Between the Lines

To the Editor

Corrections or additions?

Life in the Fast Lane

No Fast Lane stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on January 6,

1999. Except for Preview (the arts and entertainment section) and

dated Survival Guide items, the issue consisted of the annual Survival

Guide, tips gathered throughout the previous year to aid those in the

workplace, entrepreneurs, and job hunters. Follow the links for

Top Of Page
Between the Lines

Maybe our forecast for the new millennium will be all

wrong. Maybe next year at this time we will be fighting through the

streets, taking notes on yellow legal pads (our computers won’t be

working) about mobs plundering stores for food and drink (the security

systems won’t work) and then battling traffic jams (the lights won’t

work) to get to the office.

But our forecast calls for none of that. We predict the transformation

to the year 2000 will come off with a few snags and snafus but no

calamities. A few doomsday cultists grabbing the headlines with some

sort of suicide mission will pale in comparison to the usual carnage

of holiday traffic accidents and winter weather damage.

For information processing managers the celebrated Y2K problem will

turn out to be not much of a problem at all, we predict, especially

not if those who haven’t yet addressed the problem get started now

— as our experts in this special Survival Guide issue suggest

— and take care of problems sooner rather than later.

But the new millennium, we predict, will bring with it an even more

challenging problem than that posed by tinkering with date fields.

The big challenge will be for companies large and small to take advantage

of the huge investments they are making now in converting legacy systems

to company-wide and customer-wide state-of-the-art information systems.

If a company doesn’t do it, then a competitor surely will. Someone

will be left in the dust of the 20th century.

We can envision a disgruntled customer in our industry, for example:

"You’re telling me that I can’t make a simple change in my classified

ad? Hey, buddy this is the new millennium — get with it."

The siren of the year 2000 will replace the now tired refrain dating

back to the 1960s: "How can they put a man on the moon, but they

still can’t . . . "

We had an experience the other day with American Online. The Internet

provider with the high-as-a-kite stock had E-mailed a renewal notice

to us, it claimed, though we never saw it. Then it attempted to bill

us for the new year using an old credit card number. Then a confusing

phone call was placed by a service representative. Then — with

no further notice — our service was cut off. After four phone

calls and many minutes on hold we were told that nothing about our

account could be discussed without confirming our now expired credit

card number. Nothing? we roared. "Hey, buddy, this is the eve

of the new millennium — get with it."

America Online did get with it — finally. And the rest of us will

have our own customer service challenges to face. We wish you the

best in the new year, decade, century, and millennium.

Top Of Page
To the Editor

The cover article on Helping Hands (U.S. 1, December 23) is a wonderful

piece that truly expresses the nature and mission of the American

Red Cross. I want to personally thank you for the coverage, and for

choosing our volunteer Sanjay Sathe as one of the recipients of your

Helping Hands award.

When Bob Clancy took the opportunity to introduce me to your editor

at the MSM annual meeting, he paved the way for more people in our

community to learn how to translate empathy into action. The article

not only illustrates the dedication of people who volunteer with the

Red Cross. It also lets your readers know how their time and donations

help their neighbors, and people in crisis anywhere in the world.

Kevin Sullivan

CEO, American Red Cross

707 Alexander Road

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