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Oldies are usually goodies

Plus, cable Internet–it works! Feedback hed: dek:

I enjoyed reading your article on ageism in IT. It had some very interesting points on a subject that you don’t see much written about in magazines.

I am a 46-year-old developer who made a career change into programming two and a half years ago. What I would have liked to see in the article were more positive observations as to what older developers can bring to the table, besides more IT experience.

What I used to sell myself during job interviews were skills that most younger developers lack: good communication skills (yes, I think IT people on the whole still are lacking here); good business skills–the ability to grasp the business logic in a program and the core business in a short period of time (too often, technical skills are sought above all else); and the ability and reputation to get the job done in a professional manner.

I think the bottom line is that if you are working with programs that can positively or negatively affect millions of dollars’ worth of business, you need experienced people in your development group. I am sure I beat out much younger developers with more experience because of my background (14 years in the computer leasing industry) and a proven business track record. I was hired to work on lease software tracking programs that kept track of 200,000-plus PCs for our company. They knew I would learn whatever I needed to get the job done.

James Drinkard

Thank you for your article on older IT employees (September). One critical piece of information that I would add is that employees over 40 may have more difficulty seeing the screen, manipulating the mouse, or using the standard keyboard than their younger coworkers. In most cases, this can be easily ameliorated through use of built-in utilities, downloadable shareware, or inexpensive third-party solutions. Knowledge of these adaptations tend not only to be of interest to older computer users, but also can make computer use easier and more ergonomic for any user.

Jane Berliss-Vincent

Director, Adult/Senior Services Center for Accessible Technology

I was really surprised to learn about your reluctance to try cable Internet (Insights, September). I have had Roadrunner at home for about two years, and am networking it (through a Linksys router) to five computers. I had originally wanted to get DSL, but live too far from the phone company’s central office to get a decent signal.

My cable Internet service works just fine. I get throughput averaging at least 800kbps, and going as high as 1.3Mbps. Rarely does the speed drop below 700kbps. The phone company has been running lots of radio and TV ads trying to scare people away from cable by claiming that you’ll only be able to use it late at night, but that’s a lot of rubbish. If other users in my neighborhood cause the throughput to drop, I sure don’t notice it.

Steve Miller

Encino, Calif.

The book review “Who owns ideas?” (October 2001) states, “American copyright laws … were designed to encourage new inventions.” In fact, copyright laws are for the works of authors, artists, and programmers only. It is patent laws that give inventors monopolies on their inventions.

David Pressman

San Francisco

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