From the ol’ mailbag …


Most readers preferred my alternative penalty for Microsoft – making it publish the entire Windows API, enforced by a $50 million bounty for every hidden API found. One ingenious reader enhanced it, doubling the bounty with each successive hidden API. This makes sense – later ones would be harder to find, and at some point the penalty would be so high even Microsoft would pay attention.

Of course, it’s all moot now. Worse, it’s a sure thing this will end up in front of the Supremes. Given the bizarre decisions coming out of the high court these days, I’m not optimistic …

Several folks thought Microsoft shouldn’t be punished at all because, they say, antitrust laws are outmoded and don’t deal with software very well. Okay, by that logic: Lots of people think intellectual property laws don’t deal with software very well, so I guess they shouldn’t be prosecuted for software piracy. Microsoft doesn’t get to choose which laws it likes and which ones it doesn’t, any more than you or I do. At least, it shouldn’t.

Most of these letters also included the oft-repeated and entirely ridiculous assertion that “monopoly” is hard to define. That’s nonsense. My dictionary does a decent job: “Exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market, or a control that makes possible the manipulation of prices,” or a company that has that exclusive control. A better definition goes beyond price manipulation to marketplace distortions such as exclusionary contracts. What’s hard to define isn’t “monopoly”. It’s “market”.


My second column on Personal Information Managers (PIMs) which identified three descendants of the breed (the few remaining PIMs, sales force automation software, and knowledge mapping or thought-mapping systems) generated a bunch of e-mails. Most wanted the names of specific thought-mapping packages. Sorry, but I’m nowhere near knowledgeable enough to provide even a representative sample, let alone a recommendation. I’d rather remain silent than appear to endorse the few of packages I’ve tried.

One letter mentioned a fourth descendant: Just as salespeople have sales force automation (SFA) software, managers should have “Management Automation Software” – packages tailored to managers’ need to keep track of everything from departmental projects to employee career goals to delegated to-do items … the stuff of management. The writer knew of two packages, neither satisfactory, and wanted to know if there are any others.

If you use and like something in this category, let me know. In a future column I’ll provide the names of the three most popular. (Note to vendors: This is a reader poll, not an invitation to your PR departments. Sorry.)


While no one wrote to defend UCITA (Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act), I did get complaints on my comments equating soft money contributions and bribery. Some expressed thoughtful concern about the propriety of including political commentary in this forum. It’s a valid concern. I had qualms, but decided to include those comments because of their direct relevance: Soft money will make fighting UCITA hard.

Then there were those who accused me of being part of the liberal media conspiracy to silence conservative speech. For them: I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to parrot Rush Limbaugh.