Stories by Ed Foster

Reader Voices: Autorenewal defenses

How can we protect ourselves from online services that employ hidden autorenewal clauses to keep charging us? Readers responded to my recent story about how credit card companies like American Express handle disputed autorenewal charges with some ideas on what we can do about it.

A Genuine Microsoft mistake

Mistakes happen. But when software publishers make mistakes with their anti-piracy programs, it always seems to be the users who pay the price. That's certainly been the case with Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program throughout its less-than-illustrious history, and now a new pilot program for Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) Notifications nagware has started off on the wrong foot.

Bug-free dreams

You've encountered a bug, but where does the responsibility for it lie? Software developers say that's a question that needs an answer for software quality to really improve.

Can Microsoft and others to forbid disclosure?

Speak now, or forever hold your peace. Because the next time you try to speak, you may need Microsoft's permission. Microsoft recently prevented an independent lab from publishing benchmark results by using a term in the SQL Server license that says the user "may not disclose the results of any benchmark test ... without Microsoft's prior written approval" to threaten the lab with legal action.

Is Network Solutions just being aggressive?

You'd think, now that Network Solutions Inc. (NSI) has lost its domain registration monopoly, it might be a little less arrogant and a little more customer-sensitive than in the past. But reports to The Gripe Line indicate that would be wishful thinking.

The Gripe Line: Exodus into New Jersey Taxing

Many companies have sought physical security for their Web servers by co-locating them in a hosting company's data center. But some are finding that when that data center is in another state, their tax situation is anything but secure.

Troubled by the Threat of Spyware?

With spyware lurking all about, what can you do to protect yourself? Easy: Get some counterspyware. And, InfoWorld readers say, some very effective tools are available free or nearly so.

The Gripe Line: B2B with UCITA Means Volatility

UCITA (UNIFORM COMPUTER Information Transactions Act) and business-to-business dot-coms are a match made in licensing hell. I don't just mean for business-to-business customers; the b-to-b dot-coms themselves will find UCITA turns one of their biggest challenges into a nightmare.

The Gripe Line: Readers Say Their Hands Are Tied

We've talked a lot about what Microsoft Corp.'s motivations are for its "medialess" OS policy, but what about the PC manufacturers? Although Microsoft no longer gives them the choice of offering a full backup Windows CD, the way some OEMs implement their recovery CDs suggest they might have their own reasons for embracing Microsoft's policy.

The Gripe Line: Good Price on Notebook Computer

You don't have to venture into e-commerce to get bitten by sneakwrap. Just buying something the old-fashioned way puts you at risk of being victimized by an unseen disclaimer buried deep on some Web site.

Gripe Line: Pitfalls of Software Licensing

If your company is based anywhere near the Potomac, it's time you learned the new rules that UCITA (Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act) will force you to play by when contracting with local software developers and consultants. Otherwise you'll be in danger of falling into one of many pitfalls the law has set for software procurement professionals of even the largest corporations.

The Gripe Line: On the Net, Free Isn't Always Free

We've said it before, but it bears repeating: On the Internet, you should not believe anything is really "free" until you read all the fine print. And even then you'll need to re-read it all frequently to make sure that what you thought was free is still free.

The Gripe Line

Is Microsoft Corp.'s "medialess" Windows policy really aimed at curbing software piracy, as the company claims? Readers were virtually unanimous in the belief that piracy has little or nothing to do with it, but they had a variety of other theories as to just what the software giant's true motives are.

The Gripe Line

It's an unfortunate fact of life that software companies often buy other software companies in order to kill off a competing product line. But what responsibility does the acquiring company have to inform the orphaned users of its plans?