NetObjects Objections, Sunrise Revelations and More

Readers sound off on recent <I>TSC</I> pieces.
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Revisiting the Long Goodbye

Lewis Perdue:

In response to your column

IBM's Long Goodbye to NetObjects about

NetObjects

(NETO)

, as an employee, I read your May 19 article with great interest. While your assessment of the company's business dealings may or may not have been correct, the line in his article that leaped off the page at me was:

"Although it's supposed to make cool graphic effects easier to execute and complex sites easier to manage, (NetObjects Fusion) fails to live up to its newbie promise: It's extremely difficult both to learn and to use..."

Rather than write you immediately to take issue with your assessment of Fusion's ease of use, I decided to wait two months to see whether I would encounter anyone on the Internet who agreed with

TheStreet.com

on the issue. I can honestly tell you that over 60 days, I found no articles or reviews that echoed your befuddling conclusions.

While dozens of legitimate issues have been raised by Fusion users and critics, from

CNet

to

PCMagazine

to

MacWorld

, they almost universally agree on one point: Fusion is the simplest software solution for individuals and businesses to get their first home pages on the Internet or their corporate intranet.

You're entitled to your own opinion, of course, but considering your editorial need to present carefully considered, accurate facts to your investment-minded readers, it can't hurt to let you and your readers know when your writers are expressing opinions that seem to defy common sense.

--

Todd Giles

(received 7/20)

Supporting Sunrise Critics

Jesse Eisinger:

Thanks for your article

Sunrise Tech Takes Critics to Court on Sunrise Technology. I have written my congressman and my two senators about the

FDA's

policy of allowing clinical investigators to purchase stock in companies they are evaluating.

I was the head caseworker for a congressman and I am aware of the close relationship between governmental departments and agencies, employees and the industries they regulate. It's a national scandal and neither the elected

Republican

or

Democratic House

or

Senate

pay any attention to their oversight obligations and take meaningful action. They all just pass more new laws that compound the problems, which creates new bureaucracies that need to hire more bureaucrats who do not function. And their salaries are paid by me, an unhappy constituent.

--

Darlene Bothell

(received 7/20)

In Other News...

Aaron Task:

I just read your piece

Going Shopping in Media and Biotech; Seeing the Sites (Sometimes Quickly) where you talked about

John Kennedy Jr.

Good work. I found myself agreeing that it would be nice to think he had pulled a vanishing act. Since that's not going to happen, it would be nicer if the media would stop beating this to death the way they did the

O.J. Simpson

story, the

Gianni Versace

murder and

Princess Diana's

death and just leave the dead alone.

I think the incessant coverage of the plane and of JFK Jr., his wife and sister-in-law, while certainly newsworthy, has been among the most inane, vapid and insipid self-promotional ratings-grab I've seen to date. Oh, I'm sure they'll top themselves soon enough. Just let

Geraldo Rivera

get a hold of the

Jon Benet Ramsey

story if an indictment is handed down, or give

Diane Sawyer

another chance to bleat and emote over the next Columbine High.

--

Lewis Moyse

(received 7/19)

Peddling the Upgrade Cycle

James Cramer:

In response to your column

Keeping Up With the High-Speed Net World, same with me, except opposite age brackets. I went to my son's house a few weeks ago and jumped on the Net -- well at least I was jumping. His four-year-old Compaq has a fast modem but about half the RAM of my PC. I couldn't believe the difference!

You're right about the replacement market. There are a ton of old 386 and 486ers running 3.X. These are ripe for the picking. This is exactly like the late 1950s with color TVs. Everyone had a black and white, some with stereos, radios and fancy cabinets (the ancient entertainment center). Trying to get people to give those things up was like pulling teeth, until one family on the block got a new color TV. You recently noted that your kids look for all the new

Game Boy

applications. Can you imagine yourself with a black-and-white TV and the guy next door has color? If anything will force the computer changeover, it might be the kids!

--

Joe Panozzo

(7/19)

James Cramer:

I am having a

cable modem installed by my local

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

cable provider today. In order to "convince" me to join, it is paying for my

America Online

(AOL)

for a year, giving me the cable modem and hooking the thing up for free. I would have paid for all that!

But for its magnanimity, it gets me as a customer now, probably for a long time because it likely will be the only cable game in town for the foreseeable future. And I'm already looking askance at my 166-MHz Pentium, which is supposed to harness all this new fast Internet power. I can feel my fingers being compelled to go to the Web pages of

Dell

(Dell) - Get Report

,

Gateway

(GTW)

or

CDW Computer Center

(CDWC)

I'm sure there are plenty more people like me in the pipeline. With my 56k modem, that old Pentium would have sat on my desk for years. Hell, it runs Windows 98 and Microsoft Office, so why not? Now I'm going to pay more for the Internet and the seeds of hardware discontent have been planted.

Are these guys in cahoots or what? Talk about convergence (or conspiracy?). I just hope the Net keeps on track with the upgrade cycle and keeps the content compelling and new. To paraphrase the Supreme Court's take on porn, and take it out of context, "I can't define what I want out of my new high-speed Internet, but I'll know it when I see it."

--

Jeffrey Eigel

(received 7/19)

Taxpayers Know Best

Aaron Task:

About your column

Hedgie Renounces Shorts, Saves Face, I enjoyed it! But I have to tell you, be careful. The notion that taxes may be good for the economy, monetary policy or any other economic reason is crap.

Think about it. If there truly is a surplus, then the American people have paid too much tax, regardless of the health of the stock market. Return some portion to the people who've paid it. If tax cuts are granted, maybe people will use it for things like increasing charitable contributions, sending their children to college or helping care for elderly parents. Not everyone will run out and buy a

BMW

or upgrade to a new, more ridiculous house.

The bottom line is, it should be our decision to make. Let there be no doubt that we can make that decision better than anyone in Washington -- or Wall Street, for that matter.

-- Ken Clepper

(received 7/17)

The Wave of the Future

Caroline Humer:

In response to your article

Online Trading Lurches Into Low Gear, it's true that even I have closed one of my aggressive trading accounts with

Datek Online

and now I am doing much less trading. However, I now have much more invested and the more I learn and profit, the more money I keep sending my online account. I don't even have a savings account any more. I also have helped friends and family set up accounts and they are doing the same. What does this tell you? It tells me that online brokers will be the banks of the future. My money is on

Charles Schwab

(SCH)

to dominate. Hopefully one day I can pay bills, invest and do all my banking with one firm online.

-- Dennis Fallas

(received 7/17)

Trying to Get a Buzz from Bud

Holly Hegeman:

About your column

Airlines Abuzz With Earnings and Merger Speculation, I recently flew on

TWA

(TWA)

. They offered

Miller Lite

beer on board.

If TWA, which is based in St. Louis, can't cut an exclusive deal with

Anheuser-Busch

(BUD) - Get Report

, another St. Louis company, how can it be running the rest of the business to make a buck?

I am a firm believer of buying companies that I can walk into and see how they are running at the consumer level. The attitudes of the flight attendants were also terrible. Thumbs down on TWA.

-- John Honell

(received 7/17)

Notes on the Net

James Cramer:

In response to your column

More Than a Craze, I agree that the Internet has certainly changed things and should no longer be called a "craze." However, one of the "fundamental changes" might be that Net company after Net company can go year after year without ever turning a profit. Some don't even foresee a future possibility of making a profit! Yet they can command sky-high (higher than ever before by any sector of public companies) stock prices. Is this a good fundamental change? Does this encourage a new breed of entrepreneurs and/or VCs who think that profit doesn't matter anymore?

I am a moderate Net user, but I have hardly spent a dime on anything from the Net -- of course, a notable exception being my subscription to

TSC

. In fact, I downright hate companies like

DoubleClick

(DCLK)

because it seems like half the time spent trying to get to a Web page I want to see is in getting a "Connected to ad.DoubleClick.net, waiting for reply" message. Do you know how annoying that is to all of us who don't give a damn about any of the ads coming up on the Web page? Can you imagine that every time you change the TV channel, you'd have to be bombarded by a couple of minutes of commercials before you ever got to see what you really wanted to see?

Anyway, my two cents.

-- Dan Uno

(received 7/16)

James Cramer:

Well, maybe there is a

craze, but just in valuations of some of Internet companies. As has been pointed out many times, there was a "craze" in PC stocks early on. That bubble popped, and now only

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

is left of all those crazy companies. But PCs themselves were certainly no flash in the pan, and they have changed our lives dramatically -- as the Net is doing now.

-- Gary Davis

(received 7/16)

James Cramer:

In my opinion,

Gates should read

Moby Dick

(again.) He would learn about the

Starbucks

(SBUX) - Get Report

craze -- and how much money people made off that company, and yet how remarkable it is that it keeps growing, notwithstanding the wild coffee futures, those crazy Brazilians, the weather and unbelievable saturation.

How many other crazes are there out there?

McDonald's

(MCD) - Get Report

? No, this Net thing is more like the television craze of the late '40s and into the '50s. It is here to stay, like it or not. Only, as I have said before, unlike McDonald's and Starbucks, the Net is likely going to take away more jobs, especially from people over age 35 than it will create for people 20 to 35.

We are in a period of enormous wealth on a macro level. But I have to believe that a large percentage of middle-class Americans are deeply in debt, trying to stay afloat and keep up appearances. I wish somebody would give us the truth about the state of the union, and who really owns what.

-- Patrick Vale

(received 7/16)

Magellan's Moves

Brenda Buttner:

In response to

Magellan at $100 Billion: Another Nonevent I think Magellan has another edge too: new, large positions taken by

Fidelity

make news and add a few points to their top holdings. I think they are usually noted on

CNBC

every hour. Likewise, moves out of sectors are greeted with a general drift towards the exits by others looking to crib their strategy.

Nothing like hoards of groupies to make your moves look even better!

-- Brant Bigsby

(received 7/15)

Now That's Funny

Heather Moore:

In response to

Apple Trounces Estimates; AMD Beats Numbers, but Loses Prez; McKesson HBOC Restates Results, your line about

McKesson HBOC

(MCK) - Get Report

jumping off a cliff sent me off laughing into a stupor! After spending an 18-hour day analyzing, researching, reading and reporting, that joke put some much-needed levity into the end of my day.

-- Estelle Havva

(received 7/15)

The Patter of the Net's Footsteps

James Cramer:

Regarding your

Hearing the Net's Footsteps, you're dead on. I canceled my subscription to

Worth

magazine recently. I got sick of its aged news byproducts as well as its incredibly poor customer service. I also now subscribe to

The Wall Street Journal

and

The Economist

online. I have no need for financial magazines and can't conceive of a need in the future. Isn't it odd how businesses facing inevitable death through inaction nonetheless convince themselves everything is just fine and will remain fine if they just maintain the status quo?

--

Stephen Cronk

(received 7/14)

James Cramer:

I'm heartily buying

the concept that the Net will kill off the presses, particularly in regard to financial and investment matters.

I'm a little less convinced that the brick-and-mortar retailers are going to fall to the side. The common ground here is instant gratification. I want James Cramer and

TheStreet.com

right now, while the market is open. Similarly, when buying books or socks or office supplies for myself, I want to go fondle the merchandise, touch the leather, smell the wax. Then I want to buy and take. Event over. I can scratch that off of my to-do list.

The Net auction houses will probably continue to do OK given that they offer unique merchandise in limited quantities. But face it, this is mostly knick-knack stuff. If the wife wants a new bedspread, we're going to a bricks-and-mortar store. The only exception I can envision is in relation to gifts. It's easier for me to order a book for mom and have the vendor ship it to her in Florida. Note again, however, that's instant gratification. Event over, scratch that off of my to-do list!

--

W. Grant Ellis

(received 7/14)

Big Deal About Bandwidth

Jim Seymour:

In response to your column

About That Coming Bandwidth Glut, it makes me wonder why the powers-that-be are afraid of people keeping digital downloaded movies in the home, using DVD or their hard drives. If I pay for a movie that is a keeper from pay-per-view via satellite, it is no problem to hit record on the old VHS and save it the old-tech way. What are the powers-that-be worried about? Seems there has to be more to it. Maybe fears of easy transmission at a cheaper rate? But I can't think of how that would be free of the long arm of the law. Something is missing here.

Your treatise has left out the all-important and, I think, growing market of adult entertainment. If you can remove the problem of having to wear shades and an old trench coat to buy movies at the local store or even via mail using your credit card and wondering who is writing down your numbers, then the usage of adult movies will go up also.

Just some random thoughts.

-- Davey Pitts

(received 7/13)

Jim Seymour:

The whole discussion is a joke.

Bandwidth, either via air transmission or cable transmission, is inherently limited by the physics of congestion. The only viable solution is multiple cable connections of fiber-optic connections directly to the consumer. If the Baby Bells will stop dragging their feet before

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

eats their shorts.

Try and make a connection via

Real Networks

(RNWK) - Get Report

for audio. Half of the time is consumed by buffering and network congestion. Imagine enough bandwidth to connect to any radio or music source in the world. Then imagine video connections. In the future, those choices will require more bandwidth than we can imagine.

It is an immense reworking of business plans and how to make money, but barring some government legalization of monopolies, it will come.

-- Frederick M. Buehler

(received 7/13)

Sketchy Future for Skechers

Suzanne Kapner:

In response to your article

Skechers Runs the Wrong Way , your analysis missed what I feel is a vitally important fact. Look closely, literally, at the products that

Skechers

(SKX) - Get Report

produces.

I think they are shoddily made. They are nowhere near the quality of

Dr. Martens

, for example. You may think that

Steve Madden

is a highflier, but those products are poorly made as well. I predict a similar future. Keep in mind that only a small percentage of the buying public will accept poor quality at a high price on a wave of shallowly rooted fashion. Perhaps

Planet Hollywood

(PHL)

is a good example of a parallel universe. To sell shoes and food, one needs repeat customers. If the thrill is gone after one visit or one pair, there's no business.

-- Patricia Plonsker

(received 7/13)

eBay's Traffic Has Gone Nowhere

Suzanne Galante

In response to your article

eBay's Traffic Could Be Going, Going, Gone, you cite numbers going back to May 13, the beginning of summer.

Vacations, picnics, concerts, baseball -- in other words, hot time, summer in the city! Not only is

eBay

(EBAY) - Get Report

down, but check out bricks-and-mortar auction and antique businesses and see what happens to their biz this time of year. The only ones who thrive are located in or along vacation routes and destinations. Sure,

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

is up; it's new and, with its size, it could attract a crowd of 500,000 for cockroach racing.

Anyway, I'm not an eBay junkie or investor, and I know the tech problems have hurt it. However, I do get annoyed that journalists and politicians continually cite "select" statistical data and present it as a trend or fact without any supporting argument or analysis, much less present a contrarian argument as I cited above.

-- Marty S. Lile

(received 7/13)

Suzanne Galante:

The facts in your article on

eBay's traffic did not support the dramatic headline. The demise of a company so far ahead of its competition does not come as easily as the article suggests in noting eBay's recent 8% decline in traffic over the past eight weeks. Hyperbole like this is far more suited for tabloids than a well-respected investment site as

TheStreet.com

.

-- Jan Childress

(received 7/13)