It was nice doing business with my Eee
I consider myself a business user, and I just took my Asus
Eee on a business trip to the
I could read my email, I did a presentation using it, I typed documents, I accessed documents remotely, I backed files up over the internet, I video-Skyped with the family at home, I listened to the BBC World Service in the morning, I watched films on it in the evening, and I listened to MP3s on it while I was working at my desk in my hotel room.
When I returned to my regular laptop, I found its keyboard felt stretched. The only thing I missed was the page-up and page-down keys.
The Eee has got a small screen, but that is the only real compromise, I felt. Even so, it never got in the way of getting work done. Although it has not got as much in the way of storage – 4GB, to be precise – this can easily be rectified. I bought a 4GB SD card for E20, which is always in it, and had a 4GB USB stick with me as well. That is a lot of memory, and it is going to be a while before I need to actually use the SD card.
PC firms are power crazy
Like many people these days, I am trying to be more environmentally-friendly in my IT buying decisions. With this in mind, imagine my surprise when I discovered how much a brand new Dell Optiplex 755 consumes if it is off: 34W (Green IT still has a long way to go, 11 February). I immediately tested an Optiplex GX240, thinking how much worse an older machine was going to be. It was actually better at only 14W.
The new Dell 755 has a Bios option called Low Power Mode, which is set to “off” by default. According to Dell, “This field determines how aggressive the system is at conserving power while in hibernate mode or when turned off.” I tried this, but the machine still uses 34W just waiting to be turned on.
Another discovery I made was that the power button on Dell LCD monitors makes absolutely no difference to its standby consumption. To save the 14W that the 17in panel consumes while off, you have to turn it off at the mains.
It certainly seems that the biggest PC manufacturer has not taken the green IT call to heart.
The road to CIO success
The analogy of chief information officers (CIOs) reaching a “fork in the road” is a severe underestimation of the situation (CIOs approaching a fork in the road, 11 February). The debate is no longer about which direction to take, as the IT chief must adopt a business-focused role to ensure continued growth.
With information systems becoming increasingly embedded in business operations, the role of the CIO will gain in importance. It is imperative the CIO has a presence on the board, to allow greater transparency and improved collaboration in shaping the future of the company.
There is no “fork in the road”. However, there is a path of integration and business alignment. Otherwise, there is a dead-end, down which too many IT projects and too much thinking is currently backed up.
Lindsey Armstrong, Salesforce.com
Why Microsoft wants Yahoo
I think the extermination of a useful and proven competitor to Exchange is the prime motivation for Microsoft with its Yahoo bid (Zimbra at risk from Microsoft bid, 11 February). And if it succeeds, we will stay stuck in the IT dark ages, paying endless licences based on a model of intellectual property rights that will hold us back for decades.
All we need is simple software that works. Complicated software breaks down all too often and requires an army of “professionals” to administer to it. So, no vested interest there, then.
Time to voice opinions on fibre
As a network manager who has been frustrated at the lack of a BT dark fibre service, and staggered at the cost differentials charged by BT for differing services provided over its fibre, I was intrigued to read Bill Pechey’s article (Ofcom casts light on dark fibre, 28 January).
I urge every network manager in the country who has ever used a BT fibre-based service to deliver connectivity between sites to submit their feedback to Ofcom and to hopefully bring about cost-effective access to the BT fibre network.
This would enable BT to provide fibre point-to-point connections that are as simple to use as the fibre backbones many organisations have within their buildings, offering gigabit and upwards connectivity between sites. The user would then be able to send what they like over the connection, rather than being tied into the speed and data type BT dictates.
Holy Grail of mobiles
The Holy Grail of handhelds is to have one device that can be carried in a pocket, with a screen good enough to view a quarter of an A4 printed page, and can be used for almost anything a mobile phone or a PC can be used for (The internet gets local in 2008, 4 February).
The iPhone shows the way screens can go, but my XDA Orbit has so many facilities that its shortcomings in the screen area can be forgiven at present. It has a radio, browser, email, Wi-Fi access, spreadsheet, MP3 player, GPS receiver, phone and contact manager.
The other most important feature with these devices is that you can forget you are carrying them. This is the reason why the first XDA was not popular: it really was a brick. If this issue is fully understood, and all the functionality mentioned in Phil Muncaster’s article is included, then this would be the ultimate device.
If the manufacturers of the XDA devices switch to an operating system like the iPhone’s Mac version, and retain all the functionality they already have, then I think Microsoft may have a few worries. If, as your article implies, the mobile phone becomes the major vehicle for IT functionality, and therefore for operating systems and software – as I suspect will happen – then Microsoft should worry even more.
UMPCs are too pricey
In response to your concerns about the current wave of small and light PCs (Small may be beautiful, but not for laptops, 4 February), my goal is to replace my hefty HP nx7400 with a lightweight but still capable alternative.
I am interested in the concept of ultra-mobile PCs over mobile, smartphone and PDA alternatives, but need to be convinced of the performance both in terms of battery life and also connectivity. The OQO e2 seems to be going in the right direction, except for the price.
Lessons for web retailers
Top retailers that continue to offer inaccessible web sites are failing to understand the fundamental difference between online and high-street shoppers (Top sites fail to offer easy access to all, 28 January).
The gulf is vast. Online shoppers have far more opportunity to shop around. They can be far more selective, so web retailers have a much shorter time to attract them and engage with them.
The high street has now been replaced by the web as the most important retail channel, and firms need to reflect that by taking the challenge more seriously. Opportunities are clearly already being missed, and businesses must rethink and overhaul their web presence if they are to have a future.
Managing the process for designing, updating and running content on retail web sites does not have to be complicated. Retailers must realise it is not difficult, just different.
James Pavey, SDL Tridion
Curse of the domain name snatchers
Domain snatching is another scourge of the internet (Icann acts to stop domain name abuses, 31 January).
Royal Air Force (RAF) Gan had a very successful web site with thousands of hits. When the original domain name owner wanted to pass it on to another member of the team, the domain was snatched during the changeover by a domain sitter. The site is now just running adverts and no doubt getting payment from the advertisers for every unfortunate hit it gets from people looking for the original RAF Gan site.
We have publicised the incident as much as possible to stop people inadvertantly clicking on this bastardised site. I have no doubt that this happens frequently, and it does not do the internet any good.
Revenue data still at risk
Over two months after the initial child benefit fiasco, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is only able to accept self-decrypting files, which rather defeats the object (M&S staff data losses, 29 January).
I am trying to send a statutory return to HMRC which contains name, address, postcode, date and place of birth, and National Insurance number – great for identity theft or getting hold of a birth certificate, which then also gives your mother’s maiden name.
The Information Commissioner has just issued Marks & Spencer with an enforcement notice giving it until 1 April 2008 to complete encryption of all its laptops. Why doesn’t the Commissioner give HMRC 60 days’ notice as well?