An Open Letter to the Editor: Computer Edge Magazine

        First off, I have been reading your zine since the start and
basically enjoyed most of the issues. I am surprised at the frequency
of which you release new issues, and credit that to be one of the factors
I am happy with it. Before I start my little rant, let me fill you in
on who I am so you may weigh that in with your overall impression of
what I am saying. I have been working with computers for over 10 years
now. Everything from my old 'Trash 80' to my 'C64' to my 486 now.
I have worked with computers in all fashions in the past, everything
from selling to tech support to building systems from scratch. I have
been on the Internet for just over 5 years now so I consider myself
knowledgeable in most areas of computers. There are three things
I would like to address with you regarding your zine.

1)      In your issue dated March 4th, the "Edge WORD" told about your
opinion of the CDA (Communications Decency Act) and the "blackened"
web pages. While I agree with you about being anti-censorship, I don't
believe you have read the entire bill. You talk about how people are being
to critical, and wanting all the fun without the responsibility which
is partially true. What you failed to mention is how this bill would affect
people.. ALL people. This bill was originally put together by using the
old cut and paste from past bills that failed. The Telecom Bill of '96
went a little beyond though.
        Instead of stopping porn on the net, it would limit people in
a much greater capacity. Not only could people not exchange any porn,
you couldn't say many things. If you read the bill at all, you will
see that many of the terms were left very vague. The word 'Obscene'
has been defined by the Supreme Court while the word 'Indecent' has not.
That alone should clue you in that you are being lied to by congress.
If the bill was still in effect (it was suspended by a state court),
you would find yourself limited in many fashions of speech.
The following are just a few topics you would no longer be able to

        Urinary Tract Disease
        Breast Cancer
        Plastic Surgery
        Rape/Sexual Intercourse
        Abortion Recovery
        Alcohol Anonymous
        Drug Recovery/Addiction
        Large portions of the bible
        Does this sound like a bill aimed at pornography only? Of course
not. This is limiting your free speech and right to an opinion. The
president of the United States knowingly passed an unconstitutional bill.
Please take the time to read the CDA portion of the Telecom bill, and
think about what else it is limiting. Afterwards, I think you will be
changing your web pages as well.

2)      Since the beginning Computer Edge has continually dealt with
the classic O/S wars. I would like to say first off that your continued
column "I Don't Do Windows" is a great idea, and something you should
keep up. In the past I have used (and tech supported) the Macs, Windows 3.1,
OS/2, DOS, Win95, as well as Linux. I dare to say I know a little about
operating systems. I personally use DOS and Linux at the house and
am very adamant about keeping all Windows (and all Microsoft) products
off my machines.
        Many of your articles continually praise the Macs and bash
Windows. Some of your writers are very biased and very hypocritical
of their own OS. The writers will often point out that MacOS had this
and that feature long before Win95, and that it isn't new. What they
refuse to look at is, where was it before the Mac? Most of the 'advanced'
features of the Mac were developed long ago on various Unix workstations
and systems. Macs AND Windows are both far outmatched by other OSs.
        Instead of carrying on with this big OS war, how about drop
it and move on. Keep talking about OSs that aren't mainstream like Linux,
or AmigaOS. People use them quite a bit these days despite the 'Windows
Attitude'. Make your Mac writers stop the biased comments until they
try out what they are bashing. Just keep the articles fair.

3)      Internet. The fact that a single pro-AOL article has been printed
tells me that at least one of your writers hasn't done the research.
I could go into a short book on the negative sides of AOL, each ruining
the image that the company portrays. The fact that they make it near
impossible to cancel the account once you have it, their internal guidelines
for censoring their users, their slow network and busy dialins, their
uneducated tech support reps, or any other of the numerous problems should
warn anyone off. Like many companies, they are aiming for large numbers
of customers while willing to sacrifice the quality of the service.
        America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy, and the rest of the online
services are not necessarily the best option for the family to go online.
Each and every online service suffers when it comes to internet connectivity.
The slow connections should deter the average user but they often don't.
Move on to price, and you should be downright scared. It is impossible
to pay less than $1.98 an hour for America Online. That weighs in
the 5 'free' hours you pay $9.95 for each month. Consider a family
that combined spends one hour a day on the net (which is not much for
a single person, let alone two or three person family). After one
month they will pay $60 for that service. Is that a good deal?
        Instead of paying outrageous fees for poor connections, you are
able to have near unlimited access for $20 a month. This will give you
everything you could ever find on AOL and more. Instead of using those
nice little keywords to go to various areas, just use one of the dozens
of powerful search engines already on the net. The Web search engines
alone will almost guaranteed track down dozens of reference to anything
you are looking for.
        The last thing every online subscriber should know: America
Online (and others) will tell you that you have full access to the
internet. This is not true. I used to help run a small system on the
net catering to popular online magazines and text files. The first thing
we did was block out ALL incoming connections from AOL, CS, and Prodigy.
If you were on those services, you could NOT access any part of our
machine. The hidden truth is, a lot of popular sites out there are like
that. The general perception is that AOL brings a bunch of leeches
to the net. Regardless of the accuracy of that statement, many net
admins will agree with it and limit the access to their machines.

        I guess I have said my piece. Despite the negativity of my letter,
let me reiterate that I do like your 'zine, and to keep up the good work.
All I ask is that your writers look at the entire picture before they
write. While the pro-mac and pro-windows writers flame each other,
Unix and OS/2 users are flaming them both. If you preach about America
Online just know that like millions of others I can mail you anonymously
and control your access on certain systems among other things. Can you?

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