ON LIGHTER LAPTOPS AND DROOPING DRIVES
In your comprehensive report on the current state of laptop computers ("Annual guide to computers," Cover Story, Nov. 4), there is no discussion of how much the various laptops weigh--which is an essential element when you're lugging one around. For a year, I used a laptop that weighed 12 pounds with all the necessary accessories. It was a nice computer, but it was far too heavy for a traveling woman carrying a handbag and carry-on suitcase in addition to the computer.
Now, with a new laptop--weighing in, undressed, at 4 1/2 pounds--my shoulder doesn't suffer for days following my trips. A computer that's too heavy is no help to anybody.
I found your review of Iomega's Zip drive far too rosy. I'm an admitted propeller-head, but I made a mistake when I fell for the marketing of the Zip drive. Its claims were impressive--fast access, 100 megabytes of removable storage, and portability with the external parallel model. So I went ahead and bought one.
Very shortly after trying to use the product, however, I found out that the drive was as slow as any floppy drive when you factor in the seek time and that initialization required for each read/write session. And it requires you to reboot your computer before you add or remove the drive. This was definitely not plug 'n' play. The last thing I want to do is reboot the computer every time I want extra drive space or access to stored files.
Furthermore, you shouldn't even try to use backup software with the Zip drive unless your backup software allows you to estimate how much disk space you will need. When the disk in the Zip drive fills up, the backup program in Windows 95 reports that the drive won't accept another disk and trashes the 100 megabytes of data already saved. Then it's necessary to start over.
The drive would be a much better product if Iomega added plug 'n' play, increased speed, and added a power switch to the unit. (Currently, you have to unplug the power adapter to turn it off.) Ranking the drive for usability, I would give it a C-.
Sterling, Va.Return to top
WHY LOW JOBLESSNESS DRIVES UP PRICES
Kuttner is unconvincing and terribly misguided in his attempt to discredit the model of a "natural rate" of noninflationary unemployment ("There's nothing `natural' about 5% unemployment," Economic Viewpoint, Nov. 4). He cites the prevailing low inflation rate. He suggests that inflation is not likely to percolate through the economy--despite a tightening of local labor markets--because the prices of consumer goods are set globally.
Outside the ivory tower--out where the rest of us live--only a minority of consumer expenditures are for items that are tradable. Prices for housing, health care, child care, restaurants, dry cleaning, and many other things are set locally. The cost of dry cleaning a shirt in Mexico City, or of a meal in Manila is irrelevant to price levels for corresponding purchases in the U.S.
As local labor markets continue to tighten, wage levels will surely rise, and we consumers will find that our dollars buy less of the goods and services we consume on a daily basis.
San FranciscoReturn to top
EXPORTS CREATE JOBS FOR U.S. WORKERS
Your excerpt from Michael J. Mandel's book The High-Risk Society (Oct. 28) incorrectly links growth in exporting to the increase in worker anxiety in America. In fact, the opposite is true. Companies that export are providing not only a catalyst for growth in our economy but also a raft of stability for workers.
Exporting plants are 9% less likely than others to shut down. They generate jobs almost 20% faster. And they compensate their employees up to 10% more than comparable nonexporting companies, according to a study by the Manufacturing Institute.
While entering a foreign market can be risky and uncertain, the rewards are many. Most important, as barriers to trade come down, the ability to compete and succeed in the global marketplace will be essential for workers' prosperity. Rather than being at greater risk, export workers have a crucial leg up on the career ladder.
Howard Lewis III
WashingtonReturn to top