Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday

Crash! Bang! Wallop! As I struggle to wakefulness with the sound of the Today programme, it becomes clear that all is far from well on what used to be called the stock market (it's now far more complex than that: I don't recall seeing pictures from the Depression of ruined bankers holding up signs saying they'd lost everything on the forward derivative spot market.). In curious synergy, the Internet gets the same malaise as the day progresses -- it seems that absolutely everyone is trying to get real-time feeds of the prices via the Net, and nothing can cope with demand. Even more curiously, high tech companies that announce particularly good results today get hit peculiarly hard: it's as if all sanity has left the planet.

Tuesday

Stocks rally - is this the dead cat bounce? (that's a bankers' term for the way prices rise for a little after a really vicious crash). Internet better. Those high tech companies recover particularly well: some people have obviously made a lot of money over the past couple of days. I'd wondered whether that would happen, and had thought that buying chunks of the palpably good companies when the price was way down would have been a good idea.

I'd like to say that my journalistic ethics forbade me to buy shares in companies about which I write: in truth, there's nowhere near enough liquidity in Goodwins plc to put my integrity in the slightest peril.

Wednesday

While my morality may be untested, my vanity is rarely in question. I happen to be in DejaNews (the service which indexes Usenet) looking for stuff about new radio technology, and succumb to the old urge to type my name in and see what happens. Will there be hoards of people discussing my latest reviews? Some nascent fan club planning a surprise party? A film director desperately trying to find me to discuss a really hot script idea?

There are precisely two hits. One concerns bugs in the old Spectrum 128K computer, and mentions yours truly as perpetrator of same (in cyberspace, one's sins last forever. There is no redemption). The other mentions a Rupert N Goodwin, a 75 year old petroleum geologist from Louisiana.

Retire to a PR party in a Mexican restaurant. Miller Shandwick is responsible: one must draw a veil over the events of the evening, except for two words. Tequila Frenzy. Discover things about editor-in-chief Bob Kane that are utterly astounding and certainly good for a couple of extra per cent at pay review time. Discover also that I've forgotten the lot five minutes later.

Thursday

More on cookies, those little snippets of data that Web sites leave on your computer to remind them of you when next you visit. The Putnam Pit, a newspaper from Tennessee, is jostling to make the local municipality hand over the cookie files from public workers' PCs. These are public documents, the newspaper claims, and as such covered under the US Freedom of Information act.

Interesting. All in favour of FoI -- too much secrecy is never a good thing. Then I go to the newspaper's Web site to read about the campaign for myself. It turns out the proprietor is seeking to make sure that workers aren't spending taxpayers' dollars visiting sites about sodomy, promoting homosexual lifestyles, desecrating the Flag, adultery, the anti-Christ and heroin (The newspaper is also against white slavery, white supremacy and communism).

Any residual feeling I had from Tuesday that sanity may have returned to cyberspace is swiftly dispelled. However, in an attempt to raise enough dosh to insider-deal my way to riches, I am prepared to sell my cookie files to the highest bidder. Sealed e-mails only, please.

Friday

As anyone who's ever been involved in publishing will tell you, there is nothing in the world quite like the launch of a new title. Today, we unveil Gamespot UK to an astonished world -- our latest Web site, dedicated to the needs and delights of the gaming community.

Online, this takes the form of Lara Croft -- abundantly appointed cyberbabe -- pulling a big switch to (as we so delicately put it) Turn Us On at midday. With a flourish, half a gigabyte of reviews, hints, news and other good stuff are linked into the World Wide Web. All yours, distant reader, and we hope you enjoy it.

What actually happened behind the scenes is somewhat different. The unveiling ceremony involved a large number of Ziffies holding plastic cups of champagne and cheering as the real Lara Croft (Asher, the bearded, ponytailed, abundantly bicycle shorts-wearing Gamespotter) typed in the commands to our server to make the switch. Three minutes later, he typed the correct commands and all was live. Two of the other real stars of the show could be easily spotted by them having bags under their eyes as big as Lara's virtual assets: Saul Hazledine and Chris Lewis.

The amount of programming, hackery and mind-bending binary buggering about that's gone on for months, at all hours of the day and night, cannot be overestimated -- it's so easy when one's idly clicking through a swish Web site to overlook the gallons of sweat and coffee that make it all happen. So spare a thought between vanquishing aliens and conquering worlds for the heroes of HTML, the knights of the networks who burn entire candelabras of candles at every end possible.

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