Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Editors Need to Control Even Their Contributors

Well, well. The very thing I like most about Mozilla, its security, is according to a Jupiter Research dude writing for ComputerWorld (here:,10801,99142,00.html)
its biggest problem.

I've been using Firefox myself for ages, having finally swapped from Netscape and being a long-time IE refusenik.

However, that's the home persona. At various offices, I've had to live with IE because of IT departments which (quite correctly) run "no downloads" policies.

The central premise of the Jupiter article is that you can't use the browser as the access point to other applications if you can't run ActiveX controls (or more likely, if you've spent a bucket on developing your own in-house ActiveX controls, you don't want to have to replace them).

Well, it's about time enterprises had to rethink the "browser for everything" attitude.

The only reason people en masse made Port 80 the default for application access was convenience: if you wrote a proper client to access applications, you had to put in the work; and moreover, the proper client might need its own path through the firewall. Instead, people were stupidly encouraged to make Port 80 carry everything - ensuring that it's well-nigh impossible to secure Port 80.

Microsoft was the cheerleader in this (well, Microsoft and a bunch of journalists and analysts who don't put "is it secure" at the top of their quiz-list).

Firefox (which had the author done some research can run ActiveX via a plug-in) is more secure because it gives users more fine-grained control over what the browser can and cannot do; security at the cost of convenience. A good thing.

So much for the technical thumbnail. What really interested me was the undeclared authorial interest in promoting Microsoft.

Check this URL:

You get the picture? The author's expertise is telling Jupiter's customers how to align themselves with the Microsoft vision. "Jupiter's Microsoft Monitor Research Service helps vendors prepare for market opportunities created by new Microsoft initiatives."

When I posted about a Vunet story a couple of days ago, I wrote about access - if you can't get access in a media-managed spin-doctored world, you'll never get the scoop. And even if the scoop is a staged interview, that word "exclusive" is still good for the eyeballs.

Well, the same is true for an analyst - even more so, because access is one of the foundation stones of the analyst's billable hours.

Is an analyst depending on access Microsoft's plans and futures going to write in favour of
Firefox? Not on your nelly - even if the premise, that ActiveX is Good for Everyone, is so silly as to inspire laughter all the world over.

So the analyst wrote a column, and the interest was there for all to see with just a little Googling.

The astonishing lapse is on behalf of ComputerWorld in the US.

Here's a secret: an editor can always take a contributed article and throw it back at the author. I know this, because I've done it myself; and some of the editors I've worked with are the misery of any contributor who tries to please them.

To let twaddle like this article, thinly argued on a shaky premise, through without anything but correcting the spelling and punctuation, is an inexcusable lapse of judgement.

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