Mark Gibbs: Industry items to explain, kill or fix

Over the past few months and years, we’ve had all kinds of doodads added to our lives in the form of new and improved software and services, and what has it brought us? Often nothing other than more stuff to manage along with tears and heartache.

And there are things about the computer industry/PCs/networking that desperately need explaining away, killing off or fixing up, and no one is explaining, killing or fixing them. Or, at least, doing any of these things fast enough. So here’s my list of random things that I want to see changed, rethought or simply done away with:


Lock up and tidy up the Windows user interface. While I’m not sure exactly what a user version of Windows should look like, I know that today there is too much flash and not enough meat and potatoes, particularly for corporate environments. There are way too many things you can do and not enough IT control over how you do them. I want to see a way of really locking down the Windows user interface to Spartan elegance such that users can do their jobs and no more. I know there are tools that attempt to do this, but there’s nothing I’ve seen so far that really does what I think I want.


Ban instant messaging (IM). Sure, there are some places where this service seems to make some sense, but I’m still not convinced. I recently read an article extolling its virtues and one of the cases studies was some kind of commodities trading floor. The users in this business considered IM a boon because they can flag all the other traders when an item they are selling is out of stock. What a crock! If ever there was a need for custom software, this was it rather than the ad hoc-ism of IM.


Produce a user-friendly version of Linux for the desktop. Come on guys! I am so tired of all the whining about how we need to deep-six Windows and how Linux should conquer the world. Great! Do it. We all want to escape the dead hand of Microsoft (or at least get them worried and let them experience the thrill of competition), so let’s get moving. And if you can’t find me Linux analogues of all the apps I rely on under Windows, give me a workable and reliable Windows API emulation under Linux.


Control blogging. I have found a few of these personal Web logs that are interesting and even fewer that are entertaining. And only a couple that are both. But I have found, waded through and gagged over thousands that are streams of febrile semi-consciousness. We need some kind of rating system that will help me and other innocents stay clear of someone’s deranged Web log on his puerile life and thoughts. Perhaps you should be required by law to get a license before you can run a Web log and a review board would have to approve your content, otherwise you would have to stop immediately or risk going to jail. Yeah, yeah, I know such talk is sacrilege and I will probably get verbally strung up by hordes of outraged bloggers, but I can’t believe I’m the only adult willing to say to these people “get over yourselves.”


Persuade Hewlett-Packard Co. and Compaq Computer Corp. to get on with it or call it off. I am so tired of the seemingly endless name-calling and dirt-throwing that is the public face of this merger.


Explain to Microsoft why buffer overflows are a bad product feature.


Explain why Steve Ballmer should never think of performing eurythmics again in public.


Make spamming punishable by death. Need I say more?

Gibbs is a contributing editor at Network World (U.S.). He is at