Readers weigh in on . . .

Re: Straighten up and type right (Oct. 14)

Real-world experience for you here, so I thought I’d share and you get to have a laugh at my expense.

I recall your story about

this when it was first published and thought ‘Yeah, we have someone here who could help me, if I needed some,’ and I went on my way. A couple of weeks later I have someone in my office and we are hashing out some details on screen and crunch! My keyboard tray drops to my knees.

I call up the folks who put in the cubicle furniture, and the friendly woman tells me she has a spare she can send over to replace the cheaper one installed two years earlier; I’m grateful, since this is way more than I thought would happen. Then she tells me that it will be about eight weeks to install it!

Ack, eight weeks –– because of the lack of carpenters! I don’t know if my right arm can take it, so I let her know, and she replies that she will add a note that it could turn in to a lost-time injury if not installed. Today is Monday and now my back is giving me problems — break out the Advil!

I just might do some of my own carpentry work with the replacement sent over.

Stephen Alexander

Re From the picket line to Government On-line (Oct. 13)

You imply that the average citizen can apply for a passport online. You cleverly state, “”but many of the more routine public sector transactions have been moved online since PSAC last had to renegotiate wages. EI, passport, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security forms are all available at the click of a mouse.””

This statement is very cleverly constructed in that you say first that routine public sector transactions have been moved online, but then go on to say that . . . forms are all available. Very well delivered. Effective, and supports your premise.

In fact you cannot get passports on line, but you can pick up the forms and mail them in! It is close, but no cigar. Just thought I would set this straight for ya! If at some point the Passport Office does decide to come on line, drop me a line as we would love to offer the service in our province to assist the Feds.

Gary B. Wood

Re From the picket line to Government On-line (Oct. 13)

Good article on the GOL initiative and the strike. I have a thought for you.

I recently claimed EI for the first time. My application was made on one of about 10 online machines in my local office. As you noted, it then took a month and a half for people to screw up the process before I got paid.

By comparison, I went online to register my consulting business for GST–– the entire process took 20 minutes.

Is there any correlation between one process paying out money and the other taking it in? Or am I cynical ?

Keep up the good work.

Graham Howe
Sales and Marketing Manager
Synetic Data Storage Management Group

Re From the picket line to Government On-line (Oct. 13)

You know if the working world continues the way you want, we all will need EI forms every six months.

In your last paragraph you suggest that the government can strike back at its own workers with tons of work. It is a stupid statement. The work won’t be done any faster or slower than usual. Even if everything was online, if there is no one working, who will pay for all of it?

Believe it or not, PSAC members do care about how good a job they do. We care about each other and our clients as well. We are not layabouts, like most of the public believes.

The reason for the strike in the first place was because Treasury Board delayed bargaining for almost a year. Believe me, none of us wants to be on strike.

Maybe when you lose your job when you’re over 45 you will understand where I am coming from.

Gerry Mawdsley

Re: Microsoft opens up to Canadian governments (Oct. 15)

Please clarify for your readers that Microsoft “”Open”” code is not at all the same as Open Source. In fact, they couldn’t be further apart. When Microsoft opens its source code, they do so only under the most stringent non-disclosure conditions. Citizens are not allowed to see the conditions of the non-disclosure agreement, which may contain clauses which prevent employees who work with Microsoft source code from ever working on true open-source projects.

Even if this clause doesn’t exist, government employees with access to Microsoft code can likely never work on open-source projects again because they could be targets of false accusations of copyright infringement. These accusations are costly to defend against and difficult to disprove. This, combined with the fact that copyright law is, more and more, operating upon an assumption of guilt rather than innocence, creates immense risks for anyone working with Microsoft source code.

With Microsoft shared source, moreover, you don’t have the right to modify the source code to improve it, a key freedom which all open- source licenses preserve. Nor do you have the right to help others by sharing copies of the software. Both of these rights are preserved when using software like OpenOffice ( or Firefox ( See for an explanation of the other important freedoms which true Free Software preserves.

This gesture on the part of Microsoft has nothing whatsoever to do with Free/Libre Open Source Software and everything to do with extending and entrenching an abusive monopoly.

Syd Weidman

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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