Letters To The Editor
You Missed the Boat
Re: Compare & Contrast, Oct. 2000, "No More World Wide Wait," on DSL and other options.
With all due respect, you missed the boat. By far the most robust, easiest to install and configure, and cheapest (free for personal use / $19.95 otherwise) firewall for PCs is ZoneAlarm 2.1. See www.zonealarm.com.
Systems Development Consultant
Roche Diagnostics Corp. (Indianapolis)
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Thanks indeed for an interesting, informative and well-written article on the increasingly heated debate between DSL and cable. You managed to sift through the noise and rhetoric and provide some balanced reporting.
A note on your recommendations for software firewall security -- consider ZoneAlarm (www.zonelabs.com). It's free for personal (non-corporate) users and came highly recommended by the venerable PC World. I've been using it myself for six months without a problem. Has it prevented hacking? Who knows? I just know that I haven't been hacked!
Andy W. Ho
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Thanks for your article on DSL and cable for home computer use. You left out one important fact, however, the cable is a party line and your neighbors use directly affects yours.
I know you hinted at it, but it should be spelled out for neophytes. Also, PPPoE DSL connections can be set
to disconnect after five minutes of inactivity and each time your computer (or router) reconnects, it's with a new IP address.
Peter L. Nelson
San Francisco, Calif.
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I have actually had good experience with Bell Atlantic (Verizon). They actually have followed up quite well when I have had problems. They also had the DSL activated when they promised. I have had it for a few months now.
Also, re: static versus dynamic IP addresses: most DSL connections have dynamic IP addresses. My computer ocassionally grabs a new IP address.
I will, though, keep an IP address for days at a time, until the lease expires and it gets a new one.
Another suggestion concerning firewalls. I use a Linksys DSL router, which comes in two versions: one with the built-in, four port hub, for about $180; or the version I have, with no hub features, for a little over $100.
It plugs directly into my hub, and it allows me to share the same DSL connection over up to 254 computers. Configuring it is brainless, all you specify on your computers is that they use DHCP to get their IP addresses. I highly recommend the routers. They are also an excellent firewall.
Another thing about Ethernet, people can get a external DSL modem and if they are really bad with computers, get a USB Ethernet adapter for their computer.
Charleston, West Virginia
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First, I want to thank you for an informative article which, for me, is quite timely, as I will hopefully be moving to the U.S. to an area in which cable Internet access is available.
However, I was a little curious as to your statement, "Unless you're comfortable with jump switches and DOS prompts" to have it done by a pro.
I do agree that having a professional install the Ethernet card is advisable, if mainly to set up the TCP/IP stack properly. But the concept of diddling with switches and jumpers, to say nothing of the good ol' DOS (gag!) prompt, has been a non-issue for years.
Any new network card you buy today will be "plug and play," in which you merely plunk the card inside the system and Windows does the rest, quite well I might add. So if the techie tried to tell Tim that he needed to set jumpers, etc, he was being profoundly mislead.
Just a minor point, but I thought it was worth pointing out.