Re: Linux users incensed over Royal Bank SCO investment (Oct. 20)

If I were a shareholder or investor in RBC I would seriously question their ability to make sound business decisions

with respect to their investments. It is obvious that they failed to do any prior corporate research into the company in which they invested their customers’ money.

The fact that they invested heavily in a company whose future is shaky at best makes one wonder what other shaky businesses they have invested in that will end up being written off as a loss at some future date.

How often do we read that it is extremely difficult for a small business owner to get a loan because the banks see a small business as a risky venture? Yet here is a company — which if anyone has been following the news, is a serious business risk — that gets not just thousands but millions of dollars from a bank that makes small business owners jump through hoops before lending so much as a dollar.

Quite frankly I think that RBC’s policies and practices should seriously be questioned and investigated.

Peter Zoeller

Re: Linux users incensed over Royal Bank SCO investment (Oct. 20)

I was amused by Shane Schick’s reporting about the “”shock”” and “”outrage”” that the pandering Canadian Linux community is showing in reaction to the Royal Bank’s decision to help SCO defend its intellectual property claims in court. Somehow, and by some unknown authority, Linux advocates have installed themselves as the moral vanguard on this issue, and they couldn’t be more wrong!

For Mike Gifford to say with a straight face that the Royal has made an irresponsible decision both “”financially and morally”” is to presuppose that he and the rest of the “”free as in free beer”” software community have any right whatsoever to play ball in a free market, capitalist economy! It’s completely laughable!

I for one hope that SCO succeeds because a lot more is riding on this court case than just the narrow interests of SCO to protect intellectual property. Business leaders would do well to remember — and perhaps this is why the Royal is so motivated — that every battle the Linux market luddites win, the more claim to any intellectual private property is lost.

I applaud the Royal for taking a stand, however it’s valued, to help SCO in its battle to defend intellectual property rights. I’m left wondering what believes in.

Chris Chapman

Re: Linux users incensed over Royal Bank SCO investment (Oct. 20)

As a Linux watcher from south of the border, I am curious as to how much RBC supported Corel’s Linux efforts. It would seem logical RBC should be eager to get behind a Canadian company.

John Bertelsen

Re: Linux users incensed over Royal Bank SCO investment (Oct. 20)

You know that RBC has committed to Microsoft for its main line service applications in a very big way. It would not surprise me that Microsoft had something to do with this.

Mark T. Dornfeld
Cyantic Systems Corp.

Re: Office 2003: A guided tour (Oct. 21)

I think that you need to catch up on the industry. The competition for Microsoft Office isn’t Corel these days, it’s StarOffice and the free software variant, OpenOffice.

Never mind the new features. Drawing on the same code base, both StarOffice and OpenOffice beat Microsoft Office on the fundamentals. They’re faster, more stable, and save to markedly smaller files. Their applications are almost seamlessly integrated compared to Microsoft Office’s. They have workable versions of features that have been broken in Microsoft Office for years. They’re also much cheaper: StarOffice runs US$75 for a licence for five computers, and OpenOffice is free and can be used on as many machines as you like. Neither of them come with product activation or the other restrictions.

I guess that old expectations die hard, but trust me: “”free”” no longer means “”low quality,”” and hasn’t for years. Why anyone would shell out for Microsoft Office and endure the licence that goes with it is beyond me.

Bruce Byfield

Re: Office 2003: A guided tour (Oct. 21)

Just what we need, more Microsoft bloatware. How about a stripped down version for those of us who, for whatever reason, need to use Microsoft Office but don’t need more than 10 per cent of what’s offered in Office 97? What about the bugs that still exist in older versions? I should change for a new raft of glitches? I think not.

W.J. (Bill) Taylor

Re: Office space (Oct. 20)

In the editorial, Shane Schick talks about Microsoft’s attempts to improve workflow for users. He says: “”The challenge in developing these applications is straddling the fine line between assisting users in their day-to-day tasks and merely interrupting them.””

Actually, the challenge is both bigger and simpler than that. Microsoft and other companies need to know what technologies have real growth value for workers, and which ones are smoke and sizzle. Then they need to make the effort to make the “”good stuff”” a lot easier than it is now. And finally, they need to keep the good stuff working in each new iteration of their software.

I used Office 2001 on a Macintosh and routinely imported text from a Nortel modular telephone system into Word. Word allowed me to quickly search and replace complex strings and create a useful list of who was assigned to which extension, and to what groups each subscriber belonged. A fast transfer to Excel, and my weekly telephone list for the company was ready.

Imagine my chagrin when I tried this in Office 2003, only to find that it no longer worked. Oh, the commands are there, but the process is broken; one can no longer search for a term beginning with some letter, some undetermined number of spaces and ending with any capital letter — the term to find some indeterminate number of a character just doesn’t work. There is no way around it.

So, will I update to a new version of Office for the Mac that offers me XML, coloured tabs in Excel workbooks, and 23 more PowerPoint templates? Not if my Search and Replace functions aren’t at least as functional as once they were.

And that, I think, is why Microsoft and other companies are finding it so difficult to sell upgrades. Maybe, like IBM, they need to look at the service side, and can keep cash flowing by preparing some really good training programs for useful facilities already in their software, and periodically upgrading specific functionalities. I’d bet it would make a lot of users happy.

I know I would be happier.

Rick McCormack
Imagistics B.T.T.

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