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The Wal-Mart Way
If Wal-Mart CIO Linda Dillman really wants to do something about health care, she can have Wal-Mart quit selling all the junk food that does nothing but contribute to the problem ("No Quick Cure For Health-Care System," Oct. 24, p. 40). Offering giant bags of Cheetos and potato chips at discounted prices won't contribute to anyone's health.
I've been in health care for 24 years, and the No. 1 way we can reduce cost is to promote prevention. Instead of spending more money on IT, let's bring back more physical and health education to our schools and institute real (not token) wellness programs in the workplace. Most people in this country don't understand or care about prevention, so we'll continue to pay more and more.
Business Manager, Sutter Health,
We could save users from having to carry multiple identification devices with them if a universal standard were developed for inexpensive fingerprint readers that could be added or built into computers.
Controller, American Longevity,
Google's secret weapon is its no-frills Web site ("Office Politics," Oct. 10, p. 24). It's the only reason I use it.
Remember: Google wasn't the first search site. What attracted the masses to Google was its no-frills, fast loading Web-page operations. During the early days with lower bandwidth, it didn't take a lifetime just to load the home page, unlike AltaVista, one of the original search sites, and others today.
Over time, as Google added overhead, with ads and banners, it did so in nonintrusive ways. It was obviously becoming more of a problem, but it was still tolerable.
But now take a look at Google newsgroups. It's terrible with so much overhead and, hence, I use it less. The talk is already around. The mindshare is changing. Google is becoming a "bother" for users.
IT Lion Tamers
I love working in IT, but I'm afraid it's becoming what I saw when studying engineering and design ("The Most Important Job You'll Ever Hold," Oct. 3, p. 8). I took a field trip at my father's request. "Son," he said, "if you want to spend the rest of your life designing electrical things, then you might as well talk to someone that does it and get a feel for it."
Well, I did and I found that people came in wide eyed and zealous with a fire that was soon quenched by managers and supervisors unwilling or unable to let them create as they had dreamed they would. In fact, good ideas have been squelched because they were so good that they didn't promise a version 2.0 within the foreseeable future. It's all about money, and, though I understand that the WAN isn't a toy for us to play on, it's depressing to know that you could make it fly and have to watch it creep.
Yes I love IT--I just don't care too much for the bean counters who they've set over it. I once was a lion on the prowl for my own pride. Now I'm afraid I've become something much less threatening.
Bridge Builders Stephanie Stahl said, "Help wanted: College professors who can build curricula that help students studying computer science bridge their skills with other disciplines, such as biology, health care, and entertainment, to help feed those industries' hunger for innovative technology."
Several undergraduate programs in software engineering have been developed at universities throughout the United States for exactly that reason. We at Monmouth University, along with the faculties at Rochester Institute of Technology, Milwaukee School of Engineering, and Clarkson University, were among the first to offer such programs.
These programs provide students with science and mathematics courses and a good grounding in requirements engineering, architecture, design, verification, validation, and maintenance, as well as the basics of computer science. They also provide additional domain experience in a variety of areas. The faculty members who participate in teaching these software engineering programs typically have strong industrial backgrounds in a variety of applications areas.
Associate Professor and Chair,
Department of Software Engineering, Monmouth University,
West Long Branch, N.J.
My main frustration is the difficulty of configuration. With Windows, you install a program, if it needs any other software you're told about it, and you're given an offer to download it. In much open-source software, I've found that each package has different installation steps, you nearly always have to wade through manual editing of configuration files, and often a package relies on several other packages that are equally difficult to properly install and configure. I'm about to give up on trying to set up Linux for anything at work and might only use it occasionally in a "hobbyist" capacity at home.
Computer Systems Administrator, General Financial Supply
"Speak Up For The IT Career" should have said that one Marquette University professor is teaching a class in partnership with an Indian university, and another professor's class is developing a project with a software company (Oct. 3, p. 38).
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