to Justin Miller (Letters, 17 December), although the Cranberry Smart Client is delivered with its own deployment solution in the form of Embedded RES Wisdom, a customer does not need to use this software if they prefer to use Microsoft Active Directory. In fact, one of the things that makes a Smart Client “smart”, and different from a thin client, is that it can be administered by Microsoft Active Directory.
The Cranberry Smart Client integrates fully into the Microsoft infrastructure and provides the same level of control as the regular XP operating system. While a Smart Client will allow the deployment of an antivirus application in the same way as any other application, Cranberry would also suggest that antivirus software is not necessary due to the locked-down nature of the Smart Client device.
Simon Ponsford, Cranberry
OLPC rift will hurt children
Intel withdrawing support for the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) scheme is detrimental to the goals of the OLPC and the Classmate PC projects (Intel pulls out of OLPC, 4 January). Surely the losers will be the children who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of these machines?
Having a corporation going head to head with a non-profit organisation is surely against the point of all this. Intel is essentially trying to create a market by introducing a competitor, and that is a dangerous game – especially when the reason is being thinly veiled as good intentions.
This is gross profiteering by a firm putting its interests over those of children.
Greener IT: if Dell can do it, why can’t HP?
I was particularly interested in the power consumption figures reported in your HP desktop review (Vista-ready desktop saves on space, 3 December). Like you, I was shocked by the results. HP claims that “the dc7800 range is more energy efficient”. I hate to think what the rest of its kit is like.
We buy our PCs and monitors from Dell. Its equipment appears to be much more energy efficient than HP’s, and has been for years. We have found that a standard small-form desktop PC, for example an OptiPlex 745SF, uses between 59W and 72W, but typically about 60W in normal use. When on standby or turned off, it uses 2W. Hopefully, the newer 755 may be more efficient as it should have the more modern power supplies.
We are very concerned about environmental issues and are trying to do what we can to reduce our energy usage and hence our carbon footprint. One of the things that has irritated me is the huge power consumption values for PCs quoted by thin client device manufacturers. It would seem that they must have been using HP kit as their benchmark.
Barry Goodall, support manager, Royal Borough of Kensington and
Has Salesforce lost the plot?
With all the talk about Salesforce.com making huge steps, combined with them having the highest prices in the CRM marketplace, the firm seems to have forgotten about the small and medium-sized businesses for whom this software was first developed (Salesforce.com expands its horizons, 10 December).
Many smaller companies are back where they started, not being able to afford the necessary software solutions – well, this would be the case if Salesforce was the only CRM vendor on the market.
Luckily for small and medium-sized firms, vendors such as NetSuite, Salesboom.com and countless others provide a CRM solution many say is equal to or even better than Salesforce, but at a much smaller cost.
In-depth research is needed when choosing CRM software, as sometimes there are hidden costs that firms may not initially see. Most importantly, buyers need to consider storage limits and other limitations associated with features and applications, as these can lead to a much higher price then expected.