Readers weigh in on…

Re: Visa to issue passwords through Canadian banks (Jan. 13)

Isn’t this really a false sense of security? If a site is already using appropriate security, then what difference does

it make whether I pass one piece of data (credit card number) or two pieces of data (credit card number and password).

Most security is defeated not by hackers grabbing encrypted data in transit, but rather by finding credit card numbers on your personal machine or the receiving company’s system. If they can find a credit card number, then adding a password seems to be of minor extra value.

As a consumer I should understand that I need to protect my data and that I should only enter personal data through sites that are secure and that I feel I can trust with my data once they have it on their system. Another password (that I have to remember) isn’t going to make me feel better about making online purchases.

Brian Eley

Re: The new laws of computing (Jan. 7)

Is it possible that Ray Tomlinson also exists/existed as Lily Tomlin who before she was the “”Incredible Shrinking Woman”” was the lady from “”the telephone company”” on Laugh-In — a show much before its, and probably your, time.

Paul Alton
Maintenance & engineering manager
Millar Western Pulp (Meadow Lake) Ltd.

Re: The new laws of computing (Jan. 7)

I just read your column and you are absolutely right. I’m a veteran of the computer industry with more than 25 years experience and I have seen its growth from just about the beginning.

I have worked in several departments throughout my career and one of the things that never stops amazing me is the fact that the bigger and complex the IT department, the more inefficient they become.

We supposedly replaced paper with electronic information but we are already leaving huge amount of “”virtual garbage”” all over the place such as e-mails, out-dated information, old Web sites, etc. This “”virtual garbage”” which is very real is creating an alarming growth in the misuse of resources, so let’s get the “”virtual brooms”” out and start cleaning house.

Jose Alberto Cabrera

Re: The new laws of computing (Jan. 7)

I have one for you. My work companion Ken Tower said in 1988, “”The computer you really want always costs $5,000.”” Call it Tower’s law. It stil holds true today, even with the sub-$500 computers of today. Of course, that’s only in Canadian dollars. It might be translated into US$3,000.

Daryl Fuller
PMO analyst
NCS Project Management Office

Re: The new laws of computing (Jan. 7)

Here’s a couple for you…

The number of typos or wrong keys you hit multiplies exponentially by the number of people that are watching you type. If it’s your boss or some other equally influential watcher, the exponent doubles.

If you are demonstrating a new piece of software, the chances of hitting that one bug in the software increases exponentially depending on to whom you are demonstrating. If it is to a room full of influential buyers, the chances of finding the bug are 100 per cent and the chances of finding more than one are nearly as good.

No matter how much effort and planning goes in to any project, something will always go wrong. You hope you’ve planned enough that it can’t be blamed on you.

Cynthia Lebeuf

Re: Readers weigh in on… (Jan. 10)

Concerning the response from Walter Reid to “”The engineers among us”” (Dec. 13). I would like to point out that on Sept. 7, 1999, Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO), the licensing and regulating body for professional engineers in Ontario, issued a news release, “”Engineering Association Embraces Software Practitioners,”” that announced that PEO will license, as professional engineers, software practitioners who meet specific criteria.

Since then, individuals whose work experience is mainly in the area of software design and development, but whose academic background is in something other than an accredited computer engineering or other information technology-related engineering program, have been eligible for licensure, provided they meet other licensing requirements. PEO followed up this release with paid advertising in IT industry publications encouraging software practitioners to seek licensing, and we have licensed several hundred software practitioners as professional engineers.

The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of British Columbia announced a similar initiative at about the same time.

PEO’s requirements for a P.Eng. licence for software practitioners include:

  • Graduation from an engineering program approved by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), or equivalent education;
  • Four years suitable employment experience – applicants without an appropriate degree may demonstrate more extensive work experience in place of education, or may be required to write examinations;
  • Knowledge of Control Theory, Mathematical Foundations, Digital Systems and Computer Architecture, Software Design and Programming Fundamentals;
  • Knowledge of three of Communications, Optimization, Data Management, Real Time and Control Systems, Performance Analysis, Parallel/Distributed Systems and Man-Machine Interface; and
  • Successful completion of the Professional Practice Examination (PPE) on engineering law and ethics.

Your readers may also be interested in learning that accredited programs in software engineering now exist at McMaster University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Western Ontario, Lakehead University, the University of Calgary and Concordia University. Graduation from any of these programs would fulfill the academic requirements for licensing as a professional engineer, leaving software practitioners only the experience requirement to fulfill and PPE to pass to receive their P.Eng. licence.

Under Ontario’s Professional Engineers Act, only individuals licensed by PEO may take responsibility for professional engineering in the province, or use the title “”professional engineer,”” its abbreviation “”P.Eng.,”” or any other occupational title that may lead to the belief that the individual is entitled to practise professional engineering.

Readers who want to learn more about the software engineering issue are invited to visit PEO’s software engineering page, accessible from the homepage of PEO’s Web site at

Roger F. Barker
CEO and registrar
Professional Engineers Ontario

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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