Notes from the Field

SAN MATEO (04/18/2000) - The weather is warming up here in Silicon Valley, giving rise to one of my favorite times of the year: when the ladies here shed their winter wear in favor of sleeveless blouses and shorts and start sunning themselves by the pool in my apartment complex.

Figuring my tweaked knee could do with a day of healing rays from the sun, I sent Madison off into the field while I searched for tips by the pool.

Looking to solve my immobility problems, Madison is following up on a rumor that Sprint Corp. will soon start giving away PDAs (personal digital assistants) -- smart phones, probably -- with the purchase of a bundle of its Internet/connectivity services. Sprint will market PDAs and smart phones the same way cell phones are pushed: Buy the services, get the device for free.

I could sit by the pool all summer with a service like that.

A lot of 'wining' about poor services

Internet rabble-rouser Dave Winer, president of UserLand Software, took his ISP to task for its recent service outage.

The ISP, Conxion, advertises that it has uptime of "99.999 percent." But that wasn't Winer's experience.

Winer publicized the details of the outage and put up a Web site about what percentage of the time his Conxion service was actually down.

His connection problem then got fixed quickly, but as soon as it did, the ISP told him that he needed to find another provider.

"We're finding out now that this ISP uses its power to shut down critics," Winer writes on his Web site.

Meanwhile, more readers have reported problems with the service. One reader recently plunked down good money to add POP3 access. The trouble was that he could only receive messages through the service; he could not send any.

After complaining to the billing department about being charged for a service that wasn't fully delivered, he got the following reply: "I apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. Unfortunately we do not have an estimated time of repair for these isolated issues."

Intrigued after hearing about a different problem with last week, Madison set up her own mailbox on the system. You can reach her at strikes back

Finally, took exception to my characterization of the company in a recent column. Although its DSL services don't come bundled with security products,the company said its customers can choose to lease or buy security services to go with their high-speed connection. My source, a reseller of's services, failed to point that out, the company said.

"If your source's company is selling DSL service without discussing security, then they need to explain why they are performing this disservice to their customers," the company wrote.

I WASN'T TOO IMPRESSED by the showing at the pool, so as soon as I'm healed I plan to take myself somewhere else.

Somewhere tropical, perhaps?

Service problems ruining your spring paradise? Tell me all about them at

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