When I announced the Caveat Emptor column, I stated specifically that I was only interested in articles that could result in a positive effect for the Macintosh community. I'm pleased to say that Dave Thompson's article in TidBITS #214 has had that effect.
Dave asked me to clarify that his actual title is "Manager of Networking Services for Computing Analysis Corporation," which counts ARPA among its clients. His official email address is <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Chris Risley <email@example.com>, CEO of ON Technology writes:
Your article in TidBITS came as complete surprise to me. I had been told that ARPA was sending someone up with the data to have it repaired.
You are correct that Meeting Maker 1.5 (released two years ago, Mac only) was not adequately designed to support several Meeting Maker Servers as you have at ARPA. It sometimes does result in bad data being exchanged between servers. This problem has not occurred at sites running that version with a single server.
You are not correct that this problem can occur at sites running Meeting Maker XP, our Mac/Windows cross-platform product (released in July 1993). The architecture of the Meeting Maker XP product is completely different from the ground up. That is one of the reasons that we encourage people to migrate to Meeting Maker XP as we feel it is a more stable platform.
Where a data problem with the old Meeting Maker 1.5 product has occurred we have endeavored to correct it for our customers. We have often been sent disks of Meeting Maker Server data, had Kelly repair the data, and then Federal Expressed the disks back at no charge to the customer.
ARPA presented unique problems in regard to data repair because you were not prepared to provide the data to us. Kelly is a unique resource as she has the most skill and experience with the old Meeting Maker 1.5 product. We are understandably reluctant to have her go on site with one customer and therefore make her unavailable for our thousands of other customers.
At ON we try to empower managers to make the best judgments they can about how to help customers in each situation considering the needs of other customers and our support resources. This sometimes results in problems, as it may have in this case, but it usually results in better decisions because the people making the calls are closer to the action. In the case of Meeting Maker 1.5 it is particularly difficult to allocate support resources since most of the new support people are better able to help Meeting Maker XP customers.
I am very sorry that your server went down and that the Director's account was one of the casualties. I am particularly sorry that you had to confront the front office over this problem. I'm sure that you recognize that your ARPA security needs made it particularly difficult for Kelly to resolve this problem for you and that she could have helped most customers in similar circumstances. I hope that you will reconsider your desire to move away from ON's products and that in order to minimize risk that you will consider migrating to Meeting Maker XP where this problem does not occur.
Dave Thompson <firstname.lastname@example.org> responds:
We are sorry for the miscommunication which has lead to this situation. I am scheduled to speak with Mr. Risley on 28-Feb-94, and I look forward to trying to resolve the situation to our mutual satisfaction.
The people at ARPA have a had a long term relationship with ON Technology, and it would be in everyone's best interest to maintain that relationship. The folks at ON have invested a great deal of time and money in developing their reputation as a company which cares about their customers. I feel confident that they will demonstrate this commitment by working with us and taking steps to insure that this situation is never repeated. I am certain that they realize that this would be best for their company, their customers, and the Macintosh community as a whole.