Letters to Redmond
Readers Respond February 2005
Readers comment on January's Chief Concerns and Windows Insider columns.
PC Design, Accoona and Passport
I'm responding to the January 2005 Chief Concerns editorial. In regard to "The PC Blues
," Doug Barney states, "Wonder what sort of PCs we'd have if Dell and HP engineers were given free reign?" When the PC market was up and coming, you had numerous companies designing proprietary garbage. When IBM finally came to
the conclusion that maybe people would want a computer on their desks, everything suddenly became "IBM Compatible." The mentioned companies in the editorial design PCs for other operating systems as well. However, everyday people have a hard enough time with learning Windows—much less the different flavors of Linux or Unix. Also, imagine the nightmare for PC techs if companies went back to the days of liberal hardware designing.
As for wishing Microsoft Passport could give the content provider information it needs, utilize Internet Explorer's Profile Assistant. It works great.
In regard to Pfeiffer's new search engine Accoona, remember, "artificial intelligence" means "not real smart."
—Michael D. Alligood
I read Doug Barney's "The PC Blues." I agree with him on the hardware and Passport comments. It's a shame that eBay is dropping support for Passport. The Pitchman Bill Clinton section caught my attention as well.
I tried Barney's test but with a different flavor. I use Google a lot as a system integrator so I wanted to see how Accoona would compare.
I did a search on both engines for Microsoft Active Directory Application Mode. Google came up with more than 618,000 hits while Accoona had over 59,000. While the Google search had more hits, they consisted of a lot of help wanted ads, press releases and a ton of extraneous information—a lot of pages to go through. I did find that the Accoona hits were more in line with relevant information. However, the SuperTarget did not help one bit. Just selecting the Web was where I was able to come up with the 59,000 hits.
The Google advanced search is better than Accoona SuperTarget, as the original search for Microsoft Active Directory Application Mode on Google provided a lot while Accoona's hits provided little of relevance (same as the Monica search).
Both search engines provide a lot of information but the bottom line is that if you don't search with the right word or phase, you get garbage.
Both Google and Accoona are tools that should be in the IT workers' toolbox.
I read Doug Barney's commentary about Microsoft's Passport. I agree that it does make things easier.
My biggest challenge these days is Password management. I have accounts on work PCs, Home PCs, Hotmail, Yahoo, eBay and numerous online group accounts, not to mention all of the software support accounts. I have frequent flyer accounts, hotel points accounts, credit card accounts and even at least one frequent-dining account!
Some accounts let me use simple text passwords, others require the use of uppercase and numeric characters. Plus, they must be 10-16 characters in length! Some accounts I need to change my password every 90 days and others have remained the same for the past decade.
I have so many accounts and so many passwords that I know my accounts are well protected. They're so well protected, I have trouble accessing them myself!
For many of the accounts I use so infrequently I have finally gotten smart. I don't even attempt to submit my account name and password. I just select the tab that says, "Forgotten your account or password?" For most situations this works great. Once in a while you fill out another form with personal details, mother's maiden name, place of birth, etc., only to get a message that they'll send you a new password through the postal service.
The postal service?
It's no wonder some businesses are having trouble staying afloat! We can't get at their Web sites to buy from them!
Solution in Hand
I found a number of the articles in this magazine's predecessor to be very helpful and that has continued to be the case so far.
I particularly appreciated the article, "Linux-Windows Single Sign-On" [Windows Insider, January 2005], which is something I had been working on in my lab environment. It will be good to have that solution in hand, as I see the recent surge of interest in Firefox as a gateway to Linux desktops, particularly among our technical staff.