TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Vonage Sued to Quit Using Verizon Patents

Re: Vonage Sued to Quit Using Verizon Patents
12 Apr 2007 14:15:47 -0700

On Apr 12, 9:58 am, (Scott Dorsey) wrote:

>> As a motorist, do I need to know how fuel injection works? If the
>> injectors get clogged, I have no idea how to safely clean them or
>> even how to access them. Do I really need to know?

> Yes, you do, because things go wrong. And when things go wrong, if
> you don't know what is inside the box, you can't even make informed
> decisions about repair work done by other people.

But in reality, so often to make an "informed decision" requires far
more knowledge than is practical to have. We can't be detailed
specialists in everything. Say I take my car in for repair because it
is running rough. If the mechanic blamed the power steering. I might
question it, but perhaps a leak in the steering pump might possibly
drain off power to cause a problem. The point is that rough running
could be from any number of problems. Without knowledge, experience,
and diagnostic tools, it's hard to know what's what.

When I bought my last car, I also bought the professional shop manual
for the very reason you describe. It was worthless to me. I didn't
have the tools they called for, I didn't have the ability to do the
tests or adjustments they called for. (How does one unscrew a stuck
screw? I don't know.) I had several problems that weren't identified
in the book.

With computers and the Internet, even experienced users have a trouble
because things have become so complex. Say I'm on the 'net and it
stalls. Screen is frozen. Is it my PC? If so, what in my PC? Is it
in the connection? If so, where in the connection (my phone line, the
phone company, the ISP, the sending site?) When this happens to me I
have some idea but usually I just wait and hope it fixes itself; at
worst, I reboot.

Someone whose job or hobby it is to set up Internet connections or PCs
probably would have some idea of the problem and know what tools to
use. Many correspondants in this newsgroup fit that category.

Keep in mind that today the computer world is quite specialized and
has been for many years. We have specialists on mainframes and
micros. We have specialists on client applications and systems
programming (ie compilers, and software installation and maintenance).
Networking. Databases. Hardware.

To put it another way, presumably a pediatrician could treat an 80
year man with heart disease, but it might not be the most effective

> I think at the very least you should be forced to demonstrate you can
> change your own oil before you are given a driver's license. When people
> don't have basic understanding of what is under the hood, they are apt to
> consider technology as magic, and this is very, very bad.

I began using PCs with DOS and the Internet with command style
prompts. I feel this background was very helpful to me in
understanding stuff (along with training and programming experience).
But the reality was that far too many lay people found DOS commands
too intimidating, getting the spelling of the command and its operands
exactly right and knowing which commands and operands to use. A lay
person would probably confuse the difference between MOVE [transfer
something to another place leaving nothing behind] and COPY [make a
duplicate of something in another place].

Lay people wanted to jump on the computer right away and download fun
stuff. They didn't want to know from backward slashes and normal
slashes; from dashes vs. underscores.

How "democratic" do we want computer usage to be? Ham radio operators
have to be licensed, they have to study and take a test before being
allowed on the air. Should computer users be required likewise?
Website hosts? I don't know the answer.

The sad part -- which validates your argument -- is that computer
crime exploits the weaknesses you are concerned about. The super
automation, instant executing macros and commands from a simple click,
has made it easy to sabotage and evesdrop.

I'm amazed that youth -- who would instantly run away if a stranger
approached them and asked personal questions -- freely distribute very
personal information while on-line.

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