Readers weigh in on . . .

Re: Edmonton says its educated workforce won over Dell (July 20)

As an employer, taxpayer and Canadian company dealing in computer support and sales for nearly 20 years, I take issue

with the Alberta Government and City of Edmonton’s logic in offering millions of dollars in gratuitous tax and lease incentives to a hostile foreign competitor.

Dell innocuously calls their new Edmonton facility a “”Customer Contact Center.”” However, the true purpose of the facility is to SELL HARD, in exchange for the aforementioned allowances, to all three levels of Government which can be conveniently accessed right here in Edmonton in one simple deal.

Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with fair competition, a level playing field and will gladly bow to the better man. But, since all three levels of government are backing this project, it is a foregone conclusion where any bids or tenders will be awarded. The ripple effect will be that consultants, VARs, retailers, system builders and distributors will suffer – not just in Edmonton, but across Alberta and the country.

If the City of Edmonton and the province are going to sell out, the least they can do is be honest about the manner in which it is being done. Let’s not sugarcoat the issue. Dell is here to aggressively sell direct.

Edmonton is thirsty for big business at any cost. Politicians have only dollar signs in their eyes and to heck with the local businesses that Dell will displace in the process. If more people truly understood this industry, there would be a much wider understanding of the damage that has just been done.

Darryl Schmidt
Patch Computers Ltd.

Re: Broadband hopes stalled as Anik-F2 launched delayed (July 12)

Never mind Internet users in remote locations, I live in Hockley Valley, 80 km northwest of Toronto, and just three km outside of Orangeville, Ont., a town of 25,000. I cannot get any kind of high-speed Internet — not cable and not DSL. And, as I teach online, I desperately need high-speed access. Therefore, I hope Anik-F2 will be launched soon. Increasing numbers of “”baby boomers”” are escaping the cities to live in the country, and we need high-speed Internet access!

Alex Kuskis

Re: Broadband hopes stalled as Anik-F2 launched delayed (July 12)

I’ll be happy to assemble distance learning content for use on this bandwidth!

Rob Mainwaring
Devant Interactive Media

Editor’s note: The Anik-F2 was successfully launched on July 17 after several delays.

Re: Father of Visual Basic begs: Stop the insanity! (July 9)

Finally, someone who agrees with me!

As a developer of over a decade, it has been very difficult to explain to other developers that we are a service-oriented group of people. Our applications’ purpose should be to serve the user, not to tout our programming ability. What good is a piece of software that can do everything but no one can figure out? I remember reading an article reviewing pepper grinders. There was one that looked great, cost an arm and a leg and yet no one could figure out how to use the thing!

Whenever I start developing an application I automatically think who is going to use it. My first assumption is that (don’t think that this is derogatory in any way) anyone who uses my programs is an idiot. I assume very little or no computer experience on behalf of the users that use my applications. With this in mind design an application with the interface in mind. Functionality and ease of use must go hand-in-hand in order for anything — software, cars, pepper grinders — to be of any use. Take either one out of the equation and you get something that will never get used.

I don’t know if Cooper’s book touches on this, but an excellent interface also reduces the need for a highly technical user guide. We all know how we sometimes dread clicking on the Help button. We either get something that instantly makes sense or we search endlessly looking for the right answer, probably passing over it because it was too confusing. A great, intuitive interface that makes sense almost reduces the need for manual, or even help, to nil. The manuals I write are generally bloated with images and very little text. I avoid techie stuff like the plague.

Thank you and keep up the great work!

Cameron Dyck
Systems Analyst/Programmer
Statistics Canada

Re: Father of Visual Basic begs: Stop the insanity! (July 9)

It’s an interesting concept — creating biographies of probable users of a product-in-progress, describing their needs and skill sets, then tailoring the interface and feature set to their needs. Developers don’t think of a hypothetical generic “”user”” when they’re designing a feature — they think of Sue the clerk, or John the executive, or Betsy the graphic artist turned Web designer, whose lives they have looked at and learned. They run through scenarios of typical usage for each persona, and through this determine the best features and the most effective interface for the target audience.

Ralph T. Gerwing

Re: Father of Visual Basic begs: Stop the insanity! (July 9)

Good article by Lynn Greiner. Well done.

Ian Davis

Letters to the editor must include the writer’s name and company name along with an e-mail address or other contact information. All letters become the property of Editors reserve the right to edit submissions for length and content.

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