THE INTERNET: NOTHING TO E-MAIL HOME ABOUT
Your Special Report, "The Information Appliance" (Cover Story, June 24), must have been written by people who've never been on the Internet. Even when you're using a very high-speed personal computer that has the fastest modem available, lots of memory, and a huge hard drive, surfing the Net generally proves to be a frustrating experience.
The bottleneck is not the phone line or the PC. It is the Net itself. The Web is crowded, and there is no control over how many users can access sites or when. Rather than trying to come up with new gizmos, the visionaries ought to be concentrating on getting the Web to work more efficiently.
I've been on the threshold of buying a PC any number of times during the past year or so--but I have always said no to myself, mostly because nobody can tell me what it is that I can get off the Web that I can't get out of my daily paper, 40-50 cable channels, the public library, magazines, etc. Until they can, I'll just be a prospect--not a customer.
I read "The Information Appliance" with interest. What you are describing is, in essence, what we in data processing have had for decades: the mainframe (renamed "application server") and terminal (renamed "network computer").
Now, we see the migration back to centralized software servers, on the basis of cost, from the distributed environments so long heralded as the future of information processing. To borrow an adage from the French: "The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Geoffrey K. Wascher
Utica, Mich.Return to top
A NET THAT CAN'T KEEP SECRETS
In "Invoice? What's an invoice?" (Information Processing, June 10), you made only passing reference to the need for adequate data security for the future of electronic commerce. Burdensome federal regulations on data-scrambling technologies--also known as encryption--are threatening the privacy and viability of online communications.
Through unreasonably tight controls on the export of encryption products, regulators are preventing the widespread use of adequate encryption. As a result, hackers can easily break into the electronic messages of innocent people.
If financial data, such as credit-card numbers, are not guaranteed adequate security, then the full potential of the Internet and the Global Information Infrastructure may never be realized.
Computer & Communications
20 WashingtonReturn to top
REMEMBER WHAT THE `H' STANDS FOR IN HMO
Cheers to Paul Magnusson for his timely, informed suggestions on improving Medicare ("Give Medicare a shot of managed care," Government, June 24). As Magnusson explained, Medicare HMOs can produce dramatic improvements in administrative efficiency. But let us not focus on costs exclusively. It's important to explain that HMOs also offer enormous potential to improve the health of America's seniors.
Studies show Medicare HMOs offer better care to patients with high blood pressure and those who suffer heart attacks. Seniors give high marks to the extra benefits of HMOs--such as prescription drugs, eyeglasses, hearing exams, and vision screening--that are not covered by traditional Medicare.
In the long run, HMOs' record of improving seniors' health while preserving customer satisfaction will be a far more important measure of our success.
Patrick G. Hays
President and CEO
Blue Cross & Blue Shield Assn.
WashingtonReturn to top